Something on NPR reminded me that this is the date Joseph Goebbels stood in the Reichplatz helping to burn 20,000 books. At the same time, our Sunday paper headlined the fact that book banning is accelerating.
It’s Fahrenheit 451 all over again. Parents Against Bad Books in Schools (www.pabbis.org) has a list if you’ve got the matches. The organization states, “Bad is not for us to determine. Bad is what you determine is bad.” Ergo, every reader should bring his/her own criteria to the bonfire. There is no quality except that which you determine.
They recommend starting with Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses. Continue with Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Capote’s In Cold Blood, Doctorow,s Ragtime, Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, and that perennial hazard to mental health, Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.
Oh, I can’t go on! No, wait, I can. Happily, we still celebrate Banned Books Week. Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.
Banned Books Week is endorsed by no less an organization than the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.
Can’t happen in your town? Go to http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/Mapofbookcensorship.html and click on what’s happening in your neck of the woods. Down the road from us in Vineland, NJ, Bill Aquado and Richard Newirth's Paint Me Like I Am had its pages literally torn out by the principal of Landis Intermediate School. The pages contained Jayson Tirado's poem 'Diary of an Abusive Stepfather' and were ripped out after one parent raised concerns over the age-appropriateness of the poem's content.