It’s the American Library Association’s annual Banned Book Week, where they focus on frequently challenged and banned books. Everything from Walter the Farting Dog to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been challenged, when our fellow citizens are so concerned about our well-being that they elect themselves would-be censor, to “protect young minds” from stories they find offensive. The latest lists of frequently challenged books can be found here. I’ve always been a fan of forbidden fruit. As a teenager, when I heard that reading The Communist Manifesto got you on a watch list, I checked it out of the library. (Are you listening, NSA?) I found it about as boring as Atlas Shrugged, but I read it because a bunch of self-appointed thought police said I shouldn’t. And I still read books for the same reason; often they aren’t very good, but they are certainly refreshing after the piles of pap we’re delivered as our recommended daily allowance of circuses to go with our bread.
This week I’m going to dust off my old copy of The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis. I need a change, and a religious book is definitely outside my usual comfort zone. I saw the movie on Ash Wednesday, the year it came out. I don’t find the idea that Jesus Christ was a man terribly strange (I am a humanist) but I will read the spiritual side of the book with an open mind.
What are you reading for banned book week?