Banned Books Week

book burning 6240577_sDid you know that this is Banned Books Week? The event brings reading and freedom of speech to the forefront, and will hopefully make us all think about our literary choices.

Although I’ve never written a “banned book,” I’m well aware that my books are not lent through public library ebook programs. They’re far too risqué to be interesting to people…apparently. That’s okay, I can live with that. But what about the classics that have been excluded from the stacks, out of reach of people who need and want to experience great literature and great ideas?

One example of a banned book is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. And the reasons it got banned? Its religious viewpoint, and it is “unsuited to age group.” (Which age group?)

Here’s a list of the Top 10 banned books, provided by the Office of Intellectual Freedom, a committee of the American Library Association. These are great books, denied to readers of all ages and experience. And that’s just the Top 10!

I’d like to touch on one more point, one that affects all of us who buy books: Amazon’s growing list of “adult tagged” books.

Amazon has been seemingly randomly removing links to my colleagues’ books more and more over the last few weeks. What does this mean? It means that instead of searching on a book title, finding and buying it easily, the normal reader can search on a book title and, even though the book exists on Amazon, no link to the book will be forthcoming. A reader has to disable her adult filter in order to see these books. They’re all romance books, with a variety of adult situations portrayed. The adult filter is automatically on unless you actively disable it.

Some of the covers are suggestive. Okay, one can re-cover a book. Some of the titles seem to offend Amazon. (Though there is no rhyme or reason given and the policy is extremely vague and subjective.) However, one can re-title a book, even though the best title might be the original one. But should a book be relegated to outer Mongolia because of these things? If a new book has any momentum, this effectively kills it because people can’t find it. Often, the books are also removed from the Author Page as well, which gives the impression that the book no longer exists. One presumes that this is to prevent children from stumbling across a book unsuitable for her age group. But I ask you, where are the parents of these children? How is it that children have the power to buy books without parental supervision?

This is akin to banning books. I urge you, dear reader, to deactivate your adult filter on Amazon. Allow yourself the opportunity to read some compelling romances from my colleagues and others. Do not accept your lack of choice among books.

Here are some hand dandy instructions for removing the adult filter on Amazon. You might have to do this more than once as it resets itself for a variety of reasons.

And, in your community, do not allow prigs and prudes to ban books. All books should be available to readers. If they are unsuitable for children, adults should act like adults and supervise their children’s reading choices.

Thank you for thinking about Banned Book Week. I hope it brings the practice a little closer for you, and illustrates the reasons we must all be vigilant regarding our freedom of speech.



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