Ah, Freedom to Read Week, where has the year gone? I completely forgot it was coming. I hope the shelf fairy brought me something nice this year.
For those caught unawares, a refresher: Freedom to Read Week is a seven-day period put aside to celebrate everything that someone else thinks you shouldn't be allowed access to. Subversive ideas. Blasphemies. Swear words. Political ideologies. Homosexual penguin lust. And no, that last one is not a joke.
Let's face it, you cannot please everyone. And nor should you try; pleasing everyone is boring. A little strife lets people know that 'their world' is not theirs alone.
So what should you do to celebrate? Reading a challenged book is always good (here's a helpful list to get started). But sometimes, we're kind of busy reading other things. So, what to do?
Take the book out anyway. Go to the nearest public library and check out a challenged book. The best way to keep books on the shelves for everyone to peruse is to make sure they're being used. Library books survive on statistics; if you want a book in your library, you'd best take it out. What's the point in stating that Catcher in the Rye is among the most challenged books of the 20th century if your library lacks a copy? And if they are missing the book? Donate it. Ask if they'd like to catalogue a copy, and then give them one. Get a tax receipt for your troubles.
The point is, books are usually challenged because of fear. Someone out there fears an idea, and that person then fears that you (little old you) are not smart enough to make up your own mind. You gonna take that? You gonna let someone else tell you what you can and cannot read?
So get out there and let the masses know that you are not afraid! You will read "profane language." You will peruse "sexual content." You will leaf through the pages of books that "undermine belief in God and organized religion and promote atheism." You will decide that one person's opinion that a novel is "a manual on how to become a male prostitute" is not enough to deter you. You will argue against the notion that a book "offended Christians and couldn’t possibly have any educational benefit." (All quotations courtesy of their aggrieved challengers) And if you don't want to read them? Fine. I'm not here to force my opinions on you. But the least you can do is acknowledge that others have the right to enjoy their contents regardless of your personal tastes.
And also, could you challenge me? Call a library and demand that I be taken off the shelves? Nothing sells a person on a book like a little controversy.