This week, I urge you to read. Read something that you love, read something that you hate, read something that makes you think. Read because you can.
It’s Banned Books Week, and we should celebrate. Celebrate your right to take in the words on the page – to see them and feel them and interpret them however you see fit. In more official terms (aka according to the American Library Association) “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.”
It’s strange to think about the books we read or have read – and to imagine not being allowed to experience them. Seriously, look at these lists on the Frequently Challenged Books page. There’s a menu on the left side where you can browse by year, or see classics that have been banned or challenged – you won’t believe it.
Zora Neale Hurston makes the list with Janie and Their Eyes Were Watching God, as does Maya Angelou with the autobiographical I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. William Golding and Aldous Huxley’s school-age classics, Lord of the Flies and Brave New World have their own respective spots, and William Faulkner’s excruciatingly frustrating and simultaneously genius (yes, I have strong opinions about what I read) As I Lay Dying is also on the list. More recently, J.K. Rowlings’ unique and well-crafted Harry Potter series has had to stand up to the challenge as well.
And last but certainly not least, The Great Gatsby stands alongside other intelligent, worthwhile and life changing literature as a text that has been challenged or banned. And so, if none of this (somehow) has meant anything to you – here is my plea. Read something this week. Do it for me. Do it for F. Scott Fitzgerald and for Daisy and for Jay. Do it because of the beauty and the misery, the true love and tragedy that I found within the pages of my favorite book in the universe. I would not read or think the way I do now were it not for that brief peek into the Fitzgerald’s rendition of the East and West Egg. I would not be myself if I’d never read The Great Gatsby (over and over again).
Call me crazy, call me dramatic, call me whatever you want. I don’t care. Just read something. Read anything. Just read. And be thankful that you can.