Saturday, September 25, 2010

Banned Book Week

Considering what I've related here on many occasions, beginning with my About Me, regarding my coming out of a restrictive, fundamentalist Christian religion at age 35 and discovering I'd never learned to think for myself and my ongoing struggle to rectify that, it is amazing that this is the first time in the six years since I began blogging that I've participated in promoting the ALA's Banned Books Week.

I've known about Banned Books Week since well before I ever had a blog but somehow it never seemed to hit my radar until a week or more after even though each year I made a point of noting to myself that 'I really need to post on that next year'. I suppose I should start putting things like this into a calendar ap that can send me alerts a week or so in advance.

This year it was thanks to the mini-challenge for the Fall Catch-Up Read-a-Thon at The True Book Addict that I was alerted just yesterday, the day before the first day of BBW. The challenge is to pick a book from the lists of banned or challenged books at the ALA site which I have read and talk about it.

I found The Kite Runner on the list of the top ten frequently challenged books of 2008 and since I consider it one of the most powerful books I've read in at least the last two decades, naturally I choose it. You can read my review here so I don't need to repeat those thoughts and can keep these thoughts on the theme of its challenged status.

I was not aware The Kite Runner had been challenged at the time I chose to read it. I selected it because of several intriguing reviews on blogs in the year or two before and because it was set in Afghanistan and by an ex-patriot of Afghanistan and I was looking for just such stories to bolster my understanding of the region--how the Taliban came to rule it; how it had incubated the perpetrators of 9/11; what our soldiers were facing in terms of its cultural, political, religious and economical realities--in order to become a reasonably fully informed voting citizen but also to become aware on a visceral level of how being an Afghan might be different from being a WASP American and how it might be similar.

Those expectations for Khaled Hosseini's story were not disappointed and for that reason alone I would recommend it but, if you read my previous musings on it, you will understand that I believe this story can stand beside the majority of the time-tested classics without blushing.

I have learned from experience beginning in early grade-school that story was the most effective, the most powerful, the most immediate method for developing an understanding of a person, culture or event--even those seemingly too alien or incomprehensible and especially those triggering any anxiety, disgust or fear. This is why I am fiercely in favor of freedom of speech and thought.

But I have not forgotten what it was like to be a fervidly puritanical fundamentalist and so I also understand that it is that very power of story to change minds that is at the root of the challenges so the necessity of staying vigilant and proactive on this task of defending the challenged books and the right to intellectual freedom will remain for generations to come. Thus the ALA and the other organizations dedicated to this service to democracy and liberty have my gratitude and admiration.

Note on my Fall Catch-Up Read-a-thon progress: I did not meet my goal for finishing Innocent tonight. Not even close. Will be spending a couple more hours with it at least before I sleep.

3 tell me a story:

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