I’m doing nothing for Thanksgiving, I have a stack of books for a reading frenzy. I’m going on a literary feast of words; I’ll be swept off into other worlds; presented with challenges, dilemmas and triumphs. This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful to be able to read what I want. A book once disappeared from my e-reader. I was in mainland China; I thought I’d read before bed to help with jet lag. It was gone. The book I was reading during my flight was no longer on my device.  No notice, no book, nothing. Then I remembered, the preface of the book said it was banned in China. Ughhhh. This book was banned in China just like Alice in Wonderland.  There is book censorship in China and violation can lead to imprisonment. So, yes, I’m thankful this thanksgiving to be able to read any book I want or can I?  Are there books banned in the US?

I fell into the rabbit hole – a bizarre, confusing, or nonsensical situation which it is difficult to extricate oneself. Banned Books Week (September 24–October 30). Huh? There is banned books week in the US and that’s because there are banned books?  I haven’t thought much about banned books. I think Huck Finn was banned because of language and there were some schools that banned Harry Potter? Reading various list sand reasons for banned books fascinated me. In the mid 60s, Where the Wild Things Are was banned because it was “problematic” that Max was sent to bed without supper. In 1983, the Alabama state textbook committee banned The Diary of Anne Frank because it was a downer. In 2006, a parents group in Kansas had Charlotte’s Web banned for depicting two talking animals; talking animals must be the devil’s work. Harry Potter was banned in many places in 2007 for sorcery. At times I was relieved when  I read the phrase,“challenged, but retained,” knowing someone my favorite books were still allowed in libraries. Some of the debate is understandable about required reading, though a few of the books banned in college curriculums was surprising.  The banned books a cultural statement; especially the recently banned books  that are  over 50 years old, long thought of as staples are banned from libraries. More on banned books can be found here http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/bannedbooksweek/rebelreader)

Two hours later, I was nearly out of the rabbit hole only to fall deeper. Books banned in prison. In August of 2013, the State of Connecticut prison system lifted its ban on Song of Ice and Fire books by George R.R. Martin; the basis for HBO’s Game of Thrones. The books were banned for ‘safety and security” reasons.  The State of Texas prison systems has banned The Color Purple by Alice Walker, Bag of Bones by Stephen King, It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis, Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class by Lawrence Otis Graham, books  I have read. What was confusing was the rational and logic that was used to ban these books seemed not to apply to Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf and David Duke’s My Awakening, these books are acceptable. More information on books banned in prisons can be found here (http://www.bookstoprisoners.net/banned-book-lists/)

Emerging from this rabbit hole of banned books, I don’t have a point so much as an experience. Like reading a book, I was swept off into other worlds; presented  challenges, dilemmas and triumphs as I became aware of things I didn’t know existed, learned something and emerged with more compassion and appreciation for things I take for granted. Now, That’s something to be thankful for. Let the reading begin.