Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Banned Books

I have a few passions in life. Most of them are wonky. I am obsessed with Charles Manson. I love Coca-Cola memorabilia. I love little pink skulls. If I had a Cadillac I would totally put a deadhead sticker and a Black Flag sticker on it.

One of my passions is books. I can't describe this passion with enough flowery language to make a non-book-lover understand it. You either get it or you don't. I love to read. I love to sink into a story, to give myself over wholeheartedly to a character, an author, a setting. I love the feeling of falling headfirst in love, grieving, hating, watching, listening to things outside the realm of my understanding. I'm one of those people who frequently confuses things that I read with things that I did.

Reading is not a hobby or a time killer for me. Reading is love. Reading is a passion. Reading is one of the centers of my existence. Without reading, I would be a wholly different person. And not just because I would carry a much, much smaller purse.

And books. Books. I mean, you can love reading without loving books. People who own a Kindle probably love reading without loving books. I don't understand Kindles. I've tried and maybe one of you can enlighten me on why it's cool (other than requiring a much, much smaller purse) but I just don't get it.

Books smell. Books are tangible. They are something to hold. Something to cherish. Something to signify the vast weight held within. Books are cozy, homey. They are heavy and a pain to move, but they are worth it when you get them back on their shelves and they look at you like old friends.

And I can't understand book banning or book burning or any other restrictions of books. Books are a window. A window into another life. And if you don't like that life, then don't read it. But it exists whether you like it or not.

The thought of telling someone that they can't read something because you don't like it is sort of overwhelming to me. Most of my favorite books have been banned by someone at some time. Catch 22. Oh, I cannot even tell you the amazing sense of wonder that overtook me the first time I read Heller's version of WWII. And Gone with the Wind which was my very first book over 1,000 pages. Mammy is my favorite. I want to move in with Mammy and make her hot chocolate and say, "Tell me about crazy Miss Scarlet." I hope she cusses when she's not around Scarlet and Rhett. Harry Potter. All of them. Do I really even need to address the idiocy of banning books that inspired more children to read than the invention of books? Books that led up to a book premier that world wide had better response than any movie premier in history? Really?

September is Banned Books month and I am on the very last day celebrating. I don't actually worry about celebrating, because well... Come to my basement and you will see why. But, if you haven't already, go read a banned book. Read something historical or sassy. Something with lots of bad language or really good sex. Read something that has magic or something featuring an uppity woman. Then read one to your kids. You would be surprised at the kids books that have been banned. Then tell them why free press is so important. Why books of all shapes and sizes and creeds and colors are important to our world.

Why the first sign that someone is a bad leader is that they tell you what to read. Why books should NEVER be burned, banned or banished. If they are old enough, read them parts and pieces of Areopagitica. It's just the right thing to do.

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