Not sure when the Bake Off recap will be coming – I had set aside three hours tonight to do it, but during that time iPlayer decided to break. So it might not be for a while… sorry!
Instead, I’ll talk about banned books. I think either this week or last week was Banned Books Week, where we’re encouraged to seek out books that have been banned somewhere or other in the world in the past or present. My question is… why?
I should say – I’m against banning books. That’s a given. I’d relax that rule for books that go against existing laws (which is one of the reasons I don’t have a problem with books having been banned under previous obscenity laws: different times) but, in general, I’m agin it. However, that doesn’t lead to me wanting to read banned books just because they’ve been banned.
I put this question out on Twitter (@stuck_inabook, since you ask) and had some interesting conversations. Some people agreed with me; some felt drawn to banned books, but weren’t sure why.
Some great books have been banned, sure. Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead by Barbara Comyns, for instance, and (more famously) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, To Kill A Mockingbird, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, etc. The Bible, of course, is still banned in many areas of the world. But some dreadful books have also been banned. Anybody who has had The Da Vinci Code refused to them has experienced an inadvertent blessing. Having been banned is no sign of quality, and – I have to confess – is more likely to put me off a book, if it has been banned for reasons of obscenity of blasphemy.
So, I am intrigued – if Banned Books Weeks appeal to you, can you explain why you want to read those books? Is it to celebrate the freedom to read whatever we want? Because that I applaud wholeheartedly. But I mostly want to celebrate that freedom by not reading those books.