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September 2015

Welcome to Banned Books Week!

September 27th-October 3rd celebrates our freedom to have access to and read books. The 1st Amendment of the Constitutional guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The goal of Banned Books Week is to raise awareness about censorship in the United States and how it affects our society.


Institutions such as schools and libraries have sometimes chosen to remove or restrict books from their collections because they deem the content inappropriate, but through the advocacy of committed organizations and passionate readers, most of these banned books remain available to those who want to read them. The American Association of University Presses (AAUP), the American Library Association (ALA), and American Booksellers for Freedom of Expression (AABFE), along with many other organizations and countless individuals, believe that books should not be withheld from readers.


Books have been challenged in the past for being “anti-family” and “sexually explicit”; for including “violence”, “offensive language”, and “drugs/alcohol/smoking.” Others have been banned for discussing “homosexuality”, or because of their “political viewpoint” or “religious viewpoint”. Many of the books deemed inappropriate are very popular and some have even been made into movies.


According to the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, these are the top 10 “most frequently challenged books of 2014”:


  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
  2. Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
  3. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
  4. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
  5. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
  6. Saga, by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples
  7. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
  9. A Stolen Life, by Jaycee Dugard
  10. Drama, by Raina Telgemeier


Many classic books are perennially banned or challenged as well, including The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, The Grapes of Wrath, and To Kill A Mockingbird.


Those of us who oppose censorship believe that everyone can benefit from being introduced to different worldviews, and that books are a powerful medium for opening a person’s eyes to issues they may not have been aware of otherwise. Banning books takes away the freedom we all have to read, discuss, and understand topics that remain relevant even – or especially – when they are controversial.


If defending your right to read books is something you’re passionate about, here are a few ways that you can get involved with Banned Books Week:


·       By contacting the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, or submitting a form on ALA.org, you can report a book that has been challenged banned in your school or local library.


·      - Text ALABBW to 41518 if you want to donate $10.00 to help ALA support Banned Books Week.


·      - There are several Banned Books Week items and gear available to purchase at the ALA store such as bookmarks, buttons, and tee-shirts. The proceeds from these items help ALA and their programs such as Banned Books Week.


·      - On Tuesday, September 29 - 9 a.m. PT; 10 a.m. MT; 11 a.m. CT; 12 p.m. ET, there is a free online three-part webinar. The speakers are Kate Lechtenberg, a teacher librarian from Iowa; Kristin Pekoll, the assistant director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom; and Scott DiMarco, the director of the North Hall Library at Mansfield University.


·      - Friday, October 2nd at 12-4pm and Saturday, October 3rd at 1-3pm there will be a Banned Books Read-Out at the Springfield City Hall lobby in Eugene, Oregon.


·       Keep reading banned books!

Award-winning authors

Here at OSU Press, we know our authors work hard to contribute to their respective fields. But it’s always rewarding when others recognize their talents and dedication, as well! Last month saw two OSU Press authors honored with distinguished accolades.


Sharman Apt Russell received the 2015 Willa Literacy Award for Creative Nonfiction. Her CitizenSciencebook, Diary of a Citizen Scientist, was not only well received by readers, but also prized by colleagues who value the burgeoning field of citizen science. Using her own experience tracking tiger beetles as a guideline, Russell crafts a humorous, wondrous picture of our natural world. She applauds the opportunities of citizen science and encourages others to explore their own self-driven scientific inquiries.


The WILLA Awards are presented by Women Writing the West, an association of writers whose work focuses on the experiences of women and girls living in the American West. The group created the award to honor former Pulitzer Prize winner Willa Cather and recognizes outstanding literature that echoes the organization’s mission. Russell will receive her award October 9 at WWW’s annual conference in Redmond, Oregon.


Russell wasn’t the only Press author to receive acclaim, however.  Justin Wadland’s book TryingHomeTrying Home has been announced a finalist in the history / general nonfiction category of the Washington State Book Awards.  A unique combination of personal reflection and historical research, Trying Home follows the climb and plummet of Home, Washington: an anarchist colony of the early twentieth century. It was a utopian community quite unlike any other and the outside world soon took notice. Wadland’s engaging prose has the power to captivate scholars and general readers alike.


The Washington State Book Awards, administered by the Seattle Public Library, recognize outstanding books published in the past year by authors hailing from the northern state. Wadland and his fellow nominees will be honored October 10 at the Washington State Book Awards Celebration at the Central Library. A single winner from each category will be announced at that time.


For more information on the aforementioned authors and their work, please visit their personal pages:


Sharman Apt Russell



Justin Wadland

Member of AAUP