If you come by Accent on Books this week, you'll notice our left front window has yellow crime scene tape on it, and books in the display which are upside-down. No, we were not victimized by a break-in; it's Byron's clever way of calling attention to Banned Books Week. Observed every year at the end of September, Banned Books Week calls attention to the reality that fear of knowledge and the power of the written word is still very much with us, and every year individuals or groups try to have books removed from schools or libraries. Sometimes the individuals have not even read the books they are challenging; in every case they have appointed themselves as the final authority in deciding what ideas are acceptable and what ideas are dangerous or corrupting. The recent controversy over the burning of Korans in Florida is but one example of what goes on in communities across the nation on a constant basis, if usually in a less spectacular manner. Banned Books Week is co-sponsored by a number of organizations -- including The American Booksellers Association, of which Accent on Books is a member -- and is administered by the American Library Association. The ALA's website has a lot of excellent resources on this subject including a list of the Radcliffe Publishing Course's Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century, with notations about which ones have been banned or challenged (nine of the top ten novels and 25 of the top 30 fall in that category). And the AP published an article last week listing some of the more unexpected titles to be subject to challenges over the years, including Brown Bear, Brown Bear, the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, and the "Captain Underpants" series.
So we hope you'll take some time this week to appreciate your right to read what you choose, a right which is often not available in other countries, and will not continue be available in this country without our constant vigilance.