It’s no secret that I love to read.
I often will share with you books and authors I currently reading or have inspired me. I’m not a picky reader. Fiction, non-fiction, historical, true crime, love, self-help, motivational, real, semi-real, total fakey, science fiction and comedy. Even if I don’t love it, I will still read it, especially with a recommendation from a friend. Yes, I have my favorites, I am a real-life bookworm.
While on vacation this past week I was able to finally finish a book I started a few months ago (finding quiet time to read seems like a luxury these days). The book was called “The Book of Longings” by Sue Monk Kidd. This particular book passed from friend, to friend, to friend and eventually found its way to me.
The story is very loosely based on history, with the fictional idea that perhaps Jesus had a wife, named Ana. The book is written from her perspective, and it was absolutely a fantastic read! The book could be seen as somewhat controversial, as those who are devout Catholics may not like the idea that Jesus is depicted in this way, or that it diverts from what we were taught our whole lives. I am not one of those Catholics, so I didn’t find it offensive at all. I loved the ties to what I know about his history, twisted with the “what-if” scenarios. It was amazing!
It's odd to think that anyone would find a book offensive?
Books, like art, music, or movies are forms of expression and are the result of someone’s imagination or interpretation of fact. You can choose to read them or not. The books you choose to read are based on your own, personal likes and dislikes, so what is there to be offended by? For example, if you don’t like the description of the book I just shared, then don’t read it. If it sounds interesting to you, then give it a try.
It seems simple to me.
While away this past week I was saddened to read articles coming out of Florida about the books being banned in the Florida school system this year. Banning books? Really? Where are we? I feel like I left the Outer Banks only to find myself in 1984 ‘Bomont’ waiting for Kevin Bacon to rescue me. Is this really happening right now?
When I think back to my childhood and all the books I read, I can’t imagine being told that I wasn’t allowed to read something. I was a bit like “Matilda” and I read anything and everything I could put my hands on.
My mom had a great collection of books; everything from horror and science fiction to classics and romance. I should mention that I never read the books with the handsome man and gorgeous woman on the front … Harlequin did not interest my younger self!
I was a fan of horror, so I read every Stephen King and John Saul book she owned. Many had plots that were way over my head (I read ‘The Stand’ when I was about 12), but you know what, my mom never told me I wasn’t allowed to read them. While I thought I was being sneaky (strategically grabbing one from the shelf and rearranging them so you didn’t see one was missing), she never said a word. I think she was just happy that I had an interest in reading so she let it slide.
It was that freedom of books, getting lost in the stories, that I really loved!
I was a quiet and shy kid, so books were my escape. I spent countless hours reading in my room, reading at night with a flashlight, or using the light from the hallway, jumping back into bed when I thought I heard my parents on the stairs. As an adult I can see why maybe some of those books were too old for me, but I turned out ok. In fact, I feel I am a more well-rounded adult because of how much I read, and still do today.
What a privilege it is to escape into another world for a while and to see things through someone else’s eyes! Reading sparks feelings and emotions; you learn to think outside the box, you learn about other places, other ideas and if you are lucky, you learn something along the way.
As part of my honors program at SUNY Delhi, I had the opportunity to take a ‘Banned Books’ course. I read amazing books like ‘Catcher in the Rye’, ‘Slaughterhouse Five”, ‘Beloved’ and ‘Brave New World’. These books were all fantastic, and I was astonished that they would have ever been banned?
I like to think that the rest of the world just wasn’t mature and open-minded enough for these books at the time, but in truth I think it was more about fear. Fear of changing the norm. Fear of others reading these ideas and agreeing with them. What other reason would there be to ban a book? What’s next? A ban on songs, art and movies?
I feel for the students in Florida that are having their imagination and creativity stifled out of fear, ignorance, and a political agenda. While the school systems have no choice but to comply with their government, likely due to the threat of loss of funding, I hope that the parents take matters into their own hands. They should seek out the books on this “banned” list and give their kids have the opportunity to read them, and they can decide for themselves.
It’s a big world out there and you are only hurting the next generation by shielding them from what the rest of us already know. I know lettings kids think for themselves is a shocking idea, but give it a try, they may surprise you.
The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views and positions of any entity that this author represents.