The Mermaid's Tale

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Why ban books?

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Why ban books?
Ever wonder why anyone would ban a book? Doesn't it seem quite similar to burning books? Knowledge in and of itself is not dangerous; it is simply information. To restrict the flow of information is to restrict the ability of the human being to evolve to the next level.

Books are challenged in an attempt to cater to the lowest common denominator: "they" want want you to remain ignorant. Is there any other rational explanation? Again, books by themselves cannot cause anything to happen; that is the role of the individual choosing to either read or not read such materials. To think that only a select group of individuals known as "censors" can read anything and everything and that you won't be able to handle such material is the purest form of dictatorship.

What's the difference between a challenged book and a banned book?

A challenge is an attempt to remove or otherwise restrict access to materials. A ban is succeeding in restricting access to said materials. Both are a form of censorship as it limits the access of others to materials. Free thought is a First Amendment right, and challenges are an attempt by a minority to limit that right to the majority.

Fortunately most challenges are unsuccessful.

Banned Books Week is the last week of September

Why books are challenged

From 2000 to 2009, over 5000 challenges were reported to the Office for Intellectual Freedom. Reasons for book challenges include:

The overwhelming majority of these challenges were initiated by parents in both schools and public libraries.

Most frequently challenged books

Records of challenged books have been kept by the Office for Intellectual Freedom since 1990. The most frequently challenged books since that time include:

Personal recommendations

Fahrenheit 451 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953): I like to re-read this each year in honour of Banned Books Week. 451 degrees F is the temperature at which paper combusts, so that makes this a powerfully ironic selection for that time. This future as envisioned feels strangely like our modern world -- not a good thing for those who like actual books rather than virtual entertainment.   good omens Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (1990): This focuses on a young boy called Adam who just so happens to be the Antichrist, an unconventional angel, an even more unconventional demon and a small group of "ordinary" people who are trying to thwart The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in their attempts to fulfill their destiny by bringing about Armageddon.
the sandman The Sandman (series) by Neil Gaiman (circa 1989): This is amongst the most popular graphic novels ever written. Gaiman weaves a series of engrossing and thought-provoking tales around the title character: Morpheus -- The Sandman.

Morpheus is one of The Endless -- far more than merely Gods, The Endless are elemental beings who have existed since the Beginning. Morpheus (Dream) and his siblings Destiny, Destruction, Death, Desire, Despair, and Delirium have a profound influence on humanity (and all other life forms).

In the universe of The Sandman, Neil Gaiman takes readers into a compelling world of imagination, theology, mysticism, folklore, mythology and fantasy structured around the tragic figure of Morpheus.

  the hobbit the lord of the rings The Lord Of The Rings (series) by JRR Tolkien: Perhaps one of the most well known fantasy epics of all time, establishing the ideas of Orcs, Elves, Wizards, Halflings (Hobbits), and all manner of other creatures as a firm mainstay of the fantasy genre. While the series begins with The Hobbit, the main body of the Middle-earth universe is contained in the three-volume set of books entitled The Lord of the Rings. It can be a bit of an undertaking to read all of it, yet it is also very rewarding to read all the way through it. The scale of this universe is breathtaking.

Tolkien Reading Day is 25 March

Many of Tolkien's previously unpublished books concerning the events in Middle-earth such as the Histories were edited and published by his son after he died.

These books can be difficult to find since many are out of print. Some great places to buy used books online include:


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