The First Recording of Allen Ginsberg Reading “Howl” (1956) | ©Open Culture
Occasionally I slip into an ivory tower mentality in which the idea of a banned book seems quaint—associated with silly scandals over the tame sex scenes in James Joyce or D.H. Lawrence or more recent, misguided dust-ups over Huckleberry Finn. After all, I think, we live in an age when bestseller lists are topped (no pun) by tawdry fan fiction like Fifty Shades of Grey. Nothing’s sacred. But this notion is a massive blind spot on my part; the whole awareness-raising mission of the annual Banned Books Week seeks to dispel such complacency. Books are challenged, suppressed, and banned all the time in public schools and libraries, even if we’ve moved past outright government censorship of the publishing industry.