Banned Books Week: 2023

Sheryn Morris, Librarian, Literature & Fiction,
red orange yellow flames with banned books
During Banned Books Week we celebrate freedom of speech and freedom to read

Over the centuries, various forms of expression have been banned or destroyed, and their creators have been censored, imprisoned, tortured, killed, exiled. At the present time, all types of libraries, in this country and around the world are being challenged by those who have issues with certain types of books. It is the mission and responsibility of libraries to present multifarious viewpoints, and that is why the American Library Association joins other organizations to support Banned Books Week. During Banned Books Week, we celebrate freedom of speech and freedom to read.

Loud and Clear: Writers Who Found Ways to Express Themselves

Book cover of Dying is easier than loving
Dying is Easier Than Loving
Altan, Ahmet

The third volume in the Ottoman Quartet series which continues with an array of characters set against the Ottoman Empire prior to World War I. Written by Ahmet Altan while he was in a Turkish prison for alleged involvement in a failed coup.

Book cover of Book banning in 21st-century America
Book Banning in 21st-Century America
Knox, Emily

A study that examines the arguments of those who challenge certain books being allowed in libraries. Knox writes, "…the practices of censorship demonstrate the relationship between knowledge and power." She is a former professional librarian who interviewed challengers because she had a keen interest in their arguments. Knox and the challengers are in agreement about one idea, "…reading is powerful. Books change lives."

Book cover of The last American newspaper : an institution in peril, through the eyes of a small-town editor
The Last American Newspaper: An Institution in Peril, Through the Eyes of a Small-Town Editor
Tingley, Ken

In recent years, the news media has been attacked for providing inaccurate information. In addition, there has been a diminishing number of local newspapers, often due to the economic needs of corporate owners. Independent newspapers are a source of unrestricted examination of local issues. "When authoritarians subvert democracy, the first thing they do is kill the messenger of free-flowing information." Ken Tingley was the editor of The Post-Star in Glens Falls, New York, from 1999 to 2020.

Book cover for How to stand up to a dictator : the fight for our future
How to Stand up to a Dictator: The Fight for Our Future
Ressa, Maria

Maria Ressa worked as a journalist in the United States and the Philippines. She was co-founder of Rappler, an online news website. The dictatorial regime of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte charged her with cyber-libel and arrested her. Her memoir is hopeful, yet she cautions that globally, we are all at risk if freedom of the press is threatened. With Dmitry Andreyevich Muratov, she shared the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize "for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace."

Book cover of Old truths and new clichés : essays
Old Truths and New Clichés: Essays
Singer, Isaac Bashevis

Isaac Bashevis Singer was well known for his novels, but this collection of his essays examines many subjects, including an essay, "Why Literary Censorship is Harmful." In another essay, "The Ten Commandments and Modern Critics," Singer cheekily speculates how Moses would be received today if he issued his commandments in a booklet or brochure. The 1978 Prize in Literature was awarded to him "for his impassioned narrative art which, with roots in a Polish-Jewish cultural tradition, brings universal human conditions to life."

Book cover of Victory city : a novel
Victory City
Rushdie, Salman

The plot and characters are based upon a fictional translation of an epic Sanskrit work. Pampa Kampana is blessed/cursed to live for 247 years. Her super powers enable her to create the Bishnaga Empire, which is a proto-feminist construct, and to interact with all manner of people over the decades, but the complexity of her court and her life are counter-productive. In 2022, at a public presentation, Rushdie was stabbed by an attacker. In 1989, a fatwa calling for his assassination was issued after the publication of his novel, The Satanic Verses.

Book cover of Assignment China : an oral history of American journalists in the People's Republic
Assignment China: An Oral History of American Journalists in the People's Republic
Chinoy, Mike

A notable group of journalists were interviewed for their experiences in reporting from China, from the civil war in 1940 to the COVID-19 pandemic. "Journalists detail the challenges of covering a complex and secretive society and offer insight into eight decades of tumultuous political, economic, and social change."

Book cover of The double life of Katharine Clark : the untold story of the fearless journalist who risked her life
The Double Life of Katharine Clark: The Untold Story of the Fearless Journalist Who Risked Her Life
Gregorio, Katharine

In 1955, during the Cold War, Katharine Clark was a foreign correspondent for the International News Service in Eastern Europe. While in Yugoslavia, she met Milovan Djilas, who had been a high-ranking Communist Party official but was relieved of his post for having criticized the government. Katharine Clark smuggled out a series of detailed, critical articles written by him.


The following watchdog organizations provide continuous information about writers and others who are being censored, tortured, jailed, or exiled. You can stay informed by subscribing to their emails.