Growing up with banned books

I was lucky enough to come from a family that didn't really believe in censorship, so my mother was always happy to read any books with me, or discuss them, if I showed an interest. She generally let me decide for myself what was too advanced, or too scary for me (I will also mention that watching The Shining all the way through is a right of passage in my family, where scaring the snot out of your kids is just part of raising them properly). When I was about 7 or 8, and just becoming interested in adult books, my mother read me 1984, which has been banned repeatedly in schools, libraries, and sometimes entire countries.

What better book is there to teach us about the dangers of censorship and the tragedy of losing our autonomy? I still remember being drawn to the cover of her amazing edition from the 70's (I later lost that copy of the book when I accidentally dropped it in a dumpster years later, while taking out the trash. Apparently I couldn't put it down long enough to leave it in our apartment for even this short trip). Although I didn't understand all of it then, it did give me a healthy distrust of authority. My mother has always been proud of this trait in me, though my teachers, managers and landlords less so. I'm not saying I would not have learned this trait without the book, but I am saying that had my mother tried to shelter or censor my life and my reading choices, I would not be the strong-willed, independent person I am today.

I'm not recommending that a parent read a 7-year-old anything by Orwell though, because that's completely insane. What I am saying is that it may seem like a small thing to ban someone from one little book, but one book eventually becomes many and then suddenly we've got a case of Fahrenheit 451 on our hands. The very notion of this infuriates me to no extent, because although I am often overcome with a desire to burn Snooki's book, as a book lover and free-spirit, I could never tell someone else what they have a right to read. Who knows, maybe someone could find it inspiring some day. That inspiration may or may not be to stay as far away from self-tanner as possible, but at least something can be gotten from it, right?

I remind myself of that every time I sell a copy of 50 Shades of Grey. Having not read it myself, I couldn't say for sure if it really is worthy of the loathing it gets from bibliophiles everywhere. That being said, I'm still not going to read it. But you can. Who knows, maybe it will inspire you to read something else next time you come in. Actually, there's a lot of forbidden sex in 1984... maybe you'd like celebrate banned book week by picking up a copy of that as well?