don’t you dare!

In preparation for Banned Books Week, which takes place September 24th-October 1st, I think we should talk about books.  I believe in books not only as vehicles for the reassurance that “we are not alone,” to quote C.S. Lewis, but also as vehicles for ideas we may not encounter except through someone else’s writing.

As a current example, this spring I read The Help, which tackles issues beyond my experience both historically and racially.  I laughed and cried with Kathryn Stockett’s characters.  By the end of the story I wholeheartedly accepted her moral: we are more alike than we are different.

That being said, some people take offense at the presence of books that introduce differentviews.  The American Library Association records the public’s formal complaints against books, then compiles lists of the most-challenged titles.  Sometimes the books in question are re-located in a library from the children’s or young adult section into the adult section.  Sometimes they are removed from circulation altogether.  But often, as librarians and teachers fight to let all voices speak, the books are retained without change.

But enough politickin’ for now.  Let’s talk about books as they relate to our homes.  You already know about my book organization strategies.  There’s Ye Olde Rainbow Order (from our last apartment):

…edited color-grouping (in this apartment):

…and library books as near the door as possible so we manage to get them back to the library in time:

How do you organize your books? Do you use shelves?  Baskets?  How do you keep library books from intermingling with titles you own?  Have you ever paid a big library fine?  I’ve met a few people who would rather pay to keep a book past its due date than surrender it for the next person waiting.  (Book-borrowing ethics, anyone…?)

Okay, last question: what banned (or challenged) books have you read and enjoyed?  If you think you’ve never read a banned  book, check out this list: American Library Association Banned Books 2000-2009. You may surprise yourself.  I’m casting my vote for A Wrinkle in Timeby Madeleine L’Engle.  How anyone could object to that book baffles me completely.  I’ve read it half a dozen times and the powerful love Meg expresses for Charles Wallace near the end still brings me to tears–in the best possible, good-things-still-happen-in-an-evil-world kind of way.  What about you guys?

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  1. Quite amused that Fahrenheit 451 is on the list.And – my library is organized as a stack of books on the floor. I stopped keeping books in Buffalo and now only have what I haven't read. Actually, I think you may have a book or two from my old library.

  2. Mine are typically categorized by genre and then size. I used to be an alphabetical lister, but recently downsized my collection and decided size would be a little more aesthetic. I never have quite understood why people still try to ban books. There are a few that I believe the whole world should boycott, but an author has the right to the freedom of speech just as anyone else does. I'm always so surprised by the fact that classics and some of the greatest literature ever written is still on the list a hundred (or more) years after it's initial publication.

  3. Michael, we do indeed own some of your old books. (Is the Marcus Aurelius from you?) I'm not sure I could confine myself only to unreads…I love my reads too much! Lindsey, I'm impressed that you found a way to balance retrieval and aesthetics. That's my biggest challenge–making things look good while also knowing exactly where to find what I want. (And compared to some people I don't even have that many books!)I second your statements about book banning–apparently some issues are timelessly appalling to people of a certain mindset.


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