It’s Banned Books Week!

September 24th, 2018 by varelaariana Leave a reply »

“Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance.�- Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak

In late September of 1989, Banned Books Week was founded by 1st Amendment library activist Judith Krug. Krug was contacted by the Association of American Publishers with the idea to bring banned books to the attention of average American readers. Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and to bring awareness about censorship in American states, counties, and school districts. It highlights the fundamental value of free and open access to information for all who seek it.


Classics like The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, and As I Lay Dying face threats of banning and censorship up to today. One of my favorite banned books is In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, a nonfiction account of the 1959 murders of the Herbert Clutter family in the small farming community of Holcomb, Kansas. This true crime  novel has been officially banned 4 times in the states of California and Georgia by several school districts since its publication; In Cold Blood faces continuous challenges due to concerns of how sex, violence, and profanity is depicted.

Capote constructs the beginnings of literary true crime with his detail of the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers. He creates an atmosphere of heart stopping suspense and surprising empathy. In Cold Blood is a work that effectively retells a crime, all while making  poignant commentary on the way Americans view and interact with brutal violence. The narrative bounces from a number of different perspectives from the killers themselves to locals and investigators. Bewitched by the crime and story itself, Capote writes about his experience investigating Holcomb, Kansas and states, “[y]ou exist in a half-world suspended between two superstructures, one self-expression and the other self-destruction.” 


The appeal of In Cold Blood isn’t who killed the Clutter family, those details are made clear from the start of the story; the most captivating aspect of the story is how he manages to make the story scary and relevant, even though you know the end. His attention to every moment, every single detail make the text a living breathing thing.

Post by Tatum Myers – Reference Student Assistant



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