“We want our children to be raised in a book store.” The parents wishing for that, Eli Barrett and Brooklynd Johnson, now own Pelican Bay Books in Anacortes. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, the books well displayed, and the personnel personable and knowledgeable. And there’s a great section of Travel Books! All of this is located in a delightful old home where the cookbooks are, of course, displayed in the kitchen beside the teapot and a table and chairs. If you can’t find what you want, they will order it for you. Books are such a personal pleasure; books open the world to us. No one has the right to limit what we learn; however, many have tried.
This week is Banned Books Week, created in 1968 to emphasis the right to read whatever one chooses. Often the celebration is in the first week of September coinciding with the first week of school for many communities. I know a librarian who quietly challenged her administration’s ban on fiction and fairy tales and animals that talk, by creating a “Folklore” section in her library. These books could help children understand other cultures and ways of thinking, she said. Shel Silverstein’s children’s book Where the Sidewalk Ends has frequently been challenged, I’m not sure why.
There are many ways to celebrate Banned Books Week: I’ve worn a red-t-shirt with a list in black of some wonderful books which had been banned at one time or another while teaching my sociology class, hopefully broadening the minds of my students not just to read, but to protest things about which they feel strongly. Included on my t-shirt were: The Dairy of Anne Frank, Catcher in the Rye, Beloved, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird.
This particular week—and at other times–I wear a brightly colored bracelet, the links made up of photos of the front covers of previously banned books which I purchased it at the Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle. One day I’ll host a Reading Party asking folk to read from previously banned books. My contribution to that party will be reading from Ray Bradbury’s fabulous Farenheit 451 about a community where firemen were hired and trained to burn book.
Village Books, the wonderful independent bookstore in Bellingham, scheduled many events during this week. A dramatic example of limiting what can be read is illustrated by a bookmark they created: it show broad black felt pen marks covering entire words and phrases of a document. Village Books has author events, open mic, classes, discussion and writing groups. And many book stores now include used book sections alongside their new books and writing implements: check out Wind & Tide Books on Pioneer Way in Oak Harbor.
I believe the closest Half-Price Books is in Everett. I love those stores and first enjoyed many of the more than a dozen in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. And, remember that book treasures can be found in most Thrift Stores—I especially appreciate Island Thrift in Oak Harbor, WAIF in Coupeville and Oak Harbor, Soroptimists shops in Oak Harbor and Anacortes, and the Kiwanis Thrift Store in Anacortes.
The Campaign for America’s Libraries sponsors a wonderful site at www.atyourlibrary.org There, under ‘culture’, you can find Steve Zalusky’s informative article “Defending the Freedom to Read: The History of Banned Books Week” with links to many other fascinating places including a virtual Read-Out and the Banned Books Week website: www.bannedbooksweek.org. Libraries often have “Banned Books” displays during this week, and events may be offered by the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association, the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Association of American Publishers. Your local library may have a branch of the Friends of the Library, in some towns they have a used book shop in the library and they often sponsor used book sales. Reading is a privilege. Read.
Note: Book store photos are from their websites.