Banned Books Week: In Which We Enter The Land Of Forbidden Literature

This week is Banned Books Week — a time to celebrate and acknowledge all the great and not-so-great works of literature that at one point or another have been considered too hot or too controversial for libraries. Among the most famous banned books? J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Banned Book Week is a great time to celebrate our freedom to read, and to think about how important access to information really is.

It’s also a time to reflect on the books we were banned from reading growing up …When I was a kid, my parents encouraged me to read — they took me to the library often, and bought me books via the Scholastic Book Club Catalog.

As I grew older, my ferocious reading curiosity only increased. And that’s when I started picking up books I probably shouldn’t have. For some reason, Harlequin had started sending copies of their paperback romance novels to my parents’ house — even though my mom never read them. It was most likely some mailing error, but the books kept coming, and I began reading them — in secret. I was only 9, but I soon got the formula — a strong-willed woman, an arrogant man, boning, fights, more boning, and a passionate reconciliation at the end.

I probably plowed through a dozen or so of those sexually graphic novels before my mom found out. And took the books away — telling me it was inappropriate reading material for someone my age (we hadn’t even had the “where do babies come from” talk at that point.) I quickly moved on to Richard Condon’s political satires (he was the guy who wrote The Manchurian Candidate, and yes, I was a weird kid) but I’ll never forget all the “passionate embraces” and boob-touching in those first formative romance books.

In honor of Banned Books Week, tell us about the time YOU were banned from reading something.