September 26 through October 3 is Banned Books Week, now in its 27th official year. Created by the American Library Association, it is a yearly reminder to us all that the right to read what you want when you want is a precious one and not to be taken for granted.
Books are removed - or attempted to be removed - from libraries and schools around this country on a regular basis. Those calling for censorship cross the political spectrum from right to left, so despite your political convictions, you can't blame it on the other side.
When I look at my bookshelves or think about my sons' bookshelves, I see a plethora of books that have come under fire: The Wizard of Oz. Slaughterhouse Five. The Grapes of Wrath. The Diary of Ann Frank. To Kill a Mockingbird. The Bible.
So many books, so little time.
Ray Bradbury more than once wrote short stories about a future where books were taboo. In his novel Fahrenheit 451, he imagines an America in which books are torched pursuant to the law: The system was simple. Everyone understood it. Books were for burning, along with the houses in which they were hidden.
Bradbury's works pop up on banned books lists from time to time. I suspect that makes him glad he wrote them.
Next week, celebrate your right to read freely during Banned Books Week. Be a radical. Read a banned book. Read 10 banned books. Reread Fahrenheit 451 while you are at it.
And then go out and read some more. Not just this week but every week. Not just now but always.