Read books, don't ban them


I love to read.

I read every day. Yes, you could argue that I am a professional reader, as I work with words daily. I read them, write them and edit them and have for nearly three decades now.

At home, I also read. I read the news on my phone, and I read books on my Kindle. I read a couple of books a month from beginning to end, and often I am reading two at the same time. It is just too easy to do that on a Kindle, or any other electronic device used to read.

I have read a lot of novels, and have read many of the classics. I also love Stephen King and other authors the stuffy English majors love to scoff at. I say if you love a certain author and their works, don’t be ashamed. Reading is a good thing.

Reading is a great way to expand your knowledge of the world. It is a way to explore places on the printed page that you will never be able to in the flesh. It is about absorbing fantasy worlds, and living out an alternative existence, even if only for a short time.

Books, in short, are a wonder escape from our daily lives.

That is why I am constantly flummoxed by those who seem to believe that books can be a threat to society, or at least their belief system. I say if your belief system is so flimsy that a book can challenge it, you need to re-think your belief system.

Recently, a Catholic school in Tennessee removed all of the books from the Harry Potter series that it had. If you read this column regularly, you know that I am a Harry Potter fan, and my wife and I traveled last year to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal in Florida. It was a wonderful, magical place. The books and movies are also wonderful and magical. 

But this school removed the books, and the pastor at the school said the books contain, “actual curses and spells, which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits.”

Yes. In 2019, an educated person actually said that a book series aimed at younger readers, that has sold more than 400 million copies, could lead you to conjuring evil spirits.

It would be laughable if it wasn’t so frustrating.

Banning books is certainly not a new phenomenon. Many great pieces of literature have been banned and (anger rising) burned over the decades. I almost understand it when it comes to works that push the boundaries of the current society or ask us to take hard, deep looks at ourselves as a people – something most never want to do.

But this is a fantasy series of books that is fun and daring and expansive. This is not “To Kill a Mocking Bird,” which has been banned often, or even “Fifty Shades of Grey.” This is the magical world of Harry Potter.

I encourage people to get your kids the Harry Potter books. Read them yourselves if you haven’t, too. They are well-written and immersive.

Reading is good for people of all ages, as it expands the mind. Something the narrow-minded book banners of the world need more of.