Banned books Read Out celebrates First Amendment

All this week, libraries across the country are celebrating the freedom to read as part of banned books week which is celebrated every year. Coastal Carolina University hosted a "read out" to highlight controversial books.

The First Amendment gives every American the right to say what they want and have access to what others say. Thursday night, many came out to recognize the freedom that many others in the world do not have.

In a dramatic reading, a small audience listened to parts of James Joyce's novel, Ulysses. The book had a long journey before making it to bookshelves in America. The book was formally labeled dirty, but a 1933 U.S. Supreme Court ruling changed that.

"Enabled Ulysses to be finally published in the United States because until that time, the U.S. postal authorities were actually confiscating editions of the book," explained Eric Byville with CCU's Kimbel Library.

Other books highlighted during the program include The Tortilla Curtain, Amores, and Slaughterhouse Five. As more books are released, the odds of a novel's theme or language offending someone increase. Many religious groups targeted the highly successful Harry Potter series.

"So many books now every year are censored and banned from public schools and it's important to celebrate our right to be able to read those books," said Morgan Duff, CCU student.

It's not just books that are subject to censure. Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical, Jesus Christ Superstar, faced criticism.

"We're not suggesting everyone should read or approve of all printed materials, but that there should be intellectual freedom to read them if one wants to," said Byville. "There's something very exciting about celebrating the freedom and ability writers have to write and portray anything their imagination can invent."

Reasons a book may cause controversy range from being sexually explicit to unsuitable for certain age groups. Other books that have been challenged include the Lord of the Rings, 1984, and Gone With the Wind.

According to the American Library Association most books that are challenged are not banned.