September 30 to October 6 will be the 30th year for Banned Books Week.

Photo: Banned Books Week

We blogged about this event a year ago. Here's something to refresh your memory:

“Banned Books Week is an annual event in the U.S. celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.”

Thousands of individuals and institutions across the United States participate in Banned Books Week each year, and it has grown into a premier literary event and a national awareness and advocacy campaign around censorship.

There are several things lined up for next week:

– 50 State Salute : consists of videos from each state proclaiming the importance of the freedom to read.

– Virtual Read-out: where readers can declare their freedom to read by uploading videos of themselves reading from their favorite banned/challenged books.

You're probably thinking.. how does this affect me if this event happens a continent away?

Well, just so you know book censorship is also rampant in Asian countries. From irreverent cartoons to short stories and novels, governments tell you what you can or cannot read for religious beliefs, political beliefs, and all sorts of other reasons.

The children's book “Where Did I Come From?” — an educational book filled with cartoon penises and vaginas — is too hot for Malaysia.

China bans books that dig up dirt on the Communist Party (although you can probably get smuggled copies in Taiwan and Hong Kong).

An American was sentenced to two and a half years in Thai prison for translating a banned biography about the country's king.

“Satanic Verses”, by Salman Rushdie was banned in India and burned in the UK when it was originally published in 1988.

In terms of hotly debated (and banned) literature, Asia actually has a lot more controversy than the U.S.

How do you feel about this? What are your thoughts on banned literature?

Will the same campaign as Banned Books Week work for us in Asia?

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