September 26 to October 3 is Banned Books Week, which celebrates the freedom to read.
Freedom to read is intimately related to one of our most basic and important freedoms: intellectual freedom. The freedom to think and express our thoughts - without religious, governmental, societal, familial or any other type of barriers or constraints - is a human right. And it's a human right that is constantly abridged or attacked somewhere on this planet.
In the US, the top ten books that were banned or challenged in 2008, are listed here. You can also click on the top ten list going back to 2001, along with lists by title, author and such.
The American Library Association has a map of book challenges reported in the US in 2008, organized geographically, although it also says 70-80 percent of challenges are never reported. In case you have some skewed notion of where intellectual freedom is threatened in the United States, click here and wait for it to load.
I'm sorry I didn't mention this sooner, but blame you-know-what. In honour of Banned Books Week, I'm going to read something by Francesca Lia Block, a young-adult author whose honest portrayals of teenage sexuality frequently land her work on the List. And whose excellent writing and well-published status make me jealous.