It’s Banned Books Week (September 27- October 3, 2015), which means it’s also time for my yearly attempt to get through the Catcher in the Rye and a quick read of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Now before the entire Fordham English department (and my high school lit teacher) stones me for the crack about Salinger, I just want to make it clear I know the fault is with me. I just can’t get behind the deerstalker.
I have a mixed relationship with Banned Books Week. One side of my brain is excited because:
- I love that there is a week devoted to challenging censorship and celebrating freedom of expression.
But the other half looks at the list of banned books in the Library of Congress exhibit, “Books That Shaped America,” and I start to have a guilty panic attack that I haven’t read a third of them. Does Walsh Library deliver?
I want to bring up Banned Books Week because as graduate students, Fordham’s GSAS community often takes for granted the access to resources and books that we enjoy and also does not take advantage of the joy reading for pleasure can bring us. When I was working on my MA, I think there was a solid year where the only books moving in and out of my apartment were on Nahuatl gender roles. I know that some of my friends working on a dissertation say they don’t have time for pleasure reading.
And that sucks. Taking on something as time consuming and research intensive as a graduate degree tends to go hand-in-hand with a love of reading, whether it be journals, non-fiction, or fiction and not taking some time away from Kant and enjoy Catch-22 just adds to the general stress and depression that often comes with higher education. It’s tough to put down the academic text and pick up a book just for fun, but even a couple chapters a weekend might just un-stress you enough to power through a chapter (or a paragraph if you’re one of those writers).
We should read more.
Not add to references. Not frantically search indexes. Just read.
And also take this quiz that the NYPL created for the week and tell me in the comments how well you did. Because I did terribly; a 4 out of 6. Really me? 66%? I’m ashamed and I need you all to restore my faith in our generation.
- Dewis Shallcross, GSAS ’14, Director of Student Development