October 2nd, 2007 | Published in Google Books
When I recently popped into one of San Francisco's most famous independent bookstores, City Lights Booksellers & Publishers, I noticed a display marked "Banned Books." Many of the books I saw were classics -- books I couldn't imagine having grown up without reading. So I'm pleased to tell you that here at Google, we've put together a website where you can explore banned books as part of Banned Books Week, taking place this year from September 29th through October 6th.
It turns out that City Lights played an active role in the history of banned books in America. One of the books on the shelf was Howl, by legendary San Francisco beat poet Allen Ginsberg. City Lights doesn't just sell Howl -- it was the original publisher, and in 1956 went to court to defend itself against obscenity charges.
This year the list of banned books includes And Tango Makes Three, the story of two male penguins who are given a fertilized egg by zookeepers after trying to hatch an egg-shaped rock. According to the American Library Association (ALA), this book is the most challenged book of 2006 -- meaning that it's been the target of the most complaints filed in libraries or schools, requesting that it be removed "because of content or appropriateness."
We've got Tango on our Banned Books site, along with classics like The Awakening by Kate Chopin, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, and Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein (did you see that one coming?). We encourage you to take a look and join us in celebrating the freedom to read.