Welcome, my friends, to Freedom to Read Week.
I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on what it means to be able to read what I want, when I want, and just how critical it is to be able to read at all. I enjoy reading, I read for about an hour a day on average – mostly non-fiction in the last few years, just out of a personal preference and an insatiable curiosity more than anything else. I have, as I always do, a stack of books next to my bed, with bookmarks in each of them, awaiting my return. I’m either unfocused or too curious for my own good. Just as an example of the subjects that interest me, the stack consists of the biography of Charles Schulz (from the library – surprisingly I’m not impressed so far), a history of modern Japan, a short history of the world, the diaries of Michael Palin, a book of the 50 worst films of all time, a behind the scenes look at 60 classic films, and one or two others. You get the idea from this that my reading choices are eclectic, to say the least – next week’s stack may be quite different. What I love more than anything, however, is the freedom to create my stack of beloved friends without interference from anyone.
The true measure of the maturity of a culture is the breadth of its tolerance and the degree of freedom an individual had to explore ideas, good or bad. We must always be on guard for ideological pettiness, for censorship based on a narrow view of the world, for suppression of ideas by those who feel they know better. I thought it would be interesting to create a link to the list of challenged books in Canada, which provides a snapshot of intolerance and narrow-minded paranoia, in most cases.
But of course, that’s just my opinion. Isn’t it great that I have the freedom to write it, and that you have the freedom (and impeccable good taste) to read it?