Oct. 3 marked the last day of Banned Books Week 2015. To commemorate the week-long celebration, a group of readers gathered at Ogden’s Historic 25th Street on Saturday to publicly read excerpts from famously banned books.
Kase Johnstun, Weber State alumnus, author and award-winning essayist, organized the Ogden Banned Books reading event.
“These are works of fiction, but the stories are real,” Johnstun said. “People can read the stories and relate to the characters in the story and feel less alone.”
According to BannedBooks.org, Banned Books Week began in 1982 as more and more titles were being challenged in education and libraries. The Freedom to Read celebration occurs annually during the last week of September.
Johnstun organized the reading event with the intention of bringing more literary awareness to the community.
“Even if people just stop to look at the books it sparks their curiosity,” Johnstun said.
Johnstun was joined by several bibliophiles for the reading, including his wife Mary.
“People are afraid of what they don’t understand,” she said. “When we read these books, we challenge those fears.”
Mary and Johnstun both studied English in college and each has a deep-rooted love of literature. They have started to compile a personal library of banned books for their son to read when he is older.
Some notable banned titles include, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain, “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger, “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell, “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and “To Kill a Mockingbird “ by Harper Lee.
Janica Johnstun joined the movement and read an excerpt from “Gone with the Wind.”
“When people decide for themselves what they love, what they don’t love and what they believe, and there no boundaries and people are allowed to think for themselves, society’s going to be a lot better.” Janica said.
Janica, along with Johnstun, host “Poetflow,” a forum for the spoken word, held every Tuesday night at the Lighthouse Lounge on 25th Street.
For a comprehensive list of banned books visit www.ala.org/bbooks. For more information about Banned Books Week visit www.bannedbooksweek.org.