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If you want an interesting insight into a society, how about this one?  The US organisation – American Library Association publishes a list of challenged books that have appeared in libraries.  This is a list of books which readers have actively complained to appearing on the shelves of their local libraries.

Many of these are quite predictable, for instance there’s  a variety of books which deal with sex and sexuality ranging from ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ to more serious books about transgender issues.  Of course, many of these books will draw opposition particularly in the more religious and conservative societies spread across the United States.  Sometimes these objections are part of an organised dispute or protest often sponsored by a religious group.

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The book which has received the greatest number of challenges in 2015 was an adult novel called ‘Looking for Alaska’ by John Green.  Many people found it contained sexually explicit language or offensive scenes, although it is surprising why these people found themselves reading such material.

Other books mentioned in the top ten are nearly all concerned with some sort of sexual expression apart from one notable example – arriving in the top ten for the first time ever is – The Holy Bible.  This is somewhat of a surprise and it’s inclusion is something of a puzzle.  Some people have speculated that it is indicative of the rising levels of atheism in the US, other suggest that it’s simply a secular protest that a religious book violates the States impartiality.

It may simply be a response to the growing activism of church groups, when one book is protested against on religious grounds – secular groups protest against the bible on a ‘tit for tat’ basis.  There is no doubt that there is a worry though that these lists seem to be growing in a nation that champions free speech and the lack of censorship.   Already the internet is rife with filters and blocks and  people actively seek out servers in certain countries in order to avoid surveillance and censorship, popular locations include looking for a US and UK proxy server to ensure that internet access is not filtered.