Our Antiracist Reading List’s Final Theme-Banned Books

We are slowly approaching the end of the academic year, which means the sun starts to come out melting the snow and the students are rushing to finalize all their studies for this year. It also means that our Monthly Antiracism Reading List is coming to another end. This year, for the second time, we divided the books into three themes, to give more context for each recommended book. This year our themes were: Institutional Racism, Indigenous Knowledge and finally Banned Books.


Before going into our final theme, I want to highlight certain contemporary issues concerning our second theme, Indigenous knowledge. Today, we witness devastating and horrific issues concerning the rights of indigenous populations and their land. For instance, we see active genocides happening in Palestine and Congo, to mention a few, when we scroll our social media feed, hence why we also decided to recommend books touching upon these issues and communities. The struggle is certainly still ongoing and there are so many more important books that we could still recommend. Therefore, if the topic interests you, I strongly encourage you to see the extended list of books by the Turku library ( FREE PALESTINE! | Vaski-kirjastot (finna.fi)) and to visit Kirjakahvila, which also has books on the topic (either to be borrowed or bought).


Then to our final theme, namely Banned Books. But what does this mean? Well, with banned books, we do not entail hurtful or violent books that have been banned for a fair reason, but rather books that have been banned due to addressing issues of discomfort, to some. These books deal with issues such as racism, injustice, and criticism of an institute or include sexually explicit content, swearing or mention of drug use or alcohol consumption. I would argue that many reading this would consider these topics to be well-digested and accepted to be read, however, some places condemn these books and remove them from any shelf. Regardless of the books being classics and dwelling on contemporary topics or giving representation to those often misrepresented, they are seen as evil and blacklisted.


It is unfortunate to see the restriction of knowledge and stories, hence we dedicate the last three book recommendations to this theme. The books that we are going to highlight are mainly banned in the United States for various reasons. These books are across-the-board novels, since the academic year is coming to an end, we want to highlight other types of literature than academic texts, which you read during the summer while enjoying the sun and a nice cold beverage. Hopefully these books, along with the other recommended books over the year, have and will be of interest to our readers and spark new ways of thinking and learning.