Book Banning Attempts Hit All-Time High

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Welcome to Today in Books, where we report on literary headlines at the intersection of politics, culture, media, and more.

Book Banning Attempts Reach All-Time High

The American Library Association reported a record number of attempts to remove books from libraries last year, and not by a small margin. 4,240 individual titles were targeted in 2023, up almost 65% from the 2,571 titles that were challenged in 2022. Nearly half of the challenged titles address LGBTQ+ identities and/or issues of race and racism, making it crystal clear that this isn’t—and wasn’t ever—just about books. Despite the fact that most parents trust librarians and agree that banning books is a waste of time, I expect the 2024 numbers will show another increase, especially as conservative anti-free speech activists and politicians dig in on this losing strategy in a presidential election year.

Subscribe to Book Riot’s free Literary Activism newsletter to stay informed and find out how you can get involved in the fight to protect free speech and defeat book bans.

Is That Canon? 

In an admirable attempt to capture the most important novels of the last 100 years, the folks at The Atlantic have created a new American canon. Comprised of 136 titles, the list aims “to single out those classics that stand the test of time, but also to make the case for the unexpected, the unfairly forgotten, and the recently published works that already feel indelible.” Like any list on the internet, it is far from comprehensive, and they probably left off a few of your faves, but it is diverse in many senses of the word and captures the constantly-changing vibes of American fiction. A pretty good swing at an impossible task. My condolences to their social media managers when this one hits Facebook. 

Creator of The Bear Goes Bookish

Christopher Storer is having a good year, but Amor Towles may be having a better one. The limited-series adaptation of Towles’s novel A Gentleman in Moscow, starring Ewan MacGregor and a truly impressive mustache, will hit Paramount+ later this month, and now Storer, who created The Bearhas signed up to write and direct a big-screen adaptation of The Lincoln Highway. A 1950s roadtrip movie about two brothers who set off on a cross-country journey to find their mother after the death of their father? Yes, please. If this is done well—and Storer’s ability to capture complex and entertaining family dynamics gives me a lot of confidence that it will be—it has the potential to be a huge good-for-the-whole-family hit. And what an opportunity for two young actors! Do we think Dominic Sessa (The Holdovers) can still pass for 18?

Speaking of Adaptations

Coming off of Cord Jefferson’s Oscar win for Best Adapted Screenplay for American Fiction, Jeff O’Neal and I discuss the movie and its source material, along with what Hollywood gets wrong and right about the world of publishing.

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