Visit Riverhead's Pop-Up Reading Room to Celebrate Banned Books Week

June's Pop-Up Reading Room was heald outside of the Langston Hughes House.
June's Pop-Up Reading Room was heald outside of the Langston Hughes House. | Courtesy of Riverhead Books
Photo of Parrish Turner
Us Books Editor25 September 2018

Fighting against literary censorship, Riverhead Books is hosting a celebration to shine a light on books banned in some schools and libraries.

Banned Books Week aims to spotlight books that have been pulled from schools and libraries around the world, as well as provide a rallying cry in support of the freedom of speech. In honor of this, Riverhead Books is hosting a pop-up reading room at Brooklyn Bridge Park on September 29 2018 from 1-4pm.

Riverhead Pop-Up Reading Room | Courtesy of Riverhead Books

Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, has a history of highlighting diverse voices from around the world. “At Riverhead Books, we pride ourselves on publishing extraordinary, groundbreaking works by diverse voices from around the world,” the company said in a press release. “The pop-up reading room is our way of taking that one step further, by creating a space for people to come together and build community around our love of good books.”

Throughout the event, visitors will be asked to consider the question: what would it be like to live in a world without open access to ideas and literature? By looking at the kinds of books that have been banned, visitors will be able to reflect upon what information is seen as threatening. Often attempts at censorship can bring even wider attention to the novels in question, having the opposite effect to the one intended.

The pop-up will have snacks, beverages, and, of course, books. Featured texts include Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, Garrard Conley’s Boy Erased, Patricia Lockwood’s Priestdaddy, Brit Bennett’s The Mothers, Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West and Francisco Cantú’s The Line Becomes A River.

The conversation was lively at the first pop-up reading room in June 2018 | Courtesy of Riverhead Books

This is the second reading room pop-up organized by Riverhead Books. “Each installment of the Riverhead Pop-Up Reading Room will have a different theme or focus,” wrote Riverhead publicist May-Zhee Lim. “For the last one, we wanted to celebrate Caribbean Heritage Month and highlight all the wonderful Riverhead books written by Caribbean authors so we featured Man Booker Prize Winner Marlon James (A Brief History of Seven Killings) and Tiphanie Yanique (Land of Love and Drowning).”

Although discussing literary censorship may seem an unusual method for bringing people together, Riverhead’s pop-up aims to change the conversation and use literature as a uniting force – and it is already fostering new literary communities. “At the last one, people were forming impromptu book clubs,” writes Lim. “It was quite cool.”

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