The 30th annual Banned Books Week (September 23 – October 1), sponsored by the American Library Association, is in full swing with events and displays at libraries and bookstores across the country, along with a Virtual Read-out. Bibliophiles are invited to create videos of themselves reading from their favorite banned or challenged book and post it to the Banned Books Week channel.

The list of challenged books runs wide and deep, from contemporary tales such as Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants to classics like James Joyce’s Ulysses. The Irish writer’s novel might not have made it into print if it weren’t for Sylvia Beach, the original proprietor of the famed Parisian bookshop Shakespeare and Company and confidante and champion of expatriate writers. In 1922, she published Ulysses—controversial in part for its use of “dirty words” and sexual content—at her own expense. Another friend and loyal customer, Ernest Hemingway, aided Beach in having the book smuggled into the United States, where it was banned.

On display at the James Joyce Museum and Tower at Sandycove Point on the southern edge of Dublin Bay, a 40-foot granite tower where the scribe once stayed and later set the opening scene of Ulysses, is a rare early copy of the notorious tale illustrated by Henri Matisse.

[Photo © Dublin Tourism/]