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Lauren Groff to Open Banned-Book Bookstore

A new report shows how corrosive book banning is. Novelist Lauren Groff is fighting back.

By Emily St. Martin

As a new report from PEN America aggregates two years of data on book bans to show how they stigmatize specific authors, Lauren Groff — author of “Florida” and the recent novel “The Vaster Wilds” — has just announced plans to open a bookstore selling frequently banned books in the epicenter of challenged literature. “I love bookstores because I think they, and libraries, are at the forefront of democracy in some very real ways,” Groff told The Times during a phone interview from her home in Gainesville, Fla., on Thursday — the day PEN America released its report.

The new report reflects on the 5,894 book bans in U.S. public schools documented from July 2021 to June 2023. PEN America’s findings illustrated the way copycat bans have become a driving force in the campaign to scrub library shelves. The free-speech advocacy organization also defined what it called the “Scarlet Letter” effect — the stigma attached to authors of challenged books who subsequently found themselves targeted for all their work. As of September 2023, according to PEN, more than 40% of book restrictions occurred in Florida.

Over the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years, according to PEN, book challenges in public schools affected 247 school districts across 41 states, affecting millions of students. Many of them have recently taken a stand against restricting their literary pursuits. Read the full piece at the Los Angeles Times.

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