Oct 25, 2013 - Uncategorized    4 Comments    4,751 views

Why do people burn books?

   “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture, just get people to stop reading     them.” – Ray Bradbury

Recently, a picture (last accessed 25 Oct 2013) posted on Facebook showing a book-    burning episode has caused much controversy. Some disagreed with the act, saying it  sends the wrong message to children about the value of books and learning, while others  bemoan the stressful environment that motivated parents and their children to seek such  ‘relief’. Subsequent reports revealed the organiser as a parent, who explained: “It was  meant to be cathartic and fun, for the kids to symbolically leave something stressful  behind and mark a new beginning.”


Instead of debating about this event to no end, why not take this chance to ask ourselves:

“Why do people burn books?”

Finding answers to this can lead us to look back into history to find examples of books being burned. It turns out there were there were many examples of book-burning in history.

Book-Burning in History

The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee has a website (last accessed 25 Oct 2013) focused on this topic of book-burning in history. From the burning of the Library of Alexandria by the Romans, the Qin Emperor’s famous edict in 213 BC to the Nazi book burnings of what they considered as subversive writings, historical examples of book-burning were plentiful. The website summarises and explains some of the reasons: ‘vandalism, protest and hate-mongering’.


Want to read more about the history of book-burning? Try the following suggestions from our collection:


  Libricide : the regime-sponsored destruction of books and libraries in the twentieth century

Author: Rebecca Knuth.

Publisher: Westport, Conn. : Praeger, 2003.

Call Number: English 363.310904 KNU


 Lost libraries : the destruction of great book collections since antiquity

Editor: James Raven.

Publisher: Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hamsphire ; New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

Call Number: English 027.009 LOS -[LIB]


  Burning books and leveling libraries : extremist violence and cultural destruction

Author: Rebecca Knuth.

Publisher: Westport, Conn. : Praeger, 2006.

Call Number: English 025.82 KNU -[LIB]


Contributed by Felix Ser, Librarian


  • Who would have thought that NLB putting up this post is the one burning books now?! You should go back to your library to read the books that you have recommended n reflect on your actions. Shame on you! Please change your Missions, Visions & NLB Act. It’s hypocrite to say you promote reading and encourage learning. How about just censorship?

  • Walk the talk, NLB!

  • Complete hypocrisy.

  • In view of the recent events, this post has become rather ironic.

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