It always seems odd to visit someones home which is devoid of books...I've never been able to understand how you can go along from day to day without ever picking up a book to read...there is such escapism in a well written thriller...pleasure to be had from much loved old favourites where the characters are like good friends waiting to greet you again from within the pages. Knowledge too of course...on any subject you could imagine and probably many more you've not even thought of...

There is plenty of total rubbish filling the book shop shelves but by occasionally reading rubbish you learn to discriminate and choose more wisely the next time...and it gives you a deeper appreciation of what constitutes a well-written book.

I've just read the latest list of books banned from schools in America...one of which is The Kite Runner because apparently it protrays homosexuality...it does nothing of the kind...there is the rape of a small boy, which is integral to the entire story, but that has nothing whatsoever to do with homosexuality...and Fifty Shades of Grey which ought to be banned, on the grounds It's Fifty Shades of Shite...there were others but they were unfamiliar to me because they are aimed at the Young Adult market of readers...

Fanny Hill was banned when I was at school...as was Lady Chatterleys Lover, the most boring book ever written in my opinion...so what did we do? Managed to get hold of copies of both and passed them round. Same with banned films...we found a backstreet cinema in Birmingham which had a copy of the Clockwork Orange...so we queued up for ages with college students and old age pensioners and Pakistani shop keepers to watch it. It cost two shillings and sixpence and the sound was crackly.

I'd quite like to ban self-help books which drone on repeatedly about getting in touch with your inner child and other such rubbish...and any book about My Childhood Was Worse Than Yours with a crying baby on the cover...anything related to fishing would be on my list...celebrity cook books...autobiograpies written by anyone who thinks they're famous and still aren't out of their teens...ditto footballers...ditto snooker players...ditto anyone vaguely related to the Krays who insist they were 'ever so nice really'...and anything written by anybody who proudly announces they restored their little old cottage on a budget of 200,000 euro...and we'll show you how!

But, the difference in my own private list of books I walk straight past and those a government have decided ought not to be a shelf at all...is choice. My children read everything from comics to Sartre...from Catcher in the Rye to Vegetarian Cooking For Beginners...Brendan read the cornflake packet every morning if there was nothing else around...Luke now reads cookery books for pleasure while Brendan reads complex stories about the Celts which are way over my head...

I've no idea whether it did Luke any harm to read Stephen King when he was ten...he was still stuffing his pockets with shiny conkers when we walked home from school so he was fairly well-balanced for his age...while Brendan might well have been the teenager from hell but now he reads books for which the term 'highbrow' was invented...and I'd never any intention of whipping a book they were absorbed in away and saying it wasn't suitable...if it was over their heads or they found it hard going, then they'd not have read it in the first place.

And if there were expletives or descriptions of sex...then it would be much the same as playground talk, perhaps couched in more literary terms than the playground.

We are appalled by countries who ban the Bible even if we never open one page of ours we were given by a god-parent...we recoil in horror when we read about the Nazis burning books written by Jews...I'm still aghast at the amount of destruction wreaked on books and manuscripts by Cromwells men...

How dare anyone decide what is suitable reading material and what is not...