The simple joy of reading actually can be quite controversial.

Banned Books Week, an annual campaign that promotes the freedom to read, captured the minds of UT students and faculty alike this week.

According to Molly Royse, the head of research collections in Hodges Library, the celebration is a way to spread the word about book censorship.

"It's an awareness tool," Royce said. "It is here to remind people that even in today's society there still are book titles being challenged for a number of reasons."

In 2012, there were 464 formal requests to ban books, most of which were due to sexually explicit content and offensive language. However, according to Rachel Radom, instructional services librarian at UT, these books have no right to be challenged.

"The American Library Association has a Freedom to Read statement as well as a Reader's Bill of Rights that say that nobody can say what someone should or should not read," Radom said. "They also say that reading itself is not a bad or a good act."

In addition to disagreeing with book censorship, Radom said reading controversial books can introduce a person to new ideas and different points of view.

"In order to get to know any other perspectives in the world, you sometimes have to read things that are challenging or sometimes offensive," she said. "It widens your world view."

Banned Books Week began in 1982 due to a large number of books being challenged in schools and libraries. Since then, more than 11,000 books have been challenged, and the number is getting bigger every year.

Even some of the most popular classics have made the Banned Book list.

"'To Kill a Mockingbird' is a book that I really enjoy, and I think most people do, and it's been banned," Radom said. "To hear that it has been banned is a shock for most people."

Other popular banned books include "The Kite Runner," "Of Mice and Men" and many books by Judy Blume. The Harry Potter series was ranked number one on the banned book list from 2000-2009, and Royse said she thinks this ranking does the series an injustice.

"'Harry Potter' is on the list every year, even though the books are well-written and excellent," Royse said. "It's a shame because (the series) really encourages kids to read."

Many UT students are participating in Banned Books Week by checking out controversial books to read and voicing their opinions on the subject.

Hope Anthony, freshman in English, said she agrees that banning books is unconstitutional.

"I don't think we should be able to ban books because we have freedom of the press and freedom of speech," Anthony said. "Banning books is an infringement of our rights."

Casey Preuett, junior in English, argues that censoring certain books prevents the joys that can be found through reading.

"I think that censoring a book puts an unfair limit on what a reader is able to enjoy," Preuett said. "I don't think anyone should be able to put a limit what we spend our time reading."

According to Royse, it is important to celebrate Banned Books Week so students and faculty can be reminded of the freedoms they possess as writers and readers.

"The freedom to read is not something that everyone in the world has," Royse said. "We can't take it for granted, and Banned Books Week reminds us of that."

Banned Books Week runs until Sept. 28.