Censorship, book burnings, and secret reading highlight the relationship between reading and power, and hence the relationship between limiting access to reading and political control. But from the very beginning there have been dissidents who refused to give up the intellectual freedom provided by their reading in the face of despotic regimes. ‘Forbidden reading’ considers the history of book burnings undertaken by repressive political regimes, religious authorities, and maverick leaders. It also discusses the Inquisitions and indexes of banned books first led by the Roman Catholic Church, but then later by other religions. Finally, it looks at different forms of censorship, including press censorship during times of war, censorship of ‘undesirable’ content, and self-censorship.