Interesting list of banned books to read
A list of banned books sounds intriguing, isn’t it? Why are these books banned? They’re also alluring because they hold that certain allure for voracious readers. That isn’t to say they can’t be dangerous, especially if their stories inspire tyranny or other forms of dangerous ideologies.
However, in the Age of Information, it is everyone’s job to seek out the truth, even when uncomfortable. To their credit, many of these banned books are only labeled as such because they don’t conform to what society deems inappropriate. But the magic of literature has always been in its ability to tell diverse stories as the people in the real world. Read on below to see a list of these books and why they are banned.
Censored Books All Over the World
Whether it is a positive or negative thing is still up for debate, but censorship is alive and well in many corners of the world. Many great books are considered classic literature yet are still battling for their freedom to be read. These banned books have been challenged by school districts, federal governments, local governments, and other bodies of power worldwide.
From expressing a different perspective to representing the LGBTQIA+ community to profanity to explicit sexual content, there are varying reasons why a book might be included in a list of banned books. There have been hundreds of titles that have been included in these infamous lists, and many of them have been on and off their spot due to changes in governance.
In the U.S., the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) is responsible more compiling the most challenged books in the country. Along with other organizations such as the American Booksellers Association and National Council of Teachers of English, they celebrate the freedom to read these banned books during Banned Books Week evert September 25th through October 1st.
10 Top List of Interesting Banned Books
Many court cases have been fought, bills passed, books burned, and movements ignited. Whether the book had a scandalous relationship between people of the same sex or a talking pig was inciting opposing views or simply taking issue with women as authors, many people throughout the years have found reasons to ban this book or that book. Below is a list of banned books in and out of America.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and allegations of sexual misconduct by the author
A budding cartoonist named Junior was born and raised in the Spokane Indian Reservation. He attends an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. He decides to take his future into his own hands and leaves the only place he’s ever known.
As Junior tries to figure out who he is, he grapples with discrimination from his peers to generational poverty. A coming-of-age story that depicts the reality of Native Americans, Junior’s story depicts the systemic oppression that tries to stop him from living a life he dreams of and sets him on a journey of self-discovery.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Reasons: Banned for sexual promiscuity, sexually explicit scenes, drug use, and self-harm
Nearly 90 years after its publication, this novel is still a heated debate among literary lovers. This classic sci-fi novel explores the dystopian genre wherein a government’s need for economic growth results in a divided society into caste systems. The citizens are separated according to their jobs, intelligence, and appearance. Sex is widely accepted in this novel’s society but not so much when it was published.
Their futuristic World State is painted as a utopia because of the genetically-modified people’s complacence thanks to entertainment and mood-altering drugs. There is no room for criticism of the system, and anyone who dares gets punished — until the protagonist is the only one who died.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Banned for graphic sex scenes, sexual abuse, drug use, and alcohol use
Many school curricula and parents of teens have objected to having the young adult novel “Charlie and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” available in public libraries. The protagonist, young Charlie, tells his stories through his letters. You may not know where he lives, but you will know Charlie.
While this book is a coming-of-age story, it depicts heavy topics that must be approached with care. Many parents and groups have raised concerns about the book triggering trauma in young individuals who read it. On the other hand, the story also sheds light on the many mental health issues that many adolescents suffer.
A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss
Reasons: Banned for LGBTQIA+ representation in a children’s book and political viewpoints
Marlon Bundo is the lonely grandson of the VPOTUS Mike Pence. That is until he meets Wesley on a Very Special Day. A charming children’s book that explores the issue of same-sex relationships and battles the prejudice that has been ingrained in society since the dawn of time, this book has faced much backlash from schools, local governments, and parents.
One critic called the storybook “designed to pollute the morals of its readers.” This statement has been rebuked and fought by the LGBTQIA+ community because of its falsities. Queer people exist, and this story does not indoctrinate but educates the youth that not all bunnies are made the same way, which is perfectly okay.
George by Alex Gino
Reasons: Banned and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community.”
Fourth-grader Melissa knows that they see George when her friends and family see her. They all think she’s a boy, but she knows she’s a girl. When her class is assigned to do Charlotte’s Web as a play, she wants to play Charlotte. Her teachers wouldn’t let her try out for the part because she’s a girl, but they think Melissa is…not.
With her best friend Kelly, George hatches a plan not just to get Charlotte’s part. However, to show everyone who she truly is. This coming-of-age story is highly criticized for depicting a transgender or gender-nonconforming child. This coming-of-age story is full of charm, hope, and self-discovery. However, not many parents and schools feel the same way.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Reasons: Banned for profanity, and it was thought to promote an anti-police message
Starr Carter is trying to navigate two worlds: the poor Black neighborhood and the suburban prep school she attends. Her world is turned upside down when she bears witness to her childhood best friend fatally shot in cold blood while unarmed. The incident caused national controversy and sparked another movement against police brutality and racism.
As Starr becomes the center of the event, she struggles to understand her role in the world, in her neighborhood, and herself. Shedding light on the increasing rate of police brutality against black people and people of color, this book has been accused of infighting anti-police sentiments in the youth. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this story is more than just a coming-of-age tale but a quest and struggle for justice.
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Reasons: Banned for representing the rise of Communism in the Soviet Union and imagery they felt was “against Islamic values.”
Perhaps one of the most widely banned books globally, Orwell’s thinly-veiled satirical story of communism was banned in Stalinist USSR, Cuba, North Korea, and Kenya. It was also banned in UAE schools for its depiction of a talking pig. Which was deemed to be against Muslim values. The former reason is a bit more understandable, albeit debatable. The latter has baffled plenty of educators, some Muslims included.
This is the story of Mr. Jones and his neglected farm. An aging pig, Old Major, gathers all the animals together to overthrow Mr. Jones. The pig plans to create an equal society on the farm, but he abruptly vanishes, and everything becomes chaos.
The pigs rise to leadership, but instead of creating a just society, they end up wearing human clothes, walking on two feet and acting as cruelly as humans. This story explores the themes of power and how it can corrupt.
Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
Reasons: Banned for “blasphemous references to the Islamic religion” and incited so much outrage from the Muslim community for decades
Lots of books have been hated by different groups of people. Which has caused them to end up on a list of banned books. However, Rushdie’s work has caused extreme reactions from the literary (and non-literary) world. After its publication, former spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah a fatwa that forced Salman Rushdie to stay on the down-low and even into hiding for an entire decade. It also leads to the death of the novel’s Japanese translator.
With so much bloody history, this book has accumulated quite the attention. It tells the story of two men raised in the Islamic culture and their methods of coping with Western influences. Through metamorphoses, dreams, and revelations, the story has been accused of blasphemous transcriptions of the Qurʾān and misrepresentation of the Prophet Muhammad. Despite this, it still sold millions of copies and has become a bestseller.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Reasons: Banned for sexual and social explicitness and “troubling ideas about race relations.”
Taking inspiration from her literary foremother Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker’s story centers on Southern Black women who are all too often misrepresented in American culture. The story depicts Black women living in the South in the 1930s. Their struggles, hope, journey to self-discovery, and owning the truth of who they were.
Many critics have called this book a gift to Black women and everyone else with ‘The Color Purple.’ This book has made many uncomfortable simply because it depicts liberated Black women in more ways than one. With sensitive topics such as sexual abuse, incest, and violence, readers should read with caution for triggers.
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
Reasons: Banned for offensive language, homosexuality, and sex education
A 2019 study revealed that approximately 3% of American teens (ages 13 to 17) identify as transgender or gender nonconforming. Using considerable skills, their stories are told thoughtfully and respectfully before, during, and after these teens acknowledge their gender identity. Author and photographer Susan Kuklin gathered interviews from six transgender or gender-neutral young adult.
Although it is the only non-fictional book on this list, it still gained plenty of frowns from parents and school boards that do not understand nor want to understand sexuality and gender identity. On the contrary, it received plenty of support from the community and its allies. One critic said the books and “its effect on many young people who would read it” should be enough to have it banned.
What is categorized as a banned book?
In simple terms, when a book is banned, it means that the book has been taken off the shelf of a school or a library. Banning any form of literature, whether a book, a movie, an essay, a play or some other form, is a form of censorship. Different groups of people have petitioned books to be banned or challenged. This could be from political, legal, religious, moral, or (less often) commercial motives.
What is the difference between a banned book vs. a challenged book?
Parents are the biggest group of people to challenge a book. Challenging a book is less of a duel-with-a-hardbound event and more like a petition or request for a title to be removed in the library or as part of the students’ school curriculum. These petitions are most likely denied. Also, the books stay in circulation, but it doesn’t stop parents (and teachers and other groups) from trying.
Best Books Everyone Should Read
The Bottom Line
A banned book is not illegal to read but may be difficult to find. Books may be banned locally in schools and libraries, but a few literary works are banned nationally as well. Some states or towns may have a list of banned books. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t find it in the next town over or on the internet, for that matter.
The American Library Association promotes readers’ freedom to read banned books over the years. Celebrating the freedom of reading other perspectives, emerging in other cultures, and expressing your opinions of a literary work. In this age of technology and free information, it is important to make these books not only available but accessible as well.