Banned Books

  • Posted on: 1 August 2022
  • By: Sandman

Banned Books

For each of these titles, I've linked the most affordable copy available (dover thrift, when possible) but if you'd like to have more collectible editions, let me know! I'll be glad to compile a list of beautifully bound classics.

Why? Complaints about reading material generally fall into one of the following categories: language, sex, violence (especially rape and suicide), or politics. Perhaps the most common reason a book is challenged is the vague term "vulgarity" (which may mean language, spicy content, or even politics). Recently, I've noticed a lot of reports suggest that books are being challenged for being too "controversial." That really gives me pause; if we can't read and discuss controversial topics, what's the point? 

When? Where? It's easy to think that this is something that happened "in the old days," but censorship is alive and well. Many of the titles on this list have been challenged repeatedly over the last century. I included locations and dates whenever possible, because I think it's important to understand that book banning is not only a problem of the past. 

For most of these titles, I've included direct quotes from the complaints of would-be censors. 

Banned & Challenged Classics

Fahrenheit 451Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)

My personal favorite among the list of banned books will always be F451. How much more on the nose could this get? People trying to ban a book... about burning books. Yes. Really. #BookToFilm · #StaffPick

Challenged in: Panama City, Florida (1987) · Irvine, California (1992) · Conroe, Texas (2007) · Santa Rosa, Florida (2018)

Adventures of Huckleberry FinnThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1885)

"bad word choice" "uninhibitedly vulgar" "most grotesque example of racism I've ever seen in my life" Writer Louisa May Alcott said that if Twain "[could not] think of something better to tell our pure-minded lads and lasses he had best stop writing for them."

Challenged in: many, many times over its life, including: Concord, MA (1885) · Brooklyn, NY (1905) · Renton, WA (2003) · Virginia (2016)

Catcher in the RyeThe Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (1951)

"anti-white" "obscene" "excess vulgar language" "statements defamatory to minorities, God, women, and the disabled" "a filthy, filthy book" #BookToFilm

Challenged in: Tulsa, OK (1960) · Columbus, OH (1967) · Selinsgrove, PA (1975) · Pittsgrove, NJ (1977) · Issaquah, WA (1978) · Middleville, MI (1979) · North Jackson, OH (1980) · Anniston, AL · Morris, Manitoba (1982) · Libby, MT(1983) · De Funiak Springs, FL (1985) · Medicine Bow, WY (1986) · Napoleon, ND (1987) · Linton-Stockton, IN (1988) · Boron, CA (1989) · Grayslake, IL (1991) · Sidell, IL · Waterloo, IA  · Duval County, FL · Carlisle, PA (1992) · Corona Norco, CA (1993) · New Richmond, WI · Goffstown, NH (1994) · St. Augustine, FL (1995) · Paris, ME (1996) · Brunswick, GA · Marysville, CA (1997) · Limestone County, AL · Savannah, GA (2000) · Summerville, SC  · Glynn County, GA (2001) · Missoula, MT (2009)

Gone with the WindGone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1936)

"language" #BookToFilm

Challenged in: Nazi Germany · the former Soviet Union · Anaheim, CA (1978) · Waukegan, IL (1984)

GiverThe Giver by Lois Lowry (1993)

A word from the author: “I think banning books is a very, very dangerous thing. It takes away an important freedom. Any time there is an attempt to ban a book, you should fight it as hard as you can. It’s okay for a parent to say, ‘I don’t want my child to read this book.’ But it is not okay for anyone to try to make that decision for other people. The world portrayed in The Giver is a world where choice has been taken away. It is a frightening world. Let’s work hard to keep it from truly happening.” - Lois Lowry #BookToFilm

Challenged in: ·

GatsbyThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

Described as "controversial" and containing "language and sexual references." #BookToFilm

Challenged in: Charleston, SC (1987) · Matanuska-Susitna Borough, AK (2020)

Grapes of WrathThe Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1939)

"vulgar words" the "book is full of filth" uses the name of God and Jesus in a "vain and profane manner." #BookToFilm

Challenged in: East St. Louis, IL (1939) · Buffalo, NY(1939) · Kansas City, MO (1939) · Kern County CA (1939) · Ireland (1953) · Istanbul (1973) · Kanawha, IA · Vernon Verona Sherill, NY (1980) · Richford, VT (1981) · · Morris, Manitoba, Canada · Anniston, AL (1982) · Burlington, NC · Carthage, NC (1986) · Greenville, SC (1991) · Union City, TN (1993)

Of Mice and MenOf Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (1937)

"violent" "indecent" "offensive" "blasphemous" "racial slurs" "profanity and using God's name in vain."

Challenged in: Ireland (1953) · Syracuse, IN (1974) · Oil City, PA (I977) · Grand Blanc, MI (1979) · Continental, OH (1980) · Greenville, SC (1977) · Vernon Verona Sherill, NY (1980) · St. David, AZ (1981) · Tell City, IN (1982) · Scottsboro, AL (1983) · Knoxville, TN (1984) · Christian County, KY (1987) · Marion County, WV · Warrenville, IL · Berrien Springs, MI (1988) · Tuscaloosa, AL · Chattanooga, TN · Pine Bluff, AR · Shelby County, TN (1989) · Salina, KS · Rivera, TX (1990) · Fresno, CA · Carroll Township, PA · Suwannee, FL · Jacksboro, TN · Buckingham County, VA (1991) · Mobile, AL · Hamilton, OH · Waterloo, IA · Duval County, FL · Modesto, CA · Alexandria, LA (1992) · Mingus, AZ (1993) · Putnam County, TN · Loganville, GA (1994) · Galena, KS · Bemidji, MN schools · Toccoa, GA · Warm Springs, VA (1995) · Peru, IL · Louisville, OH · Panama City, FL · St. Cloud, MN (1997) · Oakley, CA · Barron, WI (1998) · Middlesex, PA · Tomah, WI School District (1999) · Grandville, MI · George County, MS (2002) · Normal, IL (2003) · Greencastle-Antrim, PA (2006) · Newton, IA · Olathe, KS (2007)

Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)

"contains profanity and racial slurs" a "filthy, trashy novel" "represents institutionalized racism under the guise of good literature" "conflicts with the values of the community" #BookToFilm

Challenged in: Eden Valley, MN (1977) · Vernon Verona Sherill, NY (1980) · Warren, IN (1981) · Waukegan, IL (1984) · Kansas City, MO  · Park Hill, MO (1985) · Casa Grande, AZ (1985) · Santa Cruz, CA · Caddo Parish, LA (1995) · Moss Point, MS  · Lindale, TX (1996) · Glynn County, GA  · Muskogee, OK (2001) · Normal, IL (2003) · Durham, NC (2004) · Brentwood, TN (2006) · Cherry Hill, NJ (2007) · Brampton Ontario (2009)

Color PurpleThe Color Purple by Alice Walker (1982)

"sexual and social explicitness" "troubling ideas about race relations, man's relationship to God, African history, and human sexuality" "inappropriate language, graphic sexual scenes, and book's negative image of black men" "profanity and sexual references" "smut"

Challenged in: Oakland, CA (1984) · Hayward, CA (1985) · Newport News, VA (1986) · Saginaw, MI · Chattanooga, TN (1989) · Ten Sleep, WY (1990) · New Burn, NC (1992) · Souderton, PA (1992) · Southbury, CT · Junction City, OR · St. Augustine, FL (1995) · Round Rock, TX · High Point, NC (1996) · Jackson County, WV (1997) · Lima, OH · Newport News, VA (1999) · Fairfax County, VA (2002) · Morganton, NC (2008)

The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)

"too political"

Challenged in:

I Know Why The Caged Bird SingsI Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (1969)

"controversial"

Bless Me, UltimaBless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya (1972)

"irreligious" "adult language, some violence, and several sexual references"

Challenged in: Matanuska-Susitna Borough, AK (2020)

Go Tell It on the MountainGo Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin (1953)

"rife with profanity and explicit sex"

Challenged in: ·Hudson Falls, NY (1994) ·Prince William County, VA (1988)

A Clockwork OrangeA Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962)

"violent" "objectionable" #BookToFilm · #ClassicSciFiFantasy · #StaffPick

Challenged in: Orem, UT (1973) · Aurora, CO (1976) · Westport, MA (1977) · Anniston, AL (1982)

Naked LunchNaked Lunch by William S. Burroughs (1959)

Found obscene in Boston, MA Superior Court (1965). The finding was reversed by the State Supreme Court the following year.

AwakeningThe Awakening by Kate Chopin (1899)

Challenged in: Arlington Heights, IL (2006)

In Cold BloodIn Cold Blood by Truman Capote (1966)

"sex, violence, and profanity"

Challenged in:Savannah, GA (2000)

Heart of DarknessHeart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (1899)

American TragedyAn American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser (1925)

it "deals with low love affairs"

Challenged in: Boston, MA (1927) · Burned in Nazi bonfires in Germany (1933)

Origin of SpeciesOn the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (1859)

Invisible ManInvisible Man by Ralph Ellison (1952)

"controversial" "profanity and images of violence and sexuality"

Challenged in: Butler, PA (1975) · St. Francis, WI (1975) · Yakima, WA (1994) · Matanuska-Susitna Borough, AK (2020)

As I Lay DyingAs I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (1930) 

 "offensive and obscene passages referring to abortion and used God's name in vain"  "profanity and a segment about masturbation"

Challenged in: Mayfield, KY (1986) · Somerset, KY (1987) · Carroll County, MD (1991)

The Autobiography of Benjamin FranklinThe Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1791)

"socially offensive”

The Diary of a Young GirlThe Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (1952) 

Madame BovaryMadame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1856)

Lord of the FliesThe Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1954)

"inappropriate" "excessive violence and bad language"  "racist" "demoralizing inasmuch as it implies that man is little more than an animal"

Challenged in: Dallas, TX (1974) · Sully Buttes, SD · Owen, NC (1981)· Marana, AZ (1983) · Olney, TX (1984) · Toronto, Canada (1988) · Waterloo, IA (1992) · Bloomfield, NY (2000)

Tess of the d’UrbervillesTess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (1891)

Scarlet LetterScarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850)

Catch-22Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)

"controversial" "references to women as whores"

Challenged in: Strongsville, OH (1972) · Dallas, TX (1974) · Snoqualmie, WA (1979) · Matanuska-Susitna Borough, AK (2020)

Brave New WorldBrave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)

"language and moral content" "centered around negative activity"

Challenged in: Ireland (1932) · Miller, MO (1980) · Yukon, OK (1988) · Corona-Norco, CA (1993) · Foley, AL (2000) · Mercedes, TX (2003) · Coeur D’Alene, ID (2008)

Sun Also RisesThe Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (1926)

Challenged in: Boston, MA (1930) · Ireland (1953) · Riverside, CA (1960) · San Jose, CA (1960) · Burned in Nazi bonfires in Germany (1933).

Farewell to ArmsA Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (1929)

"a sex novel"

Challenged in: Boston, MA (1929) · Italy (1929) · Ireland (1939) · Dallas, TX (1974) · Vernon-Verona-Sherill, NY (1980) · Burned in Nazi bonfires in Germany (1933).

For Whom the Bell TollsFor Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway (1940) 

#BookToFilm

Challenged by: ·U.S. Post Office (1940)

Their Eyes Were Watching GodTheir Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937)

"sexual explicitness"

Challenged in: Brentsville, VA (1997)

UlyssesUlysses by James Joyce (1922)

Banned and burned in: the U.S. (1918) · Ireland (1922) · Canada (1922) · England (1923) · England (1929)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's NestOne Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey (1962)

 "pornographic," "glorifies criminal activity," promotes "secular humanism." "garbage"

Challenged in: Greeley, CO (1971) · Strongsville, OH (1974) · Randolph, NY · Alton, OK (1975) · Westport, MA (1977) · St. Anthony, ID (1978) · Merrimack, NH (1982) · Aberdeen, WA (1986) · Placentia-Yorba Linda, CA (2000)

Separate PeaceA Separate Peace by John Knowles (1959)

"offensive language" a "filthy, trashy sex novel" "profanity and negative attitudes" "graphic language" “unsuitable language”

Challenged in: Vernon-Verona-Sherill, NY (1980) · Shippensburg, PA (1985) · Shelby County, TN (1989) · Champaign, IL · Troy, IL (1991) · McDowell County, NC (1996)

Call of the WildThe Call of the Wild by Jack London (1903)

#BookToFilm

Challenged in: ·Italy (1929) · Yugoslavia (1929) · burned in Nazi bonfires (1933)

Lady Chatterley's LoverLady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence (1928)

“will corrupt the minds of young people”

Challenged in: U.S. Customs (1929) · Ireland (1932) · Poland (1932) · Australia (1959) · Japan (1959) · India (1959) · Canada (1960-62) · China (1987)

Sons and LoversSons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence (1913)

Challenged in: Oklahoma City, OK (1961)

Women in LoveWomen in Love by DH Lawrence

Challenged in: New York (1922)

BelovedBeloved by Toni Morrison

"violent" "language" "sexual material" "inappropriate"

Challenged in:St. Augustine, FL (1995) · Round Rock, TX (1996) · Madawaska, ME (1997) · Sarasota County, FL (1998) · Arlington Heights, IL (2006) · Coeur d’Alene School District, ID (2007) · Louisville, KY (2007)

Song of SolomonSong of Solomon by Toni Morrison (1977)

"filthy and inappropriate" "filth" "trash" "repulsive"

Challenged in: Columbus, OH (1993) · Richmond County, GA (1994) · St. Augustine, FL (1995) · St. Mary's County, MD (1998) · Shelby, MI (2009)

Naked and the DeadThe Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer (1948)

Challenged in: Canada (1949) · Australia (1949)

Tropic of CancerTropic of Cancer by Henry Miller (1934)

"obscene"

Challenged in: U.S. Customs (1934) · Turkey (1986)

LolitaLolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)

Challenged in: France (1956-1959) · England (1955-59) · Argentina (1959) · New Zealand (1960) · Ocala, FL (2006)

The Things They CarriedThe Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien (1990)

"controversial"

Challenged in: Matanuska-Susitna Borough, AK (2020)

Animal FarmAnimal Farm by George Orwell (1945)

"Orwell was a communist" "indecent images"

Challenged in: Moscow, Russia (1977) · DeKalb County (1979-82) · Panama City, FL (1987) · United Arab Emirates (2002)

19841984 by George Orwell (1949)

"pro-communist" "contains explicit sexual matter"

Challenged in: Jackson County, FL (1981)

Doctor ZhivagoDoctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak (1957)

Satanic VersesSatanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (1988)

"blasphemous to the prophet Mohammed"

Challenged in: West Yorkshire, England · Wichita, KS (1989)· Pakistan · Saudi Arabia · Egypt · Somalia · Sudan · Bangladesh · Malaysia · Quatar· Indonesia · South Africa · India · Bulgaria · Poland

All Quiet on the Western FrontAll Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (1928)

JungleThe Jungle by Upton Sinclair

Challenged in:Yugoslavia (1929) · East Germany (1956) · South Korea (1985) · Burned in the Nazi bonfires (1933).

Sophie's ChoiceSophie's Choice by William Styron (1979)

"sexual content"

Challenged in: South Africa (1979) · La Mirada, CA (2002)

Uncle Tom’s CabinUncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852)

LOTRThe Lord of the Rings (series) by J.R.R. Tolkien (1937)

"satanic" #100BestNovels · #BookToFilm · #StaffPick

Burned in: Alamagordo, NM (2001)

Vanity Fair Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (1848)

Rabbit, RunRabbit, Run (series) by John Updike (1960)

"profanity" "obscene" "indecent"

Challenged in: Ireland (1962) · Aroostock County, ME (1976) · Medicine Bow, WY (1986)

Slaughterhouse-FiveSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)

"foul language" "contains and makes references to religious matters" "explicit sexual scenes, violence, and obscene language." "depictions of torture, ethnic slurs, and negative portrayals of women." "illustrated a larger literary, artistic or political message" #BookToFilm · #ClassicSciFiFantasy

Challenged in: Rochester, MI (1972) · Drake, ND (1973) · Levittown, NY (1975) · North Jackson, OH (1979) · Lakeland, FL (1982) · Racine, WI (1984-86) · Owensboro, KY (1985) · LaRue County, KY · Fitzgerald, GA (1987) · Baton Rouge, LA (1988) · Monroe, MI (1989) · Round Rock, TX (1996) · Prince William County, VA (1998) · Coventry, RI (2000) · Arlington Heights, IL (2006) · Howell, MI (2007) 

Cat's CradleCat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (1960)

"A satirical commentary on modern man and his madness. An apocalyptic tale of this planet’s ultimate fate, it features a midget as the protagonist, a complete, original theology created by a calypso singer, and a vision of the future that is at once blackly fatalistic and hilariously funny. A book that left an indelible mark on an entire generation of readers, Cat’s Cradle is one of the twentieth century’s most important works - and Vonnegut at his very best." #ClassicSciFiFantasy

Challenged in: Strongsville, OH (1972) · Merrimack, NH (1982)

Native SonNative Son by Richard Wright (1940)

"objectionable" language. "violence, sex, and profanity."  "vulgar, profane, and sexually explicit."  "sexually graphic and violent."

Challenged in: Goffstown, NH (1978) · Elmwood Park, NJ (1978) · North Adams, MA (1981) · Berrian Springs, MI (1988) · Yakima, WA (1994) · High Point, NC (1996) · Fremont, CA (1998) · Fort Wayne, IN (1998)

Graphic Novels

Captain UnderpantsCaptain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

DramaDrama by Raina Telgemeier

The Complete MausThe Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman

Other Challenged Books

The House of the SpiritsThe House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time IndianThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Year of WondersYear of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

JawsJaws by Peter Benchley (1974)

Between the World and MeBetween the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Prince of TidesThe Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy (1986)

Extremely Loud And Incredibly CloseExtremely Loud And Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Dreaming in CubanDreaming in Cuban by Cristina García

Ordinary PeopleOrdinary People by Judith Guest

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

JackJack by A.M. Homes

50 Shades of Grey50 Shades of Grey by E L James

The Last Temptation of ChristThe Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis (1960)

CujoCujo by Stephen King (1981)

The Kite RunnerThe Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

“leads to terrorism” “promotes Islam”

In the Spirit of Crazy HorseIn the Spirit of Crazy Horse by Peter Matthiessen (1983)

A Child Called ItA Child Called It by Dave Pelzer

The Anarchist CookbookThe Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell

Nineteen MinutesNineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Peyton PlacePeyton Place by Grace Metalious (1956)

Baby TeethBaby Teeth by Zoje Stage

A Thousand AcresA Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley (1991)

Fear and Loathing in Las VegasFear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

SagaSaga by Brian K. Vaughan

Gossip GirlGossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar

All the King's MenAll the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren

Challenged in: Dallas, TX (1974)

Brideshead RevisitedBrideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

Challenged in: ·

The Glass CastleThe Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Book ThiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Children

A Day in the Life of Marlon BundoA Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo

Little Black SamboLittle Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman

Madeline and the GypsiesMadeline and the Gypsies by Ludwig Bemelmans

Draw Me a StarDraw Me a Star by Eric Carle

Something Happened in Our TownSomething Happened in Our Town by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, Ann Hazzard

I am Rosa ParksI am Rosa Parks by Brad Meltzer

I am MLKI am Martin Luther King by Brad Meltzer

And Tango Makes ThreeAnd Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson

Scary Stories to Tell in the DarkScary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz

In the Night KitchenIn the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

YA

How the García Girls Lost Their AccentsHow the García Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez (1991)

SpeakSpeak by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Book of DavidThe Book of David by Anonymous (2014)

The Fighting GroundThe Fighting Ground by Avih3>

Thirteen Reasons WhyThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

ForeverForever by Judy Blume (1975)

Bad KittyBad Kitty by Nick Bruel

MarkedMarked by P. C. Cast

The Perks of Being a WallflowerThe Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Hunger GamesThe Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

My Brother Sam Is DeadMy Brother Sam Is Dead by Collier

James and the Giant PeachJames and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl (1961)

Julie of the WolvesJulie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

GeorgeGeorge by Alex Gino

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Lily and DunkinLily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

CrankCrank by Ellen Hopkins

Lily the ThiefLily the Thief by Janne Kukkonen

Two Boys KissingTwo Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Fallen AngelsFallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers

The Agony of AliceThe Agony of Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Mick Harte Was HereMick Harte Was Here by Barbara Park

Bridge to TerabithiaBridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

The Beet FieldsThe Beet Fields by Gary Paulsen

The Golden CompassThe Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

StampedStamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds, Ibram X. Kendi

Eleanor & ParkEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's StoneHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling

All American BoysAll American Boys by Jason Reynolds

What My Mother Doesn't KnowWhat My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones

This One SummerThis One Summer by Mariko Tamaki

Roll of Thunder, Hear My CryRoll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

The Hate U GiveThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

So Far from the Bamboo GroveSo Far from the Bamboo Grove by Yoko Kawashima Watkins

Diamond BoyDiamond Boy by Michael Williams

Brown Girl DreamingBrown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

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