Last Banned Books Week I made a post about twenty banned books you should definitely read. Well this Banned Books Week I decided to give you twenty more.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn , Mark Twain
Mark Twain’s novel has faced controversy after controversy with a good majority of it having to do with the language used. From racial slurs to vulgar language, Huckleberry Finn has come under heavy scrutiny, particularly from parents who don’t want this book taught to their children in school.
American Psycho faced heavy scrutiny (and still does) in many different countries. From the year 1995 to 2000, Ellis’s novel was considered to be “harmful to minors” in Germany, while Australia would not sell the book to anyone under age eighteen.
Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging , Louise Rennison
I actually had a hard time finding out why this book is considered controversial, but then I found a very long Yahoo Answers (I know it’s not the best source, but hey, this isn’t a college paper) post from someone complaining about how the book was pornographic and this person couldn’t believe schools would have it on their shelves.
Apparently there is some discussion in the book (I haven’t read it yet) about kissing and butt grabbing and kids in school shouldn’t be reading this kind of stuff because they’ll act it out. I desperately try not to give opinions on what I think of these controversies, but this one got to me because I hate when one parent decides they know what’s best for every child. If your kid starts acting inappropriately because of something they read in a book it’s because you didn’t explain to them not to do that, not because of the book. If you don’t want your kid reading it, fine, don’t let them read it, but don’t dictate what other children can and cannot read.
Brave New World , Aldous Huxley
This book has had so many accusations thrown at it I can’t even list them all here. It was banned in Ireland due to language used in the novel and apparently being anti-Religion. Huxley was accused of being a pornographer in India and thus the book was banned there in 1967. More and more controversies from all over the world were brought to attention with some teachers even being fired for assigning it! You can read a more complete list here.
Captain Underpants , Dav Pilkey
This one confused me so much. Captain Underpants has been banned in many schools because it is considered for some age groups and apparently encourages children not to listen to authority.
Crank, Ellen Hopkins
Crank has come under heavy scrutiny for it’s talk of drugs (one of the main plot points is drug abuse) and it’s discussion of sex. Hopkins herself was actually banned from speaking at a school’s literary festival in Texas after several parents complained.
*slow clap for those parents*
Cut, Patricia McCormick
The title gives you an idea of what the book is about and you can imagine right off the bat where the controversy comes from. Many parents and teachers believe McCormick’s book promotes self-mutilation, but many teens argue the opposite and believe this book actually helps break the wall surrounding the taboo topic. As someone who read the book as a teenager I have to say I agree with the teens.
A Farewell to Arms , Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway has caused quite the stir with all his novels over the years. I found many of his titles on various lists of banned books during my research, but after reading the explanations they really aren’t all that controversial. The main issue with A Farewell to Arms was the language he used such as “shit”, “fuck”, and “cocksucker”*, all of which were blanked out when the book went to publication. However, something I learned and found quite funny, was that in at least two copies of the first edition of the book (which Hemingway gave away) he had gone back and handwritten the words in so they’d be correct.
*It’s funny because I normally avoid swearing on this blog, but as we’re talking about censorship and not censoring things it seemed appropriate to not blank out those words this time.
Deenie, Judy Blume
Deenie appears on the American Library Association list of 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000. The book has been challenged many times and banned in schools because it talks about masturbation and there is also a passage discussing menstruation and masturbation.
Goosebumps Series, R.L. Stine
Once again we have books being challenged in schools. Goosebumps was considered ‘too frightening’ for school children and it was also believed to glorify satanic themes and rituals. This is one of those times where I wish I made Youtube videos (one day) because I want you guys to see my face when I read that. Like come on! Satanic themes? Do the people challenging the books even read them?
The Great Gatsby , F. Scott Fitzgerald
Language and sexual references were the reason The Great Gatsby was challenged by a Baptist College in South Carolina… Yup, that’s really all I have to say about that. I’m running out of ways to repeat the same reasons over and over.
The Outsiders , S.E. Hinton
Well I don’t agree at all with censorship, I can see where the controversy might arise with a book that deals with gang fights, a lot of cursing, and many underage characters drinking and smoking like it’s nothing.
Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
The main premise of the book follows a middle age man falling in love with a fourteen year old girl. While I don’t agree with censorship or banning of any book, this is another where I can see why others might have an issue with it.
Rainbow Boys , Alex Sanchez
Rainbow Boys tells the story of three teenage boys in the process of coming out. This book has some vulgar language, including some homophobic slurs, and also deals with sexual material.
Slaughterhouse Five , Kurt Vonnegut
Described as being “depraved, immoral, psychotic, vulgar, and anti-Christian” is only one of the reason Slaughterhouse Five has been banned from so many schools and censored all over the world. With discussions of sex and profane language, Vonnegut’s novel is often considered to be too inappropriate for the classroom. Interesting fact that I learned though was that this novel was one of the first to acknowledge homosexuals as being victims of the Holocaust.
Ulysses, James Joyce
This book has faced a lot of controversy since it’s publication due to the obscenity Joyce had included in the text. It was even banned from the UK until the 1930s. However, one of the funniest arguments I’ve heard in favour of the book is that people would actually have to fully understand what it says in order for them to be offended by it.
Of Mice and Men , John Steinbeck
Euthanization, racism, and offensive language are what got this book banned from many schools all across the glove. Despite this, many of the bans have since been lifted and Of Mice and Men is actually taught in many places as part of the curriculum.
Mommy Laid An Egg , Babette Cole
I had never heard of this book before I started doing research for this post, but I saw the title of the list and I just had to find out more. Cole’s book is meant for children and is a funny and light way of trying to explain the birds and the bees and where babies comes from.
I don’t think I need to say too much on why this is considered controversial. You mention the idea of teaching kids about safe sex and real life and suddenly everyone’s rabid and out for blood.
How to Eat Fried Worms , Thomas Rockwell
This book is challenged and censored because of the main plot point: eating worms. It’s thought to be gross. That’s it. Eating worms is gross so this book needs to be censored. Well yeah, obviously it’s gross, that why the kid in the book hates eating them, but it’s part of a bet so he does it anyway. It’s not because of vulgar language or sexual themes like most of these books, but because eating worms is thought to be too disgusting.
Gone With the Wind , Margaret Mitchell
It was actually hard for me to pin point what the main issue people had with this book was. I read a few websites and they all said different things, but from what I gathered the main issues with this was Mitchell’s portrayal of the South in the 19th century. Her use of racist language and the apparent downplay of the KKK cause quite the stir which, yeah I can understand that
Censorship is crazy! I can understand why some people might get offended at some of these books or at some of the stuff these authors wrote about, but can I tell you a secret? They didn’t write it to please everyone and they don’t care if you like it or not.
Obviously it would be nice if people liked it, but no author ever writes a book expecting every person in the world to like it. And honestly a little controversy actually tends to work in the books benefit.
You try to censor or ban anything and the sales for that item always skyrocket because suddenly people don’t want you reading it and it becomes a lot more appealing.
Have you read any of the books on this list?
Were you surprised by any of these books?