Books

Banned Books and Where to Find Them

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Banned Books and Where to Find Them

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Books have been banned throughout history for a variety of reasons. Censorship is the suppression of speech or other public communication that may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect, or inconvenient as determined by governments, media outlets, authorities, or other groups or institutions. The act of censoring books is a form of censorship.

The following is a list of notable books that have been banned by governments, groups, or individuals. The reasons cited for banning these books are diverse, and range from political, religious, moral, and sexual offenses.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This classic 1960 novel is about a white lawyer’s defense of a black man against a false rape charge by a white woman. It has been banned in several schools and libraries because it ‘makes people uncomfortable’ due to its racial themes and language. However, it is still considered to be one of the greatest works of American literature.

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The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Another classic novel that has been banned in many schools and libraries, this book follows the story of teenager Holden Caulfield as he navigates life and societal expectations. The book was originally written for an adult audience and cited as containing sexual references, blasphemy, the undermining of family values and moral codes, encouragement of rebellion, and promotion of drinking, smoking, lying, promiscuity, and sexual abuse.

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Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

This science fiction novel has been banned for its depictions of censorship and book burning for fear of creating individualism and individual thought. It is a cautionary tale about the dangers of suppressing free speech and ideas.

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1984 by George Orwell

Another dystopian novel that has been banned in some countries, this book explores the concept of government control and manipulation. It is a powerful warning about the dangers of totalitarianism.

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Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

This novel is a searching vision of an unequal, technologically-advanced future where humans are genetically bred, socially indoctrinated, and pharmaceutically anesthetized to passively uphold an authoritarian ruling order–all at the cost of our freedom, full humanity, and perhaps also our souls. It has been banned for its frank depictions of sexuality and drug use. It is a thought-provoking exploration of the dangers of excessive comfort and conformity.

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Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

This graphic novel has been banned in some schools for depicting Islamic extremism and political dissent. However, it is also a powerful memoir about growing up in Iran during and after the Islamic Revolution.

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

This novel has been banned for its depictions of sexual violence and political oppression. It is a haunting portrayal of a dystopian society where women are subjugated by a totalitarian regime.

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was banned for its use of the N-word. The book has been banned in multiple countries and is still banned in some schools today.

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The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

This book was banned in the Soviet Union for its supposed promotion of religion and banned in several countries for its frank discussion of sexual themes.

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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The novel depicts narrator Nick Carraway’s interactions with mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and Gatsby’s obsession to reunite with his former lover, Daisy Buchanan. It was banned in the Soviet Union for its supposed promotion of capitalism and banned in several countries for its frank discussion of sexual themes.

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Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman

This Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel recounts the chilling experiences of the author’s father during the Holocaust, with Jews drawn as wide-eyed mice and Nazis as menacing cats. It was banned for rough, unnecessary language (such as the word damn), mentioning violence, and a small picture of…a nude cat.

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Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

A controversial tale of friendship and tragedy during the Great Depression. This classic piece of American literature has been adapted into several movie and stage adaptations. It has been banned all over the world for profanity, sexual content, racial slurs, and stereotypes.

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The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

The Things They Carried’s portrayal of the boots-on-the-ground experience of soldiers in the Vietnam War is a landmark in war writing. It has been banned for vulgar language, sexual content, and violence that was considered “unacceptable for an educational setting”, despite protests from parents and teachers.

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The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Taking us from Afghanistan in the final days of its monarchy to the present, The Kite Runner is the unforgettable and beautifully told story of the friendship between two boys growing up in Kabul. It is about the bonds between fathers and sons, and the power of fathers over sons – their love, sacrifices, and lies. It has been adapted into a movie, as well as stage adaptations in several countries and a graphic novel. This novel has been banned for depictions of homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoints, being sexually explicit, and the fear that the novel would inspire terrorism and “promote Islam.”

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How You Can Help Combat Book Banning

Book banning is not going to end anytime soon. In fact, the number of banned books has doubled since 2022. This issue should not be ignored, especially since most of the book bannings are happening in schools and school libraries, stifling students’ education and knowledge of history.

Many organizations are working to combat book bannings. Here are five of them that you can help support:

  1. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION – Unite Against Book Bans
  2. BROOKLYN PUBLIC LIBRARY – Books UnBanned
  3. FREADOM – provides support groups and resources for librarians
  4. EVERYLIBRARY – the first and only national political action committee for libraries
  5. LARGE PUBLISHERS & DONATIONS – PEN America, the Authors Guild, and the National Coalition Against Censorship

Remember, just because a book has been banned does not mean it’s not worth reading. Many of these banned books offer important insights into some of the most pressing social and political issues of our time.

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Jess Benoit

Jess is a homeschooling mama of 3, wife, gamer, Whovian, Nerd

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