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Top 15 Banned Literary Classics

Jamie Frater . . . Comments

Lists banning books have always been popular, so it is only appropriate that I include a list of them here. This is a list of the top 15 banned books which have great literary value. I recommend that you obtain a copy of any you haven’t read as they are all excellent.

1. Ulysses, James Joyce

Ulysses chronicles the passage through Dublin by its main character, Leopold Bloom, during an ordinary day, June 16, 1904. The title alludes to the hero of Homer’s Odyssey (Latinised into Ulysses), and there are many parallels, both implicit and explicit, between the two works (e.g., the correspondences between Leopold Bloom and Odysseus, Molly Bloom and Penelope, and Stephen Dedalus and Telemachus).

Joyceulysses2

“Given its long history of censorship, ULYSSES has rarely been selected for
high school libraries.” — Judith Krug, director, Office for Intellectual
Freedom, American Library Association, 1986.

Ulysses at Amazon

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2. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

Theadventuresofhuckfinn

The book is noted for its innocent young protagonist, its colorful description of people and places along the Mississippi River, and its sober and often scathing look at entrenched attitudes, particularly racism, of the time. The drifting journey of Huck and his friend Jim, a runaway slave, down the Mississippi River on their raft may be one of the most enduring images of escape and freedom in all of American literature.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn at Amazon3. Candide, Voltaire

Candide

Candide tells the tale of its naive eponymous protagonist, taught to believe in Leibnizian optimism. Candide undergoes a series of extraordinary hardships which constitute the satire. The plot is a similar to that of a picaresque novel or a bildungsroman, for it parodies many adventure and romance cliches. Candide, Voltaire’s magnum opus, is widely considered to be one of the most significant works of the Western canon, and it is thus often included on lists of most influential or greatest books.

Candide at Amazon4. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

Brave New World

he world the novel describes is a utopia, albeit an ironic one: humanity is carefree, healthy and technologically advanced. Warfare and poverty have been eliminated and everyone is permanently happy. The irony is that all of these things have been achieved by eliminating many things that humans consider to be central to their identity — family, culture, art, literature, science, religion, and philosophy. It is also a hedonistic society, deriving pleasure from promiscuous sex and drug use, especially the use of soma, a powerful drug taken to escape pain and bad memories through hallucinatory fantasies. Additionally, stability has been achieved and is maintained via deliberately engineered and rigidly enforced social stratification.

Brave New World at Amazon5. Ninteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell

1984Orwell

Ninteen Eighty-Four tells the story of Winston Smith, and his degradation by the totalitarian state in which he lives. Along with Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, it is among the most famous and cited dystopias in literature. Its terminology and its author have become bywords when discussing privacy and state-security issues. The term “Orwellian” has come to describe actions or organizations reminiscent of the totalitarian society depicted in the novel, and the phrase “Big Brother is watching you” has come to mean any act of surveillance that is perceived as invasive.

Nineteen Eighty-Four at Amazon6. The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger

The Catcher In The Rye Cover

The novel’s protagonist, Holden Caulfield, has become an icon for teenage alienation and fear. Written in the first person, The Catcher in the Rye follows Holden’s experiences in New York City in the days following his expulsion from Pencey Prep, a college preparatory school. The novel remains controversial to this day for its liberal use of profanity and portrayal of sexuality and teenage angst; it was the thirteenth most frequently challenged book of the 1990s according to the American Library Association.

The Catcher in the Rye at Amazon7. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck

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The name for the book is an ironic literary allusion to the problems of the main characters, at the same time making reference to an episode in the story in which one physically powerful but developmentally disabled character accidentally kills a mouse while trying to pet it, foreshadowing a manslaughter which will later happen in the same way. Steinbeck wrote this book, along with The Grapes of Wrath, in what is now Monte Sereno, California, in his home at 16250 Greenwood Lane. Steinbeck’s dog ate an early manuscript of the novel.

Of Mice and Men at Amazon8. Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut

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A disoriented and ill-trained American soldier named Billy Pilgrim is captured by German soldiers and is forced to live in a makeshift prison, the deep cellars of a disused slaughterhouse in the city of Dresden. Billy has become “unstuck in time” for unexplained reasons (though it’s hinted towards the end that his surviving a plane crash left him with mild brain damage) so he randomly and repeatedly visits different parts of his life, including his death. He meets, and is later kidnapped by, aliens from the planet Tralfamadore, who exhibit him in a Tralfamadorian zoo with Montana Wildhack, a pornographic movie star. The Tralfamadorians see in four dimensions, the fourth dimension being time. Tralfamadorians have seen every instant of their lives already; they cannot choose to change anything about their fate, but can choose to focus on any moment in their lives that they wish.

Slaughterhouse-Five at Amazon9. Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet B. Stowe

Uncle-Tom-Cabin

Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly is an anti-slavery novel by American author Harriet Beecher Stowe. Published in 1852, the novel had a profound effect on attitudes toward African Americans and slavery in the United States, so much so in the latter case that the novel intensified the sectional conflict leading to the American Civil War.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin at Amazon10. Lord of the Flies, William Golding

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Lord of the Flies is an allegorical novel by Nobel Prize-winning author William Golding. It discusses how civility created by man fails and how man shall always turn to savagery, using the allegory of a group of school children trapped on a desert island who attempt to govern themselves and fail disastrously. Its stances on the already controversial subjects of human nature and individual welfare versus the common good earned it position 70 on the American Library Association’s list of the 100 most frequently challenged Books of 1990–2000.

Lord of the Flies at Amazon11. A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

Orange

A Clockwork Orange is written in first person perspective from a seemingly biased and unreliable source. Alex never justifies his actions in the narration, giving a good sense that he is somewhat sincere; a narrator who, as unlikeable as he may attempt to seem, evokes pity from the reader through the telling of his unending suffering, and later through his realization that the cycle will never end. Alex’s perspective is effective in that the way that he describes events is easy to relate to, even if the situations themselves are not. He uses words that are common in speech, as well as Nadsat, the speech of the younger generation.

A Clockwork Orange at Amazon

Or buy the controversial film adaptation from Stanley Kubrick: A Clockwork Orange at Amazon.com!

12. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

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The Grapes of Wrath is set during the Great Depression, the novel focuses on a poor family of sharecroppers, the Joads, driven from their home by drought, economic hardship, and changes in the agriculture industry. In a nearly hopeless situation, they set out for California along with thousands of other “Okies” in search of land, jobs, and dignity. The novel is meant to emphasize the need for cooperative, as opposed to individualistic, solutions to social problems brought about by the mechanization of agriculture and the Dust Bowl drought.

The Grapes of Wrath at Amazon13. The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne

Bookcvr

The Scarlet Letter is set in Puritan New England (specifically Boston) in the seventeenth century, it tells the story of Hester Prynne, who gives birth after committing adultery, refuses to name the father, and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity. Throughout, Hawthorne explores the issues of grace, legalism, and guilt.

The Scarlet Letter at Amazon14. Catch-22, Joseph Heller

Catch 22

This novel follows Captain John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier, and a number of other characters. Most events occur while the airmen of the Fighting 256th (or “two to the fighting eighth power”) Squadron are based on the island of Pianosa, west of Italy. Many events in the book are repeatedly described from differing points of view, so the reader learns more about the event from each iteration. The narrative also describes events out of sequence, and furthermore the events are referred to as if the reader already knows all about them.

Catch-22 at Amazon15. The Crucible, Arthur Miller

Crucible Pic

The Crucible is a 1952 play by Arthur Miller. Based on the events surrounding the 1692 witch trials of Salem, Massachusetts, Miller used that event as an allegory for McCarthyism and the Red Scare, which was a period of time in which Americans were in fear of communism and the government blacklisted accused communists. The Red Scare occurred in the United States in the 1950s. Miller himself was questioned by the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1956.

The Crucible at AmazonBonus: The Bible, Martin Luther Edition

Luther-Bible-Frontispiece-1541

Upon publication, the edition of the Bible made by Martin Luther was placed on the Index of Forbidden Books. You can read the full 1559 edition of the Index here. It was issued by the Roman Office of the Inquisition. It also includes the Talmud and the Koran. The 1948 edition is here.

The Bible at Amazon

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Jamie Frater

Jamie is the owner and chief-editor of Listverse. He spends his time working on the site, doing research for new lists, and collecting oddities. He is fascinated with all things historic, creepy, and bizarre.

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  • dalandzadgad

    good list. it’s sad that i read only 2-1/2 of these books on the list. i put off reading these books for way too long, i have to get myself to read these now.

  • dalandzadgad: There are still a few on there that I haven’t read as well – I am going to pick them up next time I am at a bookstore. It is high time I read something cultured :)

  • Stephen: 6 of the original 5 are from British writers and the bonus bible is German. That makes it more of a British list doesn’t it? :) I considered Madame Bovary – perhaps I should have included that rather than a second Steinbeck.

  • dan

    Recommendation for adding: Howl by Allen Ginsberg. it’s a poem, but a 20th century classic.

    I think it’s funny that a lot of these books are in my school’s english program (high school). I’ve read a some of them, both inside and outside school. My tastes lean towards 19th century russian and french literature (leo tolstoy, fyodor dostoevsky, victor hugo, etc.) but I don’t think those have been banned. challenged, maybe.

  • dan: I love Howl – it is one my favourite poems. I didn’t include it because it was not a book specifically. Thanks for mentioning it though.

  • Stephen

    This is a pretty American list. I can think of a few European books that may have merited inclusion such as Madame Bovary.

    Still though, a fine list with lots of books I want to read.

  • Yamama

    Woohoo
    I’ve read 11 of them! And yea, two or three were high school required or suggested reading.

    The only truly banned (besides Anarchist Cookbook) book I recall from those days was Uncle Remus. No idea why… it’s delightful (unlike Uncle Tom’s Cabin) – especially fun to read out loud to kids.

    /off to the library

  • festaiolo

    i would add “The Aleph” by Jorge Luis Borges and one of the Hermann Hesse’s production

  • Kleiny

    Hey Jfrater, if you’re including James Joyce as a Briton, I know a lot of people who will rabidly disagree. The entire population of Ireland, for starters…

  • christian

    Yeah, from what I remember, #2, 6, 12, and 13 where “required” reading in the highschool I went to in the south about 13-16 years ago. Twain’s classic was the only one that was given as a choice. The teacher had us get our parents to sign an “ok” before reading, because of the racial aspects and a discussion was introduced concerning the N word and whether or not it was considered appropriate within its context. This was in New Orleans where the muddy “Mississloppy” runs. The school I went to was about 70% african american. I dont recall there being any student that didnt read it in my class, but when we had a vocal reading of chapters in class, the N word was passed over with a paused silence.

  • HENRY

    A good list. My 14-yr old daughter has read 10 of these. I, on the other hand, have read none of them.

  • Kleiny: oops – I didn’t realise he was from the Republic of Ireland – sorry. I do know the difference – I promise :)

  • festaiolo: was Aleph banned?

  • Henry: time to get reading!

  • colombican305

    Wow, I’ve only read “Of Mice and Men”. Thank you, high school English (I have no problem saying my English teachers were quite subpar). Will have to make a trip to Borders.

  • colombican305: I only read two of them at High School. Luckily I had an interest in books and read most of the rest later. They should really revise the syllabus.

  • I have read about half of those, ironically they were usually for school. Huckleberry Finn is one of my all-time favorites!

  • shennydenny: Huckleberry Finn is a great book – I loved it when I first read it.

  • Seeker

    Two points:
    1) Of Mice and Men was written by “JOHN” Steinbeck, not “ROBERT” Steinbeck. Look on the book cover just below.

    2) A Clockwork Orange. You make reference to “unending cycle”. Not quite. The book, when published in England, had one more chapter. This was not included in the American edition. In the last chapter, Alex meets one of his old droogs in a pub. The droog is now married, happy and employed. Alex himself is moving away from a life of violence and pondering a job.

  • Seeker: thanks for pointing that out – it was one of those typing errors you make when you are typing but thinking of something else. I will immediately correct it. I have heard of that last chapter of Clockwork Orange but it is not in the edition I have.

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  • Pat Narcisi

    Who banned them? I mean, I read most of them except for Candide and the Crucible and they were available at the time I read them. Have they been taken away since? Who did this? It seems unamerican. What other books did they take away? We have to do something to make these books available again and not let them take other books away. Where are we anyway? This is not Cuba or Venezuela after all!!!!!!!!

  • Pat: they are not banned in most Western countries any longer. They were banned at the time of publication and have since all become great classics in virtually everyone’s mind. As far who did it – the Catholic Church banned Candide (in fact, it is still on the Index of Forbidden Books) but there is no penalty for reading books on that list. It is more of a recommendation nowadays.

  • Marcy

    Little Black Sambo would have been a good addition here, seeing as how it’s a children’s book.

  • Amya

    hi i enjoyed the read

  • Frederick

    hi i enjoyed the read

  • Marcy: I am saving that one for the top 10 politically incorrect children’s books :) I love the story.

    Amya/Frederick: I am glad you did! Thanks for the comment.

  • Arunan

    Thanks for the list and comments 21 & 22 (Pat & jfrater).

    I was surprised that I have read 4 of the these and have purchased 3 more of the list for future reading. Pat echoed my thoughts… wondering how these are in the banned list.

    I’ll try to pick some of the other books in the list, am trying to read american classics.

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  • Mantra

    In the US all of these books are still banned from time to time from school curricula, school libraries and public libraries in various local communities. Often Red States but also blindly politically-correct areas of Blue States too.

    Having read all of these books, it still boggles my mind to try to imagine where someone’s head must be, what their assumptions about life are, what their world view is, to imagine these books being bad or even slightly dangerous, let alone needing to ban them to prevent access by any teenager or adult. What these ban-seekers apparently believe has absolutely nothing in common with anything valued by a rational or humane civilization, or by knowledge and education in general.

    The disturbing thought that keeps coming to mind when I so try to imagine them is that such people are so completely out of touch with their own and others’ humanity that they must be utterly sociopathic or clinically insane. Nothing else fits the observed behavior. So why are these people’s opinions taken with equal weight?

  • Mantra: you took the words right out of my mouth!

  • Ulysses should be banned because IT IS SO FRIGGING HARD TO READ!!!

  • kostrevk

    Books are really never banned, but the bible thumpers and right-wing nuts in some areas of the country censor the schools and libraries. That is the keyword, CENSOR. You all know the literature themes that upset people to the point were they want to try to shelter the population. I’ll name a few: sexual content (Ulysses, I think this book went to the supreme court and was the only book truly banned for a short time everywhere in the US), teens angst, books deemed critical of the state or its interests, socialist themes, racial themes (people wanted there kids to grow up racist, don’t ya know), etc.

    It really sickens me when people get try to censor a whole system or country just because they disapprove (usually it’s ignorant disapproval) of the content. Does Harry Potter sound familiar?

  • One Salient Oversight: haha. Many people before you have said the same thing :)

    kostrevk: you are quite right – hopefully lists like this serve to keep us aware of this practice so we can stop it in the future.

  • Che

    kostrevk: some people literally believe that “ignorance is strength”

  • Che: the communists come to mind – and the nazis for a while too.

  • AnotherEngine

    You could also include Tropic of Cancer, Naked Lunch, & the DH Lawrence books that started the whole censorship thing in the late 50’s.

    Good list though, I’ve been wasting many hours at work since I found it.

  • AnotherEngine: indeed – thanks for the additions. I love Naked Lunch.

  • sakul

    It really sickens me when people get try to censor a whole system or country just because they disapprove

    Have a look at your childrens cartoon channel for evidence of this censorship.. When was the last time you saw tom and jerry playing bow and arrows on saturday morning? That’s right.. probably when YOU were a child. There are dozens if not hundreds of banned cartoons out there. Mostly dealing with race issues.

    Jamie, you should do a top list of banned cartoons.. like betty boop, or the Tex Avery cartoons.. unless you already have…

    here’s a start..
    http://mostoffensivevideo.com/banned.html

  • Thanks sakul – great idea!

  • sakul

    Thanks sakul – great idea!

    ..

    no problem, but I did like the other ‘list’ I submitted yesterday better… It has more value.

    ;-)

  • Punjar

    Good list. I’ve read 7 of these books and they were mostly good.
    I don’t know if it’s been banned anywhere, but there were several parents who were upset when we had to read Equus my sophomore year of high school

  • Punjar: I wouldn’t be surprised if Equus were banned. It is a topic that is generally taboo in the West. Did you know that the star of Harry Potter is in a West End production of it? Here is a NSFW image from the publicity literature.

  • 2overpar

    d h lawrence’s “lady chatterley’s lover” was published in florence in 1928 but was not published in the united kingdom until 1960.

  • ya i agree with sakul—

    that would be a cool list…i heard they banned donald duck in Finland becaus ehe didnt wear pants

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  • Jade

    wow. banned? I grew up on Long Island, out of high school about 6 years now, and I remember reading many of these books in High School. Are they banned from just certain schools and libraries? or all of them? is it just certain areas?

  • Hemanth

    After doing some searching I found that Catch-22 was banned because of offensive language and for disrespecting war (and implicity soldiers!).

    Boy, were there some wacko comments about the book. If any of those guys had bothered to read it, they would’nt be banning it for those reasons.

    The only reason for banning it would be the meandering language used, and I am trying hard to think of some reason here.

  • Necip

    NEC?P

  • Alycia

    I’d like to read Brave New World

  • Sofia

    Forgot ‘The Awakening’ by Kate Chopin.

  • Thought “Alice In Wonderland” deserved a mention

  • danielle

    Banned? where i go to school seven of these books are part of the public high school curriculum

  • Polly Odyssey

    No Judy Blume? her books have been banned/censored multiple times.

    Also, heard someone mention a Banned Cartoons List. I’d like to see something like that.

  • AcrylicPop

    I agree that Ulysses should be banned. It is one of the main reasons for so much poor literature being published these days. It is dull and poorly written. Far more worthy texts you could have mentioned include Paradise Lost, The Satanic Verses, and Don Quixote (one of my very favorite books). Good list, though I agree it’s a bit too American.

  • lucy

    wow a lot of my favorite books are on here. i cry every time i read Of Mice and Men

  • alexlwe

    We read 1984 at my school, so it must not be that strongly opposed…

  • andres

    es muy bacano chao y soy de colombia

  • P.S. Posthum

    I’d just like to say that our high school has no banned books, even though as Christian private school many people think we do. “Lord of the Flies”, “Huck Finn”, “The Crucible” are all required for graduation and our library contains almost all. My English teacher encouraged me to read “Brave New World” and also “Fahrenheit 451” (not mentioned, but blacklisted at the public high across town) Both were excellant. The Reformed Christian perspective on banned books is typically of using them to show the truths of the world, which are typically uncomfortable and difficult. (I mean, our school follows Luther and Calvin as our doctrine — that’s blacklist in some places) I have been taught to challenge the world’s views and keep an open but critical mind. Many of these books have pros and cons, and I’d support the 7 that I have read. (

  • doz

    i’m surprised none of the russian books that were banned during the communist years are on here.

  • Stefani

    I’ve read 12 out of the list, some were read as required reading while in High school, some I read as required reading from my mom.

  • KannonKitsune

    I couldn’t begin to express in words my hatred for The Catcher in the Rye. It’s whiny teen angst dressed up as literature.

  • kmac

    This is peculiar in that, with the exception of the Martin Luther Bible appearing on the list (created by a Roman Catholic beauracracy in 1559), no reference is made to why the other works listed were banned. This makes me somewhat suspect of the motivation to list the other specific books. I was required to read all the works on the list, during my Roman Catholic education in High school and University.
    I would like to see a list of “suppressed” books that while of literary importance, were not given their due because they did not fit the politically correct definition of the liberal mores of the time. More importantly, examining the last few decades, I am interested in other’s thoughts about the major American publishing houses (or other western publishers) willingness to suppress works as a result of these publishers being overly influenced by a liberal world view. You can deduce that I do not think it has anything to do with free intellectual discussion, etc. I surmise these views can only come from the people who have the time to read these comments. However, I am curious to see further comments. Unfortunately, even my modern Catholic education has tried to teach me that me that all works suppressed always reflect liberal progressivism and the bad guys are always conservative reactionaries. In the mass media, just think of Michael Moore vs. poor Ben Stein.

  • 116880

    jfrater: on #4, at the beginning, it says “he world the novel describes is a utopia,”. I think it is supposed to say, “The world the novel describes is a utopia,”

  • Jennifer

    :) Most of the books I had to read in high school are on this list!!!

  • poopymcpoopsalot

    I have to read Of Mice and Men and Lord of the Flies in school this year.

  • Lammy85

    Wasn’t “A Wrinkle in Time” banned for some weird reason somewhere? Despite it being probably the greatest children’s book ever written?

  • badabing

    How are these banned? I read most of them in high school lit classes.

  • davekat

    Lolita
    Naked Lunch
    The Satanic Verses
    The Harry Potter books

    These banned books are more important than some of the others on this list because it points out that the March of Ignorance has become STRONGER, not weaker, as human culture progresses.
    It’s too late
    to negotiate
    Burn the Book-Burners

  • Parker

    Clock work orange is a movie now isnt it?
    it make the top 100 scariest movie moments..
    it looks really messed up…

  • Kei

    Let’s see, I’ve read The Scarlet Letter and The Crucible. Most of them on are my reading list, and a friend is sending me Brave New World for my birthday.

    I really need to go buy the rest…

  • PC

    Where is Animal farm it was written in 1943 but they refused to publish it until 1945 because of its scathing criticism of Stalin’s Russia.

  • Patton

    Huckleberry Finn is such a great book, but so blatantly racist. Its sad for people not to understand that that was how kids and authors thought and wrote back then.
    Lord of the Flies is a horrible book. I couldn’t stand it.

  • SallySweet

    Currently working on Catch 22, but I can’t really get in to it. I’ve read and/or own most of these books. I’ve read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Crucible, Of Mice and Men, and Huck Finn. I own 1984, Catcher in the Rye, and The Scarlett Letter…but haven’t read them yet.

    Animal Farm and Farenheit 451 should be on here, too.

  • rm

    Hey, you don’t say why most of them were banned. Hmm. A few I get why, but most I’ve read, and most of those because they were on “the list” of classics given to me in (public) school.

  • Megan

    We’ve had to read the majority of this list in high school. My absolute favorite is Brave New World followed by Catcher in the Rye.

  • Austin

    Was His Dark Materials (the Golden Compass, The subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass) banned? i know the catholic church flailed and kicked and screamed when it came out, and I read this books and they are great!

    Sorry If this wasnt banned, but if not i still suggest reading it!

  • Joe.m(for lack of something clever)

    when i saw the title i thought that this list would be all hese black market-esk(?) books, but they turned out to be some of my favorite books for the most part.

  • David Hopkins

    We read “Lord of the Flies” in grade eleven. It was horrible.

  • BasilThe Angry

    This list is flawed. Why were these books banned? Why were they unbanned eventually? During what spans of time were they banned? You have NO details?

    Do you expect me to just know the answers to these questions? If I knew them then why would I have clicked on this list in the first place? Yes I’ve read many of these but for instance, Ulysses, I’ve never read and your description gives NO examples of why it even could have been banned. (And in that same vein, banned from what exactly? School libraries, public ones? Book shops?)

    Yet another good concept for a list really, REALLY, poorly executed.

  • Jack

    Tropic of Cancer > all listed, if not in every context then at least for the sake of including the most “bannable” material

  • Alexis Haakon

    Just FYI, Little Black Sambo, that charming children’s story, was unfortunately named, but is not about negroes, but Indians {no, not ‘native Americans’}. There are no tigers in Africa – they’re higher up, in India and north thereof.
    I’ve read and enjoyed almost all the books on your list, but found J.J.’s Ulysses unreadable. Homer’s was better. Agree Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn should be included.
    Lord of the Flies {one of the devil’s many names} was meant to be horrible; the film was just as horrible. A Clockwork Orange was meant to be violent – that’s what it was about! Difficult to read, though, because one had almost to read the glossary to grok it all.
    Just waded through Anna Karenina, and can understand why it was so popular back then {mid 19C}; it was their Peyton Place. Not even interested in attempting War & Peace.

  • Oh! I was so sad not to see Lady Chatterley’s Lover (D.H. Lawrence) on this list.
    Interesting how many folks have noted the books they just couldn’t get into.
    I once threw The Crying of Lot 49 (Thomas Pynchon) out into the yard on a rainy winter day and didn’t retrieve it until spring. Never did finish it.

  • JMW

    Most of the books on this list are read in the AP english classes which I happen to be apart of.

  • JMW

    at my high school I mean.

  • Puri

    Wow, my school must have looked at this list. We had to read 10 of these throughout our years and 2 of these were recommended for independent reading (and I did read them).

  • Abi

    The one thing i really hate about cathyer and the rye was it got John Lennon killed

  • David

    I’d have included Story of O, even though it is fairly extreme erotica. But I’d have it in there on the basis of becoming arguably the most famous novel of its genre, and surprisingly widely read.

  • nicoleredz3

    John Steinback on here, twice? Not strange. Think he also did The Pearl. Good read! Awesome list, btw. Gotta read Uncle Tom’s Cabin…

  • danzik1

    I’ve read most of these books, And thought they were great reads, But grapes of wrath and scarlet letter were EXTREMLY boring. I read the entire thing, And they added WAY too much unnesicary detail. I could have tooken out 5 pages per book. But the rest like clockwork orange or lord of the flies were good. Plus, Was lord of the flies banned recently? I remember reading it from my middle school library a few years back?

  • magnumto

    Great list, and greatly thought-provoking. I’ve picked up 11 of these with the intention of reading, but was only able to make it through 6 – and that was back in my high-school days 35+ years ago, for fun (mostly). I didn’t get any kind of message or social awareness from them, they were just fun reads on their surface. Might be time to read or re-read for that “deeper understanding” aspect.

    On another note, someone earlier commented about reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin (or maybe it was Huck Finn) in class and substituting “the n-word” with a pause. These books were banned, and now it seems an infringement of the freedom of speech and in fact ridiculous that they were banned; how is it that we must replace “the n-word” with a pause, and how is that not an infringement? I can say shit-piss-fuck here, and that’s entirely permissible even though some are offended, but “the n-word” is verboten because some are offended. Without being rhetorical, what’s up with that, not just here, but society in general?

    (jfrater, I hope you’re watching…)

  • Dreaming Pixel

    An interesting list of books, but most were a description of the plot with little information about their banning. When were they banned? Why in particular and for how long? More detail would have been nice.

  • Damjan Valentine

    i have read 7 out of the 15 books above… all great books, and are on my top 20 book list… and for some i can not understand why they have been banned…
    like Brave New World…

    The 120 Days of Sodom, or the School of Libertinism… by Marquis de Sade should be on the list too… i mean, sadizm comes from his name … nuff said?

  • and ye… for the ones that are asking how it comes that they had this books in school… they are not banned now! they were banned in a time period in the past in some countryes… (Damjan Valentine)

  • Nicole

    Of mice and men is one of the books you have to read in grade 10 applied english for my school ^^

  • I am happy to see the list and know that I've read nearly all of them, and and that my son read most as well. In a time where extremists are censoring, watching and placing judgment on so many benign actions, the freedom to read whatever we choose is crucial to our progress as a society. But it still might be wise to pay cash when you buy books :)

  • Half of these were on the reading lists for English classes at my high school.

  • veronica

    I don't think they were banned. I could still see The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Scarlett Letter, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Of Mice and Men, and OF COURSE, The Catcher in the Rye in our school library. Salinger's book was actually recommended to us. And I want to read it soon. :)

  • DeDe

    Good list! I have one on my blog as well. It is a bit different. http://dedesyearofbooks.blogspot.com/2010/11/bann

  • Kali

    Eight of these were required while I was in highschool. My least favorite simply because it freaked me out, “Lord of the Flies”.

  • I’ve read 9 of these so far, and a couple of them are some of my favorite books.. :) And if you read the original, unabridged British version of A Clockwork Orange, you find out Alex isn’t stuck in an unending cycle like the entry says.

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  • Kate

    Where are these banned? I read most of these as required reading in middle school and highschool in American public schools in several states.

  • Sherrie

    Interesting list, and while it is obvious why some of these books may be banned, some I’d like to know what the fuss is all about.

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  • Troy

    I’ve read 8 of the 15 and it is very sad that any book gets banned. Out of curiosity, would you happen to know WHY some of these are banned because I just don’t see the reasoning behind it. Thank you for this list as it gives me a reading list (the 7 I have not gotten to….and the 8 I have just as a refresher)

  • moopersoup

    @JFrater
    5. Ninteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
    Ninteen -> Nineteen

  • I was hoping to see “Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas” by Hunter S. Thompson, but…….Oh Well.

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  • I like the list but I’d like you to go a little more into why each book was/is controversial.

  • Hm, more specifically, who banned a given book, where, and why. For instance, I had no idea The Crucible was banned anywhere.

  • My knowledge of banned literary classic books is rather minimal, but I will say this. If I we’re Salman Rushdie, I would not even think for a macro-second of ever going to Iran. What balls he had, but good for him as well.

  • This list doesn’t indicate for all of these books why they are banned. A little more information on this point would be nice, or perhaps the list should be re-named “15 Controversial Books and Their Plots.”

  • Kelsey

    Hmm….I’m always confused as to when and where these books are/were banned because every single one on the list was required reading at my high school

  • mauara

    Of Mice And Men wasn’t named for the characters in the book, but rather after a poem by Robert Burns, To A Mouse.

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