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10 Banned Books Worth Reading

10 Banned Books Worth Reading

Vicki Santillano | Divine Caroline

October 07, 2010

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6. The Bluest Eye


Toni Morrison’s first novel about a young girl and her violently dysfunctional family was released in 1970, but continues to stir up controversy because of its detailed descriptions of rape, incest, and racism. In fact, many of Morrison’s other works (Beloved, Song of Solomon) are frequent targets of petitions to be banned from school curriculum.

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7. Of Mice and Men


Though it holds a consistent spot in many high school reading lists, John Steinbeck’s book was still one of the top five challenged books in the U.S. from 2000–2007 because of its use of racist language and obscenities. People have also claimed that it encourages assisted suicide because (spoiler alert) one of its main characters kills someone else before a mob murders him.

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8. Catch-22


In my opinion, this is one of the best novels of all time—few works can match its successful mingling of satire and the heartbreaking realities of war. Unfortunately, some people still can’t look past its colorful language and sexual references, particularly in regards to prostitutes. This book is no longer in the ALA’s top banned books, but the fact that there were even attempts to censor the contents (mostly occurring in the 1970s) of one of my favorite books saddens me to no end.

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9. 1984


This classic Orwell novel is one of the most culturally significant books of all time. Despite this, it sometimes generates controversy because of its explicit content and language. It was even deemed “pro-communist” by petitioners in Jackson County, Florida in 1981 who were uncomfortable with (or more likely confused by) its political messages. It was completely banned in the USSR.

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10. Fahrenheit 451


Ironic that a book exploring the dangerous consequences of censorship is so often challenged within schools and libraries—ALA lists it at number seventy-two. In Ray Bradbury’s world, firemen burn books (the title refers to the degree at which books burn) because they could potentially offend another person. Most recently, it was challenged at a school district in Texas in 2006 for blasphemy and inappropriate behavior, like smoking and drinking.

If a novel might motivate young people to think differently or challenge social norms, it probably made the ban list at some point. The volume of petitions against these books is disheartening, but what’s even sadder is that I could only include a very small amount of challenged books in this article because the list is overwhelmingly long—and the texts left out are just as essential and timeless.

Judgmental people will always label what’s unique as controversial and wrong. They can attempt to keep these novels out of schools, but it’s impossible to censor the ideas behind them or the passion they inspire. Thankfully, naysayers couldn’t keep these books from shaping society and paving the way for new books that dare to be different.

This article was originally published on DivineCaroline.com.



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At DivineCaroline, you’ll be spending time with women who embrace the fact that life isn’t always easy or beautiful or fair. Our dream is to give you a place to come together to express yourselves. What brings you joy. What breaks your heart. Makes you giggle. What pisses you off. Confuses you. Entertains you. What keeps you strong. Check them out here!


More From Divine Caroline:
Seven Scandalous Books We Loved as Kids
Required Reading: A Guide to Book Awards
The Day Was Mixed With Foul and Rye


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