What NOT to read: The Banned Books Meme

This has been wandering around the book blogs for a little while now – I’m appropriating it from my good friend Wendy (aka Literary Feline).

This is a non-comprehensive list of 110 books that have been banned; as Wendy notes,

“…(t)his is just a small sampling of the books that have been banned over the years, however. Think of all those that did not make this particular list. The Harry Potter books, for example”

and I agree that it would be interesting to know exactly why these books made the list, as Michelle mentions:

“I think the reasons behind why a book is banned would be far more fascinating. Wikipedia has a partial list with a brief reason found here. It’s easy to see why books of a political, sexual, or religious nature would be banned, but James and the Giant Peach? Little House of the Prairie?”

The titles in bold are the books I have read, and the titles in red are ones that I have on my shelves waiting to be read.

#1 The Bible
#2 Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
#3 Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
(in abridged translation)
#4 The Koran
#5 Arabian Nights
#6 Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
#7 Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
#8 Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
#9 Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
#10 Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
#11 The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
#12 Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
#13 The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
#14 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

#15 Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
#16 Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
#17 Dracula by Bram Stoker
#18 Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
#19 Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
#20 Essays by Michel de Montaigne
#21 The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
#22 History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
#23 Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
#24 Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
#25 Ulysses by James Joyce
#26 Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
#27 Animal Farm by George Orwell
#28 Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

#29 Candide by Voltaire
#30 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
#31 Analects by Confucius
#32 Dubliners by James Joyce
#33 Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
#34 Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
#35 Red and the Black by Stendhal
#36 Das Capital by Karl Marx
#37 Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
#38 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
#39 Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence
#40 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

#41 Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
#42 Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
#43 The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
#44 All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
#45 Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx (*wait a minute…isn’t this the same book as Das Capital, in translation?)
#46 Lord of the Flies by William Golding
#47 Diary by Samuel Pepys
#48 The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
#49 Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
#50 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
#51 Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

#52 Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
#53 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
#54 Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus
#55 Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
#56 Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
#57 The Color Purple by Alice Walker
#58 The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

#59 Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke
#60 The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
#61 Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
#62 One Day in the Life of Ivan Deisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#63 East of Eden by John Steinbeck (multiple times – this is an all-time favorite)
#64 Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
#65 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
#66 Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#67 Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais
#68 Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
#69 The Talmud
#70 Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#71 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
#72 Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
#73 An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
#74 Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
#75 A Separate Peace by John Knowles
#76 The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
#77 The Red Pony by John Steinbeck
#78 Popol Vuh
#79 Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith
#80 Satyricon by Petronius
#81 James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
#82 Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
#83 Black Boy by Richard Wright
#84 Spirit of the Laws by Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu
#85 Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (three times, I think…)
#86 Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
#87 Metaphysics by Aristotle
#88 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#89 Institutes of the Christian Religion by Jean Calvin
#90 Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
#91 The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
#92 Sanctuary by William Faulkner
#93 As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
#94 Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
#95 Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
#96 Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
#97 General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
#98 The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
#99 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown
#100 Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
#101 Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines
#102 Émile by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#103 Nana by Émile Zola
#104 The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
#105 Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
#106 Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#107 Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
#108 Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
#109 Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburn Clark
#110 Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Well, apparently I’ve either read them, or I have no short-term plans to do so, based on the scarcity of red titles. (If it’s by Hemingway or Faulkner, I almost certainly have no plans to read it.)

Feel free to take this to your own blog, and share your record on reading these infamous works!

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  • I read a lot of these books in public school! Thank goodness for the hippie-influenced curriculum of the ’70s and early ’80s.

  • Average Jane – Schools have definitely gotten more conservative, and that’s too bad, if you ask me. But during the same time period, I actually read some of these in Catholic school :-)!

    I’d be interested in seeing which of these you’ve read, if you take this to your blog.

  • Flowers for Algernon? Why would that be banned? It’s one of the few I had to read in high school that I liked. Maybe I need to read it again to see what the big deal is.

    None of the Harry Potter books are on there? I figured sorcery would be a big deal. 🙂

  • I am always curious to hear the reasons behind a book being banned. I remember hearing reasons why Fahrenheit 451 should be banned–one had to do with the fact that there was Bible burning mentioned. I really had to wonder if the person using that explanation even knew what the book was truly about.

  • Mike – I can’t think of why Flowers for Algernon would be banned either. As for the Harry Potter books, all I can say is that this isn’t a comprehensive list. I know that some – if not all – have been banned from some places.

    Literary Feline – Probably not. My impression is that most of the time when people want something banned or censored, it’s because they don’t want to know or acknowledge anything about it – and they don’t think anyone else should either, so it should be removed. I don’t get it.

  • Wow – after counting, I’ve read well over half the books on the banned list. I have 37 of the books in my home library! I don’t believe in censurship of any kind, but especially not in books. This may be because I write a blog of books reviews for books I read.

    This is my first time to your site and I like what I see. I found you thru AllMediocre.

  • Bobbi – Thanks for visiting, and giving me a chance to check out your blog! (I haven’t perused the AllMediocre blogroll as I should.) I am always looking to add new book blogs to my Reader, and I like what I saw on yours too!