Banned books week

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Many years ago, when I first moved to the north country and supported myself for a few years through substitute teaching, I was horrified to learn that a number of books had been removed from the library at one of the schools I worked in. As I recall, two of the forbidden books were JD Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” and Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn.”

September 30-October 6 is “banned book week” and is being publicized by the American Library Association. At this site you’ll find information about activities being organized across the country to celebrate the freedom to read. Worth checking out. Here’s a link to the Banned Books Week YouTube read-out.

The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom tracks reports of banned books–and the reasons given for the bannings. According to the ALA, these classics from the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century List have been banned or their use aggressively challenged in U.S. locations within the recent past (the numbers are from a specific title’s location on the Radcliffe list):

1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses, by James Joyce
7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
9. 1984, by George Orwell
11. Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
15. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
17. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
18. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
19. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
23. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
24. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
25. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
26. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
27. Native Son, by Richard Wright
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
29. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
33. The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
36. Go Tell it on the Mountain, by James Baldwin
38. All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren
40. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
45. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
48. Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
49. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
50. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
53. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
55. The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie
57. Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron
64. Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence
66. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
67. A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
73. Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs
74. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
75. Women in Love, by D.H. Lawrence
80. The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer
84. Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller
88. An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser
97. Rabbit, Run, by John Updike

Please share with us–and with the ALA at this location–any experiences you’ve had with a school or other public institution’s effort to ban a book.

  1. I’ve never understood “banned” anything.
    Well, not totally true.
    People who say they want something banned are people who want to prove to others what great moral people they are.
    I guess some people are just addicted to lying.