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Banned Books Week: No book is immune from book banners

bbwbadge_lgThink the fact a book is a classic or widely respected grants it protection from book banners? Think again.

In 1998, the Radcliffe Publishing Course, now the Columbia Publishing Course at Columbia University, announced its selections for the 100 best English language novels of the 20th Century. According to the American Library Association, nearly half of those books have been challenged or banned.

Here’s those “best” novels that raised the ire of banners, listed in order of their appearance on the Radcliffe list.

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
The Color Purple, Alice Walker
Ulysses, James Joyce
Beloved, Toni Morrison
The Lord of the Flies, William Golding
1984, George Orwell
Lolita, Vladmir Nabokov
Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
Catch-22, Joseph Heller
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner
A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
Their Eyes were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison
Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
Native Son, Richard Wright
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey
Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut
For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway
The Call of the Wild, Jack London
Go Tell it on the Mountain, James Baldwin
All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren
The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
The Jungle, Upton Sinclair
Lady Chatterley’s Lover, D.H. Lawrence
A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess
In Cold Blood, Truman Capote
Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie
Sons and Lovers, D.H. Lawrence
Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut
A Separate Peace, John Knowles
Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs
Women in Love, D.H. Lawrence
The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer
Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller
An American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser
Rabbit, Run, John Updike

Imagine claiming that students or others shouldn’t be able to read Steinbeck, Harper Lee or Hemingway, to name a few. American Library Association provides background for the challenges to many of these books in its summary.


The dirtiest book of all is the expurgated book.

Walt Whitman, quoted in Intimate with Walt

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