Banned Books Week: 50 banned books that everyone should read

bbw2009badge65As part of the posts this week in support of — and in the futile hope of eliminating the need for — Banned Books Week, here’s one opinion on 50 banned books everyone should read.

The list is broken down by categories and while I may not necessarily agree with a particular book’s placement in a particular category, it is a worthwhile endeavor. The original list also gives the reasons why each book was challenged. The books I’ve read are in bold.

Protect the Children

1. Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger.
2. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.
3. Forever by Judy Blume.
4. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.
5. Lord of the Flies by William Golding.
6. The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling.
7. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson.
8. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl.
9. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.
10. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.
11. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier.
12. The Giver by Lois Lowery.

Religion and Politics

13. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie.
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.
15. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.
16. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriett Beecher Stowe.
17. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss.
18. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.
19. 1984 by George Orwell.
20. Animal Farm by George Orwell.
21. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift.


23. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence.
24. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller.
25. Fanny Hill by John Cleland.
26. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman.
27. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald.
28. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.
29. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.
30. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.
31. The Awakening by Kate Chopin.
32. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert.
33. Rabbit, Run by John Updike.
34. Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.
35. Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov.

Race and Gender Issues

36. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
37. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.
38. The Color Purple by Alice Walker.
39. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.
40. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.
41. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.

Multiple Reasons

42. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
43. Native Son by Richard Wright.
44. Beloved by Toni Morrison.
45. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner.
46. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest by Ken Kessey.
47. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.
48. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.
49. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut.
50. East of Eden by John Steinbeck.

The books I haven’t read plainly shows a hole in my reading experience. That is particularly so in that I know that, between the books listed in the “Protect the Children” category and classics I know they’ve read for school, each of my daughters has read more banned books than me.

Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.

Voltaire, “Toleration,” The Works of Voltaire

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1 comment to Banned Books Week: 50 banned books that everyone should read

  • I’ve read quite a few of these– coincidentally — I’m surprised at at how many have ended up on this list. I’ve chosen “Rabbit, Run” for this week, the first time I’ve made a conscious effort to read a banned book during Banned Books Week.