Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday - Banned Books

This week is banned books week! To celebrate our freedom to read whatever we want, I thought I’d dedicate Top Ten Tuesday to ten banned books that are worth reading. I tried to stay in the realm of YA, but there are some classics thrown in that shouldn’t be avoided.

  • To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
    To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary EditionWhy it was banned or challenged: Offensive Language
    Why it’s worth picking up off the shelf: This book tells the story of an unfair trial against a black man in the South. It illustrates the fact that what is popular is not always right. As told through the eyes of a young girl, Scout, it shows that even the littlest of people can be strong against prejudice.

  • The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger 

    The Catcher in the RyeWhy it was banned or challenged: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
    Why it’s worth picking up: This is a coming of age story. It teaches kids that growing up may not be all it’s cracked up to be, but it happens to everyone. And that, my friends, can fill anyone with a little angst.

  • Harry Potter (series) - J.K. Rowling  

    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Book 1) (Hardcover)Why it was banned or challenged: Deals with the occult/satanism.
    Why it’s worth picking up: This may be the best series ever written. J.K. Rowling takes us on a tour of what it’s like to be “the boy who lived”. Throughout the tale Harry has a huge cross to bear, but he also experiences the trials and tribulations of a normal teenager. The thing I love the most about these books is all the little details planted that at first seemed insignificant, but ended up being very important at the end.

  • The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
    The Great GatsbyWhy it was banned or challenged: language and sexual references
    Why it’s worth picking up: The Great Gatsby is the book that got me into reading. This is the first book I can really remember devouring. I had to read it for school and at first I dreaded it. When I finally picked it up, I was immediately immersed in 1920’s New York. Everything about this book was just cool to me.

  • Sloppy Firsts - Megan McCafferty
    Sloppy Firsts: A Jessica Darling NovelWhy it was banned or challenged: Profanity or inappropriate language; sexual content
    Why it’s worth picking up: Talk about an awesome book! YA writers, if you want to learn how to write a snarky, authentic teenager, this book should be your first stop. Jessica Darling is everything I want my characters to be. This book is a real inspiration.

  • The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
    The Sun Also RisesWhy it was banned: No reason on the ALA site, but it has been repeatedly banned in Boston, Ireland and Italy. It was even burned in Nazi bonfires. As an aside, another book by Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms, was banned in Italy for being too accurate. Imagine that?
    Why it’s worth reading: Hemingway is a master at dialogue. There aren’t many stage directions for his characters, but somehow he’s able to paint an entire scene for the reader. Hemingway takes us on a trip through Europe, complete with a bull fight. The character of Brett is also well written. She fits right in with a bunch of men and is able to exert her independence.

  • Looking for Alaska - John Green
    Looking for Alaska [LOOKING FOR ALASKA -OS]Why it’s been banned or challenged: The book has been challenged for content dealing with sexually explicit situations.
    Why it’s worth picking up: I love the characters in this book. I’m usually not a fan of male narrators in books, but I think John Green does it well. Sure Miles and the Colonel (yes, there’s a character named “the Colonel”) have some raging hormones, but there’s also a story that sucks you in.

  • Crank - Ellen Hopkins
    CrankWhy it’s been banned or challenged: profanity; sexual content or nudity; Drugs or alcohol
    Why it’s worth picking up: I’ll admit that when I first got this book from my library, I wasn’t excited to read it. Poetry really isn’t my thing. As soon as I started to read it, my opinion changed. Ellen Hopkins does something special with her poetry. It’s not just one poem, it’s a story of poems, and the story is amazing. I think it’s a great way to get people interested in a different style of writing.

  • Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
    Of Mice and Men (Steinbeck Centennial Edition)Why it's been banned or challenged: The language is considered particularly offensive
    Why it’s worth picking up: This is another book I read in high school. One of the first books that I really felt for the characters. While there may be strong language in the book, this is what makes it feel so real. The best books suck you in and leave you wanting more. Of Mice and Men does just that.

  • Al Capone Does My Shirts - Gennifer Choldenko
    Al Capone Does My ShirtsWhy it’s been banned or challenged: n/a. The ACLU website I found this book listed on didn't include the reason it was challenged.
    Why it’s worth picking up: We find out in the first few pages that Moose's sister has autism. The beautiful thing about this book is that Natalie is never labeled. She is simply "my sister" to Moose. It shows that we're all just people, no matter what problems we have.
Stay tuned for Thursday when I'll review one of my favorite banned books. You can take part in the blogfest yourself by signing up on Tahereh's blog.

Now it's your turn. What are some of your favorite banned books?


  1. Dude...Megan McCafferty totally gave you a shout-out for mentioning Sloppy Firsts! So awesome!!!

    You've mentioned a few of my favorites like Sloppy Firsts, HP & the Sorcerer's Stone, and of course To Kill a Mockingbird. Another one that I love and still can't believe was ever challenged was Diary of Anne Frank!

  2. Completely agree about the Megan McCafferty book! Love it so much.