Winter as a metaphor of

Contemporary American novels

Burning bookIf you're looking for some good reads that are considered controversial, then this blog will provide you with a list of banned books. Books range from classic novels touching on sensitive and taboo topics to more recent works of fiction that are opposed by conservative groups.

Must-Read Banned Books

Almost since the dawn of publishing, books have been banned for one reason or another. Many notable banned books are also compelling reads from classic or contemporary literature. This list summarizes 25 of the most controversial banned books throughout history.

#1 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Harper Lee's novel is considered by many to be among the greatest works of fiction in American literature. Yet the story of young Scout Finch and her father, Atticus, has often been banned. Atticus is a lawyer defending a black man accused of raping a white woman. The novel's frank discussion of rape and central topic of racism have made the book a lightning rod for controversy.

#2 American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

Ellis is a frequent target for protests due to the nature of his writing, but none has faced the level of opposition of American Psycho. The story concerns Patrick Bateman, a businessman who may also be a serial killer. The novel contains highly detailed and disturbing depictions of violence, as well as graphic sexual content. Because most of Bateman's victims are women, the novel has most often been criticized as being violently misogynistic.

#3 And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson

This picture book tells the true story of Roy and Silo, two male penguins in New York City's Central Park Zoo. When the penguins were seen trying to hatch an egg-shaped rock, zookeepers gave them an actual egg. Roy and Silo then raised the chick, Tango. Despite the story concerning penguins, it stirred controversy about same-sex marriage and homosexuality, resulting in widespread bans.

#4 The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Chopin's story of Edna Pontellier asserting her independence was a pioneering work of feminism when it was published in 1899. Yet it faced challenges from the moment of its release. This was due in part to its treatment of gender roles, but also for its depiction of female sexuality, a highly taboo subject at the time. As recently as 2011, the book was still being challenged for the sexual image of women on its cover.

Banned Book with lock#5 The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Tolkien's epic fantasy trilogy follows good and evil forces in pursuit of a magical ring. The book has been banned as 'satanic' in some areas and was even burned by members of a church in New Mexico in 2001. The controversy is ironic, though, as Tolkien was a devout Christian and many scholars note Christian themes in his work.

#6 Candide by Voltaire

Written in 1759, Candide is a satirical French novella that takes on a wide variety of targets, including religion, government and philosophers. Not surprisingly, the book was banned immediately upon publication in many parts of the world. It's been labeled blasphemous, seditious and immoral.

#7 Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Like many Vonnegut novels, Cat's Cradle tackles numerous issues, such as the nuclear arms race and religion. In 1972, the Strongsville, Ohio School Board banned the book without stating an official reason. Notes from the meeting include references to the book as 'completely sick' and 'garbage.' However, this ban was overturned in 1976.

#8 Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers

Fallen Angels is a young adult novel about U.S. soldiers in Vietnam. It was widely acclaimed upon its publication, winning the Coretta Scott King Award in 1988. Yet it has often faced bans due to its graphic war violence and profanity.

#9 Forever by Judy Blume

Judy Blume was one of the first authors to write candidly about a teenage girl who is sexually active, and she's been the subject of criticism ever since. Her book Forever is a constant target of religious and sexual abstinence groups who don't think teenagers should read about a girl who goes on 'the pill.' Defenders of the book note that the teenagers in the book approach sexual relationships with caution, planning and appropriate protection.

#10 Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley's classic 1818 book details a man obsessed with creating life through the reanimation of dead tissue. He succeeds, only to be haunted and tormented by his grotesque creation. Over the past two centuries, the book has been banned for being indecent, objectionable and obscene. Christian groups have protested the book, claiming that it's in conflict with the principles of their faith.

#11 Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

Christian groups find fault with the witchcraft portrayed in J.K. Rowling's immensely popular series. They're particularly critical of the positive portrayal of witchcraft in literature aimed at children, and the series has been accused of supporting paganism. Additionally, some groups criticize the books for a perceived political agenda.

#12 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Angelou's 1969 autobiography is the first part of a six-volume series. It covers her early life and teenage years. Despite the book's powerful message of overcoming adversity, many schools and libraries have banned it. This is due to an intense scene of childhood rape, as well as other depictions of sexuality and racism.

#13 Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence

D. H. Lawrence's 1928 novel was the subject of numerous obscenity trials in the United Kingdom, United States and other countries as recently as the 1960s. Objections were raised about the book's explicit sex scenes and use of taboo four-letter words. The plot of the story centers on a woman named Constance who has an affair with the gamekeeper of her estate.

#14 Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Despite widespread acclaim and popularity, Lord of the Flies has been banned for a plethora of reasons. Many critics complain about violence, language, sexuality and racism. Others accuse the novel of attacks on religion, the disabled and women.

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