From sensitive and “inappropriate” themes to ideas that clash with the culture of their time, there is a long list of reasons for banning books—but the list of banned and challenged books is even longer. Here are a few to get you started:
by Aldous Huxley
Due to its explicit content, it is no surprise that Brave New World would be included in this list. Having caught the attention of many conservative governments, the novel was banned in Ireland, India, and Australia, with Australia keeping banned status for five years.
by Joseph Heller
Though celebrated and named one of the best books of all time by various publications, Joseph Heller’s masterpiece was banned and challenged in different schools in the United States. In 1972, it was banned in Strongsville, Ohio, with its banned status lasting until 1976. It was also challenged in Dallas, Texas in 1974, and in Snoqualmie, Washington in 1979.
by Anne Frank
Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl has been translated into 60 languages and has sold over 30 million copies worldwide. Yet even with the huge demand and global interest, this harrowing memoir was banned in Lebanon for its positive depiction of Jews.
by Vladimir Nabokov
Though Lolita is now deemed one of the finest novels of the 20th century, this classic was once banned in the UK. British Customs officials were ordered to not let any copies enter the UK until 1959. In the same year, the first British edition was published by Weidenfield and Nicolson. Despite the lifting of the ban, the publication was still considered scandalous and brought down the reputation of the publisher.
by George Orwell
Written in 1949, the dystopian novel 1984 depicts a grim future for society where human activity is closely monitored and independent thought is suppressed. The American Libraries Association has banned the book due to its “bleak warning of totalitarian government and censorship.” Many view the book as one that is pro-Communist and contains immoral themes.
by Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut’s absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five has been accused of being “depraved, immoral, psychotic, vulgar, and anti-Christian.” The title was first banned from Oakland County, Michigan public schools in 1972. After which, in 1973, a school board in North Dakota burned 32 copies of the book in protest. The American Libraries Association ranks Slaughterhouse-Five at No. 29 in their list of banned or challenged classics.
by Salman Rushdie
The Satanic Verses is inspired in part by the life of the Prophet Muhammad, the book has sparked much controversy as Muslims accused it of blasphemy and mockery of their faith. The outrage among Muslims resulted for a legal calling for Rushdie’s death. There were several failed assassination attempts on his life, as well as attacks on connected individuals such as Rushdie’s Norwegian publisher, and his Japanese and Italian translators.
by Adolf Hitler
The autobiographical manifesto of Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf outlines his political ideology and future plans for Germany. Throughout the world, there are numerous restrictions and outright bans on the distribution of the title. Deemed “too dangerous for the general public,” the book that once served as a kind of Nazi bible was banned from domestic reprints since the end of World War II. This 2016, Mein Kampf was reissued in a 2,000-page annotated version after its 70-year copyright expired, in which more than 15,000 advanced orders had been placed.
by Lewis Carroll
The strange, almost hallucinatory world of this Lewis Carroll classic wasn’t banned because it alluded to mind-altering substances. Instead, a Chinese governor banned the book in the province of Hunan because it contained talking animals. He believed that this puts animals on the same level as human beings, and that that kind of thinking was disastrous and dangerously subversive.
by Mary Shelley
Frankenstein was notably banned twice. In 1910, a film adaptation sparked a controversy with its God-like creation of life. More recently, it was banned in 1955 in South African Apartheid because it was deemed “objectionable and obscene.” Still it remains to be an iconic part, not just of literature, but of pop culture as well—particularly during Halloween.
by Jose Rizal
Rizal’s most notable works were banned during the Philippines’ colonial years because of their portrayal of the corrupt and abusive government, mainly of the Catholic Church. Still, smuggled copies made its rounds and soon, the government ordered the arrest of Rizal on grounds of subversion and inciting rebellion. Both books are now required readings in all schools in the Philippines.
These banned books are available at Fully Booked Online.