Our Favorite Banned Books

Celebrate Banned Books Week (September 23 - 29, 2018) with these frequently challenged books, according to the American Library Association. Scribd employees rave about their particular favorites here.

The Hunger Games

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Ashley: It’s easy to see why Suzanne Collins’ phenomenon wound up on the American Library Association banned books list, at least for violence: The premise revolves around kids being forced to kill other kids, after all. But its gruesome premise is handled with astounding deftness, and you can’t help but love almost every single character (Katniss and Peeta are my everything). This year marks the 10th anniversary of the first publication of The Hunger Games, which means it’s the perfect time to revisit Panem.


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Alex: For an unambiguously immoral tale, Lolita is hard to read only because it isn’t. It’s a lyrical, sensual, metafictively playful work of art, a censorious love letter to America. It's impossible not to be entranced by the language, and by Humbert Humbert, so that somewhere along the way readers forget to judge him. We’re made complicit in his crimes by the aesthetic pleasure we get out of reading about them. It’s a highly uncomfortable realization, particularly in its implications beyond the bounds of fiction; we’re confronted with the hypocrisy of our own voyeuristic culture. A truly masterful work of art.

The Chocolate War

Alison: Considering The Chocolate War unsuitable for the age group just shows that people are in denial about the darker realities of high school experiences. This book gives a realistic depiction of fighting, bullying, and how teenage boys talk, particularly about sex (they are going through puberty, after all). But more importantly, the themes in this book first published in 1974 continue to resonate today. Independence versus conformity when faced with moral issues is something everyone can connect to — especially given the current social and political climate.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time


Tifa: This acclaimed 2003 novel by Mark Haddon is narrated by a 15-year-old autistic math whiz, Christopher. In 2015, it was assigned as summer reading for a school in Tallahassee, Florida, and then removed from the list after complaints about swearing. I find it interesting that Christopher’s matter-of-fact accounting of what he sees and hears in the world around him could incite such concerns. Haddon said he is “puzzled and fascinated by the way in which some readers remain untroubled by the content of a novel but deeply offended by the language in which it is described,” according to an article in The Guardian. Definitely don’t shy away from this important story.

Thirteen Reasons Why


Cindy: One day, Clay Jensen finds himself in possession of many cassettes where his high school classmate, Hannah Baker, recounts the events and decisions that ultimately led to her suicide. A book aimed at teens dealing with the heavy subject of suicide meant it became widely criticized (it was the most-challenged book of 2017 after renewed scrutiny due to the Netflix adaptation). However, this book also provided a platform for characters to explore and discuss the intricacies of this issue as to better understand it and take action to prevent future tragedies.

The Adventures of Captain Underpants

Noah: Captain Underpants follows the adventures of two best friends and their self-created superhero come to life. It was placed on the banned books list, in part, for encouraging a disobedience of authority. This series, however, is more about kids who aren’t afraid to challenge authority and solve problems creatively. Even if that solution involves hypnotizing your vile principal into becoming the crime fighting, tighty whitey-wearing protagonist from the original comic book series you’ve created.

Brave New World

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Andrew: Brave New World may be accused of offensive language, religious offense, nudity, and racism, but banning a book such as this one is to commit an offense the book itself warns against. Aldous Huxley’s novel acts as a challenge against the sort of blissed-out, homogenized society that too many would mistake for a utopia, and it offers its younger readers an opportunity to explore themes of social critique that encourage sincere examination of the modern world and our collective and individual visions for an ideal future.

The Color Purple


Katie: Sure, there’s some cursing and sex and violence in Alice Walker’s moving masterpiece. There’s also two women who love each other: the resilient Celie who grows up poor and black in rural Georgia and Shug, the captivating, nonconformist blues singer. And there’s a stack of awards that critics have honored it with, including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Banned a lot, it’s even more beloved; stirring and heart-wrenching, I love reading this book over and over.

My Sister’s Keeper


Angela: This is a thought-provoking book about a family faced with a situation where the lines between right and wrong are blurred. Kate has cancer, and her younger sister, Anna, was born to be a one-time donor to save Kate. That one time soon becomes two, three, four times, and gets to a point where Kate now needs a new kidney from Anna. Though one of the reasons people object to My Sister's Keeper is because of a religious viewpoint, I would say the question of morality throughout the book has more to do with humanity and love than religiousness.

See the list on Scribd.

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