Tuesday, September 29, 2015

#TopTenTuesday - My Top 10 Banned Books

It's banned books week all the way through Saturday, you may have noticed me sharing links to articles about banned books on the Facebook page or Twitter. I figured for my first ever #TopTenTuesday, I would do a list of my 10 most favorite banned books. I am basing my list on this list of banned books from Wikipedia.

Photo Credit: Goodreads
#10 - The Dead Zone by Stephen King

"The Dead Zone was first challenged in 1980 for 'not meeting the standards of community." (Source)

Having read The Dead Zone and most of Stephen King's other novels, I'm surprised to find this book on the list at all, although apparently the challenges have greatly diminished in recent years. 


Johnny, the small boy who skated at breakneck speed into an accident that for one horrifying moment plunged him into The Dead Zone

Johnny Smith, the small-town schoolteacher who spun the wheel of fortune and won a four-and-a-half-year trip into The Dead Zone

John Smith, who awakened from an interminable coma with an accursed power—the power to see the future and the terrible fate awaiting mankind in The Dead Zone.

Photo Credit: Goodreads
#9 - In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood "was banned for a short time in Savanna, Georgia, after a parent complained about sex, violence, and profanity." (Source)

This was my first true crime novel, and I think it held appeal for me most because I'm from Kansas. The complaints about it are probably accurate (it's been a while since I read it), but what do you expect from a true crime novel?


The laconic, atmospheric, and intensively researched narrative of the lives of the Clutter family of Holcomb, Kansas, and of the two men, Richard Eugene Hickock and Perry Edward Smith, who brutally killed them on the night of November 15, 1959, is the seminal work of the "new journalism." Perry Smith is one of the great dark characters of American literature, full of contradictory emotions. "I thought he was a very nice gentleman," he says of Herb Clutter. "Soft-spoken. I thought so right up to the moment I cut his throat." Told in chapters that alternate between the Clutter household and the approach of Smith and Hickock in their black Chevrolet, then between the investigation of the case and the killers' flight, Capote's account is so detailed that the reader comes to feel almost as if he were a participant in the events. New York Times: "A remarkable, tensely exciting, moving, superbly written 'true account.'" New York Review of Books: "Harrowing... the best documentary account of an American crime ever written... The book chills the blood and exercises the intelligence."

Photo Credit: Goodreads
#8 - Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stein

"The series was challenged for being too frightening for young people and depicting occult or satanic themes." (Source)

I loved the Goosebumps series growing up, and read a lot of them. The series may have even started my love affair with horror novels.  There's a good chance that I ordered a new one from just about every single Scholastic book order that I got (and I always went home with a stack of books on days when book orders were delivered.) While I understand why parents might object to it, I think Goosebumps got a lot of children reading (even my husband read them, and he doesn't read.) I've even started re-collecting them when I find copies at my local thrift store so that my children can read them when they're a little bit older (they're only 4 and 6 right now.) 

Photo Credit: Goodreads
#7 - The Hunger Games (Series) by Suzanne Collins

"The Hunger Games has been challenged for insensitivity, offensive language, violence and for being anti-family, anti-ethnic and occult/satanic." (Source)

If you don't know about The Hunger Games by now, I'm going to guess that you've been living under a rock, which is okay, I bet it's a very nice rock. Are the books violent? Of course they are. They are about children being forced to fight to the death as punishment for their great-grandparents rebelling against their government 74 years ago. Its been a few years since I read them, so I don't recall any particularly offensive language, but it's presence wouldn't surprise me. I do not understand where the other complaints are coming from though, especially it being "anti-family." Katniss freakin' volunteers as tribute to save her sister's life for crying out loud. That's anti-family? 


In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love. 

New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Collins delivers equal parts suspense and philosophy, adventure and romance, in this searing novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present.

Photo Credit: Goodreads
#6 - Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keys

Flowers for Algernon is most often challenged for the "parts of the novel that focus on Charlie's struggle to understand and express his sexual desires." (Source)

I read this book back in high school, so over half my life ago, and I don't actually remember a whole lot of the details of the story, but I do remember feeling particularly moved by it. It's a book that has been on my TBR list for a re-read for a while now even. 


With more than five million copies sold, Flowers for Algernon is the beloved, classic story of a mentally disabled man whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of Algernon, an extraordinary lab mouse. In poignant diary entries, Charlie tells how a brain operation increases his IQ and changes his life. As the experimental procedure takes effect, Charlie's intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctors who engineered his metamorphosis. The experiment seems to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance--until Algernon begins his sudden, unexpected deterioration. Will the same happen to Charlie?

Photo Credit: Goodreads
#5 - The Scary Stories Treasury by Alvin Schwartz

"Citing violence in the stories and graphic illustrations, parent groups and school boards would pull the three Scary Stories volumes from libraries and schools." (Source)

Much like the Goosebumps series, I loved these books as a kid and I want to buy copies with the original artwork now (because I hear they've gone and changed the illustrations so they're not as scary.) I get that the stories are terrifying, but the title of the first book is Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark...what would you expect from that? Stories full of flowers and sausages? I don't think so. Kids read these books because they wanted to be scared, at least that's why I read them. And you know what, it takes quite a bit to freak me out now as an adult. 


Are you brave enough for Scary Stories? 
Some boys and girls were at a party one night. There was a graveyard down the street, and they were talking about how scary it was. 

"Don't ever stand on a grave after dark," one of the boys said. "The person inside will grab you." 

"A grave doesn't scare me," said one of the girls. "I'll do it right now. . . ." 

Welcome to the macabre world of Scary Stories, where folklorist Alvin Schwartz offers up the most alarming collection of horror, dark revenge, and supernatural events of all time. Here is a selection of extraordinarily chilling tales along with spine-tingling illustrations by renowned artist Brett Helquist.

Photo Credit: Goodreads
#4 - 1984 by George Orwell

" It has been banned and challenged repeatedly on social and political grounds, as well as sexual content." (Source)

I think 1984 was my first adult dystopian novel, and it definitely made an impact on me. I've wanted to re-read it so much since I've been here in Germany that I ended up buying a copy of it in German at my thrift store (on accident because 1984 is the same in English as it is in German.) I'm really not even mad about that though, in spite of the fact that I don't speak enough German to read it. 


'It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.'

Winston Smith works for the Ministry of truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy. Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent - even in the mind. For those with original thoughts they invented Room 101 . . . 

Nineteen Eighty-Four is George Orwell's terrifying vision of a totalitarian future in which everything and everyone is slave to a tyrannical regime.

Photo Credit: Goodreads
#3 - A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

"Attempts have been made to ban the book from some libraries, parents claiming that the poem "How Not To Have To Dry The Dishes" encourages messiness and disobedience." (Source)

The idea that a book of silly poems for children would be challenged at all is ludicrous to me. I'm sure many of you grew up reading this poems too. I've even bought (and currently lost) copies of all three of Shel Silverstein's poetry books to read the poems to my kids. (I'm starting to feel like a bad parent for buying all these banned books for my children to read. Oh wait, that makes me an awesome parent because I'm not obnoxiously censoring what they read.) 


It's hard to imagine a world without A Light in the Attic. This now-classic collection of poetry and drawings from Shel Silverstein celebrates its 20th anniversary with this special edition. Silverstein's humorous and creative verse can amuse the dowdiest of readers. Lemon-faced adults and fidgety kids sit still and read these rhythmic words and laugh and smile and lovethat Silverstein. Need proof of his genius?

Rockabye baby, in the treetop
Don't you know a treetop
Is no safe place to rock?
And who put you up there,
And your cradle, too?
Baby, I think someone down here's
Got it in for you.
Shel, you never sounded so good.

Photo Credit: Goodreads
#2 - The Giver by Lois Lowry

"The most frequently cited reasons to challenge The Giver have been “Violence” and claims that the book is “Unsuited to [the] Age Group”—or in other words that it’s too dark for children." (Source)

The Giver was probably my very first dystopian novel. We read it in school, and I'm from a small town in Kansas. When I think of books being challenged and banned, it's usually in very small towns like the one I grew up in. So I was incredulous to see it on the list of banned books. 


Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back. 

Photo Credit: Goodreads
#1 - Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling

The Harry Potter series has faced backlash from several radical Christian groups because "the magic in the books promotes Wicca and witchcraft among children." (Source) Additionally, the ladies at Platypire Reviews feel it should be banned because it doesn't have any platypires. 

I guess I'm not really surprised that Harry Potter has come under attack for the themes it describes, which is sad really...that I'm not even surprised people don't want to allow others to read a children's book. This is one of my all-time favorite series, and I read the whole thing as an adult (well a technical adult because I was 18 or older when I first started reading the books.) 

Synopsis (Sorcerer's Stone)

Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy. He lives with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, who are mean to him and make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. (Dudley, however, has two bedrooms, one to sleep in and one for all his toys and games.) Then Harry starts receiving mysterious letters and his life is changed forever. He is whisked away by a beetle-eyed giant of a man and enrolled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The reason: Harry Potter is a wizard! The first book in the "Harry Potter" series makes the perfect introduction to the world of Hogwarts.

It was actually really hard for me to make my choices after the first four. Basically, the rest of the books from the list that I've read have essentially equal footing in my mind. I would like to add that I read almost all of the books on my list while living under my parents roof because they provided them for me (my parents are kind of awesome.) So since there were other books I'd read that could make the list, I'm going to just list them now because this is my blog and I do what I want. 

Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Cujo by Stephen King
The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle


  1. The first time I read almost every book on one of these lists! All but the first, actually. I feel great right now.

    1. Great Blog Post!! I've read a few, but loved learning about why some of these were "banned". <3

    2. Thanks S.L. I had to do a fair bit of research to find out the reasons for some of them being "banned," but I knew I wanted to include those reasons because I always wonder why people object to the books I've seen on similar lists. - Katie