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10 Banned Books Everyone Should Read

I think many of us can agree that, if you had a great English teacher at some point in high school, you found some of your favorite books from randomly choosing one on a reading list. High school reading requirements were a great way to introduce some of the greatest stories ever told to the young minds of today. But what if you missed out on what could be your favorite book because it was banned? These are some of the most popular books that have been banned in schools!  

For the Classicists: Many of the now beloved classics have been banned from libraries and schools across various countries after being cited for anything from being a little too saucy to supposedly brainwashing children. So, if you are interested in expanding your cultural awareness while still being retrospectively rebellious, give these a read:

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee This great novel is frequently challenged and banned for reasons ranging from offensive language to it simply making people uncomfortable.  

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien This book is banned for profanity and challenged for images of war and sex.  

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll his book was banned in Hunan, China for having animals that speak and act with the same level of complexity as human beings.  

1984 by George Orwell 1984 was banned by the USSR for its negative depiction of communism and challenged in the US for the opposite reason as some missed its clearly satirical tone.


Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov This book was banned in France, the UK, Argentina, New Zealand, South America, and temporarily in Canada for being “obscene”.   For the Modernists: New books are constantly being challenged and censored. For those of you looking to stay with the times and still “stick it to the man,” here are some of the most challenged books from more recent history: 

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell This book is challenged for its offensive language.  

Looking for Alaska by John Green This book is challenged for its sexually explicit scene that may lead students to “sexual experimentation”.


This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki Tamaki’s book is challenged because it includes LGBT characters, drug use, profanity, and other mature themes. The Hunger Games by Suzzane Collins Surprisingly, this book is informally banned and formally challenged for extreme violence and references to cult culture.   

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan This book is challenged for having a cover with, shockingly, two boys kissing and for including sexually explicit content. Poetry: Books are not the only works to get banned and challenged. Poetry also falls victim to censorship for similar reasons to its prose-filled counterparts. So, if you still have not joined the banned-wagon, try jumping on these gems:

“Howl” by Allen Ginsberg This poetry book was temporarily banned in the US and later brought to court for obscene language, explicit references to sodomy, and negative portrayal of capitalism and American life. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman Whitman’s work was banned in Boston for its crude language and sensuality. I hope this list inspired you to check out some of the greatest censored literary works of the past and present. If we missed any books, please let us know!

Stormi Verret

Louisiana Tech

Stormi is Junior at Louisiana Tech University, studying English Literature and Spanish. With a penchant for all kinds of “Tea,” she both reads and writes avidly. She's a co-coordinator for her HC chapter, but she also writes for SPEAK magazine and operates as the secretary for Tech's Model United Nations. Her favorite genres are Brit-lit, American-lit, and everything outside or in-between. 
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