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40 Banned Books to Read at Your Own Risk

Banned Books Awareness Week is a time to celebrate our intellectual freedom by reading books that others have deemed unacceptable for certain people to read.  Reasons books get banned or challenged (which means someone wants the book banned from a school or library, but the request was denied) vary from “unacceptable sexual content “and “excessive violence” to “animals don’t talk” and “the book is a real downer.”

Now, if you are anything like me, you will want to stick it to Big Brother and read as many banned & challenged books as you can, but what if you don’t know what books have been banned?  Don’t worry.  We polled our 3,000 Bibliomaniacs to let us know what their favorite banned books are.  So without further ado, here are 40 Banned [or challenged] Books to Read at Your Own Risk.

1) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, 2) Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, 3) Slaughterhouse-Five by KurtVonnegut, 4) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, 5) Lord of the Flies by William Golding, 6) Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger 7) 1984 by George Orwell 8) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle, 9) The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, 10) My Friend Flicka by Mary O’Hara, 11) Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, 12) The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, 13) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, 14) The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, 15) The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, 16) Animal Farm by George Orwell, 17) The Color Purple by Alice Walker, 18) Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, 19) Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume, 20) The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, 21) The Rabbits’ Wedding by Garth Williams, 22) The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, 23) Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, 24) Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman, 25) Inventing Witchcraft: A Case Study in the Creation of a New Religion by Aidan A. Kelly, 26) Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, 27) The Trial by Franz Kafka, 28) The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, 29) Where’s Waldo? by Martin Handford, 30) The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, 31) The Devil in the Drain by Daniel Pinkwater, 32) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, 33) A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, 34) The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, 35) Hey Dollface by Deborah Hautzig, 36) Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden, 37) The Giver by Lois Lowry, 38) Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, 39) James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl, 40) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

So, did you discover that you have already read some dangerous books?  If you would like to know more about banned and challenged books and why they cause controversy, check out DeleteCensorship.org or this ALA list.
You can find these and more banned & challenged books at your local HPB because we sell anything ever printed or recorded. Always remember to speak freely, write candidly and read endlessly.


Julie is Production Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.
You may follow her on Twitter at @auntjewey.

Reader Comments (47)

I am surprised that "To Kill a Mockingbird" is on the list; I can't remember anything objectionable in the book -- but then it's been some time since I read it. I'm not surprised "The Handmaids Tale" is in it. Thanks for the informaiton.

September 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMary Berglee

already read 15 of those 40! doing quite well! and i've tried to read others that i either don't like (catcher in the rye) or can't finish because they're simply too painful (the color purple). i think it's time to give alice walker another spin. maybe i can make it this year.

September 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua Lee Yurcheshen

Surprised to see "Diary of a Little Girl" by Anne Frank! That is classic for not only is it history, but tells and explains of the shame, punishment, shock from a child's perspective to another. "The Outsiders" is another book that even when my daughter was 12 years old she too was taken in the book that had given her another perspective. So many that should NOT and I mean NOT be banned from the shelves to the stores that can give so much to our young generation.

September 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoseMarie Slabaugh

Where's Wally, or as its known in the US and Canada, Where's Waldo is one of the funniest books to be banned. All of this commotion was over a tiny topless woman in the "On The Beach" scene!! Too Funny!

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

No wonder we have so many issues if we need to sugar coat everything. Most of us survived and are better off having read these books. Maybe that's saying something right there. Just think of all the books that will never get published if these are banned.....

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa B

I was most shocked by "The Giving Tree"

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJodi

I've got 17.5 of 40 read so far! (I'm still working on Catcher in the Rye. ) And what really makes my head spin is that most of the ones I've read were required reading in school. What's wrong with people these days? (The people banning these books should take a long, hard read of 1984 and Brave New World, and then reevaluate...)

Thanks for posting this list!

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

I've read 20 out of 40.. I think that's pretty good. A few of them were actually for school.. Of course that was years ago.

September 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

I'm sorry, I was shocked and feeling ignorant. I have never seen a "banned book" list, heard of them of corse. "Little House on the Praire", " Charllots Web" "My Friend Flicka" I can't even try to guess how these could offend. Others, it must range from pure prejudice all the way to being able to pull sexual innuendo out of anything you don't agree with. I'm an avid reader, but I must start paying attention to what is going on around and about my favorite pastime.. Whats the quote ? "when good men do nothing"..... By the way, LOVE hpb

September 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKimberley

I read about half of those in high school literature classes in the late 1990s-early 2000s. The whole book banning thing is just truly ridiculous.

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJodi

okay.... these are all good & great books, but to make it out as some grand thing of "banned books"... come one, most of us adults have read at least 10 or 15 of these while we were in high school & still own some of these.

if you want a list of banned books, how about coming to real time, with books that are banned TODAY in parts of our own country. In AZ high schools, many books written by Latino authors, and/or about Latino life in America both present and historically, also books that are simply telling of another side of history that isn't the clean-wash that has been fed to students in public schools over the decades- have been and currently still are banned. This is part of the efforts to erase the real history of America, especially that of Mexican-Americans and further cause disparities among Latinos and cause prejudices and ignorance among all.

For everyone interested: http://azethnicstudies.com/banned-books

That list includes great books such as "A Peoples History of the United States" by the late, great Howard Zinn,
"Like Water for Chocolate" by Laura Esquivel, "House on Mango Street" by Susan Cisneros, and "Civil Disobidience" by Henry Thoreau

Thanks for reading.

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJo Cano

Thanks for posting the list

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRhetorical Devices

You have to understand that these books probably weren't all banned in the same place at the same time in history. Even so, I was surprised by some of the titles on the list.

October 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlove to read

I think that some of the books on here are wonderful books to read. I have read many just in high school.I think the one that surprises me the most is "The Giving Tree" because I still go to my bookshelf and pick it up and read it all the time and I can't understand why its a banned book.

November 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

I agree with many comments written on this site.
When I was in Middle School and High School many of
these 40 banned books were required reading material.
When attending College, and taking Literature courses,
some of these books were required reading.
In high school I had taken four years of Literature. And
when in College, I had taken two or three semesters,
where I also enrolled in Literature courses.

I have read a great deal of books that are now on a
banned list from schools. Makes no sense to me.
For peers sake people, the books being banned are a
joke. Unfortunately, children today, see, speak. and live lives
that are far more worse, than the content in this list of banned
books. I feel teachers today, should speak out to their
department heads, and to parents, and fight to have these
banned books, reinstated back into our schools. The banned
books taught kids lessons, helped open their eyes up to other
cultures, life lessons, etc. This is my opinion regarding the
Banned Book List.

December 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnette Soldanels

I'm only 15 and have all ready read 11 of these books. i had no idea that any of them are banned, non of them have made me think that they need to be banned. i am reading lord of the flies for my English class and the others i have read for pleasure.

December 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLyndsey

I dont understand how these books are banned not only did most people read them in school but some of them are for children?? How are these books banned but 50 shades of grey isnt?? Thats what is rediculous just saying

January 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLynsey

Books are banned for a number of reasons. In the 40s, 50s and 60s books may have been banned because of community concerns about the perceived lack of decency of the book. In more recent decades, books have been challenged for other issues such as racism or anti- feminism. The Adventures of Hucklebery Finn has been challenged repeatedly because of questions about racial Predjudice on the author's part, even though Twain actually used satire to reveal the evil of slavery and racial Predjudice. Little House on the Prairie portrays the pioneers' fear and animosity toward Native Americans in a way that is considered insulting now. Simply putting a book on this list tells you very little about the objections raised about the book.

January 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMirchele Harvey

Surprised at some of the books on the list. Rather than ban books that we find objectionable or distasteful, why don't we pay attention to and read the books that our kids are reading. We then have the opportunity to keep them "safe" from things we don't think they are ready for as well as start a discussion about new and different things that they learn. When we take the time to be parents instead of trying to regulate the world we make a bigger difference.

January 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLindsey

Since when is Harry potter banned? When I was in middle school my teachers did a whole Harry potter day! Read to kill a mockingbird in 10th grade. Read brave new world in 11th.

So weird that they're "bad" for you.

What happened to free speech?

January 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterScott

I'm a college student, in high school, being in the advanced program, I read almost all of these titles, have a few of them sitting on my bookshelf. I don't see anything wrong with any of the books. If America wants to ignorant of its past then I'm sorry. I have collected banned books for a while now and have read all that sit on my shelves. My goal is to have my little boy read them as well. I'm actually surprised that Plath hasn't been banned yet, just from her poem "daddy". Its a sad world that we are raising our children in.

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterchristina

I've read 24 from the list and most were during high school in the late 70s (except Harry Potter), and quite a few were required reading in school. Many of these books have been made into movies for the non-readers. My sons read The Hunger Games in a Catholic high school which had kids reading Harry Potter as well. I guess this makes Canada a more progressive country.

February 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNMYB

I've only read 27 out of the 40 unfortunately! A lot of them may be banned for obscure reasons. Trust me, when I have kids and they learn to read, they can read whatever they want! I'll buy them all these banned books even.

March 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

"The Giving Tree"and "Where the Sidewalk ends" were two of the most offensive books I've ever read. Its about time they showed up on the list. I notice Snooki's book is missing from the list..

March 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteranimenoob

Wow I have heard of banned books, never rally knew what ones as I think the idea of banning a book as ridiculous period. Freedom. Free to choose or free to put it down if it offends you then move on. Ray Bradbury was required reading - both of those showing here - in my English classes in Jr. High -. No wonder kids can't think for themselves these days - too many big brothers out there doing it for them.........sad sad sad.

April 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpeg

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