For day two of banned book week, I’ve got another list for you. It’s a list of my top ten favorite banned books, just in case you need some ideas on what to read this week.
10- The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkin
Too many awards to count, including the International Fantasy award in 1957. This series is the father of modern fantasy. (Beowulf is the grandfather. It always goes back to Beowulf.) The whole series was banned because people felt it was anti religious, which is insane because Tolkin was a devout catholic, a great friend of C.S Lewis, and considered the work to be a very christian book. People also tried to ban it because they thought the smoking set a bad example for children. Nope, sorry, the only thing I’m coughing on is the hypocrisy
9- Holes, Lewis Sachar
1998 National book award for young people’s literature, and the 1999 winner of the Newberry Metal. Parents wanted it banned from schools because it was too violent, and ‘not quality literature.’ Maybe they’re not sure what quality literature means, because they’ve never read anything beyond Woman’s Day.
8- James and the Giant Peach- Roald Dahl
One of the best and most love books of all time for children. Made into a fantastic movie. It was banned because the word Slut was used, once.
7- Dracula- Bram Stoker
You know, Dracula, the book all the emo kids love but never actually read. In fairness, the three vampires that come after Hawkins was rather risque, but only if you already know what’s going on. As the Eagles say, “She can’t take you any way you don’t already know how to go.”
6- Frankenstein- Mary Shelly
Fun fact. Mary Shelly and Stoker were friends. They came up with the story ideas for both Frankenstein and Dracula during a winter vacation one year. Shelly’s book was better, I think. It’s the first classic I ever remember reading and saying after, “That was a great story under the fifteen pages of unnecessary stage setting.”
5- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
This is one of two books on the list I haven’t finished yet, but let me just say that if you’ve never read this, and you want to be any sort of writer, you should. Now, do it now. Angelou is honest and blunt about her childhood, but brings poetry to prose in such an amazing way.
4- Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
It’s the divided opinions on this book that really get me. Some schools want to ban the book outright, while it was required reading in my high school. And alright, there is the small issue of one of the main characters sort of raping and killing a woman because she doesn’t know any better. But this is a powerful story, written in simple terms. Steinbeck’s never had to beat any reader over the head with his point to prove it.
3- 1984, George Orwell
Alright, I’ll be the first to admit that I am scared to finish 1984. This book is number one on my list for getting an instant, lizard brain reaction from me. The part early in the book when the main character talks about there not being enough food for him and his sister, and his sister starving to death so that he can live? My kids put on a good ten pounds each the week I read that book, just because I couldn’t stop feeding them. Should this book be read by kids? No. But with it’s very strong messages about allowing other people to make our choices and the terrors it will bring makes this a book that literally everyone should read.
2- Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
This book’s likely the best known banned book. And anyone who’s read it knows how ironic it is. The book’s banned for saying negro, but it’s all about Huck helping his friend get free. This is a great example of hearing the words and ignoring the message.
1- To Kill A Mocking Bird, Harper Lee
First, I must fangirl a little. This is my favorite book of all time, I am in love with Atticus Finch, and I named my cat Harper. I love everything about this book, and anyone who doesn’t love it can leave. That being said, I bet I don’t need to tell anyone why the book was banned. I also don’t need to tell anyone why it shouldn’t have been.
Did I leave out your favorite banned book? Let me know in the comments.