Top banned books aka books to read before you die.
lavendar_star: Fifty Shades of Grey may have been banned in some US states this year, but it’s just the most recent in a long list of books considered ‘too explicit’ for our delicate minds. Here are our favourites (yahoos).
1. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley, 1932
This book was banned in Ireland when it was first published and continues to be challenged in some US states today. Explicit sexual scenes caused controversy as Huxley imagined a world where birth control and reproduction were controlled for society rather than by individuals. For Catholic Ireland, the idea was just too much! Also banned in Australia in the 1930s.
2. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov, 1955
This is the tale of literary scholar Humbert Humbert and his sexual obsession with ‘Nymphets’ and in particular 12 year old Dolores (Lolita) who becomes his step daughter. Nabokov had trouble getting the novel published due to its contentious material and though there is little that is explicit in the novel, the themes of paedophilia and incest were enough to ban it in France, England, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa.
3. And Tango Makes Three, Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, 2005
Based on a real life penguin family, the story of Tango the penguin and his two dads was written to teach children about same-sex parent families. It was revealed to be the most banned book at the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week, mostly having been removed from US libraries and schools.
4. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini, 2003
Now a major film, the Kite Runner was banned in Afghanistan, where the story is set, for its rape scene of a young male character. It’s also banned in some parts of the US because of the sexually explicit scene and offensive language.
5. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood, 1985
Describing a bleak future where women are sexual slaves, the Handmaid’s Tale regularly appears on most ban request lists and was removed from the English curriculum in Texas after complaints by parents that it was anti Christian. continue...
6. The Well of Loneliness, Radclyffe Hall, 1928
An early lesbian novel, Hall’s story, thought to be a thinly veiled account of her own life, was feared by the authorities for introducing ideas of homosexuality to women. It was banned soon after publication but this probably only served to make the British population far more aware of lesbianism.
7. Ulysses, James Joyce, 1922
Banned in the US in 1928, the UK in 1926 and named a prohibited import to Australia in 1933, Ulysses was considered ‘obscene’ by the authorities thanks to a scene where the main character masturbates. In 1933 it was ruled ‘pornographic’ but not obscene and the ban was lifted.
8. Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller, 1934
Miller’s book has been credited with giving literature the free speech we now take for granted. Its US publication in 1961 tested American pornography laws but in ‘obscenity trials’ the tome was declared ‘non obscene’. Loosely based on Miller’s own life in Paris, the protagonist’s sexual experiences are recounted in detail and the book is considered one of the most important in 20th-century literature.
9. Fifty Shades of Grey, EL James, 2011
Banned in libraries in the states of Georgia and Wisconsin (Florida lifted its ban), the rather badly written sexual exploits of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey have been dubbed ‘mummy porn’ for their popularity with older women. Despite being banned by these conservative states, the book topped the best seller charts in both the US and UK.
10. Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (Fanny Hill), John Cleland, 1748
When it was published, Fanny Hill was ignored by the authorities, but a year later its publishers were charged with "corrupting the King's subjects". Sold underground, it was also banned in the US in 1821. Strewn with details of sex acts, the book depicts prostitution, lesbianism and mutual masturbation. The ban was lifted in the 1970s after the book was decided to be a historical source and of literary value. Also banned in the US.
Lady Chatterley's Lover - D. H. Lawrence
Perhaps the most famous of Lawrence's novels, the 1928 Lady Chatterley's Lover is no longer distinguished for the once shockingly explicit treatment of its subject matter - the adulterous affair between a sexually unfulfilled upper-class married woman and the gamekeeper who works for the estate owned by her husband. Now that we're used to reading about sex, and seeing it in the movies, it's apparent that the novel is memorable for better reasons: namely, Lawrence's masterful and lyrical writing, and a story that takes us bodily into the world of its characters. When the full unexpurgated edition was published by Penguin Books in Britain in 1960, the trial of Penguin under the Obscene Publications Act of 1959 was a major public event and a test of the new obscenity law. Also banned in both Australia and the US in the 50s, 60s.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J K Rowling
The first of the hugely successful Harry Potter series, in which Harry discovers he's a wizard, and enrols in Hogwarts School of Withcraft and Wizardry. It was banned and burned in many US states for promoting witchcraft, and also banned in some Christian schools in the UK. Maybe they didn't realise it is just a story.
The Satanic Verses - Salman Rushdie
This is Rushdie's fourth novel and it has attracted controversy since its publication in 1988. The book was banned in India and burned in the UK also Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Iran, Kenya, Kuwait, Liberia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Senegal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Thailand. "I selected the Satanic Verses because when it was released it was seen as very controversial in the Islamic world, and Islamic extremists threatened to kill Rushdie." Greg, North Yorkshire Libraries.
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou
This is the first book in a six-volume autobiographical series about the life of African-American author and poet, Maya Angelou. It has been banned in some US schools and libraries on grounds of pornography & violence.
The Communist Manifesto - Marx and Engels
The Manifesto was issued by Marx in 1848, and is regarded as founding document of Communism. Since its publication this book has been banned, burned and censored in many capitalist countries because of its political content.
Tropic of Cancer - Henry Miller
Tropic of Cancer combines fiction and autobiography as it tells the story of Miller's life as a struggling writer in Paris. Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Musmanno wrote that Tropic of Cancer is "not a book. It is a cesspool, an open sewer, a pit of putrefaction, a slimy gathering of all that is rotten in the debris of human depravity." It was banned in the UK and the USA for its explicit nature
Revolting Rhymes - Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl's parody of classic children's fairy tales replaces the traditional 'happy ever afters' with something else altogether... most of the characters meet gruesome endings (although the seven jockeys befriended by Snow White become millionaires through gambling). Unsurprisingly it regularly features on the American Library Association's list of banned and challenged books.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky
Charlie, our narrator, describes scenes from his life in a series of letters to an anonymous person. This book was banned in the USA for reasons of: homosexuality, sexually explicit, anti-family, offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, drugs and suicide. Gosh.
Not Without My Daughter - Betty Mahmoody
A harrowing but inspiring true story of an American woman who was kept virtual prisoner when her Iranian husband took her on holiday to visit his homeland. The tale of her escape in both print and film were subsequently banned by the Iranian government.
The Country Girls - Edna O'Brien.
The Country Girls, published in 1960 by Hutchinson, London, was the first novel by Edna O’Brien and the first of her trilogy of the same title (also including The Lonely Girl, later called Girl with Green Eyes, and Girls in Their Married Bliss). It was banned in her native Ireland for its sexual content. Altogether, six of her novels were banned there, and sometimes burnt. But her work has always had both big sales and critical acclamation for the lyricism and unflinching nature of her writing, especially about women’s lives and loves, as well as her comedy.
The Proof of the Honey - Salwa al-Neimi
The book has been banned in Oman and other Arab states for its account of an Arab woman’s sexual encounters and her philosophy of love. It presents a view of the world and Arab womanhood very different from the silent, veiled stereotype.
Naked Lunch - William Burroughs
The loose collection of 'routines', as Burroughs describes the sections of text that comprise Naked Lunch, are narrated by the junkie, William Lee. The routines are meant to be able to be read in any order, and the narrative (there isn't really a plot to speak of) unfolds in the US, Mexico and Tangier. Due to its obscene language and extremely controversial subject matter concerning drug addiction this book was banned in many regions of the US.
Wild Swans - Jung Chan
This memoir covers 3 generations of a Chinese family. Published in 1991 it proved to be hugely popular in the Western world and received critical acclaim but is still banned in China.
lavendar_star: I have to say I have now bookmarked this page for future reference for books to read, (it’s quite a long list). I understand why books would be banned now in countries like Iran and China but for books to ban in certain states in the US which supposedly has freedom of speech and the land of the free. Yet they ban book like Harry Potter weird especially considering Hollywood and their violent films and of course the billion pound porn industry.
I think the ironic thing is that when something is banned people want it more, the music video for relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood was banned by the BBC and then went straight to no 1 lol. However, there is one book I can understand that has been banned en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_120_Days_of_Sodom the description of the book is vile and very immoral. However, in the age of the internet and adults at least should have the right to read what they want!!! I mean banning a Roald Dahl book I am shocked he was one of my favourite authors as a child. I also think there is a sinister element in governments or people wanting books banned that go against their political, religious or cultural point of view that essentially stops others from making their own opinions.
As they say “the pen is mightier than the sword”.
Sash Ria: Hahaa, I was wondering when '50 shades of grey' would make it's way into the forums, I haven't read it, though I've heard friends going on and on about it, maybe the reason I haven't read it is because it seems to be sold out everywhere I've checked
From what I'm hearing though it's not that explicit, one friend of mine said 'yeah they do freaky shit but nothing that'd hit the G-spot' hahahaaa I laughed hard at that...The prudes are gonna have to get over it because there's plans to make a series of movies based on the series of novels.
I find it a lil ridiculous that books can be banned, I don't see the point, if ppl want to find something they will whether there's a ban or not, and what gives these places the right to suppress the right of free will...Like you said, the irony funny, in doing this they're making these books 'taboo' so therefor the curiosity heightens and only serves for a higher demand...They're publicising and hyping up what in most cases are mediocre books, I've read some of the books on that list, 'Lolita' and 'Ulysses', they really aren't that controversial.
What about movies for eg. that aren't banned, classics such as 'pretty woman' that I guarantee is on every online list of best romances, c'mon the story line is about a prostitute, if the lead actress wasn't Julia Roberts and if the movie was painted with a more realistic view of a prostitute and a customer it would have never made it's way to television broadcast nvm cinema and become a classic...Just an example of how society sugar coats and turns the blinkers on when it suits.
lavendar_star: I agree with you entirely, one thing I notice that a lot of books that have been banned over the ages has been books dealing with women's sexuality or homosexuality men or women. Your so right about pretty woman too , what is probably the most funniest and saddest is that people who demand for something to be banned normally haven't read the book they deemed offensive, its form of social control. As for the 50 shades of gray its seems over hyped but well marketed by what the issue yet again seems to be is that its directed at female sexuality and for some that is very frightening concept i.e. that we have one. I have read few of them myself including Brave New World and I'm defo going to read handmaid's tale seen the film but books sounds brilliant and so relevant even today.
OCD_OCD: I've read about half of the books you listed, but I will definitely read the rest. I thought the Kite Runner was awesome. Tragic, but so well written.
lavendar_star: Well on the website I got the list of banned books from there was some if not nearly all real classic books of literature dealing with complex subjects its crazy, nobody is looking to ban the dumbness of reality TV.
Sarcastic Dots: Am I the only one that is slightly interested in the fact that literature can be accessed by anyone of any age (these books not withstanding), yet movies and video games have stringent laws surrounding ratings?
Like, for example, Fifty Shades Of Grey: it's a pretty dirty book that could be read by anyone, yet I doubt most people would allow their children to see an adaptation of the aforementioned novel on the big-screen.
So, I've got to say, I think hypocrisy is rife, but I am veering in a different direction from Sash Ria.
lavendar_star: Good point supermeat but isnt it the visuals of television, movies and video games that sets it apart from books. You could have a point that books should have age ranging for adult books.
Metaphorguy: I've read Lolita, Communist Manifesto, Brave New World and Ulysses is on my shelf. I can't wait to read Ulysses. I hear the author was a polyglot and used nearly every method of literary expression in his novel.
Magz Rides Again: Am def going to have to read some of these. Yes, i've bought 50 Shades of Grey and to be honest - I can often find the power of the word more "thrilling" than visuals. I'm fussy when it comes to writing styles so am curious as to whether I'll enjoy the book or not. Time will tell. Did you know that a number of Agatha Christie novels contained lesbian women? Although, it was never spelt out, the allusion was there.
OCD_OCD: I had an honors Lit teacher who handed out various books for people in class to read. Not all of us had the same book. Me and one other girl were given Tobacco Road to read. It was...stunning to me at that age. When my mother found that I had been assigned the book, I thought she was going to rip his head off.
lavendar_star: Yes I think books should challenge you and get you thinking about subject you may not have thought about before. I find it interesting that they have banned harry potter in some school and states in the US before that book people were worrying that children weren't reading books anymore. I actually loved the worst witch when I was a kid and surprisingly I never got into witchcraft.
Interesting Magz about Agatha Christie books I havent read any of her books but my guilt pleasure is the TV adaptions of Poirot (who i love) and Mrs Marple but your probably right. Yes they do say women get more from erotic lit then females do from films and I like a good bonk buster myself but some of the oldies sound good like Fanny Hill and I have read Lady Chatterley's Lover and The Proof of the Honey also sounds a good read but I can see why that was banned in the Arab world.
Cas i have only read Brave New World and that was very good book and very insightful of the future now the present and lol OCD.
OCD_OCD: I love those old Hercule Poirot movies! That guy (I forget his name) was awesome in those movies.
Magz Rides Again: bahahaha OCD oh wait, you mean the actor? Peter Ustinov, Albert Finney, Austin Trevor have all starred in the role on film and while many have played Poirot on TV, the most well-known actor to do so is David Suchet.
Magz Rides Again: They've all been a "tad" on the rotund size. lol Ustinov was in Evil Under the Sun, Death on the Nile & Appointment With Death
Magz Rides Again: lol also faerie tales didn't always have a happy ending either. In the original The Little Mermaid, she didn't get the prince and ended up a bubble in the ocean! Disney's the one who changed that! lol
OCD_OCD: The fact that there were nutters here in the US calling for the banning of the Harry Potter books is why I picked up the first one and read it. I was like....what is wrong with these crazy people! This is a fun fantasy and a danged well written one, too. The use of pseudo-Latin in a world of young witches was phenomenal. Everything written was rife with meaning and intent!