7 Once-Banned Books To Pick Up This Week

RealClear Contributor


Did you know the last week of September is known as Banned Books Week? It is, and it actually has been since 1982.

Banned Books Week is an annual awareness campaign run by the American Library Association that celebrates the freedom to read, draws attention to banned and challenged books, and highlights persecuted individuals. 

Here are 7 of the top books to read that were once banned!

7. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, is the real-life diary of Anne Frank, a Jewish teenager who, along with her family, hid from the Nazis during World War II. She died in a concentration camp and her diary was published posthumously with permission from her father, who survived.

It has been challenged by many organizations in the US, including members of the Alabama State Textbook Committee who said that the tome was a "real downer." Seriously. 


6. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Catch-22, a satirical novel about WWII, was published in 1961, and banned in several states, but not until a decade after it was first printed. In 1972 it was banned in Strongsville, Ohio (overturned in 1976), in 1974, it was banned in Dallas, Texas, and in Snoqualmie, Washington in 1979, because it has several references as women as "whores."

5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Color Purple is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel written in 1982 by Alice Walker. It focuses on the grim realities of life for black women living in America's Deep South in the 1930s. 

It has been banned by school boards on numerous occasions for graphic scenes of violence, descriptions of sexual assault, and "troubling ideas about race relations, man's relationship to God, African history and human sexuality."


4. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Stephenie Meyer's bawdy novels about the romance between a teenager and a vampire are as controversial as they are popular. 

In 2012, the Twilight series joined the ranks of those most frequently requested to be banned in US libraries and schools, with complaints over their sexual explicitness and "contradiction" of religious beliefs.

3. Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

Shockingly, the graphic novels depicting Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey have topped the most challenged books list for 2 years now! 

"It's naughty and it's seditious and it certainly is irreverent and challenges authority," says Judith Platt of the Association of American Publishers. "There are so many kids who are reluctant readers who are reeled in by Dav Pilkey, and by the naughtiness of Captain Underpants." 

2. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

Dan Brown's infamous book was banned in Lebanon over its "insulting" suggestion that Christ had sexual relations with Mary Magdalene resulting in a child. All shop owners in the country were ordered to take copies off the shelves after complaints it was offensive to Christianity.

The book, which has sold millions of copies worldwide, was widely criticized for it's historical inaccuracies, also portrays Catholic Church leaders as demonizing women and bascially lying to the entire world. Intense!


1. The Bible

What other book could be as controversial and periodically banned as the Bible?

The book has been censored in dozens of countries, both historically and in the current era. 

In recent history, the Bible has been banned or greatly restricted in a number of countries, most notably North Korea. Sometimes, the ban is on distributing the Bible in certain languages or versions, or in public schools.

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