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Banned Classics -- Banned Books Week 2011
Book Jacket
1925
The Great Gatsby  F. Scott Fitzgerald.
American Library Association2011Challenged at the Baptist College in Charleston, SC (1987) because of "language and sexual references in the book."
Book Summary2011The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when, The New York Times remarked, "gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession," it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s that resonates with the power of myth. A novel of lyrical beauty yet brutal realism, of magic, romance, and mysticism.
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Book Jacket
1951
The Catcher in the Rye  J.D. Salinger.
American Library Association2010Since its publication, this title has been a favorite target of censors. In 1960, a teacher in Tulsa, OK was fired for assigning the book to an eleventh grade English class...In 1963, a delegation of parents of high school students in Columbus, OH, asked the school board to ban the novel for being "anti-white" and "obscene."...Challenged in the Waterloo, IA schools (1992) and Duval County, FL public school libraries (1992) because of profanity, lurid passages about sex, and statements defamatory to minorities, God, women, and the disabled...Removed by a Dorchester District 2 school board member in Summerville, SC (2001) because it "is a filthy, filthy book." Challenged by a Glynn County, GA (2001) school board member because of profanity. The novel was retained. Challenged in the Big Sky High School in Missoula, MT (2009).
Book Summary2011The story of Holden Caulfield with his idiosyncrasies, penetrating insight, confusion, sensitivity and negativism. The hero-narrator of "The Catcher in the Rye" is a native New Yorker and an ancient child of sixteen. Circumstances cause him to leave his prep school in Pennsylvania and go underground in New York City for three days.
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Book Jacket
1939
The Grapes of Wrath  by John Steinbeck.
American Library Association2010Burned by the East St. Louis, IL Public Library (1939) and barred from the Buffalo, NY Public Library (1939) on the grounds that "vulgar words" were used. Banned in Kansas City, MO (1939). Banned in Kern County CA, the scene of Steinbeck's novel (1939). Banned in Ireland (1953). On Feb. 21, 1973, eleven Turkish book publishers went on trial before an Istanbul martial law tribunal on charges of publishing, possessing and selling books in violation of an order of the Istanbul martial law command. They faced possible sentences of between one month's and six months' imprisonment "for spreading propaganda unfavorable to the state" and the confiscation of their books. Eight booksellers were also on trial with the publishers on the same charge involving The Grapes of Wrath. Banned in Kanawha, IA High School classes (1980)...Challenged at the Cummings High School in Burlington, NC (1986) as an optional reading assignment because the "book is full of filth. My son is being raised in a Christian home and this book takes the Lord's name in vain and has all kinds of profanity in it." Although the parent spoke to the press, a formal complaint with the school demanding the book's removal was not filed...Challenged in the Greenville, SC schools (1991) because the book uses the name of God and Jesus in a "vain and profane manner along with inappropriate sexual references." Challenged in the Union City, TN High School classes (1993).
Book Summary1986The Joads, expropriated Oklahoma farmers from the Dust Bowl region, set out in a dilapidated automobile for California, which they believe is a land of plenty. ("Grapes of Wrath, The" The Concise Oxford Companion to American Literature. James D. Hart. Oxford University Press, 1986. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Middlesex School. 10 April 2009 )
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Book Jacket
1960
To Kill a Mockingbird  Harper Lee.
American Library Association2010Challenged in Eden Valley, MN (1977) and temporarily banned due to words "damn" and "whore lady" used in the novel. Challenged in the Vernon Verona Sherill, NY School District (1980) as a "filthy, trashy novel." Challenged at the Warren, IN Township schools (1981) because the book does "psychological damage to the positive integration process" and "represents institutionalized racism under the guise of good literature." After unsuccessfully trying to ban Lee's novel, three black parents resigned from the township human relations advisory council...Retained on a supplemental eighth grade reading list in the Casa Grande, AZ Elementary School District (1985), despite the protests by black parents and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People who charged the book was unfit for junior high use. Challenged at the Santa Cruz, CA Schools (1995) because of its racial themes. Removed from the Southwood High School Library in Caddo Parish, LA (1995) because the book's language and content were objectionable...Banned from the Lindale, TX advanced placement English reading list (1996) because the book "conflicted with the values of the community."Returned to the freshman reading list at Muskogee, OK High School (2001) despite complaints over the years from black students and parents about racial slurs in the text...Challenged at the Brentwood, TN Middle School (2006) because the book contains “profanity” and “contains adult themes such as sexual intercourse, rape, and incest.” The complainants also contend that the book’s use of racial slurs promotes “racial hatred, racial division, racial separation, and promotes white supremacy.” Retained in the English curriculum by the Cherry Hill, NJ Board of Education (2007). A resident had objected to the novel’s depiction of how blacks are treated by members of a racist white community in an Alabama town during the Depression. The resident feared the book would upset black children reading it. Removed (2009) from the St. Edmund Campion Secondary School classrooms in Brampton Ontario, Canada because a parent objected to language used in the novel, including the word “nigger."
Book Summary2011The explosion of racial hate and violence in a small Alabama town is viewed by a little girl whose father defends a black man accused of rape.
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Book Jacket
1985
The Color Purple  Alice Walker.
American Library Association2010Challenged as appropriate reading for Oakland, CA High School honors class (1984) due to the work's "sexual and social explicitness" and its "troubling ideas about race relations, man's relationship to God, African history, and human sexuality." After nine months of haggling and delays, a divided Oakland Board of Education gave formal approval for the book's use...Challenged as a reading assignment at the New Burn, NC High School (1992) because the main character is raped by her stepfather. Banned in the Souderton, PA Area School District (1992) as appropriate reading for 10th graders because it is "smut."...Challenged, along with seventeen other titles in the Fairfax County, VA elementary and secondary libraries (2002), by a group called Parents Against Bad Books in Schools. The group contends the books "contain profanity and descriptions of drug abuse, sexually explicit conduct, and torture.” Challenged in Burke County (2008) schools in Morgantown, NC by parents concerned about the homosexuality, rape, and incest portrayed in the book.
Book Summary2001The Color Purple is the first African American, woman-authored, epistolary novel...The novel opens with a demand for silence that leaves a fourteen-year-old girl named Celie with no way to express her pain and confusion except in the letters she writes to God. Celie is raped repeatedly by her stepfather, Alphonso, and has two children by him—children he gives away without her consent. Later, she is forced into a loveless marriage...She ultimately ends up in Africa where she writes to Celie of her experiences. (Debra Walker King "Color Purple, The" The Concise Oxford Companion to African American Literature. Ed. William L. Andrews, Frances Smith Foster, and Trudier Harris. Oxford University Press, 2001. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Middlesex School. 10 April 2009 )
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Book Jacket
1922
Ulysses  James Joyce.
American Library Association2010Burned in the U.S. (1918), Ireland (1922), Canada (1922), England (1923) and banned in England (1929). At the time it was considered trashy and pornographic.
Book Summary2011The most famous day in literature is June 16, 1904, when a certain Mr. Leopold Bloom of Dublin eats a kidney for breakfast, attends a funeral, admires a girl on the beach, contemplates his wife’s imminent adultery, and, late at night, befriends a drunken young poet in the city’s red-light district. An earthy story, a virtuoso technical display, and a literary revolution all rolled into one, James Joyce’sUlyssesis a touchstone of our modernity and one of the towering achievements of the human mind.
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Book Jacket
1987
Beloved : a novel  by Toni Morrison.
Book Summary2011Sethe lives in a small house on the edge of town with her daughter, Denver, her mother-in-law, Baby Suggs, and a disturbing, mesmerizing intruder who calls herself Beloved. Sethe works at "beating back the past," but it is alive in all of them...Sethe's struggle to keep Beloved from gaining full possession of her present--and to throw off the long, dark legacy of her past--is at the center of this profoundly affecting and startling novel.
American Library Association2010Challenged at the St. Johns County Schools in St. Augustine, FL (1995). Retained on the Round Rock, TX Independent High School reading list (1996) after a challenge that the book was too violent. Challenged by a member of the Madawaska, ME School Committee (1997) because of the book's language. The 1987 Pulitzer Prize winning novel has been required reading for the advanced placement English class for six years. Challenged in the Sarasota County, FL schools (1998) because of sexual material. Retained on the Northwest Suburban High School District 214 reading listing in Arlington Heights, IL (2006), along with eight other challenged titles. A board member, elected amid promises to bring her Christian beliefs into all board decision-making, raised the controversy based on excerpts from the books she’d found on the Internet. Challenged in the Coeur d’Alene School District, ID (2007). Some parents say the book, along with five others, should require parental permission for students to read them. Pulled from the senior Advanced Placement (AP) English class at Eastern High School in Louisville, KY (2007) because two parents complained that the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about antebellum slavery depicted the inappropriate topics of bestiality, racism, and sex. The principal ordered teachers to start over with The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne in preparation for upcoming AP exams.
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Book Jacket
1954
Lord of the Flies  William Golding.
American Library Association2010Challenged at the Dallas, TX Independent School District high school libraries (1974). Challenged at the Sully Buttes, SD High School (1981). Challenged at the Owen, NC High School (1981) because the book is "demoralizing inasmuch as it implies that man is little more than an animal." Challenged at the Marana, AZ High School (1983) as an inappropriate reading assignment. Challenged at the Olney, TX Independent School District (1984) because of "excessive violence and bad language." A committee of the Toronto, Canada Board of Education ruled on June 23, 1988, that the novel is "racist and recommended that it be removed from all schools." Parents and members of the black community complained about a reference to "niggers" in the book and said it denigrates blacks. Challenged in the Waterloo, IA schools (1992) because of profanity, lurid passages about sex, and statements defamatory to minorities, God, women and the disabled. Challenged, but retained on the ninth-grade accelerated English reading list in Bloomfield, NY (2000).
Book Summary2011Classic story of human nature which depicts the degeneration of a group of schoolboys marooned on a desert island.
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Book Jacket
1948
1984 : a novel  by George Orwell ; with an afterword by Erich Fromm.
American Library Association2010Challenged in the Jackson County, FL (1981) because Orwell's novel is "pro-communist and contained explicit sexual matter."
Book Summary2011A chilling portrait of a totalitarian society under the ever-watchful gaze of Big Brother, where love, privacy, and individuality are banned.
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Book Jacket
1955
Lolita  Vladimir Nabokov.
American Library Association2010Banned as obscene in France (1956-1959), in England (1955-59), in Argentina (1959), and in New Zealand (1960). The South African Directorate of Publications announced on November 27, 1982, that Lolita has been taken off the banned list, eight years after a request for permission to market the novel in paperback had been refused. Challenged at the Marion-Levy Public Library System in Ocala, FL (2006). The Marion County commissioners voted to have the county attorney review the novel that addresses the themes of pedophilia and incest, to determine if it meets the state law’s definition of “unsuitable for minors.”
Book Summary2011A middle-aged man marries an oppressive widow in order to be near and carry on an affair with her nymphet daughter.
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Book Jacket
1937
Of Mice and Men.  John Steinbeck.
American Library Association2010Banned in Ireland (1953); Syracuse, IN (1974); Oil City, PA (I977); Grand Blanc, MI (1979); Continental, OH (1980) and other communities. Challenged in Greenville, SC (1977) by the Fourth Province of the Knights of the Ku Klux KIan; Vernon Verona Sherill, NY School District (1980); St. David, AZ (1981) and Tell City, IN (1982) due to "profanity and using God's name in vain." ...Challenged as a summer youth program reading assignment in Chattanooga, TN (1989) because "Steinbeck is known to have had an anti business attitude." In addition, "he was very questionable as to his patriotism." Removed from all reading lists and collected at the White Chapel High School in Pine Bluff, AR (1989) because of objections to language...A parent complained that the book's use of racist language led to racist behavior and racial harassment...Challenged in the Normal, IL Community High Schools (2003) because the books contains "racial slurs, profanity, violence, and does not represent traditional values." An alternative book, Steinbeck's The Pearl, was offered but rejected by the family challenging the novel. The committee then recommended The House on Mango Street and The Way to Rainy Mountain as alternatives...Challenged at the Newton, IA High School (2007) because of concerns about profanity and the portrayal of Jesus Christ. Newton High School has required students to read the book since at least the early 1980s...Retained in the Olathe, KS ninth grade curriculum (2007) despite a parent calling the novel a “worthless, profanity-riddled book” which is “derogatory towards African Americans, women, and the developmentally disabled.”
Book Summary2011The tragic story of two itinerant ranch hands on the run--one is the lifelong companion to the other, a retarded but innocent child-man.
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Book Jacket
1961
Catch-22 : a novel  by Joseph Heller.
American Library Association2010Banned in Strongsville, OH (1972), but the school board's action was overturned in 1976 by a U.S. District Court in Minarcini v. Strongsville City School District. Challenged at the Dallas, TX Independent School District high school libraries (1974); in Snoqualmie, WA (1979) because of its several references to women as "whores."
Book Summary2011Set in a World War II American bomber squadron off the coast of Italy, Catch-22 is the story of John Yossarian, who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. Yossarian is also trying to decode the meaning of Catch-22, a mysterious regulation that proves that insane people are really the sanest, while the supposedly sensible people are the true madmen... Heller satirizes military bureaucracy with bitter, stinging humor, all the while telling the darkly comic story of Yossarian, a bombardier who refuses to die.
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Book Jacket
1932
Brave New World  Aldous Huxley.
Book Summary2000In the year 632 After Ford (i.e. the 26th century) the world has attained a kind of Utopia, in which the means of production are in state ownership and the principle ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his need’ is rigorously applied. Biological engineering fits different categories of workers - Alphas, Betas, Gammas, etc. - to their stations in life, and universal happiness is preserved by psychotropic drugs. As a stranger into this world comes the Savage, raised in a reservation of American Indian primitives. He takes up the arguments introduced by the disaffected intellectuals Bernard Marx and Helmholtz Watson, debating the merits of freedom and passion with World Controller Mustapha Mond. In the end, though, the Savage yields to the temptations of the carefree world, and kills himself in disgust. (Brave New World. (2000). In The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English. Retrieved from http://www.credoreference.com/entry/cupliteng/brave_new_world)
American Library Association2010Banned in Ireland (1932). Removed from classrooms in Miller, MO (1980), because it makes promiscuous sex "look like fun." Challenged frequently throughout the U.S.as required reading. Challenged as required reading at the Yukon, OK High School (1988) because of "the book's language and moral content." Challenged as required reading in the Corona-Norco, CA Unified School District (1993) because it is "centered around negative activity." Specifically, parents objected that the characters' sexual behavior directly opposed the health curriculum, which taught sexual abstinence until marriage. The book was retained, and teachers selected alternatives if students object to Huxley's novel. Removed from the Foley, AL High School Library (2000) pending review, because a parent complained that its characters showed contempt for religion, marriage, and family. The parent complained to the school and to Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. Challenged, but retained in the South Texas Independent School District in Mercedes, TX (2003). Parents objected to the adult themes—sexuality, drugs, suicide—that appeared in the novel. Huxley's book was part of the summer Science Academy curriculum. The board voted to give parents more control over their children's choices by requiring principals to automatically offer an alternative to a challenged book. Retained in the Coeur D’Alene, ID School District (2008) despite objections that the book has too many references to sex and drug use.
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Book Jacket
1945
Animal Farm  George Orwell.
American Library Association2010A Wisconsin survey revealed in 1963 that the John Birch Society had challenged the novel's use; it objected to the words "masses will revolt." In 1968, the New York State English Council's Committee on Defense Against Censorship conducted a comparable study in New York State English classrooms. Its findings identified the novel on its list of "problem books"; the reason cited was that "Orwell was a communist." Suppressed from being displayed at the 1977 Moscow, Russia International Book Fair. A survey of censorship challenges in the schools, conducted in DeKalb County for the period of 1979 to 1982, revealed that the novel had been objected to for its political theories. Banned from Bay County's four middle schools and three high schools in Panama City, FL by the Bay County school superintendent in 1987. After 44 parents filed a suit against the district claiming that its instructional aids policy denies constitutional rights, the Bay County School Board reinstated the book, along with sixty-four others banned. Banned from schools in the United Arab Emirates, along with 125 others in 2002. The Ministry of Education banned it on the grounds that it contains written or illustrated material that contradicts Islamic and Arab values—in this text, pictures of alcoholic drinks, pigs, and other "indecent images."
Book Summary2011Animal Farm is the most famous by far of all twentieth-century political allegories. Its account of a group of barnyard animals who revolt against their vicious human master, only to submit to a tyranny erected by their own kind, can fairly be said to have become a universal drama.
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Book Jacket
1926
The Sun Also Rises  Ernest Hemingway.
American Library Association2010Banned in Boston, MA (1930), Ireland (1953), Riverside, CA (1960), San Jose, CA (1960). Burned in Nazi bonfires in Germany (1933).
Book Summary2011The story of a group of American and English expatriates in Paris on an excursion to Pamplona, featuring Left Bank Paris in the 1920s and brutally realistic descriptions of bull fighting in Spain, the story is about the flamboyant Lady Brett Ashley and the hapless Jake Barnes. In an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions, this is the Lost Generation.
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Book Jacket
1930
As I Lay Dying  William Faulkner.
American Library Association2010Banned in the Graves County School District in Mayfield, KY (1986) because it contains "offensive and obscene passages referring to abortion and used God's name in vain." The decision was reversed a week later after intense pressure from the ACLU and considerable negative publicity. Challenged as a required reading assignment in an advanced English class of Pulaski County High School in Somerset, KY (1987) because the book contains "profanity and a segment about masturbation." Challenged, but retained, in the Carroll County, MD schools (1991). Two school board members were concerned about the book's coarse language and dialect. Banned at Central High School in Louisville, KY (1994) temporarily because the book uses profanity and questions the existence of God.
Book Summary2011Set in fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, the novel tells the story of the death of family matriarch Addie Bundren and her family's nine-day pilgrimage to bury her body in the town of Jefferson.
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Book Jacket
1929
A Farewell to Arms  by Ernest Hemingway.
American Library Association2010The June 1929 issue of Scribner's Magazine, which ran Hemingway's novel, was banned in Boston, MA (1929). Banned in Italy (1929) because of its painfully accurate account of the Italian retreat from Caporetto, Italy. Burned by the Nazis in Germany (1933). Banned in Ireland (1939). Challenged at the Dallas, TX Independent School District high school libraries (1974). Challenged at the Vernon-Verona-Sherill, NY School District (1980) as a "sex novel."
Book Summary2011A Farewell to Arms is set in Italy between 1915 and 1917 and explores themes of love and war. The story is told from the retrospective point of view of Frederic Henry, an American soldier who is wounded while serving in the Italian army during World War I. Frederic falls in love with his English nurse, Catherine Barkley, and their brief affair culminates in a difficult pregnancy that ends with Catherine’s death and the birth of a stillborn child. In addition to highlighting the destructiveness of war, the novel emphasizes war’s erosive effect on traditional belief systems and moral values. At the same time A Farewell to Arms finds value in the act of love and personal relationships, as well as in simple things done right, such as being a good surgeon or an honest priest. ("Explanation of: 'A Farewell to Arms' by Ernest Hemingway." LitFinder Contemporary Collection. Detroit: Gale, 2010. LitFinder. Web. 20 Sep. 2011.)
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Book Jacket
1937
Their Eyes Were Watching God: a novel.  Zora Neale Hurston
American Library Association2010Challenged for sexual explicitness, but retained on the Stonewall Jackson High School's academically advanced reading list in Brentsville, VA (1997). A parent objected to the novel's language and sexual explicitness.
Book Summary2011Their Eyes Were Watching God...is the luminous and haunting novel about Janie Crawford, a Southern Black woman in the 1930s, whose journey from a free-spirited girl to a woman of independence and substance has inspired writers and readers for close to 70 years.This poetic, graceful love story, rooted in Black folk traditions and steeped in mythic realism, celebrates boldly and brilliantly African-American culture and heritage. And in a powerful, mesmerizing narrative, it pays quiet tribute to a Black woman who, though constricted by the times, still demanded to be heard.
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Book Jacket
1952
Invisible Man.  Ralph Ellison.
American Library Association2010Excerpts banned in Butler, PA (1975). Removed from the high school English reading list in St. Francis, WI (1975). Retained in the Yakima, WA schools (1994) after a five-month dispute over what advanced high school students should read in the classroom. Two parents raised concerns about profanity and images of violence and sexuality in the book and requested that it be removed from the reading list.
Book Summary2011The nameless black narrator living in an underground “hole” in New York City, brilliantly lighted by electricity he taps from Monopolated Light and Power, is invisible because people with whom he comes in contact “see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination.” Such vision is illustrated by his reminiscences of the Kafkaesque pilgrimage he has made from his beginnings in the South. ("Invisible Man" The Concise Oxford Companion to American Literature. James D. Hart. Oxford University Press, 1986. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Middlesex School. 13 March 2009 )
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Book Jacket
1977
Song of Solomon  Toni Morrison.
American Library Association2010Challenged, but retained, in the Columbus, OH schools (1993). The complainant believed that the book contains language degrading to blacks, and is sexually explicit. Removed from required reading lists and library shelves in the Richmond County, GA. School District (1994) after a parent complained that passages from the book are "filthy and inappropriate." Challenged at the St. Johns County Schools in St. Augustine, FL (1995). Removed from the St. Mary's County, MD schools' approved text list (1998) by the superintendent, overruling a faculty committee recommendation. Complainants referred to the novel as "filth," "trash," and "repulsive." Reinstated in the Shelby, MI school Advanced Placement English curriculum (2009), but parents are to be informed in writing and at a meeting about the book’s content. Students not wanting to read the book can choose an alternative without academic penalty. The superintendent had suspended the book from the curriculum.
Book Summary2011Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon,a novel of large beauty and power, creates a magical world out of four generations of black life in America, a world we enter on the day of the birth of Macon Dead, Jr. (known as Milkman), son of the richest black family in a mid-western town.
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Book Jacket
1936
Gone With the Wind.  Margaret Mitchell.
Book Summary2010From the threat of war between the states to General William Tecumseh Sherman's fiery march on Atlanta and through the Reconstruction period, Gone with the Wind depicts the tribulations of Scarlett O'Hara, Rhett Butler, Ashley Wilkes, and Melanie Hamilton—four of the best-known fictional characters in American literature—as they attempt to adapt to the changing circumstances of their homeland. ("Explanation of: 'Gone with the Wind' by Margaret Mitchell." LitFinder Contemporary Collection. Detroit: Gale, 2010. LitFinder. Web. 20 Sep. 2011.)
American Library Association2010Banned from Anaheim, CA Union High School District English classrooms (1978). Challenged in Waukegan, IL School District (1984) because the novel uses the word "nigger."
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Book Jacket
1940
Native Son  Richard Wright.
American Library Association2010Challenged in Goffstown, NH (1978); Elmwood Park, NJ (1978) due to "objectionable" language; and North Adams, MA (1981) due to the book's "violence, sex, and profanity." Challenged at the Berrian Springs, MI High School in classrooms and libraries (1988) because the novel is "vulgar, profane, and sexually explicit." Retained in the Yakima, WA schools (1994) after a five-month dispute over what advanced high school students should read in the classroom. Two parents raised concerns about profanity and images of violence and sexuality in the book and requested that it be removed from the reading list. Challenged as part of the reading list for Advanced Placement English classes at Northwest High School in High Point, NC (1996). The book was challenged because it is "sexually graphic and violent." Removed from Irvington High School in Fremont, CA (1998) after a few parents complained the book was unnecessarily violent and sexually explicit. Challenged in the Hamilton High School curriculum in Fort Wayne, IN (1998) because of the novel's graphic language and sexual content.
Book Summary2011Bigger Thomas, a black boy, reared in the slum world of Chicago, is led by his environment into a life of crime. His patronizing reception by Communist associates of his employer's daughter, combined with other circumstances, throw him into a confused mental state in which he accidentally murders the girl. In the ensuing flight, pursued by a mob, he kills his own sweetheart before he is captured and condemned to death. ("Native Son" The Concise Oxford Companion to American Literature. James D. Hart. Oxford University Press, 1986. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Middlesex School. 10 April 2009 )
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Book Jacket
1962
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.  by Ken Kesey.
Book Summary2011The story of a man whose rebelliousness pits him against the head nurse of a mental ward and the full spectrum of institutional repression.
American Library Association2010Challenged in the Greeley, CO public school district (1971) as a non-required American Culture reading. In 1974, five residents of Strongsville, OH, sued the board of education to remove the novel. Labeling it "pornographic," they charged the novel "glorifies criminal activity, has a tendency to corrupt juveniles and contains descriptions of bestiality, bizarre violence, and torture, dismemberment, death, and human elimination." Removed from public school libraries in Randolph, NY, and Alton, OK (1975). Removed from the required reading list in Westport, MA (1977). Banned from the St. Anthony, ID Freemont High School classrooms (1978) and the instructor fired. The teacher sued. A decision in the case—Fogarty v. Atchley—was never published. Challenged at the Merrimack, NH High School (1982). Challenged as part of the curriculum in an Aberdeen, WA High School honors English class (1986) because the book promotes "secular humanism." The school board voted to retain the title. Challenged at the Placentia-Yorba Linda, CA Unified School District (2000) after complaints by parents stated that teachers "can choose the best books, but they keep choosing this garbage over and over again."
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Book Jacket
1969
Slaughterhouse-five  by Kurt Vonnegut.
American Library Association2010Challenged in many communities, but burned in Drake, ND (1973). Banned in Rochester, MI because the novel "contains and makes references to religious matters" and thus fell within the ban of the establishment clause. An appellate court upheld its usage in the school in Todd v Rochester Community Schools, 41 Mich. App. 320, 200 N. W 2d 90 (1972). Banned in Levittown, NY (1975), North Jackson, OH (1979), and Lakeland, FL (1982) because of the "book's explicit sexual scenes, violence, and obscene language." Barred from purchase at the Washington Park High School in Racine, WI (1984) by the district administrative assistant for instructional services. Challenged at the Owensboro, KY High School library (1985) because of "foul language, a section depicting a picture of an act of bestiality, a reference to 'Magic Fingers' attached to the protagonist's bed to help him sleep, and the sentence: 'The gun made a ripping sound like the opening of the fly of God Almighty."'...Challenged in the Howell, MI High School (2007) because of the book's strong sexual content. In response to a request from the president of the Livingston Organization for Values in Education, or LOVE, the county's top law enforcement official reviewed the books to see whether laws against distribution of sexually explicit materials to minors had been broken. "After reading the books in question, it is clear that the explicit passages illustrated a larger literary, artistic or political message and were not included solely to appeal to the prurient interests of minors," the county prosecutor wrote. "Whether these materials are appropriate for minors is a decision to be made by the school board, but I find that they are not in violation of criminal laws."
Book Summary2011One of the world's great anti-war books. Centering on the infamous firebombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim's odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we are afraid to know. (Book Jacket) In telegraphic style and brief impressionistic scenes out of chronological sequence the work tells of the life and death of Billy Pilgrim, once an optometrist in Ilium, N.Y., later a “spastic in time” because he has been chosen by the inhabitants of Tralfamadore, a planet millions of light-years away, to inhabit their zoo. ("Slaughterhouse-Five; or The Children's Crusade. A Duty-Dance with Death" The Concise Oxford Companion to American Literature. James D. Hart. Oxford University Press, 1986. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Middlesex School. 13 March 2009 )
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Book Jacket
1940
For Whom the Bell Tolls  Ernest Hemingway.
American Library Association2010Declared non-mailable by the U.S. Post Office (1940). On Feb. 21, 1973, eleven Turkish book publishers went on trial before an Istanbul martial law tribunal on charges of publishing, possessing, and selling books in violation of an order of the Istanbul martial law command. They faced possible sentences of between one month's and six months’ imprisonment "for spreading propaganda unfavorable to the state" and the confiscation of their books. Eight booksellers also were on trial with the publishers on the same charge involving For Whom the Bell Tolls.
Book Summary2011In 1937 Ernest Hemingway traveled to Spain to cover the civil war there for the North American Newspaper Alliance. Three years later he completed the greatest novel to emerge from "the good fight,"For Whom the Bell Tolls.The story of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to an antifascist guerilla unit in the mountains of Spain, it tells of loyalty and courage, love and defeat, and the tragic death of an ideal.
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Book Jacket
1903
The Call of the Wild  by Jack London.
American Library Association2010Banned in Italy (1929), Yugoslavia (1929), and burned in Nazi bonfires (1933).
Book Summary2011Stolen from his life as a beloved pet, Buck must learn to adapt to abuse as a Klondike sled dog, to life with a loving master, John Thornton, and finally, when Thornton dies, to life in the wild as a leader of the wolf pack.
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Book Jacket
1953
Go Tell it on the Mountain  James Baldwin.
American Library Association2010Challenged as required reading in the Hudson Falls, NY schools (1994) because the book has recurring themes of rape, masturbation, violence, and degrading treatment of women. Challenged as a ninth-grade summer reading option in Prince William County, VA (1988) because the book is "rife with profanity and explicit sex."

Book Summary: The story of John Grimes, who must come to grips with the cruel treatment he receives from his father as well as with the power of religion, Go Tell It on the Mountain is highly autobiographical. In a style that is at once delicate and intense, Baldwin describes how John must undergo a conversion before he can face the struggles that he will encounter in his adult life. Set in Harlem’s Temple of the Fire Baptised on the day of John’s fourteenth birthday, the novel uses a complex mix of flashbacks along with its internal point of view to focus on the boy’s religious conversion. ("Explanation of: 'Go Tell It on the Mountain' by James Baldwin." LitFinder Contemporary Collection. Detroit: Gale, 2010. LitFinder. Web. 20 Sep. 2011.)
Book Summary2010The story of John Grimes, who must come to grips with the cruel treatment he receives from his father as well as with the power of religion, Go Tell It on the Mountain is highly autobiographical. In a style that is at once delicate and intense, Baldwin describes how John must undergo a conversion before he can face the struggles that he will encounter in his adult life. Set in Harlem’s Temple of the Fire Baptised on the day of John’s fourteenth birthday, the novel uses a complex mix of flashbacks along with its internal point of view to focus on the boy’s religious conversion. ("Explanation of: 'Go Tell It on the Mountain' by James Baldwin." LitFinder Contemporary Collection. Detroit: Gale, 2010. LitFinder. Web. 20 Sep. 2011.)
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Book Jacket
1956
The Lord of the Rings  J.R.R. Tolkien.
American Library Association2011Burned in Alamagordo, NM (2001) outside Christ Community Church along with other Tolkien novels as satanic.
Book Summary2011The saga of Frodo the Hobbit and his companions, chosen to represent the peoples of Middle Earth, as they journey to destroy the dangerous One Ring before it is reclaimed by Sauron the enemy.
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1906
The Jungle  Upton Sinclair.
American Library Association2010Banned from public libraries in Yugoslavia (1929). Burned in the Nazi bonfires because of Sinclair's socialist views (1933). Banned in East Germany (1956) as inimical to communism. Banned in South Korea (1985).

Book Summary: ...the story of Jurgis Rudkus, who moves his family from Lithuania to Chicago expecting to achieve the American dream. Instead, their life becomes a nightmare of toil, poverty, and death. At first Jurgis tolerates the squalid environment of the packing plants in order to support his family. After being injured and attacking his supervisor for sexually exploiting his wife, Jurgis loses his job and watches his family members die as a result of illnesses and accidents. He and his family undergo a horrifying series of hardships before Jurgis discovers "brothers in affliction, and allies" in the socialist cause. ("Explanation of: 'The Jungle' by Upton Sinclair." LitFinder Contemporary Collection. Detroit: Gale, 2009. LitFinder. Web. 20 Sep. 2011.)
Book Summary2011...the story of Jurgis Rudkus, who moves his family from Lithuania to Chicago expecting to achieve the American dream. Instead, their life becomes a nightmare of toil, poverty, and death. At first Jurgis tolerates the squalid environment of the packing plants in order to support his family. After being injured and attacking his supervisor for sexually exploiting his wife, Jurgis loses his job and watches his family members die as a result of illnesses and accidents. He and his family undergo a horrifying series of hardships before Jurgis discovers "brothers in affliction, and allies" in the socialist cause. ("Explanation of: 'The Jungle' by Upton Sinclair." LitFinder Contemporary Collection. Detroit: Gale, 2009. LitFinder. Web. 20 Sep. 2011.)
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Book Jacket
1929
Lady Chatterley's Lover  D.H. Lawrence
American Library Association2010Banned by U.S. Customs (1929). Banned in Ireland (1932), Poland (1932), Australia (1959), Japan (1959), India (1959). Banned in Canada (1960) until 1962. Dissemination of Lawrence’s novel has been stopped in China (1987) because the book “will corrupt the minds of young people and is also against the Chinese tradition.”

Book Summary: Lyric and sensual, D.H. Lawrence's last novel is one of the major works of fiction of the twentieth century. Filled with scenes of intimate beauty, explores the emotions of a lonely woman trapped in a sterile marriage and her growing love for the robust gamekeeper of her husband's estate.
Book Summary2011Lyric and sensual, D.H. Lawrence's last novel is one of the major works of fiction of the twentieth century. Filled with scenes of intimate beauty, explores the emotions of a lonely woman trapped in a sterile marriage and her growing love for the robust gamekeeper of her husband's estate.
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Book Jacket
1962
A Clockwork Orange  Anthony Burgess.
American Library Association2010In 1973 a bookseller in Orem, UT was arrested for selling the novel. Charges were later dropped, but the book seller was forced to close the store and relocate to another city. Removed from Aurora, CO high school (1976) due to "objectionable" language and from high school classrooms in Westport, MA (1977) because of "objectionable" language. Removed from two Anniston, AL High school libraries (1982), but later reinstated on a restricted basis.
Book Summary2011In Anthony Burgess's nightmare vision of the future, where criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central character, Alex, who talks in a brutal invented slang that brilliantly renders his and his friends' social pathology. A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil, and the meaning of human freedom. When the state undertakes to reform Alex to "redeem" him the novel asks, "At what cost?"
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Book Jacket
1899
The Awakening.  Kate Chopin
American Library Association2010Retained on the Northwestern Suburban High School District 214 reading list in Arlington Heights, IL along with eight other challenged titles in 2006. A board member, elected amid promises to bring her Christian beliefs into all board decision-making, raised the controversy based on excerpts from the books she'd found on the Internet. First published in 1899, this novel so disturbed critics and the public that it was banished for decades afterward.
Book Summary1998The Awakening tells the story of Edna Pontellier and the changes that occur in her thinking and lifestyle as the result of a summer romance. At the start of the story, Edna is a young mother of two and the life of a successful New Orleans businessman. While the family is vacationing at a seaside resort, Edna becomes acquainted with Robert Lebrun, a younger man who pays special attention to her. Moonlit walks and intimate conversations with Robert spark feelings that Edna has forgotten. When she returns to the city, Edna throws off the trappings of her old life—devotion to family, attention to societal expectations, and adherence to tradition—to explore independence in love, life, and sexual fulfillment. ("Overview: The Awakening." Novels for Students. Ed. Diane Telgen and Kevin Hile. Vol. 3. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Literature Resource Center. Web. 21 Sep. 2011.)
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Book Jacket
1988
The Satanic Verses  Salman Rushdie
American Library Association2010Banned in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Somalia, Sudan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Quatar, Indonesia, South Africa, and India because of its criticism of Islam. Burned in West Yorkshire, England (1989) and temporarily withdrawn from two bookstores on the advice of police who took threats to staff and property seriously. In Pakistan five people died in riots against the book. Another man died a day later in Kashmir. Ayatollah Khomeni issued a fatwa or religious edict, stating, "I inform the proud Muslim people of the world that the author of the Satanic Verses, which is against Islam, the prophet, and the Koran, and all those involved in its publication who were aware of its content, have been sentenced to death." Challenged at the Wichita, KS Public Library (1989) because the book is "blasphemous to the prophet Mohammed." In Venezuela, owning or reading it was declared a crime under penalty of 15 months' imprisonment. In Japan, the sale of the English-language edition was banned under the threat of fines. The governments of Bulgaria and Poland also restricted its distribution. In 1991, in separate incidents, Hitoshi Igarashi, the Japanese translator, was stabbed to death and its Italian translator, Ettore Capriolo, was seriously wounded. In 1993 William Nygaard, its Norwegian publisher, was shot and seriously injured.
Book Summary2011The Satanic Verses has been interpreted as a commentary that illustrates both the good and evil inherent in religious devotion. Creating several levels of meaning by frequent use of puns, metaphors, similes, and allusions to popular culture and the sacred beliefs of Islam, the novel begins with the miraculous survival of two expatriate Indian men, Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha, who fall to Earth following an airplane explosion over England. The two alter egos are considered the personification of good and evil, but distinctions between them are frequently blurred as they undergo continual metamorphoses of body and personality. Gibreel, a movie star in Indian religious films, or “theologicals,” experiences vivid dreams in which historical events surrounding the founding of Islam are depicted in epic detail—similar to those found in theologicals. Saladin, who transforms into a satanic figure, sinks into the demonic realm of flesh and vice, where society is devoid of justice. The narrative follows these characters through the intertwining of past and present until their final confrontation on a movie set. ("Explanation of: 'The Satanic Verses' by Salman Rushdie." LitFinder Contemporary Collection. Detroit: Gale, 2011. LitFinder. Web. 20 Sep. 2011.)
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Book Jacket
1913
Sons and Lovers  D.H. Lawrence.
American Library Association2010In 1961 an Oklahoma City group called Mothers United for Decency hired a trailer, dubbed it "smutmobile," and displayed books deemed objectionable, including Lawrence's novel.
Book Summary2011The story recounts the coming of age of Paul Morel, the second son of Gertrude Morel and her hard-drinking, working-class husband, Walter Morel, who made his living as a miner. As Mrs. Morel tries to find meaning in her life and emotional fulfillment through her bond with Paul, Paul seeks to break free of his mother through developing relationships with other women. ("Overview: Sons and Lovers." Novels for Students. Ed. David A. Galens. Vol. 18. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Literature Resource Center. Web. 21 Sep. 2011.)
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Book Jacket
1963
Cat's Cradle  Kurt Vonnegut.
American Library Association2010The Strongsville, Ohio School Board (1972) voted to withdraw this title from the school library; this action was overturned in 1976 by a U.S. District Court in Minarcini v. Strongsville City School District, 541 F. 2d 577 (6th Cir. 1976). Challenged at Merrimack, NH High School (1982).
Book Summary2011Jonah, a journalist, goes to Ilium, N. Y., the manufacturing city where the late Felix Hoenikker lived, to write a book about that eccentric scientist and his invention of an atom bomb and of a crystal named ice-nine that will freeze anything aqueous with which it comes in contact. On a magazine assignment Jonah next goes to the Latin American island nation of San Lorenzo. There he learns of the black adventurer and ex-soldier Earl McCabe, who was the land's autocratic ruler until superseded by Papa Monzano, a dictator, who has been aided by Hoenikker's son Franklin. Jonah learns too of another black ex-soldier, Lionel Boyd Johnson, who has become the people's spiritual leader by the creation of a religion called Bokononism and the preaching of “foma,” useful lies. ("Cat's Cradle" The Concise Oxford Companion to American Literature. James D. Hart. Oxford University Press, 1986. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Middlesex School. 9 April 2009 )
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Book Jacket
1959
A Separate Peace  by John Knowles.
American Library Association2010Challenged in Vernon-Verona-Sherill, NY School District (1980) as a "filthy, trashy sex novel." Challenged at the Fannett-Metal High School in Shippensburg, PA (1985) because of its allegedly offensive language. Challenged as appropriate for high school reading lists in the Shelby County, TN school system (1989) because the novel contains "offensive language." Challenged, but retained in the Champaign, IL high school English classes (1991) despite claims that “unsuitable language” makes it inappropriate. Challenged by the parent of a high school student in Troy, IL (1991) citing profanity and negative attitudes. Students were offered alternative assignments while the school board took the matter under advisement, but no further action was taken on the complaint. Challenged at the McDowell County, NC schools (1996) because of "graphic language."
Book Summary2011Set in the summer of 1942 at a boys' boarding school in New Hampshire, the novel focuses on the relationship between two roommates and best friends, Gene Forrester and Phineas. Both approaching their last year of high school and anticipating their involvement in World War II, Gene and Phineas have very different dispositions. Gene, from whose point of view A Separate Peace is told, is a somewhat athletic, shy intellectual; Phineas is a reckless non-intellectual and the best athlete at the school. As an adult looking back fifteen years, Gene recalls and comes to terms with an act he committed that left his friend physically incapacitated and ultimately contributed to his death. ("Overview: A Separate Peace." Novels for Students. Ed. Diane Telgen. Vol. 2. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Literature Resource Center. Web. 21 Sep. 2011.)
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Book Jacket
1959
Naked Lunch  William S. Burroughs
American Library Association2010Found obscene in Boston, MA Superior Court (1965). The finding was reversed by the State Supreme Court the following year.
Book Summary2011This controversial work is an autobiographical account of Burroughs's fourteen-year addiction to morphine. The book's theme of addiction and its graphic depiction of drug use, homosexuality, and violence led to an obscenity case before the book was available in the United States. Through the plight of his protagonist, William Lee, Burroughs explores the causes behind addiction, which he uses as a metaphor for the dependence and obsession that mark the human condition in contemporary society. The work has no single narrative viewpoint and is a loosely composed series of vignettes that depict Lee's feverish journeys around the world, always seeking out the company of other addicts. ("Overview: The Naked Lunch." Characters in 20th-Century Literature. Laurie Lanzen Harris. Detroit: Gale Research, 1990. Literature Resource Center. Web. 21 Sep. 2011.)
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Book Jacket
1945
Brideshead Revisited  by Evelyn Waugh.
American Library Association2010Alabama Representative Gerald Allen (R-Cottondale) proposed legislation that would prohibit the use of public funds for the "purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle." The bill also proposed that novels with gay protagonists and college textbooks that suggest homosexuality is natural would have to be removed from library shelves and destroyed. The bill would impact all Alabama school, public, and university libraries. While it would ban books like Heather Has Two Mommies, it could also include classic and popular novels with gay characters such as Brideshead Revisited, The Color Purple or The Picture of Dorian Gray (2005).
Book Summary2011Evelyn Waugh's most celebrated novel is a memory drama about the intense entanglement of the narrator, Charles Ryder, with a great Anglo-Catholic family. Written during World War II, the novel mourns the passing of the aristocratic world Waugh knew in his youth and vividly recalls the sensuous pleasures denied him by wartime austerities; in so doing it also provides a profound study of the conflict between the demands of religion and the desires of the flesh.
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Book Jacket
1925
An American Tragedy.  Theodore Dreiser.
American Library Association2010Banned in Boston, MA (1927) and burned by the Nazis in Germany (1933) because it "deals with low love affairs."
Book Summary2011In Clyde Griffiths, the impoverished, restless offspring of a family of street preachers, Dreiser created an unforgettable portrait of a man whose social insecurities and naive dreams of self-betterment conspire to pull him toward an act of unforgivable violence. The murder that he commits on a quiet lake in the Adirondacks is an extended scene of overwhelming impact, and it is followed by equally gripping episodes of his arrest and trial.
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Book Jacket
1965
In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences  Truman Capote.
American Library Association2010Banned, but later reinstated after community protests at the Windsor Forest High School in Savannah, GA (2000). The controversy began in early 1999 when a parent complained about sex, violence, and profanity in the book that was part of an Advanced Placement English Class.
Book Summary2011On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues. Five years, four months and twenty-nine days later, on April 14, 1965, Richard Eugene Hickock, aged thirty-three, and Perry Edward Smith, aged thirty-six, were hanged from the crime on a gallows in a warehouse in the Kansas State Penitentiary in Lansing, Kansas. In Cold Blood is the story of the lives and deaths of these six people.
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