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Over the years, communities around the country have banned many classic works of literature. As part of the American Library Association’s annual Banned Books Week (Sept. 25-Oct. 2), libraries and bookstores are urging these same communities to stand up against censorship. In that spirit, here’s a list of 50 books that have been banned at one time or another somewhere in the U.S., followed by their year of publication and categorized by the reason they were banned.

Too Political

1. Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852

2. All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque, 1928

3. A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway, 1929

4. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck, 1939

5. For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway, 1940

6. Animal Farm, George Orwell, 1945

7. 1984, George Orwell, 1949

8. Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak, 1957

9. Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., 1969

10. In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, Peter Matthiessen, 1983

Too Much Sex

1. Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert, 1856

2. Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy, 1891

3. Ulysses, James Joyce, 1922

4. The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway, 1926

5. Lady Chatterley’s Lover, D.H. Law­-rence, 1928

6. Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller, 1934

7. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov, 1955

8. Peyton Place, Grace Metalious, 1956

9. Rabbit, Run, John Updike, 1960

10. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou, 1969

11. Jaws, Peter Benchley, 1974

12. Forever, Judy Blume, 1975

13. The Prince of Tides, Pat Conroy, 1986

14. Beloved, Toni Morrison, 1987

15. How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, Julia Alvarez, 1991


1. On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin, 1859

2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy, J.R.R. Tolkien, 1954

3. The Last Temp­tation of Christ, Nikos Kazantzakis, 1960

4. Bless Me, Ultima, Rudolfo Anaya, 1972

5. Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling, 1997-2007

Socially Offensive

1. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Franklin, 1791

2. The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1850

3. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain, 1884

4. As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner, 1930

5. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley, 1932

6. Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell, 1936

7. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck, 1937

8. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank, 1947

9. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger, 1951

10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, 1953

11. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee, 1960

12. James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl, 1961

13. Catch-22, Joseph Heller, 1961

14. A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess, 1962

15. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey, 1962

16. In Cold Blood, Truman Capote, 1966

17. Cujo, Stephen King, 1981

18. The Color Purple, Alice Walker, 1982

19. Ordinary People, Judith Guest, 1982

20. A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley, 1991

The Auto­bi­ography of Benjamin Franklin, 1791

Censure: Frequently censored from 1789 to the early 20th century, the essays were often “sanitized” by publishers so that schools would buy copies.

Benjamin Franklin: His memoirs, written after he turned 65, include the essay “Advice to a Young Man on the Choice of a Mistress,” in which Franklin lists the myriad ways that older women make superior lovers.

The Scarlet Letter
by Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1850

Censure: Conservative clergy have condemned the novel since 1850 for its adultery theme; the most recent school challenge was in 1999.

Roger Chillingworth: He develops from a kind scholar into an obsessed fiend. Chillingworth arrives in Boston to find his wife the mother of another man’s child. Fixated on punishing Hester’s seducer, he symbolizes Satan’s ability to prevent forgiveness.

Bless Me, Ultima
by Rudolfo Anaya, 1972

Censure: Challenged or banned in four states.

Ultima: The old healer Ultima combines herbs, prayer and tough love to practice her mysteriously potent branch of medicine. Is it witchcraft? The townsfolk—and some conservative Christian readers—suspect it is.

Fahrenheit 451
by Ray Bradbury, 1953

Censure: Ballantine published sanitized editions for schools from 1967 to 1973 and sold only the sanitized edition from 1973 to 1979—without asking or telling the author.

Faber: In a dystopian society that burns books to snuff original thought, Faber belongs to a group of academics who memorize literature to preserve it for future generations.

The Grapes of Wrath
by John Steinbeck, 1939

Censure: Burned in California, New York and Illinois; challenged or banned in 10 states.

Granma and Grampa Joad: The Joads are damn proud of their cussin’ brood—that kind of language helped get Steinbeck’s masterpiece blacklisted across the country, including in Kern County, Calif., where much of the novel is set.

A Thousand Acres
by Jane Smiley, 1991

Censure: Banned at Lynden High School, Washington, 1994.

Larry Cook: Cook announces plans to divide his lands among his three adult daughters. The generous-patriarch image shatters when we learn that this wealthy Iowa farmer, based on Shakespeare’s King Lear, is a pedophile who abused his girls decades earlier.

Harry Potter
series by J.K. Rowling, 1997–2007

Censure: Burned in New Mexico; challenged in 19 states.

Albus Dumbledore: A modern-day Merlin, the Hogwarts headmaster personifies the allegedly demonic attributes of this series—witchcraft, sorcery and rebellion against authority. Rowling added fuel to the bonfire with her 2007 assertion that Dumbledore is gay.

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