I don’t know how it can still stun me how intolerant the U.S. sometimes is, given how many years I have railed against it, but it still does. September is the month that libraries focus on banned books in the U.S. for a week (or so). The library in Washington D.C. did a scavenger hunt.
Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 according to the American Library Association. Most did not get banned, but some did.
It may surprise some to know that one of the most banned contemporary authors is Judy Blume. She writes for kids and teens and dares (gasp) to tackle subjects like masturbation (Deenie), periods and boobs (Margaret), sex and birth control (Forever…), or death (Tiger Eyes). While she has sold something like 85 million books, she is not loved by all. In an interview with the Guardian she mentions that even recently (2014) she received 700 hate mails and death threats.
So, to honor the First Amendment here is my list of my favorite famous banned books:
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
Beloved, Toni Morrison (my discussion on Beloved)
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Dee Brown
The Call of the Wild, Jack London
Catch-22, Joseph Heller
The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway
Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell (I actually think that this is not that well written, but included it because of its fame).
The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
The Jungle, Upton Sinclair
Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman
Moby-Dick; or The Whale, Herman Melville
The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane
The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams
Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston ()
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe
Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak