It may be hard to believe, but many classic works of literature were once banned! Here are 10 classic books people tried to suppress:
1) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
Published in 1884, Mark Twain’s novel satirizes racism in the Antebellum American South. The book is perennially criticized, challenged, and banned for its use of language. Nevertheless, it remains one of the great works of American literature.
2) Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
Salinger’s only novel is a classic coming-of-age story that is often on banned books lists. The protagonist, Holden Caulfield, is highly critical of the society in which he lives, which he regards as “phony.”
3) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling
Despite the tremendous impact the Harry Potter series has had on young readers–encouraging them to begin reading and to continue reading–the books are among the most frequently challenged and banned in the United States because they deal with wizardry. Ironically, the series has overtly Christian themes of self-sacrifice, friendship, love, and the triumph of good over evil.
4) The Autobiography of Malcolm X, by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
Widely regarded as one of the most important autobiographies of the 20th century, The Autobiography of Malcolm X explores the life, ideas, and spiritual conversion of the important Civil Rights activist and black leader.
5) Beloved, by Toni Morrison
Set following the Civil War, Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel tells the story of a runaway slave who is recaptured under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.
6) The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
This book renders the concept of a novel about a dog obsolete as it explores the life of Buck, a St. Bernard-Scotch Collie. Buck is sold into service as a sled dog in the Yukon during the Gold Rush. As Buck passes from owner to owner and struggles to survive, we cannot help but feel that sometimes, dogs are more human than us. If you’re skeptical of the novel’s premise, don’t be: just read it!
7) Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
Heller’s classic Catch-22 is hilarious and well-written. Set during World War II, it pushes military bureaucracy to the level of absurdity! Of course, it was banned for its irreverent depiction of military logic.
8) Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
Ironically, this book about censorship, destroying books, and controlling knowledge was itself banned! Anything that’s banned is worth investigating, and Bradbury’s classic dystopian novel is no exception. Why are so many dystopian novels on this list? Because they represent fiction’s ability to fuse art and politics, to prove that art has a social function.
9) For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
Set during the Spanish Civil War, this exquisitely-crafted novel by Ernest Hemingway explores the brutality of war. Loosely based on Hemingway’s own experience as a journalist, For Whom the Bell Tolls is the story of an American man who travels to Spain to fight with the Republic against Franco.
10) Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
Margaret Mitchell’s first and only novel, Gone with the Wind has become an enduring part of our cultural history. Though you may have seen the acclaimed film, you shouldn’t miss this groundbreaking, historic novel.
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That’s it! Stay tuned for our upcoming list of 10 more books you won’t believe were banned! For more book recommendations, check out the rest of our blog. Looking for SAT or ACT tutoring? Contact us today!