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Banned books meme - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Banned books meme
From everyone everywhere. I wonder about the statistics and was about to do bookshop's variation, using the ALA's list from the last ten years, but that's just misbehaving sheepage. ;)

List of the top 110 banned books (of all time). Bold the ones you've read. Italicize the ones you've read part of. Underline the ones you specifically want to read (at least some of). Read more. Convince others to read some.

#1 The Bible
#2 Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

#3 Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
#4 The Koran (Quite a lot of it in my class, but I think I missed some assignments)
#5 Arabian Nights
#6 Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
#7 Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
#8 Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
#9 Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (To my utter delighted surprise, I loved this book)
#10 Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
#11 The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
#12 Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
#13 Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
#14 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
#15 Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
#16 Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
#17 Dracula by Bram Stoker (Another one I adore. I love epistolary novels, and I love horror stories, so hey.)
#18 Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
#19 Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
#20 Essays by Michel de Montaigne
#21 Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
#22 History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by EdwardGibbon
#23 Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
#24 Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
#25 Ulysses by James Joyce
#26 Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
#27 Animal Farm by George Orwell
#28 Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (This one, honestly, kind of bored me. It was overdone.)
#29 Candide by Voltaire
#30 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
#31 Analects by Confucius
#32 Dubliners by James Joyce
#33 Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
#34 Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
#35 Red and the Black by Stendhal
#36 Das Capital by Karl Marx
#37 Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
#38 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
#39 Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence
#40 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (Keep starting it, never do get into it)
#41 Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
#42 Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchel (A pretty good romance, but it is jarring and creepy when all the guys we're supposed to like run off to a KKK meeting to lynch someone. Scarlet's second husband dies in this, and it's very hard to sympathize with all the honor that's supposed to be involved and all the guilt she feels over it--not because he was at a bloody KKK meeting, but because he was "defending" her.)
#43 Jungle by Upton Sinclair
#44 All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
#45 Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
#46 Lord of the Flies by William Golding (I can't give enough love to this compact, beautifully balanced, well-characterized, exciting, and meaningful book.)
#47 Diary by Samuel Pepys
#48 Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (Using strikeout because there's no code for, "Huh, I think I read it, but I'm not sure; I really don't remember, though it's ringing a bell.")
#49 Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
#50 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (I liked Something Wicked This Way Comes better.)
#51 Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
#52 Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
#53 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
#54 Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus
#55 Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
#56 Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
#57 Color Purple by Alice Walker
#59 Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke
#60 Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
#61 Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
#62 One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#63 East of Eden by John Steinbeck
#64 Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
#65 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
#66 Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#67 Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais
#68 Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
#69 The Talmud (Love the Talmud. It's the length of a large encyclopedia, so I haven't read everything in it, but it's just a terrific thing... conversations like internet threads preserved for a couple thousand years, with people "posting" to them for centuries. How could it not be cool?)
#70 Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#71 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
#72 Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
#73 American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
#74 Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
#75 Separate Peace by John Knowles
#76 Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
#77 Red Pony by John Steinbeck
#78 Popol Vuh
#79 Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith
#80 Satyricon by Petronius
#81 James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
#82 Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
#83 Black Boy by Richard Wright
#84 Spirit of the Laws by Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu
#85 Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
#86 Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
#87 Metaphysics by Aristotle
#88 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Was banned? For what, bad haircare?)
#89 Institutes of the Christian Religion by Jean Calvin
#90 Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
#91 Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
#92 Sanctuary by William Faulkner
#93 As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
#94 Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
#95 Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig (This book creeped me out as a child, big time. I don't think it should be banned, but after a lifetime of reading ghost stories and gory horror, the idea of being turned into a rock and unable to speak or move to turn myself back stiill scares the bejeezus out of me.)
#96 Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
#97 General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
#98 Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
#99 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown
#100 Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
#101 Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines
#102 Emile Jean by Jacques Rousseau
#103 Nana by Emile Zola
#104 Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
#105 Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
#106 Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#107 Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
#108 Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
#109 Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
#110 Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

I've seen a lot of people commenting on the irony that they books they've read here, they've read on assignment, but that's not really all that odd--books tend to get challenged when a parent sees an assignment from school and goes totally nuclear. Now and then, it's because of immense popularity (Harry Potter, several Stephen Kings), but mostly it happens when a parent thinks his or her child is being forcibly exposed to something bad for him or her and switches into Mama-Tiger mode, protecting the baby from those big, bad predatory books.

BTW, where does this list come from? I know the ALA lists are compiled every year from reports of books which have been challenged on school and public library shelves (very few of them--none that I've experienced, though I'm willing to assume there may be a few--are actually successfully "banned," just challenged). What stats were gathered for this one?
20 comments or Leave a comment
gryffingirl From: gryffingirl Date: February 26th, 2005 06:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Interesting list....wow...I really need to start reading more outside of school assignments again...*runs off to the bookstore*
ashtur From: ashtur Date: February 26th, 2005 06:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Whenever I see a list like this, my first reaction is usually "What is THAT book doing on the list?" Ok, the religious books, I can "understand"... whether it's attempting to enforce some total secularism in the name of "church and state", or trying to crowd out non-mainstream religious traditions. I don't like it, but I "understand" where they are coming from.

But, why in creation would "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch" be banned? It may just be the single most depressing book I've ever read, but that hardly makes it bannable. I would say about half of your list is in that category, and most of the ones that aren't are in my "hm, don't know that one" list, so can't comment on them anyway.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 26th, 2005 06:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, a lot of them really are depressing.

My old boss called the other day to have us look things up, and one of the things The Chocolate War drew fire over was--I'm not kidding--the fact that the boys sweat while playing football. ??? I'm sure the complaints over the language, the violence, and the masturbation scene were more frequent, but the point is, people might complain about anything.
ashtur From: ashtur Date: February 26th, 2005 06:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oops, I was unclear. When I said "half", I meant that I just could see no reason to even think of why any rational person would think "ban"... of course, maybe putting the word "rational" in that sentance is my mistake.

Oh dear, we mustn't have sweaty football players now...
likeafox From: likeafox Date: February 26th, 2005 08:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
I thought it was girls who "glow" *rolls eyes*
volandum From: volandum Date: February 26th, 2005 07:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
May I supply Gulliver's Travels, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Metaphysics?

Epistolary novels? I've read Lady Susan and Dracula, but Clarissa bored me to incompletion. Did you have any luck with that novel?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 26th, 2005 07:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've never actually gotten my hands on Clarissa.
volandum From: volandum Date: February 26th, 2005 10:24 pm (UTC) (Link)

There... which is strange, because I didn't think they had it up last I checked.
antonia_east From: antonia_east Date: February 26th, 2005 07:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
I loved 'The Scarlet Letter' too. And 'Dracula'.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: February 26th, 2005 07:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
The ALA in general makes me insane, so their production of 100 most challenged books list is simply yet another annoyance from them.

What marking should I use to indicate "started it, thought it was utterly the most boring book I've read this year and didn't even bother to throw across the room because that might imply that it managed to get an emotional reaction from me?" I saw any number of those on the list.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 26th, 2005 07:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, there were quite a few of those. It drives me nuts that they call it "banned books," since I don't know of any of them that have actually been banned, and I could go down the list and find most of them on the shelf at work, in easy reach of pretty much anyone who wants them. We're in no real danger of losing these books. It's mostly a case of "Can you believe the bitching people do?"

But I don't know if this particular list is from the ALA. I don't know where it comes from, or how its statistics were gathered.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: February 26th, 2005 07:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
As you're in Boston, banned has a different meaning than the rest of world. AFter all, isn't "banned in Boston" a byword for risque?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 26th, 2005 08:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yup. 'Banned in Boston' used to be the ultimate ticket to success in New York. Of course, the old matrons who used to do that are long gone, moved out to the suburbs, and I can't even imagine what it would take to get something banned in Boston these days.
From: arwencordelia Date: February 26th, 2005 07:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
What stats were gathered for this one?

I always wonder about that as well, every time I come across one of these lists. And there are always some very good books on the lists, and some "huh?" selections (like Little House on the Prairie, as you point out :-)

I like that this meme gets circulated every so often, that it reminds people that, at least somewhere in the world, books are still being banned. But I do wish they would explain where the list come from, and I kind of resent the implication (which, granted, I may be imagining!) that one should read banned books just because they were banned at one time (it doesn't somehow make the books more worthy, imo, no matter how abhorrent the concept of banning books might be).

sonetka From: sonetka Date: February 27th, 2005 05:22 am (UTC) (Link)
I remember in grade school hearing people complain about Little House On The Prairie specifically because it portrayed a lot of the Indians as people whom the Ingallses found (and who often were) very threatening and intimidating. Of course, considering the kind of conflict there was at the time, I'm not sure whether these people were proposing that Laura should have just left out a major part of the story or changed it so that everyone got along, but they did want the book kept out when our teacher read the series to us. Fortunately she told them to stuff it, and as far as I know nobody in my class grew up only to start putting up signs saying "Osage Keep Out."
hughroe From: hughroe Date: February 26th, 2005 10:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmmmm, I didn't notice any books by De Sade, and I know he's up there in the multiple banned catagory.

I think I've got a few on you, studied most of the political and philosophical works on that list.
From: nothing_gold Date: February 27th, 2005 12:18 am (UTC) (Link)
I need to get my hands on Tom Jones. We did that for our fall play--the toned-down version, and it was still pretty damn racy. You would not believe the stuff we get away with putting on, especially since it's at a private Catholic school.
From: anatomiste Date: February 27th, 2005 02:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I've read nearly half of these (although I didn't finish everything). I think that's pretty funny considering my aunt got me a book called The Novel 100 for Christmas listing some educated people's pick of the top 100 novels, and I've only read about a third of those.

Of course, in a way that makes sense because there are a lot of books in The Novel 100 that are very long and high-flown (more so than most of the ones in this list) and unlikely to be popular and therefore a danger to the public or whatever.
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 27th, 2005 04:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Weird. It shows up normally in IE and Mozilla.
sea_of_tethys From: sea_of_tethys Date: March 1st, 2005 06:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I share your utter confusion at Little House being banned! Am racking my brains to think what could have possibly caused that. I'm also wondering why they banned Julie of the Wolves. I mean, I know her husband tries to assault her, but it's not exactly graphic. I must have been about 10? 9? when I read that, and I lived to tell the tale.
20 comments or Leave a comment