In celebration of Banned Books Week, I’ve decided to compile a Top 5 list of Banned Books that I love that I just haven’t talked about too much on this website. These are not the top of my list, as the top books have been mentioned quite frequently already on this site. I’ve chosen 5 books that could use more exposure on here – and also because they are amazing reads!
#5 – Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
The classic about two drifters, a mentally disabled man named Lenny and his friend George, is one of the most heartbreaking stories I’ve ever read. Poor Lenny is a gentle giant, not understanding his own might. Poor George takes upon the task of looking after his friend and protecting him from others – all the way ’til the end.
There are so many reasons this book is consistently banned in schools. (Luckily for me, my school district allowed the reading of this classic and it became one of my favorites instantaneously.) The reasons range from Euthanasia, Vulgar Language, Segregation/Racism, and Sexism. Obviously the last two didn’t take into account that the book was written while those two subjects were in full swing here in America and were considered normal. Kids knowing just how intolerant our country was (and practically still is) is not something we should shy away from. Instead, we should be encouraging them to learn our history. After all, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” -George Santayana.
Amazon.com Link – Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
#4 – The Help by Katherine Stockett
Oh, what a great book! Filled with heartache, struggle, abuse, racism, and segregation, this book is hard to read at times, and yet its message is what makes it so beautiful. From the perspective of a somewhat-naive-and-yet-somehow-worldly feminist college graduate, Skeeter, returning to her hometown in the 1960s to find to her dismay that the rampant racism among the women whom she and her friends all knew and loved growing up as their caregivers had flown out the window in favor of their parents’ racist attitudes.
Horrified at this phenomenon, and not understanding how such a change could possibly occur, Skeeter chooses to approach the black nannies and housekeepers of the neighborhood to interview them about their feelings on their lives in a bed of racism from children they raised themselves. It’s heart-wrenching. It’s also a story that is hilarious, jubilant, and incredibly full of suffering. It’s everything a book should be.
So why was it banned? Well, the very things that teenagers in schools need to learn exists in life are what has gotten this book banned. Racism, spousal abuse, segregation, bullying. All of these topics have gotten this book banned. Honestly, it is these topics that need to be taught to children the most. They need to learn that life is not a bowl of cherries and if they want life to be better, they have to make it better. This story teaches just that lesson.
Amazon.com Link – The Help by Kathryn Stockett
#3 – Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice
I loved the Vampire Chronicles in my late teens when they were first released. I couldn’t wait for a new book. I continue to carry each book in the series in my personal library at home and even bought the brand new release, “Prince Lestat”, when it debuted last year.
I am not a fan of what teenagers today think vampires should be from their new prissy little novels about sparkling, lovey-dovey vampires. Vampires are not for loving… and they certainly should NOT sparkle!!!
The vampires of old, which Anne Rice describes delectably, are vicious and cold-hearted. They are selfish, cruel, and immoral. It is only Louis who truly struggles with his newfound immortality and the lack of humanity that comes with it. The dynamic of Louis and Lestat, two very similar and yet very different creatures, make the books oh so very enjoyable to read.
Of course these books were banned! They are violent! They are full of sexual violence! They are full of vampire-on-vampire violence! They kill children! Why in the world wouldn’t this book get banned?
But seriously, although most schools refuse to carry copies of the Vampire Chronicles in the schools – do NOT let your teenagers read this new sissy, sparkly, wussy not-a-real-vampire-because-I-don’t-attack-humans bullpucky!!! Take them to the bookstore and get them a REAL vampire book. Even better – Start with Bram Stoker. There, I’ve said my piece. Next!
Amazon.com Link – Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice
#2 – A Time to Kill by John Grisham
A gruesome tale about two men who rape and attempt to murder a ten-year-old black child, and the vigilante justice the girl’s father rains down upon them. The resulting criminal trial for the victim’s father restores the racism that had laid dormant in the community for several decades. This book has been banned for its violence, child rape, racism, the Ku Klux Klan, and even “encouraging adultery” (which I don’t believe it does). This is one of the best books ever written – so if you haven’t picked up your copy yet, do it now!
Amazon.com Link – A Time To KIll by John Grisham
#1 – His Dark Materials Series by Phillip Pullman (Includes The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass)
This trilogy centers upon a girl, Lyra Belaqua, trying to save her world from a horrific religious conspiracy to rip the souls from children horrifically and painfully. The church is testing what the results of these experiments are for their own gain, and are using children because they have been attached to their souls, what in the books are called daemons, for a lesser period of time than have adults. What makes this worse is that in Lyra’s world, all daemons are animals that walk beside their humans instead of a non-living entity inside of your body (although they do explore this phenomenon later).
First of all – Pirates! Witches! Fighting Bears! Oh, my!! Such a joy to read. There are so many interesting aspects of this series that hold your attention to the very end. Lyra, only 11 years old, is one of the most badass heroines I’ve ever read in a novel – let alone a YA series. Especially for her age.
Let’s go into why this was banned. It really doesn’t need too much of an explanation, does it? These books have been called “anti-religion”. Technically, they are anti-organized religion, not religion in general. Yes, Pullman makes this point quite clear throughout the novels. But, who are we to complain? Our Catholic Church has been covering up child abuse conspiracies for centuries! It’s about time someone took the abuse of children by the church and put it into a book. Enough said.
Amazon.com Link – His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman
And there you have it! My top 5 favorite banned books of all time! If you haven’t picked any of these up, please click on the links I’ve provided directly to these books on Amazon! Happy reading, everyone!