Winter Reading Challenge

 

Burning Banned Books image

 

Each year the Spooner Memorial Library and Northwind Book & Fiber present a reading challenge for adults, through which we encourage readers to read outside their comfort zone.  For each book read, you can enter a drawing at the library for bookstore gift certificates!

This year the annual adult reading challenge is Banned Books Over the Years. Books have been banned, and even burned, all over the world throughout history. We have selected 25 books that represent some of the most banned books over the last 150 years.  The last few years have seen more books challenged and banned in more places (sometimes by an entire state), so it is more important than ever to champion books of all types.  Frequent targets are those books addressing race, gender and sexuality.

Should voices ever be silenced?

 

In the booknotes, we've included the decade it was most banned and at least one of the main reasons people argued it should be banned.

Uncle Tom's Cabin By Harriet Beecher Stowe Cover Image
$5.95
ISBN: 9780553212181
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bantam Classics - December 1st, 1982

1800's

Anti-slavery message


The Canterbury Tales: A Selection By Geoffrey Chaucer, Frank Grady (Editor), Frank Grady (Foreword by), Donald R. Howard (Introduction by), Paul Strohm (Afterword by) Cover Image
By Geoffrey Chaucer, Frank Grady (Editor), Frank Grady (Foreword by), Donald R. Howard (Introduction by), Paul Strohm (Afterword by)
$5.95
ISBN: 9780451416780
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Signet - February 5th, 2013

1800's

Written in the 1300s and banned over the centuries for sexual innuendo, profanity, and perceived criticism of the church.  Under the 1873 Comstock Law, it could not be posted in the U.S.


The Picture of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, Robert Mighall (Editor), Robert Mighall (Introduction by), Robert Mighall (Notes by) Cover Image
By Oscar Wilde, Robert Mighall (Editor), Robert Mighall (Introduction by), Robert Mighall (Notes by)
$9.00
ISBN: 9780141439570
Availability: We can order this for you!
Published: Penguin Classics - February 4th, 2003

1800s

Immoral content--both heterosexual and homosexual.


On the Origin of Species By Charles Darwin, William Bynum (Introduction by), William Bynum (Notes by), William Bynum (Editor), Damien Hirst (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Charles Darwin, William Bynum (Introduction by), William Bynum (Notes by), William Bynum (Editor), Damien Hirst (Illustrator)
$14.00
ISBN: 9780140439120
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Classics - October 27th, 2009

1920s

Violating Christian beliefs


Ulysses (Vintage International) By James Joyce Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780679722762
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - June 16th, 1990

1920s

Obscene content


All Quiet on the Western Front: A Novel By Erich Maria Remarque, Arthur Wesley Wheen (Translated by) Cover Image
$8.99
ISBN: 9780449213940
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ballantine Books - March 12th, 1987

1930s

Burned by the Nazis for questioning the German military


A Farewell to Arms By Ernest Hemingway Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780684801469
Availability: We can order this for you!
Published: Scribner - June 1st, 1995

1930s

Burned by Nazis because it was critical of warfare


Animal Farm: 75th Anniversary Edition By George Orwell, Russell Baker (Preface by), Tea Obreht (Introduction by) Cover Image
By George Orwell, Russell Baker (Preface by), Tea Obreht (Introduction by)
$9.99
ISBN: 9780451526342
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Signet - April 6th, 2004

1940s

Rejected by publishers during WWII for fear that it would cause issues for the alliance of the US, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union.


Howl and Other Poems (City Lights Pocket Poets) By Allen Ginsberg Cover Image
$7.95
ISBN: 9780872860179
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: City Lights Books -

1950s

For obscenity, resulting in an obscenity trial against the publisher


The Wizard of Oz (Puffin Classics) By L. Frank Baum Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780141321028
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Puffin Books - March 27th, 2008

1950s

For its strong female characters, use of magic, promotion of socialist values, and attribution of human characteristics to animals.


Tropic of Cancer (Miller) By Henry Miller Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780802131782
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - January 6th, 1994

1960s

First published in France in 1934, its import was banned for candid sexuality.  Many obscenity lawsuits resulted from attempts to import and publish, ending in the Supreme Court twice.  The first time the lower court ruling of obscenity was upheld, and in the second case in 1964, the lower court obscenity ruling was overturned.


Forever . . . By Judy Blume Cover Image
$11.99
ISBN: 9781481414432
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers - April 29th, 2014

1970s

Sexual content and birth control use


Slaughterhouse-Five (Modern Library 100 Best Novels) By Kurt Vonnegut Cover Image
$8.99
ISBN: 9780440180296
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dell - November 3rd, 1991

1970s

Anti-war themes, sexual content, and violence.  It was burned in 1973 in North Dakota.


The Satanic Verses: A Novel By Salman Rushdie Cover Image
$19.00
ISBN: 9780812976717
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - March 11th, 2008

1980s

While not banned in the U.S., the Ayatollah issued a Fatwa against the author when published in 1988, and Rushdie was actually stabbed because of that just this past year.  It was also banned in the UK.


The Color Purple: A Novel By Alice Walker Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143135692
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - December 10th, 2019

1980s

Sexual content, domestic abuse, and violence.


The Chocolate War By Robert Cormier Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9780375829871
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ember - September 14th, 2004

One of the most challenged books--for sexual content, offensive language, violence, and religious views.


Beloved: Pulitzer Prize Winner (Vintage International) By Toni Morrison Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781400033416
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - June 8th, 2004

1970s

In conveying the trauma of the legacy of slavery, certain passages are seen as obscene


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, Book 1) By J K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré (Illustrator) Cover Image
By J K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré (Illustrator)
$12.99
ISBN: 9781338878929
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scholastic Inc. - May 2nd, 2023

2000s  (the entire series has been challenged)

Magic and witches

 


His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass (Book 1) By Philip Pullman Cover Image
$8.99
ISBN: 9780440238133
Availability: We can order this for you!
Published: Laurel Leaf - September 9th, 2003

2000s

While considered anti-Christian, it is actually more critical of organized religion and clerical overreach.


Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (Pantheon Graphic Library) By Marjane Satrapi Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780375714573
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pantheon - June 1st, 2004

2010s

More challenges than bans in the U.S.--it is a graphic memoir that was very controversial in the Middle East.


Thirteen Reasons Why By Jay Asher Cover Image
$10.99
ISBN: 9781595141880
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Razorbill - June 14th, 2011

2010s

Portrayal of suicide


The Hate U Give: A Printz Honor Winner By Angie Thomas, Amandla Stenberg (Foreword by) Cover Image
By Angie Thomas, Amandla Stenberg (Foreword by)
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062498540
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Balzer + Bray - May 3rd, 2022

2010s

Race issues and perceived anti-police bias.


All Boys Aren't Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto By George M. Johnson Cover Image
$12.99
ISBN: 9781250895561
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Square Fish - January 16th, 2024

2020s

LGBTQ+ issues, profanity, and sexually explicit


Melissa (previously published as GEORGE) By Alex Gino Cover Image
$8.99
ISBN: 9781338843415
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scholastic Press - April 19th, 2022

2020s

Transgender character and "because libraries should not put books in a child's hands that require discussion."


The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story By Nikole Hannah-Jones (Created by), The New York Times Magazine (Created by), Caitlin Roper (Editor), Ilena Silverman (Editor), Jake Silverstein (Editor) Cover Image
By Nikole Hannah-Jones (Created by), The New York Times Magazine (Created by), Caitlin Roper (Editor), Ilena Silverman (Editor), Jake Silverstein (Editor)
$38.00
ISBN: 9780593230572
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: One World - November 16th, 2021

2020s

For racial divisiveness and "because it might make white people uncomfortable."  President Trump vowed to ban it, and several state legislatures attempted to pass bills to ban it and similar books.