Winter Reading Challenge
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.
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.
Immoral content--both heterosexual and homosexual.
Violating Christian beliefs
Burned by the Nazis for questioning the German military
Burned by Nazis because it was critical of warfare
Rejected by publishers during WWII for fear that it would cause issues for the alliance of the US, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union.
For obscenity, resulting in an obscenity trial against the publisher
For its strong female characters, use of magic, promotion of socialist values, and attribution of human characteristics to animals.
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.
Sexual content and birth control use
Anti-war themes, sexual content, and violence. It was burned in 1973 in North Dakota.
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.
Sexual content, domestic abuse, and violence.
One of the most challenged books--for sexual content, offensive language, violence, and religious views.
In conveying the trauma of the legacy of slavery, certain passages are seen as obscene
2000s (the entire series has been challenged)
Magic and witches
While considered anti-Christian, it is actually more critical of organized religion and clerical overreach.
More challenges than bans in the U.S.--it is a graphic memoir that was very controversial in the Middle East.
Portrayal of suicide
Race issues and perceived anti-police bias.
LGBTQ+ issues, profanity, and sexually explicit
Transgender character and "because libraries should not put books in a child's hands that require discussion."
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.