A Year of Banned Books
Hello, readers! Yesterday was the one year anniversary of my blog. That’s right, we at Bound and Gagged have been bringing you reviews, sharing censorship news, and accidentally showing up in your porn searches for a whole year now.
I’d like to take this chance to thank you, the readers, for taking this journey with me. You made this possible. Well, you and WordPress. And caffeine. It takes a village.
I’d also like to thank C. Oberholtzer for joining me in this endeavor and Reviews by Lantern’s Light for sharing my comic book/graphic novel reviews. Here’s to a year of banned books and here’s to an even better one to come. Our summer reading may be winding down, but that means we’re gearing up for Banned Books Week.
Please enjoy this look back at the banned books we’ve reviewed and, as always, I would love to hear your feedback, requests, and any other ideas you have.
Looking for Alaska, John Green
This YA novel by Nerdfighter John Green was challenged due to sexual content and drug use. The cover was censored for depicting cigarette smoke, but the book has since been rereleased with the original cover.
Clifford the Big Red Dog, Norman Bridwell
This classic children’s book was banned for allegedly pushing Communism on our kids.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie
This YA novel has been banned for sexual content, racism, issues of race/ethnicity, its depiction of reservation life, the deaths of the main character’s family members, and offensive language. It also got caught in the crossfire of a Tucson anti-ethnic studies law that essentially outlawed any book with non-white characters from Tucson schools in an attempt to remain “neutral” in Arizona’s culture wars.
The Giver, Lois Lowry
This perennial YA/children’s classic has been banned for unsettling content, including euthanasia, suicide, infanticide, adolescent sexuality, medicating children, and an ambiguous ending.
Goosebumps (series), R. L. Stine
Goosebumps books have been banned or challenged individually and as a series. Goosebumps has been deemed inappropriate for frightening content, relationship/teen issues, and alleged satanic/occult content. The wildly popular series has also been accused of being a gateway drug to more questionable/mature literature.
Scary Stories (series), Alvin Schwartz, Stephen Gammell
This series of ghost stories has been banned for violent content, frightening content, alleged satanic/occult content, religious viewpoint, and issues over the iconic illustrations (deemed too disturbing for children). A later edition removed Gammell’s art in favor of more child-friendly illustrations.
The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
This YA dystopian/post-apocalyptic novel has been banned for numerous reasons, including violence, upsetting content/insensitivity, alleged anti-ethnic and anti-family attitudes, alleged satanic/occult content, sexual content, offensive language, and being unsuited to age group. The violence and disturbing premise was a similar issue with the subsequent film adaptation. The movie also sparked a huge controversy over the racial background of the characters and cast.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
This coming of age, YA novel has long been a favorite of readers and book challenges alike. It has been banned for sexual content, drug use, suicide, homosexuality, an alleged anti-family stance, religious viewpoint, offensive language, and being unsuited to age group. The book’s content is so loaded and controversial that a film adaptation was a hard sell.
Strega Nona, Tomie dePaola
Strega Nona is banned for its supernatural elements and Strega Nona herself allegedly practicing witchcraft.
Green Lantern/Green Arrow, Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, DC Comics
This trade includes some of DC’s most iconic and controversial comics. The issues addressing heroin use were requested by the State of NY. However, DC refused to tackle the subject until the Comics Code was revised to allow drugs/addiction.
The Kama Sutra, Vatsyayana, Sir Richard F. Burton
This ancient text has long gotten people hot and bothered over its sexual content, whether in India, Victorian England, America during the sexual revolution, or modern day smart phone apps.
Saga, Vol. 1, Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples, Image Comics
This sci-fi comic courted controversy when the cover of one issue depicted a female humanoid breastfeeding.
Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
This classic novel was challenged for being sexually explicit and containing offensive language.
Herland, Charlotte Perkins Gilman
This feminist political treatise/speculative adventure is controversial for any number of political or social issues, including its thoughts on gender, sexuality, birth control, abortion, marriage, education, government, and eugenics.
The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown
This best-selling thriller and international bestseller was banned by multiple governments and institutions for a number of reasons, largely centering around its treatment of Christianity and the main plot of a Church coverup surrounding Christ’s marriage and human descendants. The novel sparked book burnings, spawned numerous books or documentaries debunking its premise, and was considered heresy by many. The film adaptation caused worldwide controversy and protests and was banned or censored in numerous countries.
The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold
This speculative fiction novel was challenged for mature/graphic content, sexual content, religious viewpoint, ambiguous morality, the mother’s abandonment, and the lack of legal punishment for the murderer. As such, the movie played down much of its sexual and religious themes.
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
This classic part of the American literary canon was challenged for offensive language and sexual content. The big-budget film adaptation had its share of controversy but from those who loved the book not those who hated it.
Tiger Eyes, Judy Blume
This YA novel from the beloved Judy Blume was banned for underage drinking, alcoholism, suicide, loss, and sexuality. A masturbation scene was also cut prior to publication. The much-anticipated but small-budget film brought attention to Judy Blume’s legacy as an author and anti-censorship crusader.
The Amazing Spiderman, Vol. 2: Revelations, J. Michael Straczynski, John Romita Jr., Scott Hanna, Marvel Comics
This trade was challenged (and subsequently held hostage) due to an allegedly sexualized image of Mary Jane. The trade also includes the so-called “Black Issue” dealing with 9/11, which received mixed reactions.
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
This speculative fiction adventure was rejected by numerous publishers as it featured a female lead and did not talk down to children. The book has also been challenged for allegedly having a pro-communist stance, Christian content, anti-Christian content, a liberal agenda, satanic content, offensive language, supernatural content, witchcraft, Eastern religious content, and New Age/Eastern philosophy. The made for TV movie downplayed the more overt religious and anti-authoritarian sentiments.
A Wind in the Door, Madeleine L’Engle
The A Wrinkle in Time sequel has been challenged along with the rest of the series for religious content, religious issues, a female protagonist, and a complexity deemed too much for children.
Saga, Vol. 2, Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples, Image Comics
The second trade of this sci-fi comic sparked controversy when it was seemingly banned from Apple and Android comic apps over two tiny images depicting homosexual oral sex.
A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Madeleine L’Engle
The third installment in the Time Quartet/Time Quintet is challenged for the same reasons as the others, centering on religious issues and its struggle of good vs. evil.
Many Waters, Madeleine L’Engle
The fourth Time Quartet/Time Quintet book has been challenged along with the rest of the series as well as on its own. Issues with the book include its much more overt Christian content and concern that an alternate telling of the Biblical flood will confuse children.
Pride of Baghdad, Brian K. Vaughan, Niko Henrichon, Vertigo
This Animal-Farm-style commentary on the Iraq War is frequently challenged for its sexual content.