The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Widely thought to be among the greatest American novels, this classic about life during the 'Roaring Twenties' features dark commentary on the materialism and decadence of the age. The book has been challenged due to 'language and sexual references.'
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
A poster child for banned books, Salinger's masterpiece of adolescent angst has been challenged in dozens of locations for being 'obscene,' 'blasphemous' and 'centered around negative activity.' If you don't already know the iconic Holden Caulfield, make this the next book you read.
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Being awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction apparently doesn't exempt an author from accusations of moral turpitude. Steinbeck's novel about a sharecropping family's struggles during the Great Depression was banned in libraries due to 'vulgar' language and sexual themes.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This book has been challenged and banned in some communities for its sensitive racial themes and authentic language. More people, however, credit the story of inequality in a Depression-era Alabama town with helping to change perceptions on race.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Walker's classic book is a raw look at the treatment of black girls and women in the South in the first half of the 20th century. Some detractors of the novel have caused it to be removed from library shelves for 'rough language' and 'explicit sex scenes.'
Ulysses by James Joyce
Incorporating a stream of conscious narrative and various dialects, Ulysses is not the most accessible of books. It has been among the most controversial, though. The epic tale of Leopold Blooms's exploits during the course of one Dublin day, now considered a Modernist masterpiece, was burned or banned in four countries after publication.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Challenged for perceived violent imagery, sexual content, and vulgar language, this novel explores the memories of a former slave to illuminate the horrors of slavery. Highly acclaimed, the book won Morrison the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Regarded as a classic of English-language literature, The Lord of the Flies tells the story of a group of schoolboys who must learn to survive on a deserted island after a plane crash. The book has been challenged due to its caustic examination of human nature.
1984 by George Orwell
This classic of modern literature features a world with never-ending war and constant government surveillance. In the book, Winston Smith is a civil servant who realizes the detrimental effects of government propaganda. Orwell's indictment of totalitarianism was misguidedly challenged based on perceived communist sympathies.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov
Widely regarded a classic, this book reveals the story of Humbert Humbert, a man who becomes sexually involved with twelve-year-old Lolita. The tale of forbidden desire has shocked audiences the world over and been banned in multiple countries.
If you finish reading a book that's been banned or challenged and want to further champion the right to read, visit the Banned Books Week website for ways you can bring more awareness to censorship issues.