Read a Banned Book!

Read any good books lately? Banned Books Week is a great excuse to settle in with some quality literature. The annual campaign is designed to promote the right to read and combat censorship. In the past decade, American libraries have faced more than 4,300 challenges to books in their collections. Show your support for the First Amendment by digging into a hot read that's been banned or challenged.

gatsby, book, cover, image, free

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.'

Catcher, Rye, book, cover, image, free

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.

Grapes, Wrath, book, cover, image, free

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.

Kill, Mockingbird, book, cover, image, free

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.

Color, Purple, book, cover, image, free, banned

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, book, cover, image, free, banned

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, book, cover, image, banned, free

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.

Lord, Flies, book, cover, image, free, banned

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 book cover image free banned

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 book cover image free banned

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.

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