Time magazine recently came out with a list of their recommendations of the top 10 banned books to read.  I think it’s pretty solid.  Here’s a preview of the article; click on any book to read the full story:

Candide (Voltaire)

Candide (Voltaire)

In a nutshell: “This classic French satire lampoons all things sacred — armies, churches, philosophers, even the doctrine of optimism itself.”

Intriguing quote: “The effect is equal parts hilarious and shocking. (Imagine Monty Python circa 1759).”

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)

In a nutshell: “Critics deemed Mark Twain’s use of common vernacular (slang) demeaning and damaging.”

Intriguing quote: “In an attempt to avoid controversy, CBS Television produced a made-for-TV adaptation of the book in 1955 that lacked a single mention of slavery, or even any African American cast members to portray the character of Jim.”

Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)

Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)

In a nutshell:  “Huxley’s 1932 work — about a drugged, dull and mass-produced society of the future — has been challenged for its themes of sexuality, drugs, and suicide.”

Intriguing quote: “In Huxley’s vision of the 26th century, Henry Ford is the new God (worshipers say “Our Ford” instead of “Our Lord,”) and the car maker’s concept of mass production has been applied to human reproduction.”

Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell)

Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell)

In a nutshell: “[Nineteen Eighty-Four] chronicles the grim future of a society robbed of free will, privacy or truth.”

Intriguing quote: “Oddly enough, parents in Jackson County, Fla. would challenge the book in 1981 for being “pro-Communist.” (Did they even read it?)

The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)

The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)

In a nutshell: “Literary critics have both hailed and assailed the novel, which broke the literary mold with its focus on character development rather than plot. Holden Caulfield, the novel’s protagonist, has since become a symbol of adolescent angst.”

Intriguing quote: “The book introduced slang expressions like the term “screw up” (as in, “Boy, it really screws up my sex life something awful.”)”

Lolita (Vladmir Nabokov)

Lolita (Vladmir Nabokov)

In a nutshell: “This 1955 novel explores the mind of a self-loathing and highly intelligent pedophile named Humbert Humbert, who narrates his life and the obsession that consumes it: his lust for “nymphets” like 12-year-old Dolores Haze.”

Intriguing quote: “[Lolita was] first published in France by a pornographic press.”

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)

In a nutshell: “This 1970 memoir angered censors for its graphic depiction of racism and sex, especially the passages in which she recounts being raped by her mother’s boyfriend as an eight-year-old child.”

Intriguing quote: “The American Library Association ranked it the 5th most challenged book of the 21st century.”

The Anarchist Cookbook (William Powell)

The Anarchist Cookbook (William Powell)

In a nutshell: “Powell was just 19 when he wrote this 1971 cult classic. The guerrilla how-to book managed to not only anger government officials, but anarchist groups as well.”

Intriguing quote: “Other critics attacked the book for more practical reasons — some of the bomb-making recipes that Powell included turned out to be dangerously inaccurate.”

The Satanic Verses (Salman Rushdie)

The Satanic Verses (Salman Rushdie)

In a nutshell: “This book sparked riots across the world for what some called a blasphemous treatment of the Islamic faith.”

Intriguing quote: “Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini put a $1 million bounty on [Rushdie’s] head; Venezuelan officials threatened anyone who owned or read the book with 15 months of prison; a Japanese translator was stabbed to death for his involvement with the book; Walden Books and Barnes & Noble removed the book from shelves after receiving death threats; under the protection of British authorities, Rushdie himself lived in hiding for nearly a decade.””

Ill leave the last book on the list as a surprise.

Can you guess what the last book is?

I’ll leave the last book on the list as a surprise.

Looking back, it seems almost unbelievable that these books, many of which are now regarded as classics, were once banned or continue to be challenged.  Wondering where your favorite book is on the list?  Take a look at the ALA’s list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000.  Want to know what modern-day books are causing a stir?  Check out part 2 of my post on Banned Books Week, featuring the 10 most challenged books of 2006, coming soon.

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