How many banned books have you read? More than you think

28 September 2021

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, book cover

Lock the doors, lower the blinds, switch off your phone, we’re flying below the radar now. All because it’s Banned Books Week, and, well, who wants to be caught in possession of literary contraband? Not that I thought for a second I might be violating statutes by reading Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, or The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood.

Attempts to keep To Kill a Mockingbird out of circulation didn’t surprise me. I expect in 1960, when first published, it may have offended some sensibilities, but efforts to prohibit the title are far more recent. The Handmaid’s Tale, meanwhile, has likewise been challenged or banned since its release in 1985, for content deemed to be vulgar, violent, and sexually explicit.

Other books to receive similar treatment include The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, The Color Purple, by Alice Walker, and, yes, even Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, by Hunter S. Thompson. Yet I read each blissfully ignorant of the controversy they once stirred up, or still are. For that, I’m eternally thankful to live in the time and place I do.

Update: for the daring: banned book bingo by Keeping Up With The Penguins.


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