Hemingway had strong words for this novel, saying, "It's the best book we've had. All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since." And yet it was banned just one month after its publication, and the American Library Association says it continues to be one of the most challenged books in U. S. schools because of its charged use of the "n" word to engage slavery.
Jake Barnes and Brett Ashley are two of Hemingway's most well-known characters. The novel examines the disenchantment of the post-war generation as it follows the expatriates through Spanish bullfights to Paris jazz clubs. Hemingway's classic story of the Lost Generation has been banned around the US, and Hemingway's works were burned in Germany in the 1930s, for being "monuments to modern decadence."
John Green's 2005 novel was the most challenged book of 2015; according to the American Library Association, the most frequently cited reasons for the requests to remove it from a school or library were "offensive language and "sexually explicit descriptions." John Green responded, "What usually happens with Looking for Alaska is that a parent chooses one page of the novel to send to an administrator and then the book gets banned without anyone who objects to it having read more than that one particular page.”
Many of you call this the best book you ever read. Hosseini's critically acclaimed, bestselling novel is about an unlikely friendship between two boys growing up in Afghanistan: one from a privileged family, one the son of that family's servant.
- by Angie Thomas
- 15 debut novels for your Reading Challenge, 50 Contemporary Books Every Woman’s Gotta Read: Contemporary Fiction, a book by an #ownvoices or #diversebooks author, Books That Have Been Banned At Some Point, Books with Serious Literary Recognition, Past Summer Reading Guide audiobooks, Thought-provoking Stories
At age 16, Starr Carter has lost two close friends to gun violence: one in a drive-by; one shot by a cop. The latter is the focus of this novel: Starr is in the passenger seat when her friend Khalil is fatally shot by a police officer. She is the sole witness. Thomas seamlessly blends current events with lower-stakes themes common to teens everywhere, with great success. Fun fact: the title comes from a Tupac lyric. Publication date: February 28.
- by Margaret Atwood
- 50 Contemporary Books Every Woman’s Gotta Read: Contemporary Fiction, A book that was banned at some point, audiobooks featuring celebrity narrators, Books That Have Been Banned At Some Point, Books You’ll Just Have To Talk To Someone About, Favorite audiobooks of 2017, Quick Lit March 2017
From the publisher: "The Handmaid's Tale is funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing. It is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force. It is Margaret Atwood at her best."
This isn't an easy book to read (and if you struggle through the first half, you're not alone), but persevering readers will be rewarded with one of the most important and beautifully written multicultural historical novels in the American canon. Sethe escaped slavery and fled to Ohio, but her memories stay with her, as does the ghost of her baby. Though she attempts to bury her past, Sethe is thwarted at every turn—most of all when a young woman shows up at her door, bearing the same name as the ghost baby's headstone: Beloved. I can't improve on the publisher's description, which says Beloved is "filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope." If you're interested in adding an iconic southern gothic novel to your TBR, look no further.
While I greatly prefer my own assigned high school read The Sound and the Fury, the backstory on this slim novel is truly astounding. Faulkner claimed that he wrote it in 6 weeks, working from midnight to 4:00 a.m., and that he didn't change a word. The story, again set in Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, is narrated by 15 different characters over 59 chapters. Consistently cited as one of the best novels of the 20th century, both for its own sake and for the great influence it had over subsequent fiction.
From the publisher: "Ralph Elllison's Invisible Man is a monumental novel, one that can well be called an epic of 20th-century African-American life. It is a strange story, in which many extraordinary things happen, some of them shocking and brutal, some of them pitiful and touching - yet always with elements of comedy and irony and burlesque that appear in unexpected places. After a brief prologue, the story begins with a terrifying experience from the hero's high-school days; it then moves quickly to the campus of a 'Southern Negro college' and then to New York's Harlem. The many people that the hero meets in the course of his wanderings are remarkably various, complex and significant. With them he becomes involved in an amazing series of adventures, in which he is sometimes befriended but more often deceived and betrayed - as much by himself and his own illusions as by the duplicity and the blindness of others. Invisible Man is not only a great triumph of storytelling and characterization; it is a profound and uncompromising interpretation of the anomalous position of blacks in American society."
From the publisher: "An Oprah Book Club selection, Cry, the Beloved Country, the most famous and important novel in South Africa’s history, was an immediate worldwide bestseller in 1948. Alan Paton’s impassioned novel about a black man’s country under white man’s law is a work of searing beauty."
Marjane Satrapi, in her graphic memoir, tells her bittersweet tale woven together with the history of Iran. The clash between her life in public and her home life comes as a perplexing change to childhood as she had known it. Persepolis introduces us to the cost of the Islamic Revolution through her own eyes.
This novel, originally published in 1932, has been banned repeatedly over the years, right up to the present time. Irony alert: the problem with banning a dystopian novel that envisions a totalitarian future world where literary content is strictly regulated is that it provides even more Brave New World discussion fodder delighted English teachers. While it's been removed from many libraries and reading lists, it still makes frequent appearances on others.
Salinger's 1951 novel introduced us to Holden Caulfield, who has served as the prime symbol of adolescent angst ever since. This American classic has remained on the American Library Association's "most challenged works" list for years. In 1960, a Tulsa high school teacher was fired for assigning the work: his job was reinstated, but the book stayed off the reading list.
Welcome to the "ideal" future, where a perfect society embraces Sameness. But something sinister lurks beneath the surface of this tightly controlled community. At a much-anticipated ceremony, the resident twelve-year-olds are sorted into vocational assignments, Harry Potter-style. Jonas is skipped over, and the Chief Elder soon reveals why: instead of receiving a typical assignment, Jonas has been chosen to be the next receiver of memory. When he begins his training with the old man known as The Giver, he discovers books, colors, snow, and love—and he begins to understand what his people lost when they gave away their memories. The star-studded lineup for the movie includes Jeff Bridges, Taylor Swift, Katie Holmes, and Meryl Streep. Coming to theaters August 15.
Bradbury's slim sci-fi/fantasy novel revolves around a fireman who hates his job set in the saddest of dystopian settings: a future with no books. Firemen start the fires in Bradbury's future, to burn any and all books as they are found. One of these books is the Bible, which is what most often triggers the censorship. The book has been repeatedly banned over the years, which is ironic, given that the book itself is about book-banning. When it was published, Bradbury was outspoken about the fact that he in fact had the growing influence of television over Americans in mind when he wrote it.
- by Maya Angelou
- 17 Books Published the Decade You Were Born, 25 Classics That Are Not Remotely Boring, 25 Must Read Classics for Women, a book that was banned at some point, A book that was banned at some point, Authors reading their own work, Books That Have Been Banned At Some Point, Memoirs for your Reading Challenge, Works Read by Their Authors
The haunting story of Angelou's childhood in the American South in the 1930s. If this is one you've been meaning to read, give the audio version a try: Angelou's lilting voice brings her powerful, touching story to life.
This is the story of a WWII bomber named Yossarian who is desperate to evade the war but trapped by the military rule from which the novel takes its title: a pilot is believed to be insane if he continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he requests to be excused because they're dangerous then he's obviously sane enough to fly. This classic 1961 war novel was banned for "indecent" language, and frequently appears on "best of the century" reading lists.
From the publisher: "Awe and exhiliration--along with heartbreak and mordant wit--abound in Lolita, Nabokov's most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of the aging Humbert Humbert's obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Lolita is also the story of a hypercivilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America. Most of all, it is a meditation on love--love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation."
An incredible modern classic. From The Nation: “The Color Purple is about the struggle between redemption and revenge. And the chief agency of redemption, Walker is saying, is the strength of the relationships between women: their friendships, their love, their shared expression."