What makes a book acceptable to most readers and not to others has long been debated and often times have a multitude of answers.
It could be harsh language, violent images or questionable subject matter but, in any case, many of the books we grew up loving and reading over and over again have at one time or another been banned or challenged.
And while some parents will question the age appropriateness of a book when they challenge its use in a school or library, it is quite a different matter when a group or committee cites “conflicts with community values” as the primary excuse to make that decision for everyone.
As “Banned Books Week” comes to a close, here is a list of just some of the iconic novels that have been called into question during the course of their existence. While we may wonder at some of the choices, never forget that everyone is entitled to an opinion even if it is one based on ignorance or fear.
I encourage those who have not read the following books to give them a try and decide for themselves if they’re offensive.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Considered one of the first great American novels, Fitzgerald’s tale of decadence and avarice among a group of socialites during the “Roarin’ Twenties” has been challenged for questionable language and sexual references.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Another classic in every sense of the word, Twain’s book is one of the most challenged novels ever and continues to be questioned even to this day.
Cited for its use of racial slurs, it is almost always accused of racism and derogatory portrayals of African Americans.
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The story of Hester Prynne, a young woman found guilty of an adulterous romance in 1642 and forced to wear a scarlet letter to proclaim her shame to the town, has been cited over and over again for glorifying promiscuity and sinful behavior.
One hundred and forty years later, the novel is still being challenged for conflicting with community values.
Must have been one helluva great affair.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Though it’s hard to believe that anyone would object to this Pulitzer Prize winning novel, many have claimed that it is racist and degrades African Americans.
This poignant story, set in Alabama during the 1930’s, of six year old Scout, her brother Jem and their Father, Atticus Finch, a lawyer who defends a black man unjustly accused of a horrific crime has long been required reading in many English classes and, yet, is still challenged by some for its use of racial epithets.
The “Harry Potter” Series by J.K. Rowling
Some may argue Harry’s place among the great literary classics on this list, but due to its sheer impact on an entire generation and its guaranteed place among the most beloved books of all time, the “Harry Potter” series is destined to stand the test of time and has been just as maligned as the rest.
Challenged by some religious groups for promoting magic, witches and wizards, this series of seven books have sold more than 450 million copies worldwide making it the best-selling book series in history and continues to enchant and delight readers of all ages once again proving to one and all you can’t keep “the boy who lived” down.
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Coming up, a review of “Doctor Sleep” by Stephen King and “The Wolves of Midwinter” by Anne Rice.
Also, for all things Anne Rice, including the tour schedule for her latest book, please visit the “Anne Rice Examiner” page.
See ya next time!