Every year, Banned Books Week takes place in the last week of September. This year it took place from September 23-28. It is an annual celebration of the freedom to read. While here in South Africa, books generally don’t get banned, it’s a good reminder that people in other parts of the world don’t enjoy these same freedoms. Here is a list of nine books that are banned in 2019!
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Hate U Give written by Angie Thomas is banned in certain parts of America because it was deemed “anti-cop,” and for profanity, drug use, and sexual references. The book is the story of Starr Carter who witnesses her best friend being killed by a white policeman. It tackles #BlackLivesMatters, police brutality, and race relations in America.
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
The book that inspired the controversial Netflix series 13 Reasons Why was also banned. Written by Jay Asher, the book was banned, and restricted for addressing teen suicide. It follows the death of Hannah Baker by suicide and the fallout of her death amongst her classmates.
Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling
There isn’t anyone who can say they have never heard about the Harry Potter. However, there are certain places in the world where people aren’t allowed to read the book. The book series follows the adventures of the wizard Harry and his friends on their mission to defeat the evil wizard. The role of magic has caused a few people to be shook, saying that it is blasphemous.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
The non-fiction book by Michelle Alexander focuses on the American prison system and how it disproportionately affects people of colour. The book was banned by the Florida Department of Corrections and North Carolina Department of Public Safety. It was banned for “Racial overtures” and being “likely to provoke confrontation between racial groups.” The ban was lifted in 2018 in certain correctional facilities in Florida.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
One of Maya Angelou’s most seminal works is a banned book. Released in 1969, the book is an autobiography of Angelou’s life. It is a coming-of-age story that shows how Angelou used literature to overcome racism and trauma. It has been banned for “sexual content.”
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
The Diary of a Young Girl is one of the most famous diaries in the world. It is a diary written by a young Jewish girl during the holocaust. Frank was later killed in the gas chambers but her diary remained. It has sold millions of copies around the world. It has been banned in the Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp with no reason given.
Animal Farm by George Orwell
The popular school setwork, Animal Farm is another banned book. Featuring talking animals who attempt a kind of communist-style takeover, the book is supposed to be a lesson in the perils of communism. It’s no wonder then that North Korea and Cuba have banned the book. It was also banned in the Soviet Union when it was first released.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Widely popular throughout the world, Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner is another banned book. It has been banned and challenged in four states in America. It is the coming of age story of two boys in Afghanistan. The book has been banned because there were fears it would “inspire” terrorism. Additionally, its treatment of homosexuality, violence and its religious viewpoint have raised concerns.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Lolita which tell the story of a middle-aged man’s infatuation with a young girl has been controversial ever since its release. It is considered one of the most controversial books of the 20th century. It has been banned in many countries around the world since publication including New Zealand and France. While it isn’t banned anymore, the book continues to be challenged.