In honor of the 30th annual Banned Books Week, I would like to give you a short list of often banned books that I really think are worth reading. It's always a good time to pick up some great reading material--but this week highlights books that are controversial for different reasons--making them valuable to read in a totally different light. So, here we go!
10: The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
This, the most modern book on my list, is often banned for teenage violence. It's an amazing story and well worth reading even if you've seen the movie. The themes of sacrifice, shared beliefs, and obedience to authority are put in a very modern context in this dystopian story.
9: Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov
This book is often banned for it's abundant and age-inappropriate sexuality. But let me tell you that the poetry of this book alone makes it worth reading. It's not often that you get to be inside the head of someone who is so absolutely twisted and fantastically gifted with words.
8: A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
Burgess, I've been told, is upset that he is so known for this book and not his others. Dude, you should be so lucky. This book is another verbal pleasure to read. With an overly violent protagonist, the antagonist turns out to be society itself. The language takes some getting used to, but after you've read it, you keep thinking in the very bizarre slang.
7.: Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
War has never been shown in a brighter, more washed-out light than in this tragic tale. Billy Pilgrim is forced to live his life asynchronously and the story unfolds in a very unique and engaging way.
6. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
My favorite Hemingway book, his often visited themes of bravery and male-female communications are presented in vivid splendor.
5. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Of all the books on the list, this is the one that I have read the longest ago. Harper Lee only had one contribution to literature, and this was a real home run. The story gives a real sense of what a childhood was like many years ago and a unique look at racial relationships and justice through the mind of a child.
4. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
I read this when I was really young and was titillated by the language. First book I ever read that made me cry. This is, without a doubt, the shortest book on my list and one of the most stark. The friendship between the two main characters is palpable, which makes the finale of the story all the more crushing.
3.The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Why in the world is this banned? Satanism. That's right, it's banned on the grounds that it's satanic. Is that not exciting enough for you? Tolkien invented the fantasy genre, he invented our modern idea of what a dragon is, he invented excitement.
2. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
This one made me cry as a full grown adult. If you read this in high school and were bored by it, I'm sorry for you. Pick it up again, erase your memory, and watch this family struggle through the lens of your modern life and struggles within your own world. It's an amazing work.
1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
This is the granddaddy of American Literature and the great-granddaddy of banned books. I can't say enough positive about this book. The vivid reality of a world that actually existed right where you stand is put in front of you. The language, the characters, the setting, the plot--everything works perfectly. If you think you like reading or you think you like writing and you haven't read this book, you're only fooling yourself.