To All (14 of*) the Banned Books I've Loved Before

5:54 PM


If you read, there's a definite chance that you've read a banned book. Or, at the very least, one that has been frequently challenged for its content. From modern day favourites like Gossip Girl, Twilight, The Hunger Games and Harry Potter to classics such as To Kill A Mockingbird, A Wrinkle in Time, Go Ask Alice and The Handmaid's Tale--most books are not spared from the uproar of others.

Every year, censorship threatens the world of literature for one thing or another and many books get taken off the shelves. Which is obviously absurd. During Banned Books Week, I'm always floored by titles that have been banned and the reasoning for it. And now I'm here to celebrate the right to read by counting down my favourite pieces of literature that have been banned in the past.



1. THE HARRY POTTER SERIES BY J.K. ROWLING 

What would a list be without Harry Potter? He was such a prominent part of my childhood but we all know the uproar good old J.K. Rowling was subject to when she--gasp--wrote this fictional series about a boy wizard. How dare she! Witchcraft! Witch! Craft! Oh, the horror. I will always have a soft spot for Harry, Ron and Hermione--such is the life. We live in the age where people ALWAYS ask each other which Hogwarts house they'd been sorted into.

(I'm Ravenclaw, if you were wondering.)

So many of my memories have to do with these books and the truth is, I could probably kick some serious ass in Harry Potter trivia. As I type this, I'm looking at my HP shelf with nothing but love in my eyes. It's actually creepy. Don't look at me.

2. THE GOSSIP GIRL SERIES (AND ITS SPIN-OFFS) BY CECILY VON ZIEGESAR 


Much like with Harry Potter, I grew up with the Gossip Girl characters and ran with the series from start to finish. Both the novels and the television "adaptation" were major sparks of controversy due to its content. I.E. teenagers acting like some weird combination of teenagers and adults. Oh, rich teens! Rich teens partying! Rich teens having--gasp--sex!?

Many dislike the book series and prefer the show nowadays but the books were always my jam and take me back to the times when I was in middle school and would spend my lunch money on the new books or simply sneak them home from the library. Back then, I was completely obsessed with the life of Blair Waldorf, Serena van der Woodsen, Jenny Humphrey and Vanessa Abrams.

Can you really blame me?

3. KILLING MR. GRIFFIN BY LOIS DUNCAN 

Lois Duncan was the master of young adult suspense way back when and Killing Mr. Griffin was always, always, always my favourite. Even now, I look back and have nothing but fond memories to the days where I read and reread this dark tale of accidental murder. This was THE novel for me--the standalone I could quote like I'd been the one to write it. It is also the reason I love thrillers so much.

When Lois Duncan passed away a couple years back, I cried like a baby and reread some of her best novels. My personal favourites were always Killing Mr. Griffin and Third Eye, but I had a sincere love for all of her works--Daughters of Eve, Stranger With My Face, Summer of Fear and I Know What You Did Last Summer.

We miss you, Lois! 

4. THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER BY STEPHEN CHBOSKY 


An iconic piece of YA literature, The Perks of Being A Wallflower is no stranger to being banned. It was the first banned book I read after discovering it was banned (not why I read it) and was by far one of the hardest works of fiction I've read. Something about it struck me down quite fast and it one of the most thought provoking books I've picked up. Ever. I cried so much by the end of it, I was pretty certain I'd never get over that much of a hangover. 

My good friend was always going on about how wonderful Perks is and she was right. It is one of those books you don't know you need to read until you, well, do. Super moving. Super painful. 



 5. THE CATCHER IN THE RYE BY J.D. SALINGER 



I didn't inherit much from my grandfather on mom's side of the family. He died when I was just a year old. What I did (unknowingly) inherit from him was my taste in literature--a few of his favourites will appear later on my list, but the first one I'd like to acknowledge is The Catcher in the Rye. I have a love/hate relationship with this book.

Regardless of what I'm feeling towards it at specific times in my life, it's certainly one of my most beloved banned books and a total classic. 



 6. THE GIVER BY LOIS LOWRY 

There was a time when I didn't like this masterpiece, can you believe that? Sometimes, you just can't trust your younger self to have any taste. Actually, I'm pretty sure I didn't like it because the "scary old man" on the cover but, eh. I was smol then. I used to cry when the theme for The X Files would play because I thought it was too creepy. You get my point. The Giver is basically a legend and deserves all the praise, none of the banning. 

Lois Lowry captivated us with The Giver and went on to expand this dystopian into a full blown series. The Giver will always have a special place in my heart. 


7. EVERY JOHN GREEN BOOK EVER 

Honestly, J.G. you've really outdone yourself with the banned list. I mean? Is this a competition for you? From The Fault in Our Stars all the way to Looking For Alaska (yes, I just countdown back-wards) you're just consistently banned. Banned to the bone. I can't wait for Turtles All the Way Down to get its own place! 

Say what you will about John Green and his work: I love to read whatever he writes. Paper Towns and Looking For Alaska are two of my all-time favourite YA contemporary reads and The Fault in Our Stars never fails to turn me into a blubbering mess. 

I'm not crying. You're crying.
 8. INTERNET GIRLS SERIES BY LAUREN MYRCLE 
Back in the day, my (then) BFF and I used to constantly read and reread the Internet Girls series by Myrcle. This coming of age story about friendship and love, told entirely in instant messages, was the perfect series for two girls who practically lived on Myspace, AIM and Livejournal. Like with Gossip Girl, this was *the* cool book to have at school and you probably couldn't spot me without one of these stuffed away in my Abercrombie & Fitch tote bag. 

There was even a time we tried to recreate the magic of this series by making our own IM-based story. It didn't work out--but the memories are oh-so-warm and the girls of Lauren Myrcle's delightful book will always have a place in my heart. There was something so charming about this little book series and I love it even now as an adult. 
9. THE HANDMAID'S TALE BY MARGARET ATWOOD 
One of the most thought-provoking and chilling books I have ever had the pleasure to read, The Handmaid's Tale has stood the test of time in the decades since its publication and is surely one of the most beloved pieces of modern fiction. Somehow, not only has it stood the test of time it's just as prominent in discussions as it was in the 1980s. And not just because of Hulu's critic darling of an adaptation this year.

What I love most about Margaret Atwood's masterpiece is that its ominous tone is not subtle and can be thrust in any timeline, you know, ever. Making it consistently relevant and terrifying. Definitely one of my favourite standalone novels ever--you just can't shake this one from your system once it's there. 


10. CONFESSIONS OF GEORGIA NICOLSON BY LOUISE RENNISON

I'm never going to not cackle like a weirdo when I think back on Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by the late but brilliant Louise Rennison. Never has a YA book series made me laugh quite like this one did and I will never forget the first time I brought these books home my mom was like, "Oh, no you don't.

But then something convinced her. Not really sure what it was, but I'm grateful nonetheless. I actually got in trouble for reading Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging during study hall one year (or was it detention? I can't recall) and my teacher never gave that copy back. It was quite cruel. I got the last laugh, though, when my friend pulled a prank on him.

Now isn't the place to talk about that, though. Sh. 
11. CRANK (AND ALL HER BOOKS, BASICALLY) BY ELLEN HOPKINS

This was my first experience with a novel that was told in a different kind of prose. I knew I needed to read more by Ellen Hopkins by the end of Crank and although my personal favourite of hers is actually Burned, there are so many things I loved about this book and will forever be thankful for it. 

Because of Hopkins prose, I began writing my own experiences down on paper. Although they were never quite like any of the topics explored in her work, it did help me get out a lot of angst and polish up my poetry. I remember closing Crank and just sitting there for a few hours thinking, thinking, thinking. I was still quite young then, so some books struck a cord I hadn't yet felt and this was definitely one of those. 

Crank, and Ellen Hopkins' extensive catalogue, are some of the most important YA reads I've ever picked up and I can't thank her enough. 


12. TWO BOYS KISSING BY DAVID LEVITHAN 

David Levithan has always been one of my favourite YA writers and is one of those authors I have in my "instant-buy" category. Two Boys Kissing is one of my personal favourites and definitely one of those books that you need, need, need to read. Looking at the published date, I can't help but to feel like time has passed by too quickly--it feels like it was just released last week!

There's so much life and love in Two Boys Kissing that it's impossible not to walk away feeling warm and fuzzy. I just love Levithan's prose and the way he tells this story; twisting it with the tales of so much more than the premise tells you. Basically, this book will make you understand why David Levithan is beloved in the YA community and hands down the king of it.

13. THE TRIANGLE BY MAUREEN JOHNSON 

Recently republished as On the Count of Three, The Bermudez Triangle follows three best friends in a coming of age story that really held my attention as a teenager trying to figure out her own sexuality. At the time, the novel meant a great deal to me as I navigated the waters of "oh, shit, you're bisexual" and discovered more about myself. I see more of its flaws now as an adult but that doesn't make it any less of an important novel to me.

It set some serious groundwork for me and was just a great read to have as a teenager. I remember how much it felt to read it for that first time. I'll never forget that.
14. THE HOUSE OF NIGHT SERIES BY P.C. AND KRISTIN CAST
The House of Night series was one of *those* books that you just couldn't help but to grow addicted to. With the surge of vampire-related YA in the mid to late 00s, Marked set a standard for a different kind of vampire story. I loved the unique mythology of it when compared to its counterparts and just found myself connected to so many of the characters.

Fun fact: when one of the books (I want to say Hunted) came out, we had a snow day. The roads were hell-ish earlier during the day. Once they started to clear up and look less intimidating, I had my mom drive me to buy the book but we almost spun off the road! It was nuts and proof of why I hate winter roads.

I did get the book, though. Safely.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: To Kill A Mockingbird, The Outsiders, That Was Then This is Now, Go Ask Alice, The Witches, Speak, When it Happens, The Face on the Milk Carton and about thirty more books that I'm too tired to list. 


 

 You know, I was going to do more than just banned YA books in this list but I really kind of failed that one, didn't I? Well, I did try. Turns out it's really, really, REALLY, difficult narrowing down your personal favourites. 

What are some of your favourite banned books of all-time?

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