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Top 5 Books That Should Be Banned or Challenged (and why)

October 4, 2020
Any book with profanity in the title should be banned… just because.

The American Library Association just put out its top 100 banned and challenged books of the last decade, and I have to admit, 100 is a lot of books.

It’s tough to keep track of 100 books; you can read this (ALA Releases List of Top 100 Most Banned and Challenged Books) if you’d like to try.

I don’t really care what the ALA thinks about these books right now. Most libraries are closed. When libraries reopen, then maybe I’ll care what the ALA thinks.

Lists of banned or challenged books are useless anyway because the list by itself doesn’t provide context. The list doesn’t say whether the book was removed from a public library, school library, or simply challenged. The list doesn’t explain why the book was banned or challenged in the first place.

Years ago when I needed to keep an audience’s attention in an earlier career, I learned quickly that the best numbers to use were 3 and 5. I know Top 10 Lists are popular, but when you’re talking about ideas or concepts, anything greater than 3 is pushing it.

Explaining each of 100 books could give a reader a headache (at least it would give me a headache), so I’ve chosen five books from the list and am defending the ban/challenge for each one.

With that in mind, here are the Top 5 Books That Should Be Banned or Challenged (and why):

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

No school library should accept a book with a misspelling in the title. The public education system has enough problems without allowing books with glaring mistakes. When students see that such an obvious mistake is acceptable, they think that it’s okay not to proofread their own work too. How did this mistake make it past the editors anyway?

Go The F*** To Sleep by Adam Mansbach

Profanity in book titles is a sign of author desperation, but putting profanity in a children’s book title is despicable. Why would a library want to put out a children’s book with profanity in the title? That’s just poor judgement on librarians all over the country. Maybe the ALA should get banned for poor judgement.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

This is the gateway book for perverts. Yeah, it’s billed as literary fiction with its fancy words and so-called deep thoughts. I don’t care how smart the narrator pervert is; he’s still a pervert. Plus, the title is named after the victim, implying that the fault lies with the underage girl instead of the pervert old man. If they changed the title to The Pervert Old Man, I might be less likely to ban this book.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Holden Caulfield is a whiner, and he says hell and damn a lot. I don’t mind him saying hell and damn. Those are mild terms. It’s the whining I can’t take. If you’re going to ban a classic American novel, ban the whiner. He’s a bad role model for today’s youth. Tom Sawyer, a true fictional American hero, had it way worse than Holden Caulfield, and you never saw Tom Sawyer whine (though maybe he cried in his pillow every night when Mark Twain wasn’t looking).

1984 by George Orwell

This is a very misleading, confusing novel. I lived through 1984, and 1984 was nothing like it’s described in this book. I’m surprised that history teachers haven’t condemned this book for its historical inaccuracy. The fact that this book is taught in school curriculum shows how far the public school education has fallen. If it’s any consolation, 2001, A Space Odyssey is just as bad.

It’s not easy deciding to ban or challenge books. I don’t want to force my opinions onto other people, but we live in a period where if we don’t get involved then we’re accused of being part of the problem, so here are my opinions.

I don’t know. Maybe the people who say I should get involved would be better off leaving me alone.


What do you think? What books do you think should be banned or challenged? What are some good reasons for banning or challenging books?

  1. Interesting … No book should be banned in my opinion but I need to think about this for a while now … If I was to ban books, I’d start with Disney … You really got me confused on this one!

    • Disney is an interesting choice. I’ve heard about inappropriate images in Disney movies, but I haven’t heard anything about Disney books that would get them banned.

      I’m intrigued.

      • Walt Disney was not even close to being the wonderful human we imagine him to be. Racist, sexist and supporter of anti-Semitism. That’s why we should start with Disney

  2. I share your distaste for the sleep book. However, If it helps at all, I will say that was never intended for kids but for parents. Brick & Mortar Booksellers places it in the adult humor section, for example. That said, I think it’s disgusting even to write such a book for parents. There’s too much actual bad parenting out there to make a joke of it.

    • Even worse, I think he’s written a couple f***ing sequels. It might even be a three f***ing book collection!

    • I think you both are missing the point. My friend’s toddler doesn’t sleep (wakes up at 3am well rested and ready to play) she’s an excellent but incredibly sleep deprived mother. The book made her laugh – and her son will never see or hear it.

      • I am a parent of kids with sleep problems, I get it. But I do think there are less negative, more creative ways to find humor in the situation. I understand that you disagree with me though. There are lots of others who do as well, as that book has been a big seller over the years since it came out.

  3. “The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas” – this title simply baffles me! Are you complaining about U for you?
    I’ve read 3 of the others and I would say it depends on which libraries ban them. None of them seem appropriate for a children’s library.
    I haven’t read the F*** book so can’t comment on it.
    The others I would say are recognised literary works and suitable for adult readers in particular students of 20th Century literature, You can take a book back to the library if it offends you.
    I’m not sure if you are objecting to 1984 because you don’t think it is accurate – it’s a work of fiction, not a history textbook.

    • “The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas” – this title simply baffles me! Are you complaining about U for you?-

      Exactly! My English teachers would never have let me get away with that. A school library (and publishing companies in general) should know better.

  4. Marilyn Kriete permalink

    Your readers don’t seem to get your sense of humor. I’m with you all the way, esp. the Holden Caufield thing. Simply annoying, and overrated.

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