Whether it was a scandalous, vivid depiction of sex or a culture-shattering story, people found all sorts of reasons to ban books over the years. Many of these books, however, turn out to be some of the best and most popular books ever. Even in recent years, despite of having a more progressive world, a lot of great books are still being banned. But that shouldn’t stop us from having an open mind, and learning about what these authors have to say, right? So in honor of Banned Books Week (September 22-28), check out the craziest banned books you should read.

The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, 1812)

Brothers Grimm

If you thought fairy tales were all about happy endings, then you are in for a big surprise with the Brothers Grimm’s dark and violent (and sometimes realistic) take on them. I guess this is one fairy tale book that won’t be reaching the hands of grade-schoolers, huh?

Ulysses (James Joyce, 1922)


Considered to be one of the most important works of Modernist literature. Since it’s publication, the novel has attracted controversy and criticism because of its obscenity. It was banned in countries such as Ireland, Canada, the United States, and England.

Thirteen Reasons Why (Jay Asher, 2007)

13 Reasons

This novel tackles sex, drugs, rape, suicide, and bullying among other things. But it was only after the release of the 2017 Netflix series that it was banned from several school districts, as it was said to “glamorize” suicide. It may be quite a depressing read, but it is also very enticing and real.

The Satanic Verses (Salman Rushdie, 1988)

The Satanic Verses

The scandalous name of this book already warrants some kind of preconceived notion of its plot. It focuses on two Indian Muslims living in England and gives readers a touch of magical realism. It was banned in countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Malaysia, and many more for its “blasphemous references”.

1984 (George Orwell, 1949)


One of the greatest dystopian novels ever, 1984 was banned due to its portrayal of oppressive regimes and censorship. Ironically, it triggered the likes of Stalin and China. Orwell is also responsible for another controversial banned book – Animal Farm.

Harry Potter Series (J.K. Rowling, 1997)

HP Set

When the world fell in love with J.K. Rowling’s fascinating and magical world of Harry Potter, I don’t think they expected people to ban it for using “actual curses and spells” and “conjuring evil spirits”.

To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee, 1960)

To Kill A Mockingbird

Still very relevant today, this novel tackles racism when the black lead character is falsely accused of raping a white woman. With the N-word appearing over 50 times in the novel, several schools removed it from their curriculum for its “dated approach to race”.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll, 1865)

Alice in Wonderland

The now popular Alice in Wonderland was not so popular during the early 1900s for its unusual and extravagant plot. Moreover, here are three reasons why it was banned which, today, seem very silly.

The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown, 2003)

Da Vinci Code

When a fiction novel completely revises one of the most fundamental teachings of the bible, the Church is bound to have some major opinions on it. The scandal this book brought is enough to make you want to read it.

Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov, 1955)


Lolita was banned for its disturbing and controversial plot about a middle-aged man who kidnaps and rapes a 12-year old girl. In spite of this, it is a captivating and beautifully written book.

Naked Lunch (William Burroughs, 1959)

Naked Lunch

Naked Lunch takes readers on a wild ride into the paranoid, hallucinogenic, drugged-up mind of a heroin addict. Banned for its obscenity, it stood trial for its “hardcore pornography”.

American Psycho (Brett Easton Ellis, 1991)

American Psycho

The novel on which the cult classic film was based, American Psycho is told from the point of view of its resident serial killer Patrick Bateman. Because of this, the book paints some extremely graphic and violent scenes.

Beartown (Fredrik Backman, 2016)


Banned for being “unnecessarily vulgar and graphic”, Beartown tackles the sexual assault of a teenage girl by a varsity hockey player.

The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini, 2003)

Kite Runner

One of the most challenged books in recent years, The Kite Runner was banned due to its themes of homosexuality, religious viewpoints, and sex. However, readers will realize that its message of redemption is what makes this book a great read.

The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger, 1951)

Catcher in the Rye

One of my favorite novels, The Catcher in the Rye tackles teenage angst, alienation, and the preservation of childhood innocence.

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank, 1947)

Diary of Anne Frank

I guess the diary of a young, Jewish girl during the Holocaust was too depressing for some readers, but that shouldn’t be a reason for banning an important piece of history, does it?

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