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My Favorite Banned Books

A few years ago the United States Library of Congress created an exhibit titled “Books That Shaped America”. I was fascinated to see how many books I loved reading in high school  made the list, but were also banned and objected to by many who found their words offensive and ideas threatening. My alltime favorite novel, Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls was banned by the U.S. Postal Service in 1940. Hemingway’s prose was the antifa weapon of the prewar era.Robert A. Heinlein’s 1961 science fiction novel Stranger In A strange Land was challenged by numerous schools due to sexuality and anti-authority themes.  I was a junior in high school when I read it, and at the time rumours abounded that rock star David Bowie would appear in a film inspired by the novel. Needless to say, I passed that book around discreetly among my best friends at Bishop Fenwick High School. Richard Wright’s Native Son inspired me to learn more about racism and classism. At least eight states in the USA banned it for “violent and sexually graphic” content but I think they were more afraid of the fact that Wright portrays the Communist Party of the United States in a positive light. Reality is tough to face, and reality is back in the depression the Communist Party in the United States was one of the few national organizations that wasn’t segregated and didn’t shy away from advocating for civil rights.

I grew up in a family of avid readers, and while there was from time to time discussion about my readiness for certain books there were no titles that I sought to read as a boy that my mom and older sister would keep me from reading. My father had dropped out of school when he was a 5th grader to support his family during the Great Depression. He loved Western Novels and read every book he could get his hands on. I loved history, politics, tales of human experience, and  novels that transported me into another place or time. It was surprising to learn over time that schools and municipalities sometimes tried to prevent people from reading certain books.


What do you think?

16 points

Written by PaulPallazola

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  1. Native Son was one of my favorite reads while in HS. Some of the others were also on the required reading list. Today anything that may be found offensive has to be removed because someone’s feelings might get hurt. Sad state.

    • Richard Wright fares better today than he did when the book was first published. Racism and anticommunism kept his book out of a lot of classrooms in the 1940s and 50s. Wright’s book exposed the racist nature of the legal system in the United States in that era.

  2. In my opinion, banning books is just like trying to close one’s mind. Instead, I think books that the powers that be think should be banned should be allowed to be read and for the readers to give their own opinions as to what is good or bad or otherwise about the books. Books open the imagination get us to see things differently and books which are thought to be explicitly sexual or using too many profound words or things like that then this is an everyday happening and even worse. I would rather stay in and read a novel like Lolita instead of venturing out in the world where goodness knows what can happen to me. As you see I am passionate about literature banned or not.

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