Banned Books Week – fun and sad at the same time

Here is a link to the New York Public Library Quiz on how well you know your banned books. I was shocked that I only got 33% correct, but some wrong answers were because I didn’t release you could pick more than one answer and sometimes pick all. One was a bit of a trick question because they were all banned, but the question was about the most banned or something similar.

New York Library Banned Books Quiz

Goodreads banned nonfiction — I find it interesting that so many people get their knickers in a twist over sexual content in books. It is like having a car and never reading the manual. We all should know how are bodies work on every and any level.

Especially Heinous: Book Banning by Governments — Some of these are laughable due to the obsession about sex by Anthony Comstock who had the power and used it to ban books he deemed obscene; I’m guessing besides birth control information, anything that had any woman enjoying sex was definitely hit, but he might have been even-handed and banned things that dealt with men having sex too. Like banning books would (a) stop people from having sex, (b) be able to be suppressed forever, (c) that his personal opinions should rule what other people may read and think. Some of the text below is drawn from the Wikipedia article linked above.

book jacket people in snow with sleighFascinating list and reasons why. Mild surprises, like Dr. Zhivago (poor portrayal of Soviet Union after the Revolution). The author received the Noble Prize but was forced to reject it.

The Diary of Anne Frank banned in Lebanon for a positive description of Jews! As I recall, it was also edited for American audiences to delete any descriptions of sexuality included coping with menstrual periods under such horrible conditions living in a secret room with other Jews to avoid being taken away and killed by the Nazis. Alas, they were betrayed and all killed.

book jacket featuring still from the film of Burt LancesterThe brilliant and scathing Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis [a top ten must read author in my opinion], not a surprise since it called out the hypocrisy of evangelicals and is especially worth re-reading under today’s religiosity fervor and the theft of billions from poor people by mega-churches, “seed” churches, and their ilk. If your pastor lives in a multi-million dollar mansion and has his own jet, he is a charlatan. This was made into an excellent movie starring Burt Lancaster.


Sinclair Lewis also wrote a book that has been cited quite a bit more recently with book jacketthe possibility of The Donald with his fascist authoritarian ways and the mass of ignorant sheeple who cheer him on. It Can’t Happen Here. He won the Noble prize in 1930.



The Goodreads list of similar books contain a number of books I will have to read too. The books below have not necessarily been banned. Just wanted to make a note for future reading.Because who doesn’t like a depressing dystopian novel when confronted with the rise of fascism again.

Swastika Nights by Katherine Burdekin

book jacket abstract art cover


book jacket graphic bottom of a boot

The Iron Heel by Jack London
A classic American author.

book jacket drawing of lady in red dressBend Sinister by Vladidmir Nabokov
Not a fan (Lolita) but as dystopian novels go, this should be good.




book jacket obscure artKallocain by Karin Boyce (Swedish)

book jacket just textOne by David Karp

book jacket with graphic of statueMoscow 2042 by Vladimer Voinovitch

book jacket with red and white stripes and chain link fence over itChristian Nation by Frederick C. Rich (2013) represents my personal nightmare of the near future (post 2016 presidential election). Cites a Philip Roth book,


book jacket with graphic backgroundThe Book by M. Clifford

book jacket red background with swastika on white circleThey Thought They Were Free (nonfiction) by Milton Stanford Mayar

book jacket with photo of striking workersStrike (nonfiction) by Jeremy Brecher (1999)





I plan to read and check each of the above titles for recommendations that pop up for them as well. Oh how amusing there are list of books by topics like left wing science fiction and fantasy and This is the end and Best Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic fiction.

Back to banned books:

book jacket painting of migrant farmersThe Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. This is a must read book (and the movie was great too). It was banned in California for an unflattering portrayal of residents. The book won the Pulitzer Prize.

Made into a superb film starring Henry Fonda.


book jacket abstract graphic man and meat hook and cowThe Jungle by Upton Sinclair, a personal hero of mine. I thought it had been banned or something in the US but the Wiki article just cites East Germany for being “incompatibility with Communism” which I find a little difficult to see the connection between foul meat production facilities and Communism but irrational minds are hard to rationalize.It is a MUST READ book.


book jacket with Scholars Select emblemI did not realize that William Pynchon wrote in 1650 (published in London) a book denouncing Puritanism (and it well deserved it). The Meritorious Price of Our Redemption (1650). This book has the honor of being the first book banned in Boston and first book burned in the New World. Ya gotta love a book like that!



contemporary book jacket for 1984 featuring a blue iris and black pupil
George Orwell

One of my favorite ever books (depressing as hell, but terrifyingly possible, especially today) is Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984 for short) by George Orwell (iconic author). A MUST READ book. This book is referenced constantly today and since its publication in 1949. Banned in the Soviet Union because it, like another favorite Orwell novel, Animal Farm, was a pointed satire of Communism under Stalin.Best line ever in Animal Farm: Some pigs are more equal that others (Ah, I see in Goodreads that my recollection of the phrase is not quite right). Like the 1% here in USA. 1984 was nearly banned here as well. Our entire political discourse has been shaped by the ideas of Orwell: panopticon by the surveillance state, book jacket Newspeak, Double think, propaganda, and brain washing seems all to real of a possibility in 2016.




Ah here is a oldie that looks like a good read, On the Origins and Perpetual Use of the Legislative Powers of the Apostolic Kings of Hungary in Matters Ecclesiastical (1764) by Adam F. Kollár which was, of course, banned in the Papal states since it argued against a political role for the Catholic Church. However, it might take some time to find a copy given the age, the banning, and the probable censorship.

book jacket with painted portrait of authorRights of Man (1791) by Thomas Paine. Described in Wikipedia:
Banned in the UK and author charged with treason for supporting the French Revolution.[23] Banned in Tsarist Russia after the Decembrist revolt.[112]

Yes, the Wikipedia article is a really good place to start a reading list. Some of the usual suspects are included, anything by Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer), obscene and vulgar. Ulysses (1922) by James Joyce; for  sexual content. Though considered a modern master, I could not read it; pages of run-on sentences, and rambling bored me to tears before I ever got to any sexy parts. USA ban overturned by the Supreme Court in 1933.

book jacket black man with beard and cabinUncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Wikipedia says the following about why it was banned:

Banned in the Confederate States during the Civil War because of its anti-slavery content. In 1852, Uncle Tom’s Cabin was banned in Russia under the reign of Nicholas Ibecause of the idea of equality it presented, and for its “undermining religious ideals.”[12]

book jacket with plane and ship illustrationYear 501: The Conquest Continues (1993) by Noam Chomsky was banned in South Korea in 2008, one of 23 others to be banned as well.




Here is a Goodreads link for a search on “banned books” that features books listing banned books!

Actual banned books are on the list as well.

And lastly two of my favorite books.

Josecatch-22ph Heller‘s famous Catch-22 was banned, no surprise there, with its scathing indictment of war. I recently had the pleasure of seeing the movie again. I think they must have put it on TV as a celebration of banned books week.




Prettyslaugherhouse-five sure Kurt Vonnegut appears on banned book list somewhere. Probably for Slaughterhouse Five, but there are a lot of possibilities. S5 includes a brutal description of his WWII experience on the ground in Dresden during the infamous fire-bombing that destroyed the city to rubble.





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