It’s Banned Books week, which means it’s time to mock that sub-section of society who haven’t quite realised that the best thing you can do to encourage someone to read a book is to ban it.
Some books that have been historically banned make sense, in a way. You can see why early 1900s society weren’t quite ready for sexually explicit books like Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Tropic of Cancer. But some are frankly mystifying. Here are some of the weirdest books to have been banned – and the ridiculous reasons behind them.
1. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
This book was banned in China’s Hunan Province because it depicted anthropomorphised animals as being as intelligent as humans. Okay…
2. The Bible
The Bible is banned in North Korea to this day. Historically, many countries have objected to The Bible being published in anything other than Latin. In Spain, Spanish publications of the Bible were banned until as late as the nineteenth century.
3. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
Banned for crimes against literature? No. It was banned in Lebanon because Catholic leaders deemed it offensive to Christianity.
4. Fanny Hill – John Cleland
14 books you really don’t want to get caught reading on your commute
To be fair, Fanny Hill is pretty filthy, especially for the 1700s. It holds the dubious honour of being the last book to be banned throughout the United States (although US organisations like schools and libraries are still permitted to ban books).
5. Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy – E. L. James
The entire trilogy is banned in Malaysia for containing ‘sadistic’ material – but not for containing terrible writing.
6. Green Eggs and Ham – Dr Seuss
The book was banned in China for its portrayal of Marxism. The ban was lifted only in 1991.
7. Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Soviet Union was not thrilled with this book. The book wasn’t legalised there until 1990 – and even then, only after it was edited.
8. The Quran
Amazingly, the Quran was banned in Russia as recently as 2013. The text was censored under the country’s extremism laws.
9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
This, according to the American Library Association, this is one of the most-banned books in the US. It is generally banned on grounds of containing drugs, sexually explicit themes, homosexuality and for ‘not being suitable for its age group’. Apparently accurate descriptions of teenagers are not suitable for teenagers.
10. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – Sherman Alexie
American groups ban this on grounds of ‘cultural insensitivity’ – presumably because it draws attention to the colonisation of America and the brutal oppression of Native Americans. People are clearly still a little touchy over that.
11. It’s Perfectly Normal – Robie H Harris and Michael Emberley
This illustrated children’s book about puberty, sex, sexual identity and gender issues is frequently banned by groups in America for daring to teach kids about things like homosexuality and abortion.