The following books were found in the American Librarian Section and they are no longer banned, but I wanted to show how little it takes for a book to be considered for banning in the United States and other countries. Some I agree with and other I definitely do not, but the essential question “should a book be banned, or the freedom of expression should be absolute?” will be in the spotlight. Until then, let me make a list of 5 banned books in which I think you should know about:
1. Mein Kampf, 1925
If banned books should exist, than this one ought to be first on the list. Written by (who else than )Adolf Hitler, the book presents both an autobiography of the 35 years old soon-to-be one of the world’s most hated people of all times and a presentation of his political ideas. With such chapter titles as “The Jewish peril”, there is no wonder that the book was banned in various countries.
2. Lolita, 1955
Written by Vladimir Nabokov, the book was actually a phenomenon and is considered one of the best books of the past century, as well as a revolutionary book. It was banned in France, Argentina, New Zealand and several other countries for being immoral and obscene. The book describes the obsession of a middle aged man for a 12 years old girl. The censors did such a good job (not) that Lolita became the worldwide stereotype of a sexy young girl.
3. American Heritage Dictionary, 1969
Even dictionaries may be considered inappropriate, immoral, obscene and so on and may enrich the list of banned books. How? By including “ugly words”. Apparently, according to some wise people, these words should be kept hidden, so that children reading the dictionary could not come across them. This work was banned in one place or another (such as schools and libraries) for containing slang words that should not be known to decent people and children.
4. Harry Potter Series, 1997-2007
Ranking first on the American Library Association is one of the most popular book series of the decade: the masterpiece of J.K. Rowling outraged parents all over the USA for its promoting of wrong values among children, such as lying or stealing, for violence, witchcraft and many others. Somehow, as the series went on, the violence increased in intensity. Maybe because the small readers from 1997 became young adults by now and their tastes in matters of literature changed…?
5. Captain Underpants Series, 1997-2006
Here is another children’s book series, this time by Dav Pilkey, which received unwanted kind of attention: the book was considered by many inappropriate for the young readers, because of containing sexuality, obscenity and because of its attacks to family values. Thus, it was among the most frequently banned books for several years in a row. This was probably one of my most favorite childhood reads. I even bought the book series that came with it’s own magic ring, just like in the book!