15 Controversial Books That Should Be Banned (But Aren’t)

Disclaimer: When you buy from links on our site, we may receive a commission at no additional cost to you.  Learn more

Get ready to dive into the literary deep end with our list of 15 Controversial Books That Should Be Banned (But Aren’t). Whether it’s pushing societal boundaries or challenging conventional thinking, these titles have managed to survive the censorship storm. Buckle up, bookworms, as we explore the wild side of literature!

“The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger

angry woman wearing glasses, looking up in anger
Image Credit Depositphotots kues

Holden Caulfield’s profanity-laden teenage rebellion has made this classic a perennial contender for the banned list. Critics argue that its frank portrayal of adolescent angst and questioning authority may lead young readers astray.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

to kill a mocking bird
Image Credit_ DepositPhotos mariar12

Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel tackles racism head-on in the American South. Though its powerful anti-racist message is clear, some conservative groups believe the book’s use of racial slurs and honest depiction of injustice make it unsuitable for young minds.

“The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins

hunger games on tv
Image Credit_ DepositPhotos vadimrysev

In the dystopian world of Panem, teenagers are forced to fight to the death for the entertainment of the Capitol. Some parents worry that the violence and the brutal reality of the Hunger Games might be too much for younger readers.

“1984” by George Orwell

1984
Image Credit_ DepositPhotos 1000Words

A chilling vision of a totalitarian future, Orwell’s masterpiece has faced challenges for its depiction of a world where individuality is crushed by the all-powerful state. Critics argue that the stark portrayal of government surveillance is too close for comfort.

“Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley

thumbs down for book
Image Credit_ DepositPhotos sabphoto

In Huxley’s dystopian society, people are kept in check through pleasure and conformity. Some argue that its exploration of drug use, promiscuity, and a lack of individuality could be seen as promoting a morally lax lifestyle.

“The Color Purple” by Alice Walker

woman mad at book
Image Credit_ DepositPhotos Krakenimages.com

Walker’s novel explores issues of racism, sexism, and sexual abuse in the early 20th century. Despite its critical acclaim, the book has faced challenges for its explicit content and unapologetic exploration of taboo topics.

“One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

man with crossed arms
Image Credit_ DepositPhotos EdZbarzhyvetsky

Marquez’s magical realist epic has been challenged for its depictions of violence, sex, and political instability. Critics argue that the novel’s surreal narrative blurs the lines between reality and fantasy in ways that could be disorienting for readers.

“Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury

woman mad at book
Image Credit_ DepositPhotos Krakenimages.com (2)

Bradbury’s classic imagines a future where books are banned and “firemen” burn any that are found. Ironically, the book itself has faced challenges for its portrayal of censorship, with some arguing that it undermines traditional values.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood

handsmaid tail
Image Credit_ DepositPhotos Ale_Mi

Atwood’s dystopian tale explores a theocratic regime where women are oppressed and used as reproductive vessels. Its critique of patriarchal societies has led to challenges from those who find its content provocative and potentially inflammatory.

“Lord of the Flies” by William Golding

Angry woman holding a book yelling
Image Credit Depositphotos absurdov

Golding’s exploration of human nature and societal breakdown has faced scrutiny for its depictions of violence and savagery among a group of stranded boys. Critics argue that the novel’s bleak view of human nature is too harsh for young readers.

“Go Ask Alice” by Anonymous

woman with crossed arms
Image Credit_ DepositPhotos Garetsworkshop

A supposed diary of a teenage girl’s descent into drug addiction, “Go Ask Alice” has faced challenges for its explicit content and depiction of drug use. Some argue that its sensationalism may glamorize or encourage risky behavior.

“The Diary of Anne Frank” by Anne Frank

anne frank
Image Credit_ DepositPhotos RonaldWilfred

While hailed as a poignant account of a Jewish girl’s life in hiding during the Holocaust, some have challenged Anne Frank’s diary for its open discussion of puberty and exploration of her budding sexuality.

“Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut

senior signalling no
Image Credit_ DepositPhotos Krakenimages.com

Vonnegut’s anti-war novel, filled with time travel and existential musings, has faced challenges for its explicit language, sexual content, and perceived anti-establishment sentiment.

“The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini

kite runner
Image Credit DepositPhotos wirestock_creators

Hosseini’s novel set in Afghanistan has been challenged for its depictions of violence, sexual content, and themes of betrayal. Some critics argue that these elements make it unsuitable for younger readers.

“Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling

harry potter books
Image Credit_ Depositphotos Wirestock

Despite being a global phenomenon, the wizarding world of Harry Potter has faced numerous challenges for its alleged promotion of witchcraft and the occult. Some conservative groups have called for bans, fearing its influence on impressionable minds.

Motherhood Life Balance, Bookworm Era | + posts

Victoria Cornell helps women adopt a positive mindset even when the struggles of motherhood feel overwhelming. On her sites, Motherhood Life Balance, Neon Moon and Bookworm Era she writes about ways to reduce stress with mindset, manifesting, goal planning, productivity, and more.