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9 Controversial Books That Everyone Should Read

Banned Books

If you are looking for an exciting new, boundary-pushing, book for your book club, or simply want to sit down and indulge in some forbidden intellectual content, then you’ve come to the right place.

“If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all—except the censor. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. For the Bill of Rights is the guardian of our security as well as our liberty.”

– John F. Kennedy

#1 A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time is one of the most frequently banned books in the United States. Although the book won the Newbery Medal in 1963 for excellence in children's literature many adults and especially conservative Christians thought the novel's themes were not appropriate for children.

Two of the most controversial facets of the book was its perceived nods toward universalism -- at one point Jesus is listed alongside Buddha, Gandhi, and others as those who fought the powers of darkness in the world -- and the inclusion of a tongue-in-cheek character called the Happy Medium, who critics took as a commendation of sorcery or the occult.

The novel, released earlier this year as a feature film by Ava Du Vernay and starring Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon, is not as controversial today as it was in the decades immediately after its release, likely due to the waning influence of the sort of conservative Christianity that took offense to it.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Christopher Smith

Company: englewoodreview.org | slowchurch.com

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#2 The Kon-Tiki Expedition by Thor Heyerdahl

Thor Heyerdahl was an anthropologist best known for The Kon-Tiki Expedition, in which he explained how he traveled on a balsa raft from Peru to the Pacific Islands to prove that ancient civilizations were great seafarers and had many contacts among themselves before Europeans landed in the Americas.

However, his last book, Let the Conquered Speak, was never published in English - only a couple of Spanish copies exist. It bundles all of Thor Heyerdahl's controversial theories together. Heyerdahl speaks of fair-skinned, bearded men who crossed the Atlantic and brought with them knowledge and science to the Americas long before Christopher Columbus' arrival (Columbus is already a hugely controversial figure nowadays - think Columbus Day).

This idea would immediately be dismissed and placed under a racist light instead of a scientific one. It wouldn't stand much of a chance considering current-day issues related to African- and Native American affirmation. This book would probably do more harm than good if it were published today.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Company: ditto-translation.com

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#3 Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov

To me, this book acts as a cautionary tale: be careful what you wish for - you just might get it. The protagonist’s accounts with his ‘Lolita’ are written in a way which can be so subtle, yet so very disturbing.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Caleb Backe

Company: mapleholistics.com

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#4 The Catcher in the Rye

The Rye’s story is seemingly so simple and prosaic, but the young protagonist’s quiet desperation manages to leap out of seemingly every line, every chapter, and every duck that leaves Central Park for the winter.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Caleb Backe

Company: mapleholistics.com

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#5 Nineteen Eighty-Four

One of the scariest books it has ever been my pleasure to read. Animal Farm was also banned, but it is this one that I keep returning to. The more time passes, the closer we seem to gravitate towards that dystopian society depicted therein.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Caleb Backe

Company: mapleholistics.com

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#6 The Bible

There are various accounts and explanations for who it was that wrote the Old and New Testaments, and theories are abundant in religion and academia alike. The Bible, in different translations, was banned from certain countries throughout history, and in fact is still banned in Saudi Arabia.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Caleb Backe

Company: mapleholistics.com

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#7 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Reason: They banned a book that was about the dangers of banning books. It is also an excellent read.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Lisa Orban | Twitter

Company: Website

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#8 The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The most terrifying banned book I've ever read is The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. I first read it about 20 years ago and had nightmares for weeks afterward it affected me so much.

Reason: It is a chilling story of religious extremism and the indignities and outright sadism that can be justified when government and religion mix to become one.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Lisa Orban | Twitter

Company: Website

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#9 Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

The overall best book I have read about challenging the world and how we see and interact with it is Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein.

Reason: It is written in a way that pokes at the reader to question the society they live in and see it in a new light, and to realize that many of the norms are only normal when seen through the context of repetition and the savage backlash by society itself when someone attempts to show them a better way.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Lisa Orban | Twitter

Company: Website

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