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Banned and Challenged Books

Banned Books Week is September 26 - October 2, 2021.


  • There is no room in a university for a closed mind.
  • All perspectives deserve to be critically evaluated in an open forum.
  • The best way to challenge an alternative position is to first understand it completely.
  • The more you experience the wiser you may become (if you reflect on what you experience).

Banned and Challenged Books: Background Information


This box describes the difference between "banned" and "challenged" books.

Each year the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom reports on a number of challenged and banned books in the United States. The number of challenged books is significantly higher from those actually banned from public libraries or schools.

The difference between the two is best noted in this Library of Congress official subject definition: 

challenged books are"works on books whose acquisition by an institution has been questioned on moral, religious or political grounds".

In contrast, "banned books" have been physically removed, hidden, prohibited or suppressed from the collection of a public library or school curriculum on moral, religious or political grounds. The Library of Congress official subject term is "prohibited books".

Differences in treatment and selection may be due to regional standards, tastes, and other concerns.

Actions may include shaming owners and readers, labeling offensive materials, removing materials from public bookstores and libraries, and burning or destroying materials. While most of these methods are employed by individuals or various civic groups, legal U.S.. authorities also played their role in the past. For example, U.S.. Postal suppressed the distribution of Joyce's Ulysses in 1922 and U.S. Customs suppressed on grounds of obscenity and public morality the distribution of Voltaire's Candide and Rousseau's Confessions (1929) --- both classics of the world literature.

Less severe treatment --- challenged but escaped being banned --- met the classic novel "1984 by George Orwell, which Jackson County, Florida opposed it 1981 on grounds of sexually explicit matter and promotion of a communist message.

For background on banned books see:

Advocacy Groups

Advocacy Groups

  • ALA Banned & Challenged Books Advocacy Site - The American Library Association (ALA) promotes the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one's opinions even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those viewpoints to all who wish to read them.
  • Index on Censorship - an international organisation that promotes and defends the right to freedom of expression.

SXU Library Materials


Below are a list of selected banned and challenged books which the library has in its collection:

  • Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck)
  • Ulysses (Joyce)
  • Lord of the Flies (Golding)
  • 1984 (Orwell)
  • Lolita (Nabokov)
  • Brave New World (Huxley)
  • Animal Farm (Orwell)
  • As I Lay Dying (Faulkner)
  • Invisible Man (Ellison)
  • All the King's Men (Warren)
  • Catch-22 (Heller)
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Kesey)
  • The Satanic Verses (Rushdie)
  • The House on Mango Street (Cisneros)
  • Palestine (Sacco)
  • Persepolis (Satrapi)
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Alexie)
  • George (Gino)



Below are a list of selected banned and challenged movies which the library has in its collection:

  • A Clockwork Orange (Burgess)
  • Lolita (Nabokov)
  • 1984 (Orwell)
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls (Hemingway)
  • In Cold Blood (Capote)
  • Naked Lunch (Burroughs)
  • A Place in the Sun (adaptation of An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser)
  • Tropic of Cancer (Miller)
  • Women in Love (Lawrence)
  • Sons and Lovers (Lawrence)
  • All the King's Men (Warren)
  • A Farewell to Arms (Hemingway)
  • Of Mice and Men (Steinbeck)
  • Lord of the Flies (Golding)
  • 1984 (Orwell)
  • Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck)
  • To Kill A Mockingbird (Lee)
  • The Color Purple (Walker)
  • The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
  • Lord of the Rings (Tolkien)



Guess which books the following quotes come from ... the answer is found below the quote.

“Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving, and the rest he keeps for himself.”  AUTHOR/TITLE: George Orwell, Animal Farm

“I was never more hated than when I tried to be honest. Or when, even as just now I've tried to articulate exactly what I felt to be the truth. No one was satisfied”  AUTHOR/TITLE: Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

“America is woven of many strands. I would recognise them and let it so remain. Our fate is to become one, and yet many.”
AUTHOR/TITLE: Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

“All it takes to get along in this here man's town is a little shit, grit, and mother-wit.”  AUTHOR/TITLE: Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

“We live not only in a world of thoughts, but also in a world of things. Words without experience are meaningless.”  AUTHOR/TITLE: Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

“He broke my heart. You merely broke my life.”  AUTHOR/TITLE: Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

“I need you, the reader, to imagine us, for we don't really exist if you don't.”  AUTHOR/TITLE: Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

“It is not the intensity but the duration of pain that breaks the will to resist.”  AUTHOR/TITLE:  William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch

“Rock and Roll adolescent hoodlums storm the streets of all nations. They rush into the Louvre and throw acid in the Mona Lisa’s face.”  AUTHOR/TITLE:  William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch

““All I know is this: nobody's very big in the first place, and it looks to me like everybody spends their whole life tearing everybody else down.”  AUTHOR/TITLE: Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

“This world . . . belongs to the strong, my friend! The ritual of our existence is based on the strong getting stronger by devouring the weak. We must face up to this. No more than right that it should be this way. We must learn to accept it as a law of the natural world. The rabbits accept their role in the ritual and recognize the wolf is the strong. In defense, the rabbit becomes sly and frightened and elusive and he digs holes and hides when the wolf is about. And he endures, he goes on. He knows his place. He most certainly doesn't challenge the wolf to combat. Now, would that be wise? Would it?”  AUTHOR/TITLE: Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”  AUTHOR/TITLE: Joseph Heller, Catch 22

“They're trying to kill me," Yossarian told him calmly.
No one's trying to kill you," Clevinger cried.
Then why are they shooting at me?" Yossarian asked.
They're shooting at everyone," Clevinger answered. "They're trying to kill everyone."
And what difference does that make?”
AUTHOR/TITLE: Joseph Heller, Catch 22


 “And on the subject of burning books: I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.

“So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.”
―Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007), author, from A Man Without a Country, 2005.

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