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Welcome to This Awful/Awesome Life! My name is Frances Joyce. I am the publisher and editor of this magazine. We'll be exploring different topics each month to inform, entertain and inspire you. Meet new authors, sharpen your brain and pick up a few tips on life, love, entertaining and business. Enjoy and please share!

Banned Books by Authors You Should be Reading by Fran Joyce

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I have compiled a list of ten authors you should check out during Banned Books Month. These authors’ works have been challenged or banned throughout their careers. In fact, they have the distinction of having appeared on the American Library Association’s Banned Books List multiple years for a myriad of reasons. At the end of this article I have also included a list of some of the books which have been most banned since the American Library Association started compiling yearly lists. A few of them might surprise you.

Nadine Gordimer 

Her novels discuss anti-apartheid politics and sexuality in contemporary South Africa. Two of her most famous works, Burger’s Daughter and July’s People were condemned and banned in South Africa for their controversial, anti-governmental themes. Worldwide, Gordimer’s works have received overwhelming praise. In 1991, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Gordimer was active in the anti-apartheid movement and supported HIV/AIDS causes.

Novels by Nadine Gordimer:

1953 The Lying Days

1958 A World of Strangers


1963 Occasion for Loving

1966 The Late Bourgeois World

1970 A Guest of Honour

1974 The Conservationist - joint winner of the Booker prize in 1974

1979 Burger's Daughter

1981 July's People

1987 A Sport of Nature

1990 My Son's Story

1994 None to Accompany Me

1998 The House Gun

2001 The Pickup

2005 Get a Life

2012 No Time Like the Present

Vladimir Nabokov 

Lolita was dismissed as a work glorifying pedophilia and the exploitation of an innocent girl. As soon as it was published, Lolita was banned in the UK, as well as various other countries, and customs were instructed to seize all copies brought into the country. Years later, Nabokov’s wife and translator, Vera would write about Nabokov’s motives for writing Lolita. According to Vera, her husband was attempting to show the inner workings of a monster – a man who could justify his unspeakable behavior by blaming his victim and casting himself as the true victim. Nabokov’s novel has been recognized as a masterful work of tragicomedy and irony.

Novels by Vladimir Nabokov written in English:


(1941) The Real Life of Sebastian Knight

(1947) Bend Sinister

(1955) Lolita, self-translated into Russian (1965)

(1957) Pnin

(1962) Pale Fire

(1969) Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle

(1972) Transparent Things

(1974) Look at the Harlequins!

(2009) The Original of Laura (fragmentary, written during the mid-1970s and published posthumously)

 Judy Blume 

Next to Stephen King or Toni Morrison, Judy Blume is one of the most-banned authors in the United States. Her books are often challenged because of complaints by parents and religious groups who want them banned from public libraries and school reading lists. Blume’s frank discussions of puberty and taboo subjects such as masturbation, birth control and teenage sexuality were far ahead of their time. You might not know this, but Judy Blume also wrote several books for adults.

These are the adult titles by Judy Blume you should put on your reading list:


2005 - Wifey

2009 - Summer Sisters

2011 - Smart Women

2015 - In the Unlikely Event

1996 Nonfiction - Letters to Judy: What Kids Wish They could Tell You


Kurt Vonnegut 

Throughout his career, Vonnegut pushed boundaries and mixed writing genres in order to create unforgettable characters and stories. Slaughterhouse-Five explores ideas of mortality, trauma and the violence of war. He was one of the first writers to depict gay men as victims of Nazi prejudice. It has been called blasphemous, immoral and obscene, and has been banned from multiple libraries.  The head of a school board once burned 32 copies of the book to prevent it being taught in the classroom. You should read Vonnegut because of his storytelling abilities and his darkly humorous social commentary.

Novels by Kurt Vonnegut:

1952 Player Piano


1959 The Sirens of Titan

1961 Mother Night

1963 Cat's Cradle

1965 God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

1969 Slaughterhouse-Five

1973 Breakfast of Champions

1976 Slapstick

1979 Jailbird

1982 Deadeye Dick

1985 Galápagos

1987 Bluebeard

1990 Hocus Pocus

1997 Timequake

 James Baldwin  

Baldwin is one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. His works explored issues relating to race, gender, sexuality, prejudice and inequality. They were often challenged and sometimes banned. Challengers objected to his works on the grounds they were sexually explicit bordering on pornographic for scenes of violence, rape, and degrading treatment of women.  Other challenges included Baldwin’s use of profanity.

James Baldwin with Marlon Brando and Charleton Heston

James Baldwin with Marlon Brando and Charleton Heston

Novels, Plays, Essays and Poems by James Baldwin:

1953 Go Tell It on the Mountain (semi-autobiographical novel)

1954 The Amen Corner

1955 Notes of a Native Son

1956 Giovanni's Room

1961 Nobody Knows My Name: More Notes of a Native Son

1962 Another Country

1963 A Talk to Teachers

1963 The Fire Next Time

1964 Blues for Mister Charlie

1965 Going to Meet the Man

1968 Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone

1972 No Name in the Street

1974 If Beale Street Could Talk

1976 The Devil Finds Work

1979 Just Above My Head

1983 Jimmy's Blues

1985 The Evidence of Things Not Seen

1985 The Price of the Ticket

2010 The Cross of Redemption: Uncollected Writings

2014 Jimmy's Blues and Other Poems

 Gustave Flaubert

His work was critically acclaimed and denounced amid accusations of immorality during his lifetime. Madame Bovary was steeped in controversy: his heroine, the beautiful young frustrated Emma, whose disillusionment with marriage and provincial life, lead her down a path of infidelity and debt. The novel was banned in France, and Flaubert was placed on trial for offenses against public decency. Though I’m told, Flaubert should always be read in French, there is a certain beauty in his prose that withstands translation.

Major Works by Gustave Flaubert:

1837 Rêve d'enfer


1838 Memoirs of a Madman

1857 Madame Bovary

1862 Salammbô

1869 Sentimental Education

1874 Le Candidat

1874 The Temptation of Saint Anthony

1877 Three Tales

1880 Le Château des cœurs

1881 Bouvard et Pécuchet

1911 Dictionary of Received Ideas

J.K. Rowling

According to the American Library Association, Harry Potter is the most banned book in the United States. It has been criticized by the Iranian government’s press and banned from private schools in the UAE. Primary criticism of the series comes from religious groups, who claim the books promote occultism and witchcraft. The books are critically acclaimed and Rowling has been credited with inspiring multiple generations to read together. Rowling has also written adult fiction.

 Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling:

J.K. Rowling reads from  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone  during the Easter Egg Roll at the White House. Photo by Daniel Ogren.

J.K. Rowling reads from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone during the Easter Egg Roll at the White House. Photo by Daniel Ogren.

1997 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

1998 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

1999 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

2000 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

2003 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

2005 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

2007 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows


Novels for Adults by JK Rowling:

2012 The Casual Vacancy

Cormoran Strike series

2013 The Cuckoo's Calling

2014 The Silkworm

2015 Career of Evil

2018 Lethal White

 DH Lawrence

Lawrence used changing relationships and sexuality to demonstrate the effects of modernization and industrialization on society in the early 20th century. He was often criticized for his use of highly sexualized language and depictions of sexual encounters. Challenged and banned in many countries, Lawrence’s works have been labeled pornographic and obscene, but his love scenes are among the most honest and intimate in literature.

Novels by DH Lawrence:

1911 The White Peacock

1912 The Trespasser


1913 Sons and Lovers

1925 The Rainbow

1920 Women in Love

1920 The Lost Girl

1922 Aaron's Rod

1923 Kangaroo

1924 The Boy in the Bush

1926 The Plumed Serpent

1928 Lady Chatterley's Lover

1929 The Man Who Died


Salman Rushdie

In 2008, The Times ranked him thirteenth on its list of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945.The Satanic Verses, Rushdie’s fourth novel was banned in 13 countries, including India, Sudan and Pakistan, for its supposedly blasphemous references against the prophet Muhammed.

Novels by Salman Rushdie:

1975 Grimes

Salman Rushdie with Senator Bernie Sanders

Salman Rushdie with Senator Bernie Sanders

1982 Midnight's Children

1983 Shame

1988 The Satanic Verses

1995 The Moor's Last Sigh

1999 The Ground Beneath Her Feet

2001 Fury

2005 Shalimar the Clown

2008 The Enchantress of Florence

2015 Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights

2017 The Golden House


Toni Morrison

The American Library Association ranked The Bluest Eye as the second most banned book in the United States. It has been repeatedly challenged for its sexually explicit language and content. Along with The Bluest Eye, Beloved and Song of Solomon have been challenged or removed from school libraries and reading lists. Morrison’s works deal with emotionally charged subject matters such as sexual and racial violence. Morrison’s unflinching and brutally honest exploration of race and gender relationships throughout history and in contemporary society put her work in a class by itself.

 Novels by Toni Morrison:

Toni Morrison lectures at West Point Military Academy, 28 March, 2013. Public domain.

Toni Morrison lectures at West Point Military Academy, 28 March, 2013. Public domain.

1970 The Bluest Eye

1973 Sul

1977 Song of Solomon

1981 Tar Baby

1987 Beloved

1992 Jazz

1997 Paradise

2003 Love

2008 A Mercy

2012 Home

2015 God Help the Child


Frequently Challenged or Banned Books:

The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger      

Last Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Ulysses by James Joyce

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

Animal Farm by George Orwell

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall

American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis

The Bible

The Communist Manifesto by Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Information for this article was taken from the American Library Association’s website,

Nadine Gordimer at the Göteborg Book Fair 2010. 24 September 2010. Wikipedia.Author: Boberger. Photo: Bengt Oberger. Accessed 6 September 2018. 

Vladimir Nabokov – Public Domain Photo

Judy Blume: English: 2009 photo of Judy Blume with a young fan. 16 May 2009. Source: Author: Carl Lender of

Derivative works of this file: JudyBlume2009 (cropped).jpg. Accessed 6 Sept. 2018.

Kurt Vonnegut – Public Domain Photo

James Baldwin. Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. [Author James Baldwin with actors Marlon Brando and Charlton Heston.], 08/28/1963 Public Domain.

Gustave Flaubert – Public Domain Photo

J.K. Rowling  English: J.K. Rowling reads from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone at the Easter Egg Roll at White House. 5 April 2010, 13:49:24. Source: Flickr: 100405_EasterEggRoll_683.  Author: Daniel Ogren. 6 Sept. 2018.

DH Lawrence - Public Domain Photo

Salman Rushdie – Public Domain Photo

Toni Morrison gives a lecture at West Point Military Academy, 28 March, 2013. Public domain.

Photo collage - Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, John Steinbeck and Mark Twain - photos believed to be in the public domain.



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