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Challenging Reads (In More Ways Than One)

Not all books are received with open arms. The following selections have been challenged by courts, parents, publishers, and more for their controversial nature.

Atwood, Margaret
The Handmaid's Tale
In this chilling futuristic tale that is often challenged for its sexual content and anti-religious themes, the handmaid Offred reflects on the past and present of a nightmarish society where the female population is under grave restraint.
Burroughs, William S.
Naked Lunch
Written in a hotel room in Morocco between 1954 and 1957, Naked Lunch offers hazy insight into the mind of a drug addict. Banned in 1962 by Boston courts over obscenity charges, the decision was reversed by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Courts in 1966.
Cleland, John
Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure
A trial subject as late as 1963, Cleland's 1748 work is considered to be the first modern erotic novel written in English. A confessional, detailed story of a woman's carnal escapades in prostitution and her rise to propriety.
Ellis, Bret Easton
American Psycho
Self-proclaimed serial killer Patrick Bateman is young, handsome, and educated, and prowls among trendy 1980s Manhattanites. Scheduled to be published in March 1991, Simon & Schuster abandoned the project because of the novel's brutal content.
Guest, Judith
Ordinary people
Ordinary People narrates a year in the life of a wealthy suburban family coping with the trauma of two distressing events. The American Library Association listed Ordinary People 59th on their 100 most challenged books of the 1990s.
Haddon, Mark
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
A first-person narrated murder mystery as told by a 15-year-old autistic boy who investigates the death of his neighbor's poodle. Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was listed among the American Library Association's most controversial books of 2000 - 2007.

Updated: August 11, 2009