5 Classics to Read for Banned Books Week

Classics are like time machines, the very words forming mental portraits of a past in which we cannot live, but we can certainly see in our mind's eye as we read, pasts that existed whether we choose to acknowledge them or not.

Classics help us to gauge in the present how far the collective needle has moved from the time in which that book was written.

Classics help us to understand the perspective of the past which, in turn, can help to form a healthier perspective of our present. 

Restricting access to those perspectives by banning (and, in some cases, burning) the books that contain ideas that differ from current thinking doesn't erase the impact they've had on where we are today as a global community.

With Banned Books Week beginning in a couple of days, I compiled a list of 5 Classics to Read for Banned Books Week that you *should be able to find at your local library.


1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Bradbury's writing glimpses far beyond his reality. This Bradbury dystopian novel is a must-read for anyone that values independent thought, which is why it was the featured novel inside the Banned Book Box.

2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Harper Lee's classic is a snapshot of yesteryear (both the good and the bad), a mirror into which we should all look to contemplate where we've been as a society and how far we've moved from that dishonorable place in our collective pasts.

3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Perhaps one of my all-time favorites, Steinbeck's fictionalized account of the Joad family's migration from the dust bowl of rural Oklahoma during the Great Depression to the promising Californian fields is a book of hope and perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds. 

4. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Margaret Mitchell's epic drama set in the Deep South leading up to, during, and following America's Civil War is powerful and thoughtful, especially considering the complex relationships that existed between plantation owners and some slaves (similarly seen in that great book that is said to have sparked the Civil War, Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.)

5. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Capote's nonfiction classic is considered the first true crime novel and was first published as a series in The New Yorker Magazine in 1965 and gives a chillingly insightful look into the minds of murderers.

Your Turn

Which of the banned (or challenged) classics would make your list of must-read books? Share your titles (and reasons) in the comments.

1 comment

  • Let me begin by stating that I believe book banning/burning is absolutely indefensible and a total infringement of the right to think one’s own thoughts. I have read all the books listed above except F451 and I began it last night, and most are much loved but all are very much appreciated. The whole concept of forbidding and destroying literature smacks of mind/thought control and Nazi Germany. A few novels actually burned by Nazis include Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms and Jack Landon’s The Call of the Wild! In this century, 2001, works by Tolkien including LOTR were burned by Christ Community Church in New Mexico because they were deemed satanic!!
    So, to get off my soapbox, I would say that a couple of classics not listed in the blog that have been banned that I would add to the list are The Lord of the Flies by Golding and Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck. Both were very deep and sometimes difficult to read because the truths presented were very naked, and absolutely disturbing emotionally at times; but these reasons are why they SHOULD be read. As humans we need to shine a light at those places in our own selves, either to develop empathy and understanding or to mount a guard against moral deterioration.

    Lynda A.

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