20 Banned Books You Can Read For Free

— Kate, Owl Eyes Staff on

This week is Banned Books Week! It’s incredible how many books we now consider to be classics were, at one point in time, banned from the public. Let’s look at some of these texts and celebrate the fact that we can now read them for free on Owl Eyes!

1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Why was it banned? Many considered the language “trashy” and the content “suitable only for the slums” a month after its publication. Nowadays, there is controversy surrounding its frequent use of the N-word.

2. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

Why was it banned? Tom Sawyer was said to have a “questionable” moral character.

3. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Why was it banned? Some objected to the animal characters’ being able to speak, which they felt put animals and humans on the same level.

4. The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Why was it banned? Jack London’s socialist views were considered “too radical.”

5. Candide by Voltaire

Why was it banned? Voltaire’s satire contains religious blasphemy and political hostility.

6. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

Why was it banned? It contains sexual content many considered inappropriate at the time of publication.

7. A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

Why was it banned? Ibsen’s Nora Helmer challenges the Victorian ideal of a woman’s role in marriage, in the home, and in society.

8. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

Why was it banned? Wharton’s showing infidelity between a married man and another woman was considered too controversial at the time.

9. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Why was it banned? Shelley’s subject matter was “objectionable and obscene” because it shows a man playing God by creating life.

10. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

Why was it banned? Swift makes politically sensitive references to the European elite. It has also been banned for controversial topics such as displays of madness and public urination.

11. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Why was it banned? Conrad’s Marlow portrays Africa and Africans in ignorant, racist ways.

12. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

Why was it banned? Whitman’s portrayal of sexuality and poems with homoerotic overtones were considered “obscene” and “too sensual.”

13. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Why was it banned? Flaubert included sexual content considered inappropriate.

14. The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

Why was it banned? The portrayal of Shylock and the anti-Semitism present in the text are particularly sensitive.

15. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Why was it banned? Elements of the text were considered homoerotic.

16. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

Why was it banned? Joyce’s subject matter questions much of the Catholic faith.

17. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Why was it banned? In the American South, it was considered “abolitionist propaganda.”

18. Ulysses by James Joyce

Why was it banned? Joyce’s context considered “obscene.”

19. Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence

Why was it banned? Lawrence’s portrayal of sexuality was considered “obscene.”

20. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Why was it banned? Libraries claimed that Baum’s story had “no value” for children.

Which book is your favorite? Tell us in the comments below!