Start Your School Year Right with These 5 Titles
September 13, 2017
Get Ready for Banned Books Week 2017
September 22, 2017

Our Favorite Banned Books

In celebration of Banned Books Week (Sept. 24-30), we put together a list of some of our employees’ favorite books that have been banned at some point. You may be surprised which influential books made the cut!

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

Bill Schjelderup - President

I really don’t believe in banned books, if they are terrible, then use them to illustrate bad thinking and bad ideas. I’m surprised that Epic of Gilgamesh isn’t banned….. and if more people had taken Mein Kampf seriously, perhaps Hitler wouldn’t have risen to power.  However, you don’t need to ban most books.  If they are not read they quickly go out of print. In some cases this is a loss, in others a blessing.

Still, I’m going with Heinlein.  I’m sure many of his later books would have been banned if they were done years before. 

Banned for:  Adult themes

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee / Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Mary McBroon - Technical Writer

To Kill a Mockingbird - This was required reading my 9th grade year. It was a very cathartic read for me. Scout & Atticus are what did it for me. The coming of age journey that Scout goes on is relatable even though the story takes place in another era. She is naive but curious and very smart for her age. Atticus was a remarkable character, he treated his children like adults, as equals, and he instilled in them a firm understanding of what is right and what is wrong as well as standing up for yourself in the face of adversity. He also practiced what he preached by defending Tom Robinson despite it ruining his own name.

Banned for:  Being "degrading, profane, and racist work that promotes white supremacy."

Where the Wild Things Are - I like this story because it's a childhood staple and from a child's perspective it’s entirely relatable (who didn’t want to be the ruler of wild animals as a kid?) The art also draws you in with it’s gothic yet cute design.

Banned for:  The dark and disturbing nature of the story.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Jake Vanderlinden - Certified Training Coach/Implementation Specialist

The book was a gift from my Nana on my 8th birthday, and by reading it at such a young age it really helped instill in me a love of adventure and independence. It helped me to learn to test myself and push my limits everyday. In looking back all of those lessons have helped turn me into the man I am today, not afraid to take on any challenge and knowing that I have the abilities to handle anything the world throws at me.

Banned for:  Frequent use of the "n-word," being oppressive, and "perpetuating racism."

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Myra Schjelderup - UX Designer & Marketing Liaison

I guess I’ve read a lot of banned books! My favorite read among them is certainly Harry Potter, but I’d have to say the most influential for me was probably Uncle Tom's Cabin. I remember it affecting me strongly, although it’s hard to say exactly how. Something along the lines of realizing ‘This is the way people can be. I don’t want to treat people like that.’ I think it helped me to remain open-minded, and cautious about making judgements, especially in the face of ‘that’s what everybody else does so it must be ok’ mentality.

Seeing it used as a lesson in the King & I also drove the point home.

Banned for:  Contextually, historically, and culturally accurate depiction of the treatment of African-American slaves in the United States.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis / 1984 by George Orwell

Vadim Komarov - Marketing Specialist

Both books were written on the foundation of social commentary through exaggeration, which became less fictional and more prophetic as time went on. And both books have a very effective twist that demonstrates the flimsy nature of our perception of reality.

Banned for:  Social and political challenges, sexual content, sadistic themes, and violence.

Goosebumps Series by R.L. Stine

Andrew Crane - Software Developer

I remember as a fourth grader buying three goosebumps books (all that I could afford with my lawn mowing money) at the school book fair.  The next morning I somehow convinced my mom I was too sick to go to school and she agreed to let me stay home so long as the tv stayed off, which was fine with me because I had other plans.  My goal was to finish all three of my new books that day, but I only made it through one and a half.  When I tried to stay home again the next day my mom said I wouldn’t be allowed to read goosebumps, which made me suddenly feel better and I went to school.

The Goosebumps series was the first series I fell in love with, and the first time I found a genuine love for reading.  I still have almost 30 Goosebumps books and have every intent to share them with my own children… whether they are on a “banned list” or not!

Banned for:  Perpetuating immunization through fear.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Mia Schjelderup- Lead Developer

There are some good options on those lists, but I am going to go with Fahrenheit 451. It was an interesting story, but it also provides a great example of the horrors of censorship and controlled thinking. Plus it is kind of ironic that it is a banned book.

Banned for:  Profanity, being against religious beliefs.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Betsy Gordon - Software Developer and Manager

It had an impact on my life simply because it is a great novel and it expanded my understanding of the hardships that people had during the depression and still have today. 

Banned for: Profanity, sexual references, and "spreading propaganda."

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Mia Schjelderup- Lead Developer

There are some good options on those lists, but I am going to go with Fahrenheit 451. It was an interesting story, but it also provides a great example of the horrors of censorship and controlled thinking. Plus it is kind of ironic that it is a banned book.

Banned for:  Profanity, being against religious beliefs.

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Olivia Boulton - Director of Marketing

This quote directly from the novel explains it all: “There isn’t any particular relationship between the messages, except that the author has chosen them carefully, so that, when seen all at once, they produce an image of life that is beautiful and surprising and deep. There is no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no causes, no effects. What we love in our books are the depths of many marvelous moments seen all at one time.”

Banned for:  Profanity, "shocking material."

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Diana Griffith - Regional Sales Manager

The Harry Potter books (and movies) were a big part of my teen years and my early 20’s. Whether I am reading the books, or even watching the movies, the series makes me feel like a little kid again. The series reminds me of my times going back to school, and reconnecting with old friends, and getting to know new people. But mostly, the series still brings me joy; the kind of joy one might feel around Thanksgiving and Christmas. It just makes me happy.

Banned for:  Glorifying witchcraft, being against religious beliefs, perpetuating bad behavior, and scary material.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Chaylee Dixon - Graphic Designer

I’ve read The Giver, and the whole series, many times and I love it more each time I reread.  It tackles so many issues, including censorship (ironically).  Jonas learns about everything that has been taken away from everyone in his community, for the purpose of creating a “perfect” world with no discrimination or pain.  What was meant to be a good thing, turns out to be extremely dangerous, as Jonas quickly learns.  This book shows the importance of freedom of choice, freedom of speech, and knowledge of the past, even if it is regrettable.  There is always good that comes from the bad, as long as we learn from our mistakes. The impact it made on me since the first time I read it has influenced my way of thinking even into adulthood.

Banned for:  Being unsuited for a young age group, violence, sexually explicit, against religious beliefs, depiction of suicide.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Jenessa Everett -  Inside Sales Account Manager

Fahrenheit 451 showed me a prospective of life that I otherwise would probably be oblivious to. Bradbury always had the best, most interesting way of relating a situation. He helped foster deeper emotions to beautify life.

Banned for:  Profanity, being against religious beliefs.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee / The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Marie Hofmann - Human Resources

It’s been a long time since I’ve read them, but To Kill A Mockingbird and The Grapes of Wrath are both favorites of mine.  After reading them, it made me more aware of the social injustice and prejudices that are out there against all kinds of people.  Both of the movies that were made based on these books are excellent too!

Banned for:  Being degrading, profane, and racist work that "promotes white supremacy," sexual references, and "spreading propaganda."

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