15 Banned Books That Spark Important Conversations (2023)

Books are a source of knowledge, entertainment, and inspiration for all readers. However, people debate which books are acceptable for the respective audiences. Every year, certain books are banned in schools and libraries. Here are 15 such books that were banned in the USA in 2023.

The Bluest Eye; Toni Morrison

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The Bluest Eye is a novel that explores the effects of racism and sexism on a young black girl named Pecola. She wishes to have blue eyes and white skin, which she regards as the standard of beauty and happiness. It was banned in Florida, Texas, and Utah. The book garnered criticism for its sexual content and mature, inappropriate themes.

A Court of Mist and Fury; Sarah J. Maas

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It is a fantasy novel that follows the journey of a human girl who becomes a powerful fairy. She navigates the politics and dangers of the fantastical realm. The book was banned in many schools and libraries in Florida, Georgia, and Utah. In a letter on September 26, 2023, the reviewers deemed it too sexually explicit for young adults.

Gender Queer: A Memoir; Maia Kobabe

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Maia Kobabe is a nonbinary and asexual author, who uses e/em/eir pronouns. Eir book Gender Queer: A Memoir is a graphic novel that recounts eir personal and artistic journey. It explores themes of gender identity and sexuality. The book was banned in Florida, Mississippi, and Virginia for its LGBTQ+ themes that conflicted with the community’s values.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower; Stephen Chbosky

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a coming-of-age novel that depicts the life of Charlie. It’s been made into a film as well. It shows the struggles and joys of adolescence, through Charlie’s letters. Following a parent’s complaint, Conroe ISD removed the book due to its inappropriate language, and mentions of rape and drug abuse. It is also banned in Texas, Colorado, and Pennsylvania.

The Hate U Give; Angie Thomas

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A young adult novel, The Hate U Give follows the life of Starr Carter. She is a 16-year-old black girl who witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood friend Khalil by a white police officer. It explored themes of racism and police brutality. The book was banned in Florida, South Carolina, and Missouri, for sexual content and anti-police sentiment.

The Catcher in the Rye; J.D. Salinger

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The Catcher in the Rye is a classic novel that tells the story of 17-year-old Holden Caulfield. He runs away from his boarding school and wanders around New York City. Later, he expresses his cynical and disillusioned views on society and adulthood. Alabama, Tennessee, and Idaho banned the book for its sexual references and vulgarity.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone; J.K. Rowling

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A fan favorite for as long as we can remember, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was written by J.K. Rowling. It kickstarts the story of Harry, a young wizard who discovers his magical heritage and attends Hogwarts. Florida, Georgia, and Utah banned the book for promoting witchcraft and Satanism.

To Kill a Mockingbird; Harper Lee

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To Kill a Mockingbird is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that was later made into a film. It depicts racial injustice and social inequality in the 1930s. It’s a story of a lawyer who defends a black man accused of raping a white woman. Districts in Texas, Mississippi, and Virginia banned it for its use of racist language and mature themes.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian; Sherman Alexie

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Junior, a Native American boy of 14, decides to attend an all-white school. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is about the challenges he faces in his journey. It’s a semi-autobiographical novel by Sherman Alexie. Even though it received a 4.3 rating on Barnes & Noble, multiple states in the USA banned the book. They deemed the book’s sexual content and mention of alcohol use as inappropriate.

The Handmaid’s Tale; Margaret Atwood

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The Handmaid’s Tale is one of the most popular novels of recent times. It portrays a dystopian, totalitarian society where women are enslaved under a patriarchal regime. The book was banned in several libraries in Florida, Ohio, and Indiana. The authorities decided that its sexual and feminist content was inappropriate.

The Persepolis; Marjane Satrapi

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The Persepolis is a graphic memoir that depicts the life of young Iranian Marjane Satrapi. She grew up during the Islamic Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War. She experiences oppression and exile while to find her identity. Schools in Texas, Illinois, and New York banned the book for the depiction of sexual content and anti-American views.

Of Mice and Men; John Steinbeck

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John Steinbeck wrote Of Mice and Men on the friendship of George and Lennie. It is a novella that portrays two migrant workers who dream of owning a farm during the Great Depression. They face discrimination in their journey. Due to the use of racial slurs and depressing themes, states like Florida and Texas banned the book.

The Kite Runner; Khaled Hosseini

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The Kite Runner is a historical fiction novel that depicts the friendship and betrayal of Amir and Hassan. Through the story, we learn about their ethnic and social backgrounds. The author, Khaled Hosseini, also gave backdrops of the Soviet invasion, the rise of the Taliban, and the 9/11 attacks. Florida, Texas, Mississippi, and Virginia banned the book for blasphemy and violence.

Fahrenheit 451; Ray Bradbury

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A science fiction novel, Fahrenheit 451 depicts a dystopian society where the state outlaws books. Firemen burn the books. However, Guy Montag, a fireman becomes disillusioned and joins a rebel group that preserves books. Due to anti-religious views and ironic content, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, and Utah banned the book.

Speak; Laurie Halse Anderson

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Speak is a young adult novel that explores the trauma and recovery of Melinda. She is a 14-year-old girl who stops speaking after being raped by a senior at a party. The book was banned in Missouri, Kentucky, and Florida for allegedly glorifying rape.

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