Although we love celebrating all the progress we’ve made to create a fair and accepting society, we’ll be the first ones to admit that we still have a long way to go. With injustices of all sorts still rampant — workplace sexism, prejudice against mixed-weight couples and blatant racism and homophobia are just a few examples — there’s a lot of work to do until we can achieve true understanding and equality.
Unfortunately, all this is evident in the American Library Association’s recent ranking of the 10 most challenged books in 2015 (via documented requests made to remove the books from schools and libraries). These books cover real life topics such as transgender rights and religious freedom that we should be discussing, not banning.
Here are the 10 most controversial books in America and the listed “reasons” citizens have filed written complaints to get them taken off shelves.
1. Looking for Alaska by John Green ($6): This coming-of-age novel about a young boy who struggles through suffering, loss and grief does not shy away from tough issues. From the same author who gave us The Fault in Our Stars, LFA is beloved by many for its brave portrayal of human emotions.
Reasons for Complaints: Offensive language, sexually explicit and unsuited to age group.
2. Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James ($10): Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past four years, you probably know what makes this novel a hot topic. Featuring erotic and explicit language, it has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide and is now a major motion picture.
Reasons for Complaints: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group and other (including “poorly written” and “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).
3. I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings ($12): Reality TV star and openly transgender teen Jazz Jennings shares her experience of growing up transgender in this widely popular children’s book.
Reasons for Complaints: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint and unsuited to age group.
4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin ($9): A fascinating look at six transgender or gender-neutral young adults as they manage the time before and after their personal acknowledgment of their gender preference.
Reasons for Complaints: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group and other (including “wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).
5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon ($9): Christopher Boone, the autistic 15-year-old narrator of this captivating novel, has inspired many people over the past decade with this detailed account of the everyday nuances of living with autism.
Reasons for Complaints: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group and other (including “profanity and atheism”).
6. The Holy Bible ($11): Yep, that’s right. According to the American Library Association, there have been a substantial amount of written complaints to ban the Christian Bible from American Libraries.
Reasons for Complaints: Religious viewpoint.
7. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel ($9): This book never claimed to be PG. It is a darkly funny memoir featuring a third-generation funeral home director who’s romantically involved with one of his male students, and it includes plenty of hot and heavy sex scenes.
Reasons for Complaints: Violence and other (including “graphic images”).
8. Habibi by Craig Thompson ($25): Set in the Middle East, this graphic novel details how protagonists Dodola and Zam escape the Arab slave trade.
Reasons for Complaints: Nudity, sexually explicit and unsuited to age group.
9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter ($17): Based on a true story, this picture book unveils how Nasreen’s grandmother risks everything to enroll her in a secret school for girls after her parents disappeared in Afghanistan.
Reasons for Complaints: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group and violence.
10. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan ($6): The co-author of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, David Leviathan’s real-life retelling of 17-year-olds Harry and Craig’s controversial involvement in a 32-hour kissing marathon is widely acclaimed among the LGBT+ community.
Reasons for Complaints: Homosexuality and other (including “condones public displays of affection”).
Have you read any of the most controversial books in America? Tweet us by mentioning @BritandCo!
(Featured photo via Getty)