Banned Books Week runs from September 27 until October 3 this year. With so many great books on the list, it’s almost too easy to choose a classic work of literature to enjoy and battle censorship at the same time. Here are the top 5 books to add to your reading list this Banned Books Week.
“Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston is a classic of American literature. The book, written in dialect, follows Janie Crawford as she journeys through life. Hurston’s work is powerful and lyrical and should be on everyone’s reading list. It was adapted into a TV movie by Oprah Winfrey’s production company in 2005.
“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a great choice from the Banned Books list. The iconic novel of the Jazz Age has been adapted for the big screen numerous times, though most versions fail to capture the essence of the written word. Read it to honor Fitzgerald’s birthday as well which was September 24.
“A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams is a powerful and sexually-charged play, it’s no wonder it frequently appears on lists of banned books. Williams was not afraid to touch on sensitive subjects in his work and this play is no exception. It is definitely worth a read even if you can only picture a young Marlon Brando in the role of Stanley Kowalski yelling “Stella!”
“Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown was first published in 1970 and was a controversial book from the start. This history of the American West is told from the Native American perspective with historical eyewitness accounts, council records, and autobiographies providing an important counterpoint to previous histories. The book was adapted into a TV movie by HBO in 2007.
“Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman is a powerful work of poetry, but it still managed to make the banned books lists. Whitman’s visceral, poetic celebration of the senses and nature made some censors nervous for whatever reason. Whitman’s poetry is timeless and inherently American in its sensibility and should be read and enjoyed regularly.
The books mentioned above are all available online, at your favorite local bookstore, and at your local library. The film versions mentioned are available on DVD.