Flying off shelves: Read these banned books


Jennifer Liu / Drescher

By Riya Misra 10/5/22 00:02

On October 6, Fondren Library is partnering with Rice’s Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality to present a Banned Books Reading, where Rice members will read excerpts from their favorite banned or contested books. In honor of this event, The Thresher has compiled a list of banned books. The titles are accessible on campus or via the Fondren Library database if you are looking for new reading during the breaks.

All boys are not blue

All Boys Aren’t Blue, a self-coined “memoir manifesto” written by queer journalist and activist George M. Johnson, is a series of personal essays about Johnson’s journey of growing up queer and black. The novel chronicles formative experiences in Johnson’s life, from childhood bullies to her first love. “All Boys Aren’t Blue” has sparked controversy over its obscene and sexually explicit content, as well as its portrayals of LGBTQ+ content and gender identity.

The hate you give

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and later made into a film, Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give focuses on 16-year-old Starr Carter, who witnesses a police officer fatally shoot her childhood friend. Starr’s life is turned upside down after the shooting as she deals with the impact of police brutality on a local and national level. Although the novel was widely lauded as a social commentary on systemic racism and discrimination, it was questioned by critics and banned by school officials in Katy, Texas for using violence, profanity, and promoting alleged anti-police messages.

The bluest eye

The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison’s debut novel, tells the story of Pecola Breedlove, an African American girl growing up in a violent household in rural Ohio in the 1940s. Pecola struggles with inferiority complexes and ideals of beauty, wishes for light skin and blue eyes. The Bluest Eye was created as a black girlhood story and has been banned in several states for its discussion of issues including child abuse, incest, rape and racism.


“Lolita”, published in 1955 by Vladimir Nabokov, portrays Humbert Humbert, a French professor, in post-war America. He falls in love with Lolita, a 12-year-old girl, and begins a disturbing and twisted love affair with her. The novel acts as a diary for Humbert Humbert to describe his growing obsession and affair with the “Nymph”. Lolita is considered one of the most controversial books published in the past century, largely for its exploration of pedophilia, incest and sexual violence.


Beloved, another critically acclaimed novel by Toni Morrison, portrays a woman who witnesses hauntings in her family’s home. Sethe, the novel’s protagonist, is a former slave who, despite escaping her previous life, still struggles with the memories of her slavery. Exploring the traumas of motherhood and slavery, “Beloved” has also come under fire for profanity, violence, references to bestiality, and sexually explicit content.


Jonathan Eviston’s Lawn Boy witnesses a young Mexican-American worker named Mike Muñoz being fired from his job with a landscaping team. Mike is then sent on a journey of self-discovery to try to find himself and achieve the American Dream. “Lawn Boy” traces a young worker’s journey through America’s pervasive capitalist society and has been acclaimed for exploring themes of classism and sexual identity. However, it has been criticized and challenged for profanity and sexually explicit LGBTQ+ content.

The colour purple

Told as a series of Letters to God, Alice Walker’s epistolary novel The Color Purple follows 14-year-old Celie growing up in rural Georgia in the early 1900s. Faced with poverty and abuse from her father, Celie seeks solace in the relationships she maintains with the women in her life: her sister Nettie and lover Shug. The Color Purple has received backlash for depicting incest, rape, violence, LGBTQ+ content, profanity and substance abuse.

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