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We Read Banned Books, So You Don’t Have To – a Special Collection by Blinkist

Imagine a book causing such a ruckus that it's removed from libraries or even publicly burned! Why, you ask? Learn with us more about banned books in this free collection … you little rebel!
by Chris Allmer | Sep 29 2023

Ever flipped through the pages of a banned book under your blanket with a flashlight, feeling like a literary rebel? Okay, maybe not the flashlight bit (thanks to e-readers and book summary apps, like Blinkist), but the thrill? Totally get it.

Here’s the thing about reading banned books: they’re a bit like the wild child of literature. They’re bold, fearless, and have stories that make people sit up—sometimes in awe, sometimes in discomfort.

At Blinkist, we’ve been on a journey through literary censorship, wading through the highs and lows of these rebel writings. From the politically subversive worlds painted by George Orwell in “1984” to the raw coming-of-age emotions in J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye”, we’ve read them all, so you don’t have to. But you should… at least read their summaries and understand why those pieces of literature were challenged or even banned.

And in celebration of the intellectual freedom, Blinkist is gifting you these rebellious banned book summaries completely free.

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What Are Banned Books?

You might be wondering why banned books are such a big deal? Well, they challenge the status quo. They make readers question. They push boundaries, and oh boy, do they spark debates! And while not everyone might agree with their content, one thing’s for sure: they open our eyes to different perspectives.

Every year, the American Library Association and Amnesty International rival the cause of intellectual freedom with the Banned Books Week. This global campaign not only celebrates our constitutional right to read, but also casts a spotlight on the literary works that have faced censorship and the brave souls who’ve been persecuted for their words.

Why Do Books Get Banned?

History has seen its fair share of book bans. The very first recorded instance of a book being banned in the US dates back to 1637 in Massachusetts. Fast-forward to 1933, and the world witnessed the Nazi book burnings, a dark period where books were set ablaze because of their perceived threat to the regime’s ideology. The world of fiction hasn’t been immune either, as pictured in Phillip K. Dick’s famous novel, “The Man in the High Castle”, which paints a dystopian world where book bans are the norm.

In the modern era, the debate over reading banned books often develops in school board meetings and between concerned parents. Some reasons for this severe treatment include:

  1. Touchy Topics: A lot of books dive into deep issues like race, religion, or love. And while these can be fascinating, they might also upset some people who have strong beliefs or opinions.
  2. Religious Concerns: Some books might be seen as going against a particular religious belief or teaching. Because of this, religious groups might push for these books to be banned from shelves to avoid what they see as misleading or disrespectful content.
  3. Promotion of Unpopular Ideas: Sometimes, a book might share ideas or views that are not popular or accepted by the majority. This can be about anything from ways of living to different types of governments. If these ideas are too different from what most people believe, the book might face challenges or bans.


The Banned Books’ Collection on Blinkist


Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) by George Orwell

  • Banned for its critique of totalitarianism and perceived communist themes.


The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

  • Challenged for its portrayal of race and use of racial slurs.


The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

  • Accused of promoting rebellion, immoral scenes, and offensive language.


I Know why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

  • Condemned for its frank portrayal of sexual abuse and use of profanity.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
Maya Angelou


Lord of the Flies by William Golding

  • Challenged for its violent and bleak depiction of human nature.


Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

  • Criticized for its use of strong language and alleged racial slurs.


To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

  • Challenged due to discussions of racism and the use of racial epithets.


The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

  • Challenged for its violent content and themes of child-on-child violence.
“May the odds be ever in your favor.”
Effie Trinket


Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

  • Controversial for its explicit sexual content.


The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

  • Faced bans for its depiction of sexual violence and its religious viewpoint.


The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

  • Banned for its graphic portrayal of incest, rape, and child molestation.


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

  • Criticized for its alleged anti-police message.


All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

  • Challenged for its discussions on LGBTQ+ themes and race.
“Forget the box, forget the closet, forget the binary. They were all created to erase you. Be everything and nothing all at once. Blaze a path that is unlike anything before you.”
George Johnson


Beloved by Toni Morrison

  • Banned for its intense depictions of slavery, trauma, and supernatural elements.


Books, banned or not, are windows to diverse worlds and perspectives. In an age of information, it’s our duty to ensure the spirit of inquiry never fades. And this October, Blinkist boldly steps forward. We’re offering free access to Blinks of this rebellious book list.

Whether you’re a newbie trying to figure out what the fuss is all about or a veteran reader nodding knowingly, we’ve got something for everyone. Dive into our curated collection of these banned books, explore the controversies, and come out with a richer perspective.

Because, at the end of the day, knowledge is power. And who doesn’t want a bit of that?


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