At the beginning of June (2013) I decided to take on a new reading project, and get prepped for Banned Books Week – this year it’s September 22−28.

Every year the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of the top ten books that are most frequently challenged in libraries and schools around the country. They also have lists on Frequently Challenged Books of the 21st Century100 Most Frequently Challenged Books by Decade – and my favorite – Banned/Challenged Classics. As it turns out, attempts have been made to ban nearly half (at least 46) of the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century.

When I picked up the idea, I thought I’d read maybe a dozen books off the classics list and call it a day. But since it is mid-July and I’m cruising down the list, I’m upping the ante. Also since I started this project I’ve come across some new lists:

Since the classics get pretty heavy, i’m happy to cut the list with comics, kid’s books, & poetry. The general method to my reading list is I’m burning through the classics list, picking selectively from the annual top 10 lists, and mixing in from the “theme” lists.

So what am I reading:

There are 46 boks on the Banned/Challenged Classics list.

Of those, I’ve read at least 22  – potentially plus  a few that I’m not sure about, will need to check and confirm. I’ve also taken the opportunity to re-read 1984To Kill A Mockingbird, and parts of Ulysses. This has yielded the following list of 23 books:

Title, author (and if classic, # on Radcliffe list) Allison Targeted 2013
1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald Done
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee Done
9. 1984, by George Orwell Done
15. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller Done
20. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway Done
23. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston Done
24. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison Done
25. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison Done
27. Native Son, by Richard Wright Done
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey Done
29. Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut Done
36. Go Tell it on the Mountain, by James Baldwin Done
38. All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren Done
45. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair Done
53. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote Done
55. The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie Done
64. Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence Done
67. A Separate Peace, by John Knowles Done
73. Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs Done
74. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh Done
75. Women in Love, by D.H. Lawrence Done
80. The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer Done
84. Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller Done
97. Rabbit, Run, by John Updike Done

As of mid-July, I’m about halfway done with the classics. Here are some of the other books to be included – most of these are new but there are some re-reads in comics and all of the kids’ books are currently re-reads:

Annual top-10 lists


Kids Books


As I finish each book, I post a quick update here. I’ve broken the list into “sprints” to make it easier for myself to gauge progress.

Also, it turns out I read faster than I write, so I’m running a backlog of roughly 3-6 books for the past few weeks (meaning, I’ve read more than I’ve reported on the blog).

What do you think?

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