This John Steinbeck classic is on the “most banned” list. (Photo by The Mooncake Box)

There has long been controversy over classic literature among educators and those in charge of school systems. In some cases, as Shakespeare would put it, it is “much ado about nothing.” There is no reason to raise a ruckus about these works because they are so finely crafted and offer insight into the times in which they were originally published. However, many claims have been made and stances have been taken by school systems across the country about why students should not be reading certain books.

According to, the following is a list of the top 15 most banned books in modern American history. It might surprise you that many of these books are some of the most noteworthy works of literature ever printed – and likely ones you read in school yourself:

1. Ulysses by James Joyce

2. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

3. Candide by Voltaire

4. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

5. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

6. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

7. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

8. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

9. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet B. Stowe

10. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

11. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

12. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

13. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

14. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

15. The Crucible by Arthur Miller

One common link among each of these books is that they were all published many decades ago. Some were published in the 1800s like Candide from 1759 and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which was released in the U.S. in 1885. In some ways, a list such as this one demonstrates how educators and school systems have made an effort to leave historical masterpieces in the past and forget about them as if they are irrelevant or stylistically inappropriate for current students to enjoy. Original versions of Mark Twain’s books on Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn contain language that some might consider to be racist or offensive, but the text represents the cultural and political state of our society at the time, and it is wrong to change how people view it because it’s essentially like trying to change history.

Even though some schools, libraries, and local bookstores may not carry some of these books for whatever reason, all of them are available for purchase online. To find the best prices on them, use