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  • Jeff Somers 4:00 pm on 2017/10/30 Permalink
    Tags: , bentley little, bird box, blindness, , carrion comfort, , , , dathan auerbach, dawn, , exquisite corpose, , ghost story, , hell house, , , , jack ketchum, jose saramago, josh malarian, koji suzuki, lionel shriver, lord of the flies, , , , , penal, , peter straub, poppy z. brite, ramsey campbell, , richard matheson, ring, rosemary’s baby, scott smith, , something wicked this way comes, , the face that must die, the girl next door, , the ruins, the walking, , , we need to talk about kevin,   

    25 of the Most TERRIFYING Horror Books Ever 

    Literature can be a moving, beautiful artistic experience. Skilled writers can bring us face to face with scenarios and emotions we might never encounter in real life, expanding our understanding of both the universe and our fellow man.

    It can also scare the living daylights out of us. Horror novels don’t always get the respect they deserve; just because something is scary doesn’t mean it’s not “literary” or well-crafted art, but if the core purpose of a story is perceived to be “making you soil yourself in fear” for some reason that story won’t get much respect. Of course, a story can be terrifying without necessarily being great art. If your goal is to be so terrified of a book that you put it in the freezer and book a hotel room for a few days, here are twenty-five books that might not necessarily be the best horror novels, but are certainly the scariest.

    Literally Everything Edgar Allan Poe Wrote
    Poe had a knack for infusing everything he wrote with visceral dread. His characters and narrators tend towards the mentally fragile and the insane, people who are haunted by things that might be literal or might be manifestations of their unsound thought processes. Either way, stories like The Tell-Tale Heart or The Cask of Amontillado retain their power to petrify more than a century-and-a-half after their publication because Poe tapped into the fundamental fear we all have that the world and people around us are not what they seem.

    House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski
    Put simply, House of Leaves is one of the most frightening books ever written. From a fairly standard horror premise (a house is revealed to be slightly larger on the inside than is strictly possible) Danielewski spins out a dizzying tale involving multiple unreliable narrators, typographic mysteries, and looping footnotes that manage to drag the reader into the story and then make them doubt their own perception of that story. It’s a trick no one else has managed to such dramatic effect, making this novel more of a participatory experience than any other work of literature—which, considering the dark madness at its core, isn’t necessarily a pleasant experience.

    Rosemary’s Baby, by Ira Levin
    The film adaptation has supplanted the novel in pop culture, but the novel was a huge hit for Levin—and the film actually sticks to the plot and dialog so closely you really do get a feel for the novel from watching it. The story of a young woman who becomes pregnant after a nightmare gets its terror not from the well-known twist of the baby’s parentage (hint: not her husband), but from the increasing isolation Rosemary experiences as her suspicions about everyone around her grow. So many threads tie into the terror, from the emotional and economic uncertainty of a struggling young couple to the simple fear any mother has for their child, all expertly knotted into a story that will keep you awake at night.

    The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson
    When you think about clichés in horror fiction, the haunted house is at the top of the list, an idea done so often it’s frequently an unintentional parody. Shirley Jackson, however, was no ordinary writer, and she takes the concept of the haunted house and perfects it. The Haunting of Hill House is simply the best haunted house story ever written. The scares come not just from the malevolent actions of a house that seems sentient and angry, but from the claustrophobia we experience from the novel’s unreliable narrator, Eleanor, whose descent into madness is slow and excruciating and only begins after we’ve been lulled into a false sense of security by the seeming relatability of her early persona.

    Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
    The great sage Pat Benatar once sang that hell is for children. Golding’s account of children stranded on an island without supplies or adult supervision is absolutely terrifying for one simple reason: there’s nothing supernatural going on. It’s a story about insufficiently socialized humans descending into savagery because that’s our fundamental nature. You look into the abyss at the center of this novel and the abyss looks back.

    We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver
    Another story centered on the terror of children, the horror inherent in this story comes from the fact that the human beings we create eventually become their own people—and possibly strangers to us. Not everyone has a close and loving relationship with their parents, and while the idea that your own kids might grow up to be criminals isn’t pleasant, most people assume they will at least recognize themselves in their kids. But what if you don’t? What if your child—your child—is a blank monster?

    Night Film, by Marisha Pessl
    In the Internet Age it’s pretty easy to fall down a rabbit hole of pop culture obsession, and there are still dark areas of culture that haven’t had a wiki created around them. Pessl’s story about a mysterious underground filmmaker whose movies may or may not contain hints of dark power and horrific events and the journalist who becomes obsessed with him asks the reader how you can be certain there’s a clear line between fact and fiction, then, once that wedge of doubt is established, presents a terrifying fiction to fill that space.

    Ring, by Kōji Suzuki
    The novel that inspired the horror films of the same name, the premise is well-known: anyone who watches a mysterious videotape of creepy images is informed that they will die in seven days—and then they die. The investigation into the tape and how to avoid this grim fate leads to what remains an incredibly shocking backstory involving rape, smallpox, and a forgotten well. Technology has shifted, but the terror never really relied on VHS tapes—it’s the concept that ideas can be deadly, that simply by experiencing something you can be doomed, that’s so horrifying.

    Penpal, by Dathan Auerbach
    Pivoting on the idea that we’re often blinded by the details we can see, making it impossible to see the bigger picture, Auerbach’s debut began life as a series of creepypasta stories on the Internet. The episodic nature of the story is ideal for the effect he achieves; the narrator tells of being a young boy and sending a penpal request attached to a balloon with his classmates, including his best friend Josh. He doesn’t receive a response until nearly a year later, and his life takes a turn for the bizarre shortly afterwards. A series of tragic and strange things happen to him and everyone around him, building a sense of dread that is only increased when the truth is revealed.

    Carrion Comfort, by Dan Simmons
    Simmons’ novel follows several groups of people who have The Ability, a psychic power that allows them to take control of others from a distance and force them to perform any action. When one of their puppets murders someone, the person with The Ability is invigorated and strengthened. Simmons doesn’t shy away from the implications of this power on history and the future, and the book will destroy any sense of security you have in the world around you, revealed to possibly be simply a worldwide board game for those who can control us all like pawns.

    Pet Sematary, by Stephen King
    Several of King’s books could be on this list, but he frequently blunts the terror of his stories with the richness and humanity of his characterizations and the sprawl of his narratives. Pet Sematary manages to be his most terrifying novel by dint of its simple, devastating concept: a magical cemetery where buried things come back to a sort-of life—but aren’t quite what they once were. From that simple idea King ramps up to a climax that gets under your skin in a fundamental way most horror stories fail to.

    The Girl Next Door, by Jack Ketchum
    Horror often pivots on the corruption or warping of societal norms and rules; once you feel like you can’t rely on the natural social order, literally anything is possible. Ketchum’s disturbing novel about the unimaginable abuse suffered by two sisters when they are forced to live with their mentally unstable aunt and her three savage sons is based on real events, but it’s the central theme of an adult giving official sanction to the atrocities that makes this story so utterly horrifying.

    Blindness, by Jose Saramago
    Helplessness is a key factor in a lot of horror; most people labor under the delusion that they are in charge of their destiny and their lives, and horror is often effective simply by reminding us how little control we actually have. An epidemic of blindness leaves an entire city’s population secluded in a mental institution as society within and without crumbles. The brutality and descent into animalistic madness is all too realistic, and Saramago manages to capture the terrifying confusion and helplessness experienced by people in a society that no longer functions.

    Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy
    McCarthy’s entire writing style and technique is terrifying; the man could write a grocery list that leaves the reader dripping with dread. This tale of extreme, ruthless, and pervasive violence in the American west emerges from under a sheen of the unreal to become all too real, and the greatest trick McCarthy manages here is by making the single most terrifying aspect of the story—the main character’s death—the one act of brutality he doesn’t depict, leaving the terrors contained within that scene to our imagination—which is infinitely worse than anything he might have conjured.

    Exquisite Corpse, by Poppy Z. Brite
    Brite’s most famous novel follows two serial killers who initially aim to kill each other but, upon discovering a fellow traveler, instead engage in a spree of horrific sex and murder. The matter-of-fact way the pair concocts a plan to kidnap, torture, and then consume a beautiful gay man named Tran is the sort of stuff that could simply be shocking, but Brite continuously considers the value of existence and what we could all be doing with the time we have left—time we too often imagine to be infinite when, of course, we’re all going to be consumed someday by something.

    Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
    Bradbury’s epic rumination on childhood and adulthood tells the story of a magical circus come to a small town, offering the residents dark gifts they weren’t aware they wanted—most notably the carousel that can change your physical age, making boys who yearn to be adults grow older, and middle-aged men and women who yearn for their lost youth to grow younger. Bradbury knows the worst horror in the world is losing the natural order of your life, and perfectly captures the combination of dread and excitement everyone experiences as they crack the mysteries separating them from adulthood.

    Hell House, by Richard Matheson
    What Matheson taps into in this classic haunted house story is the universal fear that we are already lost, already broken. Hired to investigate the existence of an afterlife by exploring the notoriously haunted Belasco House, a team moves in and slowly succumbs to the influence of the entity within—an entity that only uses their own weaknesses and secret shames against them. Their descent into the depths of horror is too close for comfort as a result—for everyone reading the book knows all too well that they have weaknesses, and secret shames, as well.

    The Face That Must Die, by Ramsey Campbell
    Campbell wrote a number of books that are absolutely terrifying, but this one stands out in the way he forces the reader to completely inhabit the mind of a very sick man, Horridge. As he fixates on an overweight man living in his neighborhood, the reader is forced to see the world consistently through his eyes. Everything is off-beat, everything drips with ominous meaning and horrific intent. Horridge sees the entire world as a horror that must be destroyed, and for a while the reader is carried along on that uncomfortable point of view, leaving them exhausted and terrified.

    Haunted, by Chuck Palahniuk
    Told in alternating chapters that depict a group of aspiring writers voluntarily secluded in an unusual writer’s retreat and the stories they’re writing, Haunted not only contains one of the most disturbing short stories ever published (“Guts,” which caused several people to faint when Palahniuk read it in public) it’s also a deep dive into madness as the reality-TV obsessed characters start sabotaging their experiment in a quest for fame. The sense of suffocating dread that Palahniuk applies grows so incrementally you don’t notice it until you suddenly realize you’ve been holding your breath for five pages.

    Dawn, by Octavia Butler
    Although technically science fiction, this story of the human race centuries after a devastating apocalypse is straight terror in many ways. Lilith is one of the last surviving humans, awakened on an alien ship. The aliens, three-sexed and many-tentacled, offer Lilith a deal: they will help her repopulated the Earth, but their price is to breed with humanity to gain humanity’s “talent” for cancer (and the creative possibilities it offers) while blunting their self-destructive tendencies. The horror imbued in each page is subtle, but it exerts tremendous mental pressure as you progress through the story.

    The Walking, by Bentley Little
    Far from just another tale of zombies, Little’s story of a man whose father rises from death after a stroke sizzles with a sense of doom long before the reader understands what’s at stake. Discovering that many families are hiding zombie relatives, and have been for some time, private investigator Miles Huerdeen digs into the mystery—and what he finds is easily the scariest stuff about zombies you’ll ever read. If you watch zombie movies and shows and laugh at their shuffling, mindless threat, this book will change your mind.

    The Ruins, by Scott Smith
    Smith’s story is deceptively simple: a group of tourists in Mexico go off in search of an archaeological site where a friend has set up camp; they find a pyramid covered in odd vines, the land around it salted and barren. Once on the pyramid, they discover the dead body of their friend, covered in the vines, and that the nearby villagers have arrived with guns to force them to remain on the pyramid. The vines are one of those simple monsters that seem so easy to defeat at first blush, yet the inexorable doom that descends on the characters slowly, grindingly proves otherwise.

    Bird Box, by Josh Malerman
    Malerman’s intense story of a world that slowly crumbles as people go murderously insane after seeing mysterious creatures—referred to simply as The Problem—is so scary because the reader only has the information that the characters have, and that’s not much. The world collapses and the survivors can only seal themselves off from the outside and try to avoid the worst, leading to a torturous wearing down of hope that leaves the reader defenseless against the horrible images Malerman conjures.

    Ghost Story, by Peter Straub
    A good old-fashioned ghost story is designed to terrify and entertain, and Straub’s breakthrough novel does both. Five old friends gather regularly to trade ghost stories, but when one of them dies mysteriously and the survivors begin to dream of their own deaths, a secret from their past is revealed—and the simple pleasures of a ghost story are explored to their most frightening ends by a master of the form.

    Beloved, by Toni Morrison
    If you don’t think of Beloved as a horror story, you haven’t been paying attention. Morrison’s skill as a writer is in full effect as she draws the reader into what is assuredly one of the saddest and most horrifying stories committed to paper. There’s no more terrifying sequence than the long slide into madness as escaped slave Sethe, convinced the young woman calling herself Beloved is the daughter she murdered in an attempt to keep her safe from slavers come to reclaim them, grows steadily thinner and weaker as she gives everything she has—including food—to Beloved, who grows steadily larger.

    Did we leave off any truly terrifying books? Let us know in the comments.

    The post 25 of the Most TERRIFYING Horror Books Ever appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 9:30 pm on 2017/02/22 Permalink
    Tags: , , , lord of the flies, , , the talentedmr. ripley   

    10 Seemingly Unrelated Books that Complement Each Other Perfectly 

    The literary world can like an infinite sea of ideas: walk into a bookstore and the thousands of titles on display—which are only the tip of the bookberg bobbing under the surface—is overwhelming in the best way. You might imagine the chances of two novels written by different people, at different times, and for different reasons being somehow linked would be pretty low. And it is—but not so low that we couldn’t make note of five pairs of books have nothing to do with each other—and yet have everything to do with each other. (Beware of spoilers!)

    Difficult Women, by Roxanne Gay & Men Without Women, by Haruki Murakami
    Roxanne Gay was born in Nebraska and writes fiction and non-fiction rife with feminist and racial themes. Haruki Murakami is Japanese, and writes complex, beautiful novels no one can claim to completely understand. Yet they both have written short story collections that are begging to be read together. Gay’s newest is exactly what it says on the tin: stories about challenging, strong-willed women (including one about a wife who knows her abusive husband has switched places with his gentler twin, and chooses to say nothing). Murakami’s new collection features seven stories about men explicitly without women (though there is at least one vanishing cat), and it’s easy to imagine the connections between the two. For extra fun, switch off between them, from Gay’s brash and occasionally desperate women to Murakami’s quieter, sadder men.

    The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck & The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    The Great Gatsby was published in 1925; The Grapes of Wrath in 1939. In the intervening twelve years, America went from a giddy postwar playground to a grim economic disaster on the brink of another World War. The books perfectly bookend the time between. Even more interestingly, they explore two sides of society that remain sadly relevant to this day: the super-rich, throwing lavish parties, and the desperately poor, who find that even a willingness to work like dogs isn’t enough to guarantee survival. Sharing themes but exploring them from opposite sides: if you read them back-to-back, it’s hard to believe they were written so close together in time—until you look past the surface of their settings and see the similarities. In the end, these may be among the most American novels ever written.

    Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley & Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro
    The complementary nature of these two novels is all to do with the nightmarish inversion they represent for each other. Victor Frankenstein raids charnel houses and slaughterhouses for the parts he needs to create his creature, and in Ishiguro’s story human clones are raised from childhood in order to provide spare parts for their originals, a horrifying reversal. Interestingly, the precise nature of Frankenstein’s process is unclear—there is no evidence he literally stole arms and legs and hearts and lungs from graveyards; in fact, his process is more alchemical, even supernatural. Still, it’s easy to imagine him taking organs from corpses to build the better man, while in Ishiguro’s story organs are taken from perfectly healthy, living beings so their older genetic twins might live a bit longer, be a bit healthier. After reading these two books, ask yourself who the monster really is.

    Lord of the Flies, by William Golding & The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
    Both of these novels involve children being pitted against each other, but they are dark mirror reflections of each other in many ways. Golding’s children turn to violence and ritualistic murder because of their natures; left unsupervised by society, they become animals. Collins’ teenagers are forced to fight by society—and, in fact, ultimately resist and drive a revolution against it, asserting their better natures over the lure of violence. Reading them both, it’s easy to imagine dropping the kids from District 11 onto the Lord of the Flies island, and within weeks having set up a functioning democracy and gotten to work building a fleet of ships so they can go conquer the world.

    Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn & The Talented Mr. Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith
    Sociopaths are everywhere, whether you realize it or not. Flynn and Highsmith realize it, and they realize something else: that sociopaths are the most interesting people in any room. Highsmith’s classic sociopath Tom Ripley manipulates everyone around him in a grand game that only he can see. Flynn’s Amy Dunne manipulates everyone around her all the time in order to preserve the fiction of her perfection. But the people Ripley kills are done away with in a cold-blooded, calculating manner, whereas Amazing Amy’s murders stem from a simmering rage. Imagining a world where Amy, on the run and waiting for Nick to be executed, meets Tom Ripley, and the two square off. It’s the sort of fan fiction that might break the Internet.

    The post 10 Seemingly Unrelated Books that Complement Each Other Perfectly appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 7:00 pm on 2017/02/06 Permalink
    Tags: , , hungry ghosts, lord of the flies, take two,   

    5 Novels Whose First Drafts Were Scrapped Entirely 

    When a book has been celebrated as a classic for years, it can be difficult to remember that it was once just a rough draft unspooling from the mind of its author. Everyone—even geniuses—struggles with the creative muse, and more than a few authors have scrapped a first draft in its entirety and started over. Ernest Hemingway had a famously profane opinion of first drafts, and too many authors to list have instructed the executors of their estates to burn their unpublished manuscripts rather than be humiliated in front of history. The five novels listed here once had first drafts so different, their authors completely trashed the originals and rewrote them.

    Hungry Ghosts, by Stephen Blackmoore
    Blackmoore’s Eric Carter books are among the most popular ongoing urban fantasy series—and with good reason. Gritty, hilarious, and imaginatively plotted, they are a dark delight, and Carter is a fantastic character—flawed, angry, but willing to go through hell (literally) to set things right. After Dead Things came out in 2013 and Broken Souls in 2014, the third novel, Hungry Ghosts, was scheduled for 2015—but never arrived. Blackmoore later posted the honest explanation: he didn’t think the book he’d written was very good, so he’d scrapped the whole thing and started over. The good news? Hungry Ghosts is finally coming out, and it’s damn good.

    Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
    Golding’s classic remains one of the top 10 books to read if you’re in the mood to be depressed about the nature of your fellow man. The first draft of the story was very different, though, laden with an almost comically-overt Christ metaphor. Simon, the good-natured kid who tries to be a civilizing force on the island he and a group of kids are shipwrecked on, has a mystical power in the early drafts, and is able to foresee his own death (which he accepts willingly in order to save the others). He even communes with a mysterious man in the forest who tells him about certain fruits the kids are not allowed to eat. If it sounds like a heavy-handed and clumsy bit of work, Golding agreed, and fixed all that in the rewrite, turning it from a book designed to inspire faith into one that destroys our faith in humanity in the most entertaining way possible.

    To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
    It’s not that often that a rejected first draft gets published, but of course we’re all pretty certain Go Set a Watchman, rejected by publishers and shelved by Lee for most of her life, is the early draft of To Kill a Mockingbird. When her publisher read Watchman, he told Lee that the best parts were the flashback’s to Scout’s childhood, so Lee reworked the story to be set during that time. The result was, well, Mockingbird. Go Set a Watchman is now a very useful book for young writers to read in order to see just how transformative the revision process can be.

    Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce
    James Joyce wasn’t in any hurry to write, and routinely spent years on a single project, choosing every word carefully (or inventing them by the dozens). Stephen Hero was begun in 1904, and by 1905, it was 150,000 words long; Joyce reckoned it was about half-finished. But he never did finish it, and much of that early work is lost—much of it destroyed by the author. The bits and pieces of it that remain evolved into Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Stephen Hero was assembled from unpublished bits and pieces and released alongside explanatory essays and commentary in 1944.

    The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson
    No one’s absolutely certain that Stevenson burned the first draft of his most famous story, but he claimed he had. He wrote the original while restricted to his bed, suffering from various ailments made worse by the narcotics he was taking for pain. He gave the pages to his wife as he finished them and she returned them with her comments in the margins—comments that must have been pretty harsh, since one day she came into his bedroom and he showed her a pile of ashes and told her he’d burned the draft so he wouldn’t be tempted to reuse any of the inferior writing. He then rewrote it from scratch in a few days.

    The post 5 Novels Whose First Drafts Were Scrapped Entirely appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Heidi Fiedler 7:00 pm on 2014/10/28 Permalink
    Tags: , , anastasia steel, arthur dent, , , e.e. james, eleanor and park, fear and loathing in las vegas, frodo, , , hester prynne, , , lord of the flies, lord of the rings, , , offred, , , ,   

    Easy Peasy DIY Costumes for Book Lovers 

    collage2Halloween is the perfect time to love up on your literary muses. You can make a sandwich board and go as a book, or pull together some clothes in a nod to your favorite character or a notorious author. Check out the super simple (but totally satisfying) costume ideas below or make up your own. If you’re trick-or-treating with a less literary crowd, bring along the book that inspired your costume to avoid a night of huhs. And if these costumes are still too much trouble, you can always hand out business cards that say “Call Me Ishmael.” We won’t judge. But we would love to see photos!

    Frodo (Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkein)
    The key to this costume is finding a nice tweedy vest. If you listen to Mumford and Sons, you know the kind I mean. Drape a cape over your shoulders, and go barefoot if you live where it’s still warm. A shiny—so shiny—gold ring finishes the look.

    Eleanor and Park (Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell)
    This one’s for all those YA-loving coupley couples out there. You can get as crazy as you want with Eleanor, but if you’re short on time, just go for the book-cover version. Find a long red wig, a yellow shirt for you, a blue shirt for him, and some old-school headphones and a Walkman. If you can get your husband to dress up like this, let me know. You’ve got a keeper.

    Anastasia Steele (50 Shades of Grey, by EL James)
    Sexy black dress + lots and lots of gray paint chips = meta crowd pleasing costume that’s three books in one. Dangle a pair of handcuffs suggestively and you’re done.

    Hester Prynne (The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne)
    On the other end of the spectrum from Anastasia and Christian, you’ll find Hester Prynne, who suffered a fate as scary as any horror-movie princess. All you need is a long black dress, an A pinned to your chest, and a tight bun that says Puritan, not ballerina.

    Arthur Dent (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams)
    This is the comfiest costume on the list. You just need some slippers, pajamas, and a robe. Plus, to show everyone in the galaxy you know what’s what, carry a towel.

    Amy Poehler (Yes, Please, by Amy Poehler)
    Celebrate Poehler’s long awaited first book with a super doable costume. Wear black pants, a white T-shirt, and a chunky bangle on your wrist. Extra points for thrusting your finger in the air all night long.

    Hunter S. Thompson (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, by Hunter S. Thompson)
    Grab a psychedelic button-down, the kind of hat that makes you look like you should be fly fishing, and some big ol’ sunglasses. Be sure to dangle a candy cigarette from your mouth.

    Offred (The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood)
    If you carry a basket while wearing a bright red cape and a strange white hat made of paper, you will haunt your neighborhood the same way this early dystopian novel continues to haunt readers today.

    Tomorrow we’ll be talking about the best costumes for kids! What’s the best literary costume you can think of?

  • Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick 5:00 pm on 2014/09/23 Permalink
    Tags: alice, angus thongs and full frontal snagging, , , , captain underpants, forever, , gossip girl, , , lord of the flies, , , , ,   

    13 Banned YA Novels We Love 

    The Perks of Being a WallflowerEveryone loves a good banned book, right? Lit lovers (unfairly) don’t have much of a badass reputation, so reading something banned lets us feel just a little bit more rebellious. You might be surprised, though, at what exactly has been deemed too scandalous by censors, especially in the case of YA lit. Sure, everyone knows that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is protested constantly, and other school favorites like To Kill a Mockingbird and The Catcher in the Rye have been kicked off of library shelves time and time again. But what about The Giver? Or Captain Underpants?

    Here are 13 of our favorite banned YA novels. Whether deemed too dark, sexual, or violent, these books have kept parents up at night wondering what their kids would do under the influence of the wicked written word. Did any of your favorite YA novels end up on the list, you naughty reader, you?

    The Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling
    It doesn’t take a Ravenclaw to figure out why the Harry Potter books have been banned by many since they were first released over 15 years ago. Religious groups concerned about the books’ focus on witchcraft have gone so far as to burn them, while other groups merely think that they’re too scary and set a bad example for children. (In all fairness, Harry isn’t the most amazing role model. Nice kid, but maybe he should think for a minute before throwing himself into whatever dangerous situation presents itself.)

    The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    The book’s sexual content, including discussions of rape, molestation, homosexuality, and teen sex, as well as scenes portraying drug and alcohol use, have had multiple parents up in arms. Luckily, banned book guardian angel Judy Blume has spoken on the book’s behalf against critics.

    Captain Underpants series, by Dav Pilkey
    Captain Underpants—admittedly a kids’ book, not a YA—won the title of most banned book in America in 2012, beating out Fifty Shades of Grey, a book with more scandal and fewer underpants. It’s regularly banned for “offensive language” and “being unsuitable for its intended age group.” Surprisingly, Captain Underpants’ tighty whiteys haven’t come under censorship scrutiny.

    His Dark Materials series, by Philip Pullman
    A number of Christian organizations, including the Catholic League, have asked that the books be banned because they attack Christianity and the Catholic Church. Well, yeah, duh; Pullman has said in interviews that he has problems with the establishment. But, he’s also been very clear that his problems aren’t with God or religion so much as how people and organizations sometimes use them as an excuse to harm others.

    Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
    A high school in North Carolina voted to ban the book in the 1980s because it was “demoralizing inasmuch as it implies that man is little more than an animal.” Well…kind of. At least they got the point of it. Complaints about racism, violence, obscene language, and defamatory statements toward God and women (among other things) have also kept this book off of library shelves.

    The Giver, by Lois Lowry
    This award-winning dystopian novel is frequently challenged for being “violent” and “unsuitable for its age group.” Hey, parents and teachers, why not give your students a little credit and at least consider the idea that they can handle a book that’s a little dark and makes them think?

    Gossip Girl series, by Cecily von Ziegesar
    Where do we even start with Gossip Girl? Between its morally ambiguous, hard-partying characters and its frank descriptions of recreational drug use and sex, it’s no wonder these books make parents want to lock their teens inside until they turn 30. Of course, that’s also exactly why we all wanted to read them when we were 16.

    Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
    In all fairness, this diary-style novel’s protagonist does speak in explicit detail about her drug use and sexual experiences. But just because students read about a girl exchanging sexual favors for hard drugs doesn’t mean they’re all going to start trying it.

    Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging series, by Louise Rennison
    Parents get so weird about a girl referring to the boy she likes as a “Sex God.” Georgia Nicolson’s obsession with bras, boys, and what happens when the two come together has been outraging parents and teachers since 2001.

    Forever, by Judy Blume
    That darn Blume, always insisting on acknowledging that teenage sexuality is a real thing. She addresses masturbation, virginity loss, and other taboo topics about teens and sex, making her the enemy of every abstinence-pushing curriculum around.

    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Being an award-winning YA novel doesn’t keep you safe from over-protective parents, apparently. Alexie’s book has been banned from school after parents complained that it contained obscene language and was sexually explicit and even anti-Christian. Alexie has fought back, saying “book banners want to control debate and limit the imagination.”

    Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
    Remember that book you loved in elementary school? Bet you didn’t know it regularly gets banned for being occult and promoting Satanism. Will you ever look at Leslie the same way again?

    Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
    Though not quite as risqué as the other “Alice” on this list, this beloved series deals with the very normal issues of growing up, including puberty and sexual experiences. And, once again, a lot of schools and parents really hate books that address the reality of young adult and teenage sexuality, however normal it may actually be.

    What’s your favorite banned YA novel?

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