11 Controversial Books That We Totally Read Anyway

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READING SHOCKED
JONATHAN FORD via Getty Images

It's a sad truth, but some of our favorite books continue to be challenged and banned worldwide. While we think that it's tragic that this form of censorship still exists, droves of readers have proven that there's nothing better than the mild thrill you get from reading a book as a form of insubordination.

Below is list is a number of surprisingly controversial -- yet outrageously successful -- novels that we couldn't put down.

Notable among them is V.C. Andrews' classic, "Petals On The Wind," which is now being adapted for the small screen. Don't forget to tune in to the premiere of "Petals On The Wind" at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. CST) on Monday, May 26 ... only on Lifetime.

  • Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret (1970)
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    KEY QUOTE: "I MUST, I MUST, I MUST INCREASE MY BUST!"
    MAY CONTAIN: religious searching and references to one's first period, bras, first crushes and other female rites of passage.
    AUTHOR: Judy Blume

    While Judy Blume is a perennial favorite of teenage girls everywhere, she is also one of the most frequently challenged authors of the 21st century, according to the American Library Association. This book will forever be remembered for her famous "I must increase my bust" exercise.
  • Where’s Waldo (1987)
    Amazon

    KEY QUOTE: Not applicable; Waldo's the strong and silent type.
    MAY CONTAIN: one lone topless sunbather ... and Waldo, if you can find him.
    AUTHOR: Martin Handford

    Handford's Waldo books (known as "Wally" outside of the United States and Canada) have sold over 50 million copies worldwide and have been translated into more than 25 languages. But believe it or not, this children's book has been banned due to the presence of one tiny, sneaky sunbather who seems to have misplaced her bikini top.
  • Grendel (1971)
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    KEY QUOTE: "Why can't I have someone to talk to?" I said. The stars said nothing, but I pretended to ignore the rudeness. [Grendel]
    MAY CONTAIN: monster-on-human violence, human-on-monster violence, existential dread, fatalism
    AUTHOR: John Gardner

    The Old English epic poem "Beowulf," the earliest piece of vernacular European literature, tells the story of a heroic prince who slays Grendel, a terrible monster who has been threatening the denizens of Denmark. In this update, the author recasts Grendel as an anti-hero with real pathos. This book was considered controversial for its depiction of violence and "sympathy for the devil," so to speak.
  • Go Ask Alice (1971)
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    KEY QUOTE: "I live in my own little world, but it's ok ... they know me here."
    MAY CONTAIN: profanity, runaway teens, sex, drugs and solipsism
    AUTHOR: Beatrice Sparks

    Although this book was published "anonymously" and presented as a real teenager's diary, it is arguably the work of several writers, Sparks among them. The book offers a cautionary tale about the effects of drug use, but some activists and parents objected to its realistic depiction of the protaganist's troubles.
  • Harry Potter series (1997-2007)
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    KEY QUOTE: "Wingardium Leviosa!"
    MAY CONTAIN:: mischief, indiscriminate use of Latin, elf abuse, meditations on death and MAGIC
    AUTHOR: JK Rowling

    The "Harry Potter" series tops the American Library Association's list of most banned books from 2000 to 2009. While many viewed the spells and magic as innocent fun, others claimed that it promoted witchcraft and familiarity with the "dark arts" among impressionable readers.
  • A Light In The Attic (1981)
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    KEY QUOTE: "If you have to dry the dishes / And you drop one on the floor / Maybe they won't let you / Dry the dishes anymore"
    MAY CONTAIN: disobedient children, dark humor and rhymes
    AUTHOR: Shel Silverstein

    Here's another kid favorite that somehow incited controversy. Silverstein's classic delighted children, but some parents thought that its cheeky digs at their authority encouraged insubordination.
  • The Da Vinci Code (2003)
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    KEY QUOTE: "Why couldn't Jesus be a father and still capable of all of those miracles?"
    MAY CONTAIN:: conspiracy theories, critiques of the Roman Catholic Church, symbology and a host of historical inaccuracies
    AUTHOR: Dan Brown

    "The Da Vinci Code" has sold over 80 million copies and has been translated into over 45 languages. Some countries have banned the novel on the grounds of blasphemy, while others have objected to the book for its flagrant abuse of historical fact.
  • American Psycho (1991)
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    KEY QUOTE: "I think my mask of sanity is about to slip." [Patrick Bateman]
    MAY CONTAIN: misogyny, drawn-out scenes of murder, sadism, cannibalism and other forms of physical and psychological torture
    AUTHOR: Bret Easton Ellis

    Ellis' Wall Street serial killer Patrick Bateman is an antihero without any sense of heroism. The novel is gruesome and darkly comical at turns, and Ellis lingers on scenes of murder and abuse a few beats too long for comfort. In several countries, the book is only sold with shrink wrap on, which Ellis has said "helps the book enormously."
  • 50 Shades Of Grey (2011)
    Amazon

    KEY QUOTE: "My inner goddess is prostrate." [Anastasia]
    MAY CONTAIN: bondage, S&M, steamy dialogue and a whole lot of "argh!"
    AUTHOR: E.L. James

    A sensation upon its release, "50 Shades Of Grey" tells the story of the young Anastasia Steele's tumultuous relationship with the truly incorrigible Christian Grey. Some criticized it for its impotent prose -- Sir Salman Rushdie has said it "makes 'Twilight' look like 'War and Peace'" -- while others took even stronger offense to its erotic content. Nevertheless, it has sold over 100 million copies worldwide.
  • The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (1999)
    Amazon

    KEY QUOTE: "And in that moment, I swear we were infinite." [Charlie]
    MAY CONTAIN: ruminations on loneliness, homosexuality, drug use, and other aspects of a bumpy teenage coming-of-age
    AUTHOR: Stephen Chbosky

    This novel, which alternative Seattle newspaper "The Stranger" called "arguably the most beloved coming-of-age novel published in the last two decades" in its review of the recent film adaptation, has been challenged for its frank depiction of teenage angst.
  • Flowers In The Attic (1979) & Petals On The Wind (1980)
    Amazon

    KEY QUOTE: "Damn you, Momma! I hope Foxworth Hall burns to the ground! I hope you never sleep a comfortable night in that grand swan bed, never again! I hope your young husband finds a mistress younger and more beautiful than you! I hope he gives you the hell you deserve!" [Cathy, "Petals On The Wind"]
    MAY CONTAIN:: Adultery! Incest! Betrayal! Arsenic-laced donuts! And, in the author's words, "a whopping good story."
    AUTHOR: V.C. Andrews

    V.C. Andrews' "Flowers In The Attic" and its sequel "Petals On the Wind ruffled some feathers upon publication. These novels, which told the story of the deeply dysfunctional Dollangager family, violated the most taboo of taboos, but we haven't been able to resist its wiles: they were bestsellers upon publication, and Andrews' novels have sold more than 106 million copies to date.