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What's a Writer Gotta Do To Get Banned Around Here?

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I want my books to get banned, and so far it's not working out. I've tried. I swear I have. When you write a book series called The Original Sinners that follows the erotic adventures of a dominatrix who is sleeping with a Catholic priest (when she's not sleeping with everyone else), you're really asking to be banned.

Why do I want to get banned, you may ask? Because there's no greater compliment to an author than when one of her books is banned. It's a clear indicator that her subject matter is striking a chord. When the book achieves a certain level of controversy, it ceases to be a work of art and becomes a public safety issue where it's discussed by people who only pretend to know what it's about. In other words, it becomes news.

Alas...I've not gotten banned, burned, or censored. The worst thing that's happened is a few negative reviews (wait, I'm not supposed to write about a dominatrix sleeping with a teenage boy?), and my editor telling me no more snowballing scenes. Turns out there's no hope for my dream to get banned. Too many brave writers have fought the good fight for free speech, and now a writer like me couldn't get herself banned even if she wrote a romance novel where the teenager heroine strips naked for her priest at his father's funeral (I promise, it's much more romantic than it sounds).

What does it take to get a book banned these days? I studied the challenged books on the ALA website and it's obvious that if I want to get my next book challenged, censored, or burned, I'll need one or more of the following elements:

  • A character who impersonates a military officer (Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey)
  • Poor architectural decisions (The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls)
  • Inclusion of three or more penguins (And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson)
  • A story that is scary and/or told in the dark (Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz)
  • A reference to Walmart for any reason, which is literally the most offensive thing you can do in a book ever (Nickel & Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich)

Since the sexual content of the Original Sinners series hasn't gotten me banned yet, my next books will star three adorable penguins who live in a glass castle, impersonate military personnel at their local Walmart, and tell scary stories (in the dark).

Until then, I'd like to sincerely thank all the trailblazers who came before me and made it possible for me to write my naughty books. Enjoy this list of controversial books by women writers.

13 CONTROVERSIAL BOOKS BY WOMEN WRITERS

1.Topic: Infanticide
Book: Beloved by Toni Morrison

When Sethe fears her family will be returned to a life of slavery, she commits the most desperate act of any mother trying to save her children from a lifetime of Hell on earth. Mentions of bestiality and other sexual content have also helped land this book on frequently challenged lists.
2. Topic: Adultery
Book: The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Edna Pontellier is a wife and mother, but neither role fulfills her. She moves out of her home, begins two extramarital affairs, and seeks her own happiness. Her quest is moving. Its outcome tragic.
3. Topic: Sadomasochism
Book: The Story of O by Pauline Réage
O is taken from her normal life, brought to the château of Roissy, and repeatedly sexually violated. After her erotic training ends, she is given to Sir Stephen whom she serves until he tires of her. When the book released in 1954, much of France refused to believe such brutal and explicit fare was written by a woman.
4. Topic: Religious fundamentalism and reproductive freedom
Book: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
In the near future, fundamentalists have overthrown the government and the only role for women is to provide babies for the men in power. Offred the Handmaid learns of a plot to overthrow the theocratic regime, but will she survive it to tell history her tale?
5. Topic: Slavery
Book: Kindred by Octavia Butler
No modern American could truly understand the horrors of slavery in the American South without experiencing it firsthand. In Kindred, Dana, a modern-day African-American writer, is transported back in time to an antebellum plantation and must make unthinkable compromises to survive her own history.
6. Topic: Teenage Sexuality
Book - Forever by Judy Blume
A teenage girl falls in love and chooses to have sex with her boyfriend. They break up and she moves on. A story so common and simple and yet Forever is one of the most challenged books of the 20th century.
7. Topic: Teacher/Student Sex
Book: Notes on a Scandal by Zoë Heller
Accept no imitations, Notes on a Scandal is the best novel that explores the love and lust between a teacher and a teenage student. Sheba, a well-to-do teacher working in an underprivileged school, begins a sexual relationship with a 15 year-old student. Spoiler: It doesn't end well.
8. Topic: Incest
Book: Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
Many books tackle the topic of incest from a tragic angle. Andrews turned the story of the beautiful Dollanganger siblings, Chris and Cathy, into an erotic Gothic romance. An entire generation of readers will never look at blondes the same way again.
9. Topic: Suicide
Book: The Giver by Lois Lowry
A children's book that address questions of free will and freedom, The Giver's ambiguous take on a character's suicide is the main reason it reached #11 on the ALA list of most challenged books.
10. Topic: Adult/Teenage Sex
Book: Belinda by Anne Rice
Jeremy Walker is a 44 year-old divorced author of children's books. At a book event, he meets a fan: beautiful 16 year-old Belinda. They embark on a passionate sexual affair that will drive Jeremy to violence and Belinda to desperate measures to be with the man she loves.
11. Topic: Rape
Book: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
The attraction between Dominique and Howard Roark is instantaneous and powerful. Their dark courtship is consummated in an act Dominique later calls a "rape." The rape, however, only deepens her interest in Roark, and by the end of the book, he wins her love.
12. Topic: Priest/Parishioner Sex
Book: The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough and The Saint by Tiffany Reisz
Father Ralph de Bricassart and Father Marcus Stearns are Catholic priests, but they're also human beings. Each priest meets, falls in love with, and pursues an affair with a young woman of his parish. The two priests couldn't be more different nor the outcome of their relationships. But the two books have one theme in common--even the holiest of men have the earthiest of needs.
13. Topic: Lesbian Teenagers
Book: Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
Liza and Annie, both seventeen, meet and fall in love. Because they're both girls and because the book came out in 1982, it's one of the most banned books of the twentieth century. Copies of the book were literally burned in protest in Kansas in 1993.