Photo by Claudia Wolff on

If there’s one thing South Carolinians seem to have in common, it’s that they don’t want people telling them what to do. 

“Don’t tread on me,” a dead South Carolinian once said.

“Don’t tell me I have to wear a mask,” a live one says today. 

“Don’t tell me I have to wear a motorcycle helmet,” an injured resident might say. 

These attitudes highlight how South Carolina is the natural place where people should get mightily upset when somebody tries to tell them what not to read. 

Oh, if that were the case. These days, unfortunately and counterintuitively for South Carolina, it’s much more likely that you’ll encounter more book nannies who want to ban books than book lovers who want you to make up your own mind about your personal reading list.

So in the spirit of St. Nick, here’s a shopping list of outstanding books for adults that have been banned somewhere. Make one a gift:

  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
  • To Kill a Mockingbird  by Harper Lee
  • A Brave New World  by Aldous Huxley
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • Nickel and Dimed  by Barbara Ehrenreich
  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  • Beloved  by Toni Morrison
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  • The Holy Bible
  • Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl  by Anne Frank
  • House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  • Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
  • Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

This last book, written in 1967, is an antiwar classic that has been banned many times. In 1973, the head of a North Dakota school board ordered 32 copies to be taken from students and burned. Vonnegut wrote a forceful, outraged letter, which included this passage:

“If you were to bother to read my books, to behave as educated persons would, you would learn that they are not sexy, and do not argue in favor of wildness of any kind. They beg that people be kinder and more responsible than they often are. …

“After I have said all this, I am sure you are still ready to respond, in effect, ‘Yes, yes — but it still remains our right and our responsibility to decide what books our children are going to be made to read in our community.’ This is surely so. But it is also true that if you exercise that right and fulfill that responsibility in an ignorant, harsh, un-American manner, then people are entitled to call you bad citizens and fools. Even your own children are entitled to call you that.”

So give a banned book. And happy holidays! (Please don’t write us about the conspiracy against Christmas; we offer this closing as a seasonal greeting for all of this month’s holidays, including Christmas.)

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