“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero
“Books are the mirrors of the soul.”
As the creator of the ULS, The Underground Library Society, and at the request of several followers, I have decided to put up lists of books that have been banned or challenged. If a book is challenged, that usually means there were people who wanted it removed from a school or library. Both are forms of book censorship. It is important to note that I am not focusing only on books banned or challenged in the United States of America; unfortunately, censorship is a world wide action.
Here is my initial list of banned and challenged books:
The entire Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling;
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee;
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain;
Beloved by Toni Morrison;
The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie;
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger;
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck;
All Quiet On The Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque;
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown; and
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak.
I will add more lists of banned and challenged books in the future.
This blogpost was written several years ago, but I thought it was worth revisiting, especially because I love to suggest books for people to read.
I had the good fortune this week of delivering a talk at the Muhlenberg College Board of Associates Meeting on the topic of Great Books. I spoke with the audience for about 20-25 minutes about what I consider to be great books and why they matter. The main argument I made about the importance of books is that they connect us as people. I am an unreserved humanist; I believe that human beings have the power to improve themselves, that education is crucial to develop of an informed society, and that books allow readers to experience the worlds of others.
The audience was one of professionals from many fields but very few English Literature majors; however, their interest in reading and books was heartening for me. They wanted to hear suggestions about what books I would recommend.
In my classes, I sometimes do something I call — Chuck’s recommended readings. I ask the students to write the title and author and then tell them that what they do with that information is entirely up to them. Since several of the attendees of this talk asked for further suggestions, I decided to put together a list, very abbreviated I admit, of books I would recommend. Some of them I consider among the best and most important books ever written, and some I simply found to be wonderful and entertaining.
Now, the list:
Doc Chuck’s Recommended Readings
Agee, James and Walker Evans. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.
Allende, Isabel. The House of the Spirits.
Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451.
Brown, Larry. Fay.
Cervantes, Miguel De. Don Quixote.
Delaney, Frank. Ireland.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities.
Doyle, Roddy. A Star Called Henry.
Eco, Umberto. The Name of the Rose.
Gaiman, Neil. American Gods.
Grass, Günter. The Tin Drum.
Helprin, Mark. A Soldier of the Great War.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . The Pacific and Other Stories.
Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom The Bell Tolls.
Homer. The Iliad.
. . . . . . . The Odyssey.
King, Stephen. Hearts In Atlantis.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . The Stand.
Lee, Harper. To Kill A Mockingbird.
Poe, Edgar Allan. Complete Works.
Rice, Anne. Interview With the Vampire.
Rowling, J. K. The entire Harry Potter series.
Shakespeare, William. The Collected Works.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein.
Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath.
Stoker, Bram. Dracula.
Tolkien, J. R. R. The Lord of the Rings.
Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Zafon, Carlos Ruiz. The Shadow of the Wind.
Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief.
I am certain there are many books I have forgotten to mention. This is neither intended to be all-inclusive, nor is it meant to be authoritarian. I hope that someone may find a book or books from this list, read them, and enjoy them.
Please follow the following links to find my novel:
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It has been 20 years since the publication of Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone. This extraordinary book and the entire Harry Potter series engaged the minds and imaginations of millions of readers around the world. I love this series, I teach it in several of my college classes, and I recommend it to anyone who has not read it. It is also a book that can give the gift of reading to those who have not embraced the joy of reading. So, if you have not read this wonderful series, or if you have and love it, catch the express train to Hogwarts and have a great time!
Happy Anniversary and congratulation to J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter!
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