An “unprecedented flood” of book bans have taken over Wisconsin schools and libraries–with the bulk of ban requests coming from a handful of right-wing groups pushing for the censorship of books with LGBTQ+ characters or characters of color. In total, more than 1,600 books were banned last school year. And this school year is already off to a rocky start.
The good news: This is America, and you can still buy and read ANY books you want. Here are six we’ve read (and loved) lately, and think you will too:
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor and Park is an instant classic. Set in the 1980s, this coming-of-age novel follows the love story of two high school misfits who bond over a shared love of comics and mixtapes. They know first love never lasts, but that isn’t going to stop them from trying. This book will have you laughing one moment and crying the next. It was banned for coarse language and sexuality, but that did not stop it from receiving high praise. It won the 2014 Michael L. Printz Award and the 2013 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award.
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
If impactful memoirs are more your speed, The Glass Castle is the book for you. Raised by an alcoholic father and a free-spirited mother, Jeanette and her siblings are forced to care for themselves from a very young age. You’ll feel like you are Jeanette, as the author describes growing up in poverty, moving from town to town, and watching her parents slowly lose their money and futures. This book was banned for mentions of drinking, abuse, and sexual content. And if you enjoy the book, check out the 2017 film adaptation starring Brie Larson.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Angie Thomas’ debut novel The Hate U Give was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. Starr Carter is constantly bouncing between two worlds–her poor and mostly Black Mississippi neighborhood and her prestigious mostly-white prep school. After witnessing the murder of her childhood friend at the hands of a police officer, she’s no longer able to separate her two realities. Despite being banned in 2021 for profanity, violence, and anti-police themes, the book was a huge success and quickly became a New York Times bestseller.
The Haters by Jesse Andrews
Tired of the same old coming-of-age plots? Try The Haters, which follows a group of former jazz camp kids who take their three-act band on the road in a whirlwind adventure. The Haters is a fast-paced, fun book for anyone in a reading slump. It has been banned on accusations of vulgarity and explicit sexual content.
Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
Late Night at the Telegraph Club follows Lily Hu, a Chinese-American teenager, as her life begins to change in multiple ways. Set in San Francisco in 1954, during the Red Scare, Lily is fighting against the deportation of her dad, while also fighting for her and her new girlfriend’s secret relationship. Although it won the Stonewall Book Award and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, “Last Night” has been banned and challenged for its LGBTQIA+ content.
Looking for Alaska by John Green
John Green is a New York Times bestselling author who has sold millions of books, but Looking for Alaska was his first. It tells the story of Miles Halter as he starts at a new boarding school and meets the funny, yet exceptionally odd, Alaska Young. Miles’ narration will have you cringing, laughing, and crying. The book won the Michael L. Printz award in 2006 and was a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist. It was banned for being sexually explicit and containing scenes that normalize dishonesty, underage drinking, smoking, and hazing.
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