Books that were banned around the world

February 20, 2018 12:00 pm

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While the days of censorship aren’t fully behind us, we have access to almost every type of book imaginable these days. However, in the past the censorship or banning of books was a much more common occurrence. This was usually because a fear that these publications were designed to promote an ideology that was deemed controversial and to have no place in society, and more often than not it was governments who were responsible for rejecting these literary works.

Even in relatively recent history, many ‘controversial’ books were banned from being taught in schools, from being stocked in libraries or just from being sold at all. In many cases this actually has the opposite effect and increases the demand for banned work, leading to a higher readership than it might otherwise have attained. You may be aware of some famous examples, but there are a number of classic novels and popular works that you might be surprised to find out received the same treatment.

Below is a list of some very famous books that have banned in different countries around the world.

Feel free to let us know how many you have read in the comment section and tell us if you know of any more books that have been banned.


  1. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – Carroll’s enduring tale was banned in China for a time due to the fact that it feature talking animals and the Chinese authorities disagreed with the approach of representing animals as being on the same level as humans.
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James – This piece of erotic fiction raised eyebrows the world over, particularly in Malaysia where it was banned (along with its sequels) as it was deemed a ‘threat to morality’.
  3. Animal Farm by George Orwell – Orwell’s classic has always been banned somewhere. Originally banned in the USSR for its criticism of the communist regime, it was also banned in the UAE for its anthropomorphic representation of animals and remains banned today in North Korea.
  4. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown – This modern novel was placed on the ban list in Lebanon for being offensive to Christianity, but also for being ‘inaccurate’.
  5. Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm by the Brothers Grimm – The stories of the Brothers Grimm were banned for some time in Allied-occupied Germany due to certain themes being glorified in Nazi propaganda.
  6. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak – Pasternak’s love story set against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution was refused publication in the Soviet Union and had to be smuggled, piece by piece, to America before it could be published.
  7. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – Despite being regarded as one of the best novels ever written, Shelley’s classic was banned in South Africa in 1955 due to ‘objectionable and obscene’ content.
  8. Ulysses by James Joyce – Due to what was considered obscene content, this Dublin-set tale was banned for a time in both the United States and Great Britain.
  9. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis – This novel, known for its graphic depictions of violence, was banned in Australia and is currently only available to those over 18.
  10. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss – Dr. Seuss’s beloved children’s book was temporarily banned in China for having anti-Marxist themes, but there’s a belief that the reason for the ban might have been more closely related to the author himself than his work.


  • Business Insider UK, ’15 books that have been banned around the world’. Available here [accessed 14/02/18].

Written by

Liam Kennedy – Schuman Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament. Graduate of Journalism with a Language (French) at Dublin Institute of Technology. Completed a Masters in Translation Studies at University College Cork.


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