Banned Book Week – The Best Banned Books That Take Place In NYC
Banned Book Week
Actress Michelle Williams brought one of the most banned books to the 2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards. (Getty)
Banned Book Week
We’re in the midst of Banned Book Week—which is also a celebration of the books that have been, and will continue to be “challenged”—and we’ve asked the New York Public Library to direct us to the correct shelves for some of the best banned reads. Specifically, books that have been banned or challenged and take place in NYC.
You’ll find them all at the NYPL, where president Tony Marx says, “The very notion of a ‘banned book’ is counter to our goals and philosophy. Libraries are inclusive, welcoming, safe spaces to explore different stories, perspectives, and ideas without fear or censorship. This mission is more pressing now than ever. By celebrating Banned Book Week, [we] celebrate the idea that in a free and open democracy, no idea should be censored, and all people should feel welcome and free to learn and grow.”
The top 5 books of the American Library Association’s list of the most “challenged” books of 2016 were all LBGTQ books.
The below list was compiled by librarian Gwen Glazer of the NYPL’s Readers Services group, and who stars in their “Librarian Is In” podcast and live Facebook TV show “NYPL Recommends” (check the latter out on Fridays at noon and you can get book recommendations in real time).
The NYPL’s Six Favorite Banned or Challenged Books Set in NYC
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. This sweet picture book tells the true story of two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo who hatch an egg together. It’s been on ALA’s list of most frequently challenged books seven (!) times since it was published in 2005.
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak. Challenged primarily for nudity and explicit content, this 1970 picture book shows a cartoon boy in a dream-world. Mickey’s story is set against a fantastical skyline influenced by Sendak’s NYC home, and the whole book has a retro 1930s urban vibe.
The Pigman by Paul Zindel. Staten Island is the setting for this YA classic, which is all about teens growing up — and drinking, smoking, and partying.
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden. This ‘80s teen novel — No. 44 on the list of most-banned books of the 1990s — centers on two 17-year-old girls falling in love in the city. It opens with an iconic NYC landmark: the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Where would Holden Caulfield be without New York? Since its publication in 1951, this book has been targeted frequently for “offensive language,” sexual content, and being unsuitable for teens.
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. A moving graphic memoir about coming out and coming of age. The story starts with Bechdel’s childhood in Pennsylvania, but key scenes take place in Greenwich Village of the 1970s.
Honorable Mention: Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. Sadly, this coming-of-age classic doesn’t take place in New York City, because Margaret’s family has just moved to New Jersey – which she’s unhappy about at first.