Banned Books: Adult Nonfiction

Banned Books Week is October 1-7. As CLP celebrates the right to read, check out the below is a list of adult nonfiction titles that have been challenged, banned, or censored over the past few years.  

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Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family

When Garrard was a nineteen-year-old college student, he was outed to his parents, and was forced to make a life-changing decision: either agree to attend a church-supported conversion therapy program that promised to “cure” him of homosexuality; or risk losing family, friends, and the God he had prayed to every day of his life. Through an institutionalized Twelve-Step Program heavy on Bible study, he was supposed to emerge heterosexual, ex-gay, cleansed of impure urges and stronger in his faith in God for his brush with sin. Instead, even when faced with a harrowing and brutal journey, Garrard found the strength and understanding to break out in search of his true self and forgiveness.

Why it was banned: Boy Erased was a part of Texas State Representative Matt Krause’s list of 850 titles he sent to the Texas Education Agency in 2021. Rep. Krause explains his list of challenges, citing they “make students feel discomfort.”

This title is also available for checkout as an eBook on Libby. 

For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood... and the Rest of Y'all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education

Dr. Christopher Emdin mines his own experience as a Black man teaching in urban settings for this impassioned guide designed for teachers from all backgrounds. Dr. Emdin focuses on working against the stereotypes around urban education, including that young urban Black children can’t be taught to the same levels of their white, suburban counterparts.

Why it was banned: Dr. Emdin’s book places issues of racism, specifically within the classroom, at the forefront.

This title is also available for checkout as an eBook on Libby. 

An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States

Today in the United States, there are more than five hundred federally recognized Indigenous nations comprising nearly three million people, descendants of the fifteen million Native people who once inhabited this land. The centuries-long genocidal program of the US settler-colonial regimen has largely been omitted from history. Now, for the first time, acclaimed historian and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz offers a history of the United States told from the perspective of Indigenous peoples and reveals how Native Americans, for centuries, actively resisted expansion of the US empire.

Why it was banned: Dunbar-Ortiz situates Indigenous Native Americans at the center of the United States’ history, causing the book to gain detractors who prefer history be told from a colonizer’s perspective.

This title is also available for checkout as an eBook and eAudio on Libby or as an eAudio on Hoopla. 

Milk and Honey

Milk and Honey speaks to the experiences and emotions of young women through author Rupi Kaur’s poems about her own high school and college years. Short, sweet poems and scribbled illustrations elicit a wide range of feelings from the reader and welcome them to explore their own memories and emotions through Kaur’s own. Kaur connects herself to the reader through the intimate verses, adding a delicate touch to the rough edges of painful memories. Milk and Honey is a short read that can be visited again and again for deep reflection and self-examination.

Why it was banned: Mentions of sexual assault and violence have caused this book to be widely banned.

This title is also available for checkout as an eBook and eAudio on Libby or as an eBook on Hoopla. 

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Despite the triumphant dismantling of the Jim Crow Laws, the system that once forced African Americans into a segregated second-class citizenship still haunts America, the US criminal justice system still unfairly targets Black men and an entire segment of the population is deprived of their basic rights. Outside of prisons, a web of laws and regulations discriminates against these wrongly convicted ex-offenders in voting, housing, employment and education. Alexander here offers an urgent call for justice.

Why it was banned: According to Marshall University, The New Jim Crow was banned in North Carolina prisons in February 2017 because it was considered “likely to provoke confrontation between racial groups.”

This title is also available for checkout as an eBook and eAudio on Libby or as an eBook and eAudio on Hoopla. 

So You Want to Talk About Race

Oluo provides a concise guide to honest and confident conversations about race and racism in every aspect of American life, while empowering all readers to become active in dismantling racial injustice.

Why it was banned: This 2018 title ended up on banned lists due to its promotion of a skewed interpretation of “critical race theory.”

This title is also available for checkout as an eBook and eAudio on Libby or as an eAudio on Hoopla. 

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

Some Americans insist that we’re living in a post-racial society. But racist thought is not just alive and well in America–it is more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues, racist ideas have a long and lingering history, one in which nearly every great American thinker is complicit. In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history.

Why it was banned: Kendi’s book in America was challenged for using “selective storytelling incidents” to outline the very real historical details of racism in America. 

This title is also available for checkout as an eBook and eAudio on Libby or as an eAudio on Hoopla.