Top 10 Most Challenged Books: Best-Sellers Are Also the Most Offensive

library book shelf

The “Most Challenged Books” list includes a number of best-sellers.

Some of today’s biggest best-sellers are also the most offensive, according to this year’s list of “Top 10 Most Challenged Books” from the American Library Association (ALA).

Every year the ALA releases the “State of America’s Libraries Report” and each time, the “most challenged books” section of the report generates the most buzz. The list is based on information compiled by the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2013.

The word “challenged” refers to a formal written complaint filed with a library or a school requesting that a book be removed or restricted. In short, these are the books that the general public, especially parents and educators, finds offensive.

Books Made Into Movies

Out of the 10 most challenged books, two have been made into movies:“The Hunger Games” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” Two are in the process of being filmed:Captain Underpants” and “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

These books are being turned into movies because they are hugely popular. The “Most Challenged Books” list calls even more attention to the books and increases their popularity. In a way, the people who complained about these books ended up shooting themselves in the foot.

Top 10 Most Challenged Books

“Captain Underpants” retains its top position from 2012. “Fifty Shades of Grey,” “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” and “Looking for Alaska” are also holdovers.

Here are the most challenged books in 2013 and the corresponding reasons:

1. “Captain Underpants” (series) by Dav Pilkey (Offensive language, unsuited for group age, violence)
2. “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison (Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for group age, violence)
3. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie (Drugs, alcohol, and smoking; offensive language; racism; sexually explicit; unsuited for age group)
4. “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E.L. James (Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group)
5. “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins (Religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group)
6. “A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl” by Tanya Lee Stone (Drugs, alcohol, and smoking; nudity; offensive language; sexually explicit)
7. “Looking for Alaska” by John Green (Drugs, alcohol, and smoking; sexually explicit; unsuited for age group)
8. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky (Drugs, alcohol, and smoking; homosexuality; sexually explicit; unsuited for age group)
9. “Bless Me Ultima” by Rudolfo Anaya (Occult/satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit)
10. “Bone” (series) by Jeff Smith (Political viewpoint, racism, violence)

What Do You Think?

Out of the 10 books, I’ve read only one: “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison. My 16-year-old daughter has read four: “Captain Underpants,” “The Hunger Games,” “Looking for Alaska,” and “Bone.” We didn’t find the books offensive, though we understand why some people might think otherwise.

How about you, have you read any of the 10 books? Do you think they’re offensive? To read the ALA report, click here.

Leave a comment


  1. I haven’t read any of the books mentioned. They don’t appeal to me. But my sister who is older has read 50 shades of Grey and the Hunger Games books.

    I also recall that when the Harry Potter books came out schools made a big deal about it. I think parents aren’t used to it and when it’s their children reading them and not them they find it a bit hard to let it pass. I blame it on the difference in the generation gap. They will eventually get over it. 🙂

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