Top 5 Most Controversial Books of All Time

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Books are printed or written literary work made by a person wherein pages are fastened together and encased in protective covers. These are usually distributed and sold and are intended for public use. Books have become an important contribution because aside from providing education and information to the public, these literary compositions became an item for leisure.

Over the years, various people have written literary pieces that were loved by many. While there are many books that made raves and became highly-recommended, there are many others who triggered a lot of negative reactions mainly because the subject of the book involves violence, sexual content, and extreme political views.

Hence, here are five of the most controversial books ever written.

1. William Powell’s The Anarchist Cookbook

Written and published in 1971, The Anarchist Cookbook is about Powell’s protest against the involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War. It was even described by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as “one of the crudest, low-brow, paranoiac writing efforts ever attempted.”

Here’s why. The Anarchist Cookbook contains instructions on how to manufacture explosives and basic telecommunication devices among others which can be used during the war. It also deals with topics related to public demonstration, planning sabotage, and other activities related to violence.

The book stirred a lot of issues, particularly with the government and anarchist groups. However, anarchist groups denounce any association neither to Powell nor to his book and even considered the ‘recipes’ unreliable and incorrect. On the other hand, Powell defended his book saying it is merely a product of his adolescent anger and sought to remove the book from circulation.

2. Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War

First published in 1984 and made into a film in 1988, The Chocolate War is a young adult novel written by Robert Cormier that earned a lot of mixed reviews over the piece. It is about Jerry Renault, a first-year high school student in Trinity, an all-boys Catholic school. Because of the death of his mother, he dealt with a lot of sexual frustrations, depressive feelings, and existential questions. He became a member of The Vigils, the school’s secret society, whose pranks range from ridiculous to cruel.

One of the fundraising events in the school is to raise chocolates. Jerry was tasked not to sell chocolates for 10 days but after 10 days, he still refuses to sell, earning the ire of the group and the entire student body that resulted in him being bullied.

The book was considered as one of the best adult young novels of all time. But because of the inclusion of violence, the use of intimidation in a school setting, countless swear words, and a masturbation scene, the book was a target of censors and is still banned even up to this date.

3. Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita

Written and published in 1955, Lolita is considered controversial because of its content. The book revolves around a middle-aged literature professor Humbert Humbert and his relationship with Dolores, a 12-year old girl whom he calls Lolita.

In the story, Humbert has an obsession with young girls due to the death of his childhood sweetheart Annabel Leigh. After his unsuccessful marriage, later on, he moved to Ramsdale, New England, and rented a room in Charlotte Haze’s house. There he met Charlotte’s daughter, Dolores where he became easily infatuated because of her resemblance to Annabel. Because he doesn’t want to be away from Dolores, Humbert married Charlotte and became her stepfather. Charlotte, aware of Humbert’s lust for Dolores, threatens to expose his acts. He left town, picked up Dolores from camp, and drove around the country, moved from motel to motel where the two had engaged in sexual activities, depriving Dolores of her childhood.

Despite its explicit subject where several countries banned its distribution, Lolita is still considered as one of the best English novels ever written.

4. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series

The Harry Potter series is one of the most popular, most talked about yet most controversial books ever written. Thanks to the “idea” when she was riding a train, the series has become J.K. Rowling’s most notable literary piece.

Released in 2001, the series tells the journey of Harry Potter, a young boy whose parents were killed by Lord Voldermort. Throughout his quest to defeat Lord Voldermort, Harry Potter underwent a lot of difficulties and challenges, from his life in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to the return of Voldermort and until the two finally faced each other. Harry was also backed up by other students from Hogwarts including his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Aside from death, which is the main theme of the books, the series also deals with various elements such as mystery, thriller, adventure, and romance.

Although intended as a children’s book, a lot of groups expressed concerns over the popularity of the Harry Potter series because it was believed to promote and inspire children to become involved in witchcraft, wizardry, magic, and cults. It was also criticized for not being true to various geographical, historical, and architectural facts. Nonetheless, the Harry Potter series is still the best-selling book series of all time and has been translated into 67 languages.

5. Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code

They say it’s a test of faith. Whether you’ll believe it or not, Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code is one of the most controversial books ever published. The story focuses on Robert Langdon, a symbologist, who was called to investigate a murder in Louvre due to a cryptic message written in the body. The dead man turns out to be Sophie Neveu’s grandfather. Throughout the story, Langdon discovered the Priory of Scion, Opus Dei, the possibility of Jesus being a human, and his marriage with and Mary Magdalene, Jesus’ bloodline theory, the anomalies in the Last Supper, and the concept of the Holy Grail being a woman among others. In other words, the Da Vinci Code talked about the truth and secrets concealed by the Catholic Church that it’s no wonder, the Church condemns such a piece.

Although the book is considered fictional, Brown claims that all of the historical facts written are true and can be backed up by evidence, especially the rituals, organizations, and architecture that were described in the book. Whether it’s true or not, it cannot be argued that the Da Vinci Code is definitely one of the most controversial and intriguing yet well-written literary pieces published.

Even though the books are considered controversial because of its sensitive subject, you can’t help but commend the manner and style these books were written. Despite its subject that brought both positive and negative reviews, these books can still be considered as one of the best-selling, well-written, and of high-quality content literary pieces ever produced.

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