Must Reads: Banned Books (with “naughty bits”)
One year I made it my goal to read as many banned books as possible—after all, those censors make such a handy list for readers! In honor of banned books week, I thought I’d share my favorite books that we’re not supposed to read. Predictably, the ones I’m drawn to deal with women and sex–they’re also the subject of my article on npr.org, Banned Romance: What’s So Bad About Happily Ever After?
Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure by John Cleland
Cleland wrote this book in debtors prison, desperate for money. What ensues is a series of shocking (for 1749) sexual adventures: lesbian encounters, spying on others in the throes of passion (and greatly enjoying it), orgies, an encounter with a sailor that prompts the phrase “any port in a storm.” She’s a prostitute, a mistress and…in the end, happily married to her first love. Also of note: Erica Jong’s retelling, Fanny: Being The True History of Fanny Hackabout-Jones.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H.Lawrence
I am recommending this book because it has sex scenes and naughty words. I am also recommending this book because it’s a beautifully written story about a woman discovering love and pleasure and how essential both are to a full and happy life. Lady Constance is married to a soldier paralyzed in WW1 and unsatisfied with her isolated life with him. With his permission, she indulges in love affairs, and finds a powerful connection with Mellors, the gamekeeper.
Forever by Judy Blume
I recently reread this young adult classic and was reminded how much we learn from books and how powerful it can be when authors recognize that. As a teenager, Katherine embarks on her first relationship and the book details not just her dates and feelings and family life, but her first visit to the gyno, getting birth control and, of course, losing her virginity. I’m guessing this book was probably banned for demystifying sex for teenagers. As if that were a bad thing!
What are your favorite banned books?
Maya is the author of smart and sassy historical romance novels.