Top 10 Most Notoriously Controversial Books in Literature

Today, we have curated a list for the most controversial books that went down int he history of literature. Most of the books are legends in their own sense and not surprisingly have quite a large readership and audience. Hope the list will keep you busy for long reading hours.

Do let us know your comments suggestions and advice for any additional details.

10. Lolita

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

In Lolita, While many readers are attracted to this work of fiction by Vladimir Nabokov due to its title, their hopes of reading something that keeps building up the intensity of erotic content don’t last too long. Though the novel took a magnanimous 5 years of Vladimir to complete, his greatest challenge came at the time of finding a publisher to accept the assignment.

After being turned down by major publication houses, it took 2 years of effort before Vladimir was able to get the Paris based Olympia Press to publish his work. However, as soon as the novel got published, it sparked a fierce public fury for the overtly explicit content describing the sexual relationships between a middle aged man and a preteen girl of 12 years of age.

At times labeled as a pervert, Vladimir remained defiant of the allegations levied against him and over the years many other prominent names have jumped in to defend the writer. Though the novel kicks off on an erotic note, the theme fades away with the flip of pages.

9. The Anarchist Cookbook

The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell

Imagine a book that taught & talked about different methods for any individual to be able to manufacture & produce ammunition such as explosives and tap into your neighbors’ phone system to hear all their conversations. Well you don’t have to image because that is exactly the theme of this William Powell’s inscription that got published in 1971 for the very first time.

Though the author has time & time again clarified that his sole reason for writing The Anarchist Cookbook was to vent out his anger & frustration for being sent off to the Vietnam War during his adolescence and asked for future printings to be halted, the publication did not seize till 1991 when the publication rights were bought from the original owner – Lyle Stuart by Steven Schragis.

Over the years, the novel has led to incidents such as in-depth & extensive investigations by the FBI, the content (assumingly) enabling individuals to produce explosives at their homes (since most arrested individuals were found to be carrying a copy of the book), and disapproval for being a catalyst in the promotion of terrorism.

8. The Bell Curve

The Bell Curve by Richard J. Herrnstein n Charles Murray

A literary product of the coalition between Richard J. Herrnstein – a psychologist at Harvard University and Charles Murray – a political scientist at the American Enterprise Institute, The Bell Curve came out in 1994. And even though it turned out to be a best-seller, it didn’t achieve that status without raising controversy with regards to what both above mentioned gentlemen wrote in their work.

According to them, personal dynamics such as one’s performance at work, an individual’s financial income, association with criminal acts and unwanted pregnancies had more to do with that person’s intelligence. Additionally, they assert that intelligence is influenced by environmental factors & inheritance rather than one’s academic qualifications or their parents’ socioeconomic status. What irked people the most is when both writers correlate intelligence and race; citing differences between the I.Q of different racial factions.

7. The Color Purple

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Inked by Alice Walker – an American writer – in the year 1982, The Color Purple talks about the plight faced by African American females predominantly dwelling in Georgia’s countryside on a daily basis through the 1930s. The novel addresses issues such as the low social standing of African American females.

However, it has been challenged on numerous occasions for the explicitness it contains with reference to violence. Despite the opposition faced, the novel won the Pulitzer Award only a year after its publishing and also the National Book Award.

6. The Satanic Verses

The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie

When you flirt with someone’s religion or belief, you are bound to be headed for tough times & controversy. The Satanic Verses is no stranger to this fact as Salman Rushdie, the writer of the novel, became aware of it after the inscription of his publication in 1988 flared Muslims across the globe.

The Muslim community was extremely enraged over the fact that Rushdie had conducted an act of blasphemy against their Prophet & the Quran. Though Rushdie maintains his standpoint that the novel is only a continuation of his magical realism style of writing, Muslims believe otherwise; they are of the opinion that Rushdie asserts that a cluster of verses from the Quran allow offering of petitionary prayers to Pagan Mecca deities Manat, Uzza & Allat.

Though applauded by many British folk & bestowed with the Whitbread Award in ’88, the novel led to riots not just in England but also across all Muslim Nations. Being banned in Muslim countries, a fatwa was issued by the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini for the persecution of Rushdie & all those associated with the printing of his book. While Rushdie was granted protection by the government of England, individuals such as Hitoshi Igarashi, Ettore Capriolo, Aziz Nesin & William Nygaard who were associated with the publishing house were either killed or suffered assassination attempts.

5. American Psycho

The American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, Patrick Bateman

Published in the year 1991, Bret Easton Ellis is the writer to have inked American Psycho with Patrick Bateman – a businessman from Manhattan – being the lead character. A businessman during the day, the lead character Patrick narrates his day-to-day routine in the 1st person. As the plot progresses, the intensity of violence & sexual interactions/fulfillment start becoming the pivotal themes of this novel.

The controversy revolves around all the violence within this creation of Ellis. As a consequence of lots of negative feedback from the public, the book is available for purchase by adults only; that also in shrink wrapping. Selling the book to someone less than 18 years of age is against the law in many countries; including Australia & New Zealand.

4. The Naked Lunch

Naked Lunch by William Burroughs

Writing books is a great source for speaking up against government policies through the means of words; The Naked Lunch written by William S. Burroughs in the year 1991 does the same thing as it goes vocal against the death penalty. The novel’s main character William Lee happens to be a drug fiend adopting numerous aliases as he travels between Mexico and USA.

Burroughs brings the character of William Lee through his own personal experience pertaining to abuse & addiction of drugs the like of Morphine, Marijuana and Heroin. Not only notorious for talking about drugs in great detail, The Naked Lunch has faced criticism for including obscene elements of pedophilia and murdering children; the language of the text itself is considered to be indecent & abominable.

3. And Tango Makes Three

And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell

The work of authors Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell, And Tango Makes Three came out six years ago in 2005. Based on the true story of two male penguins from Central Park Zoo (New York), pairing up as a couple, hatching an egg given to them from another heterosexual pair, and successfully raising the offspring to come out of the shell, the book has raised hullabaloo by being accused of homosexuality in a subliminal manner.

However, the authors have contested statements similar to those and stated that they captured facts as they came & happened. Conservative groups & parent unions in multiple have demanded for the book to either be removed from school libraries or be put in restricted areas for which the child must obtain prior written approval from his/her parents to be allowed to read the book.

2. Elders of Zion


Alleged to be a work based on forgery and fraud to defame people of Jewish ancestry, The Elders of Zion is considered to have possibly been inked by Pyotr Ivanovich Rachkovsky; even though that cannot be said for sure. Published in Russia during the early years of the 20th century (1903), the novel was greatly utilized by Adolf Hitler as a propaganda tool to unleash the Holocaust.

The plot maintains that prominent Jewish Leaders of the 19th century got together at a meeting in order to discuss their plans for complete dominance over the world’s populace and resources. Despite claims to have been written completely on the basis of facts, the Jewish community and fellow supporters disagree with the former.

1. Mein Kampf

Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler

Possibly one of the greatest political propaganda generating elements of the last century, Mein Kampf is an autobiographical compilation of Adolf Hitler that he started to ink during 1923 while behind bars for his failed attempt at throwing out the then-in-control government. It took him 2 years to complete the 1st volume of the manuscript & it got published in 1925. Devoting immense attention & time to writing, Hitler realized that a single volume was not sufficient to absorb all that he had to say.

Therefore, a 2nd Volume was written that got published in 1926. The literal German translation of ‘Mein Kampf’ is “My Struggle” and in addition to his autobiography, the scripture also witnesses Hitler detailing & elaborating upon his own political ideology. A controversial figure himself, Hitler’s book was no different; it gave birth to arguments & debates over the book’s racist content. This criticism also came from Hitler’s close associates & allies.