Sunday, April 5, 2009

TSS "25 Books That Caused A Commotion"

Sunday Salon can be found here.

According to Amazon in an email they sent me this morning...

"Some books take such risks with language or subject matter that they're denounced, banned, or even burned. These powerful books really hit a nerve."
The "25 Books That Caused A Commotion":

1.Lullabies For Little Criminals Heather Oneill
With Or Without God Gretta Vosper
Unbearable Lightness Of Being Milan Kundera
Bright and Shiny Morning James Frey
To Kill A Mockingbird Harper Lee
Doors Of Perception And Heaven And Hell Aldous Huxley
Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance Robert M Pirsig
We Need To Talk About Kevin Lionel Shriver
Animal Liberation Peter Singer
The Yiddish Policemen's Union Michael Chabon
Brave New World Revisited Aldous Huxley
Under The Volcano Malcolm Lowry
Female Eunuch Germaine Greer
Average American Male Chad Kultgen
Sheltering Sky Paul Bowles
Empire of the Sun J G Ballard
17.Native Son Richard Wright
Complete Works Of Oscar Wilde Wilde
Seven Years in Tibet Heinrich Harrer
The Pleasures Of The Damned:poems, 1951-1993 Charles Bukowski
Londonstani Gautam Malkani
Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora N Hurston
The Grass Is Singing Doris May Lessing
Reconciliation Benazir Bhutto

I have read 7:

We Need To Talk About Kevin*****
The Yiddish Policemen's Union****
Under The Volcano*****
The Sheltering Sky****
Native Son*****
Their Eyes Were Watching God****
The Grass Is Singing*****
And I own To Kill a Mockingbird which I will be reading for the Harper-Martel challenge. We Need to Talk About Kevin and Native Son had uncomfortable elements in them; school shootings and race prejudice respectively but I maintain that it needed to be said and was done well. The grubbier aspects of alcoholism were presented in Under the Volcano, but again, I felt it was spot on accurate in its depiction. I remember nothing to cause any commotion in any of the others.

But I want to know what other readers think and have provided a few questions to stimulate your thoughts about them. Feel free to use the numbers beside each book for reference if you wish to save typing the full titles.

Have you read any of them?
Did you quit reading and abandon any? How far did you read?
Did you make yourself finish one and still not like it?
Did you make yourself finish one and end up liking it afterall?
Did you enjoy them? If yes, did you think they were outstanding or just an average good book?
If no, can you tell us what it was that you didn't like?
Which is your favourite?
Which would you read again?
Which would you recommend?
Are there any you would warn people away from? Can you tell us why in general terms?
Have you reviewed any of them? Please leave a link, I'd love to read them.

So, did any of these books cause a commotion for you?


  1. I've only actually read 3 of the books listed, but there are two others that are sitting in my TBR room waiting their turn. The others I am not too familiar with and so can't say whether I would read them or not. If I don't, it would simply because the subject matter doesn't interest me, and not because I might find the book offensive. I am not easily offended.

    The three I read were To Kill A Mockingbird Harper Lee, Empire of the Sun J G Ballard and Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora N Hurston. I enjoyed each of them quite a bit. I can't imagine why they would be books that would be considered bad for any reason--although I think that about all the books that end up on banned books lists. Of the three I read, I would read them all again, but I'm not much a rereader so I don't know what the chances of that actually happening are. I'd recommend them all to others to read.

    I don't have a review up for the two classic novels--I read those way before I began my blog. You can find my review of Empire of the Sun here.

  2. I've also only read 3. The Unbearable Lightness of Being. To Kill a Mockingbird. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I loved all of them.

    The Unbearable Lightness of Being is my favourite and have reread it once. I definitely recommend it. I don't think there is anything extremely controversial about it.

    To Kill a MOckingbird has obvious racial issues that were controversial in its time, but I don't think is a cause for commotion at this day and age.

    Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is not for everyone, so I don't think I'd recommend it to just anybody. A lot of people don't like it.

    Of the list, there are many that I've been meaning to read, among which are: Their Eyes Were Watching God, Bright Shiny Morning, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Sheltering Sky, Empire of the Sun, SEven Years in Tibet, and The Pleasures of the Damned.

  3. I've read 6 of these: 3.Unbearable Lightness Of Being Milan Kundera, 5.To Kill A Mockingbird Harper Lee,
    7.Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance Robert M Pirsig,
    10.The Yiddish Policemen's Union Michael Chabon, 17.Native Son Richard Wright, and 22.Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora N Hurston.

    I have to say that one of the books on my all time least favorites list is on here (Zen). It is second on the list of books I found so boring I'd prefer to poke myself in the eye with a sharp and pointy stick rather than be subjected to it again because it was so dry and boring and such an utter waste of my time. Interestingly, I thought the Kundera and the Chabon were fairly dull as well. The Wright was definitely disturbing and powerful and I enjoyed the Hurston and the Lee quite a lot.

  4. Thought provoking post, Sandra!

    I know I've read 10:
    Unbearable Lightness of Being
    To Kill a Mockingbird
    Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell
    Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
    The Yiddish Policemen's Union
    Under The Volcano
    The Sheltering Sky
    Empire of the Sun
    Native Son
    Their Eyes Were Watching God

    The ones that impacted me the most were:
    To Kill a Mockingbird, Under the Volcano, Sheltering Sky and Their Eyes Were Watching God.

    My responses had to do with when and where I read them and what I was doing in my life at the time.

    I try and read To Kill a Mockingbird every couple of years to remind me of how far we have come. I'd like to read Zen again.

    I can understand why all of these titles would cause a commotion. When they ere published they exposed people to new ideas, broke taboos and challenged the status quo.

    I am curious about the books I don't see on this list and I wonder about Amazon's criteria. Where is Nightwood by D'juna Barnes, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins?

  5. I've only read 2:
    To Kill A Mockingbird
    We Need to Talk About Kevin

    I loved them both!!

  6. Oh dear, I have only read one on that list: To Kill a Mockingbird. It is absolutely fantastic and I highly recommend it.

    Boy, do I have some catching up to do!


  7. I read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school and loved it. It's required reading for my daughter (she's in grade 10), so I decided I would read it again... and I couldn't. With adult sensibilities, realizing this wasn't just a good story but that this stuff really happened, it was too gut-wrenching.

    Which, of course, means that it's an excellent book! And yes, it caused a stir for me.

  8. Wow! I've only read one of the books on that list. I do have another one in my TBR pile, though.

  9. I've read To Kill a Mockingbird, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, most Oscar Wilde and Their Eyes Were Watching God ... none of them were even really life-changing.

    I know a couple of books on the list are ones that cover subject matters that I personally wouldn't choose to read but I certainly would never "denounce, ban or burn" any of them. That's the awesome thing about personal choice, isn't it?



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