Most of us in the 21th century would agree that freedom of speech is an important and inalienable human right. Where the censorship of books becomes more controversial is when it comes to books that infringe on other important rights.
However, all too often books are banned for political, religious or moral reasons or due to the whims of politicians. The following list of books are amongst the most surprising banned books of modern times.
21. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll - Hunan, China (1931)
Alice in Wonderland was banned in China because it portrays animals with human-like intelligence.
20. Ulysses by James Joyce - U.K., Australia, United States
Banned for it's sexual content in the 1930s. The ban was overturned in the United States in 1933.
19. Spycatcher by Peter Wright - U.K.
Spycatcher is the true story of a senior intelligence officer in the British MI5 spy agency. It was banned in the U.K from 1985 to 1988 for revealing state secrets. The ban dramatically boosted the book's international sales.
18. Howl by Allen Ginsberg - San Francisco
Howl is the only book of poetry on the list. Customs officials in San Francisco briefly banned the book until challenged in court.
17. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley - Ireland
Brave New World was banned in Ireland in 1932 for portraying a future world in which recreational sex is accepted by society.
16. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence - United States, U.K. and Australia
Banned briefly in various countries for violating obscenity laws in 1959 and 1960.
15. Rights of Man by Thomas Paine - U.K.
Banned in the U.K. for fear that it had helped spark the French Revolution.
14. Uncle Toms Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe - Southern U.S.
Banned in the Southern United States during the Civil War for it's anti-slavery content.
13. Fanny Hill by John Cleland - US
Banned in 1963 in the United States. The last book ever to be banned on a national level in the US.
12. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis - Australian State of Queensland
American Psycho describes the actions of a fictional serial killer in graphic literary detail and is controversial around the world.
11. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov - France, U.K., Argentina, New Zealand, South Africa
Banned primarily for its subject matter: the protagonist has a sexual infatuation with a 12 year old girl. The book is widely critically acclaimed and was ranked 4th on the Modern Library's list of the 100 Best Novels of the 20th century.
10. Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs - Boston
Banned in 1962 in Boston. The ban was overturned in 1966 by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
9. The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall - U.K.
Banned from 1928 to 1946 in the United Kingdom for its lesbian theme.
8. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller - United States
All of Henry Miller's work was banned in the U.S. from the 1930s - early 1960s for being sexual explicit.
7. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak - Russia
Banned in the U.S.S.R until 1988 because of its criticism of communism.
6. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque - Nazi Germany
Banned for being a demoralizing anti-war novel.
5. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell - Russia
Nineteen Eighty-Four is a dystopian novel about an oligarchical society. It was banned in communist Russia and very nearly banned in the U.S. and U.K. in the early 1960s.
4. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck - California
Banned because it made rural Californians look dumb.
3. Animal Farm by George Orwell - U.S., U.K.
During World War II Animal Farm was widely censored in Allied countries for being critical of the U.S.S.R (a key ally in the war against Hitler).
2. Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown - Lebanon
Deemed offensive to Christianity in Lebanon and banned.
1. Diary of Anne Frank - Lebanon
Banned in Lebanon for anti-semitic reasons.