Ban this Booklist

How many of your favorite books are on this list? Check out the 50 books that'll boost your civil liberties savvy.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou

Poignant memoir of girlhood in rural America during the 1930s.
Topic: Racial Justice | Format: fiction | Pages: 300

The Handmaid's Tale: A Novel

Margaret Atwood

Prophetic tale of a future where women lack fundamental civil and human rights
Topic: Civil Liberties | Format: fiction | Pages: 320

Fahrenheit 451

Ray Bradbury

Novel about censorship and a future where books are illegal, but no one seems to care.
Topic: Free Speech | Format: fiction | Pages: 200

Invisible Man

Ralph Ellison

Chronicles the travels of a young, nameless black man, as he encounters racial discrimination.
Topic: Racial Justice | Format: fiction | Pages: 600

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Robert A. Heinlein

Novel about the revolt of Loonies against the Earth authorities.
Topic: Civil Liberties | Format: fiction | Pages: 380

Catch-22

Joseph Heller

Comentary on the dangers of unquestioning obediance to authority. A literary testement to the importance of civil liberties.
Topic: Free Speech | Format: fiction | Pages: 460

If He Hollers Let Him Go

Chester Himes

Chronicles four days in the life of fictional character, Bob Jones, a black man who lives life in constant fear and is plagued by the effects of a racist society.
Topic: Racial Justice | Format: fiction | Pages: 220

Brave New World

Aldous Huxley

Tale of a futuristic world where the trends of contemporary culture are taken to alarming extremes.
Topic: Civil Liberties | Format: fiction | Pages: 300

The Cider House Rules

John Irving

Orphan Homer Wells becomes the protege of Dr. Wilbur Larch, the orphanage's physician and director. Trained by Dr. Larch in medicine, Wells assists him in his work, but draws the line at performing abortions.
Topic: Reproductive Freedom | Format: fiction | Pages: 600

To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee

Classic American tale of race, justice and growing up poor as told through the eyes of a young girl.
Topic: Racial Justice | Format: fiction | Pages: 280

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name

Audre Lorde

Chronicles the life of an African-American lesbian in mid-20th century Harlem.
Topic: LGBTQ Rights | Format: fiction | Pages: 250

1984

George Orwell

Classic novel that tells the tale of an all-encompassing government that enforces perfect conformity among every citizen.
Topic: Free Speech; Surveillance | Format: fiction | Pages: 350

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Classic novel depicting the cruelty of slavery.
Topic: Civil Liberties | Format: fiction | Pages: 500

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Mark Twain

Tale of two runaways—a white boy and a black man—and their journey down the Mississippi River.
Topic: Civil Liberties | Format: fiction | Pages: 300

The Color Purple

Alice Walker

Feminist novel about an abused black woman's struggle for empowerment.
Topic: Women's Rights; Racial Justice | Format: fiction | Pages: 300

Orlando

Virginia Woolf

Tells the comic story of Orlando who enters the book as an Elizabethan nobleman and exits three centuries later as a liberated woman of the 1920s.
Topic: LGBTQ Rights | Format: fiction | Pages: 330

Black Boy

Richard Wright

Vivid description of black boyhood in the rural South.
Topic: Racial Justice | Format: fiction | Pages: 450

Sticks and Stones

Peter Kuper

Allegorical graphic novel about the vanities of imperialism.
Topic: Civil Liberties | Format: graphic novel | Pages: NA

Get Your War On

David Rees

Graphic novel with absurd and hilarious commentary on what the author considers a profound waste of time, money and human energy. Critiques the government’s "War on Terrorism."
Topic: Free Speech | Format: graphic novel | Pages: 100

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

Marjane Satrapi

Graphic novel that tells the story of a young girl's life during the Islamic Revolution.
Topic: Civil Liberties | Format: graphic novel | Pages: 200

9-11: Artists Respond Volume 1 and 9-11: September 11, 2001 (Stories to Remember, Volume 2)

Various Artists

Responses of various graphic illustrators and artists to 9/11; volumes 1 and 2.
Topic: Civil Liberties | Format: graphic novel | Pages: 200

Live from Death Row

Mumia Abu-Jamal

Collection of death-row inmate Abu-Jamal's writings, which document the atrocities of prison life.
Topic: Death Penalty | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 220

In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action

Ellen Alderman and Caroline Kennedy

Nineteen fascinating accounts of real-life controversies that emphasize the human side of the Bill of Rights.
Topic: Civil Liberties | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 440

Warriors Don't Cry: A Searing Memoir of Battle to Integrate Little Rock's Central High

Melba Beals

First-hand account of desegregation following the landmark Brown v. Board of Education verdict.
Topic: Racial Justice | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 340

Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us

Kate Bornstein

A sincere and often comic look at transgender life, gender identity and sexual desire.
Topic: LGBTQ Rights | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 270

Why the Religious Right is Wrong about Separation of Church and State

Rob Boston

Chronicle of the development of the church-state relations from the Middle Ages to the modern era. Shows how separating church and state actually protects religion.
Topic: Religious Liberty | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 280

Stand and Deliver: Political Activism, Leadership and Hip-Hop Culture

Yvonne Bynoe

Argues that the tradition of effective activism of the civil rights era might be revived by tapping into the enormous energies of the hip hop explosion.
Topic: Racial Justice, Political Activism | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 200

Agents of Repression: The FBI's Secret Wars Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement

Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall

Examines the FBI's harassment, surveillance, and disruption of black and Native American groups in the 1960s and 1970s.
Topic: Racial Justice; Privacy | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 500

The Trials of Lenny Bruce: The Fall and Rise of an American Icon

Ronald Collins and David Skover

Chronicles the obscenity cases that comedian and cultural maverick Lenny Bruce had leveled against him.
Topic: Free Speech | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 550

Terrorism & The Constitution: Sacrificing Civil Liberties in the Name of National Security

James Dempsey and David Cole

Argues that the Anti-Terrorism Act and the USA Patriot Act are ineffective and undermine civil rights. Concludes that there can be no trade-off between national security and civil liberties.
Topic: Patriot Act | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 240

Stonewall

Martin Duberman

Chronicles the Stonewall riots, a watershed event in gay and lesbian rights that occurred during the summer of 1969.
Topic: LGBTQ Rights | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 350

Defending Everybody: A History of the ACLU

Diane Garey

The story of the ACLU from its earliest battles through its landmark cases.
Topic: Civil Liberties | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 300

Defending Everybody: A History of the ACLU

Diane Garey

The story of the ACLU from its earliest battles through its landmark cases.
Topic: Civil Liberties | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 300

Six Days or Forever? Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes

Ray Ginger

An in-depth account of the famous "Scopes Monkey Trial" of 1925, which struck down a law forbidding the teaching of evolution in state-funded schools.
Topic: Religious Liberty | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 250

Not in Front of the Children: "Indecency," Censorship and the Innocence of Youth

Marjorie Heins

Argues that the age-old idea of protecting children from corrupting influences has reached dangerous proportions in the United States.
Topic: Censorship; Youth Rights | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 400

The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance

Nat Hentoff

Argues that the federal government has used the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 as a pretext for curtailing civil liberties.
Topic: Patriot Act | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 200

The Courage of Their Convictions: Sixteen Americans Who Fought Their Way to the Supreme Court

Peter Irons

The story of 16 individuals who took their battles for civil liberties to the Supreme Court.
Topic: Supreme Court | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 450

I'd Hate Myself in the Morning: A Memoir

Ring Lardner

Memoir that chronicles life on the House Un-American Activities Committee's Hollywood blacklist.
Topic: Privacy; Free Speech | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 220

The Dame in the Kimono: Hollywood, Censorship and the Production Code

Leonard Leff and Jerold Simmons

Engaging look at the "Production Code," which was adopted in 1934 by the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association that dictated what was morally acceptable in American movies.
Topic: Censorship | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 380

Driving While Black: What To Do If You Are a Victim of Racial Profiling

Kenneth Meeks

Well-researched and disturbing book about racial profiling that details origins and consequences of this problem and suggests some solutions.
Topic: Racial Justice | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 280

Defending My Enemy: American Nazis, the Skokie Case, and the Risks of Freedom

Aryeh Neier

Former ACLU executive director's autobiographical account of the famous Skokie Case.
Topic: Free Speech | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 200

The Soft Cage: Surveillance in America from Slave Passes to the War on Terror

Christian Parenti

Explores the historical and sociological roots of government surveillance -- from slave owners' attempts to control slaves to modern police efforts to stop crime.
Topic: Privacy | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 275

The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School

Neil Postman

Claims that our current educational system teaches students to worship consumerism. Argues for more humanistic education in schools.
Topic: Youth/Student Rights | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 220

The Death of the Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions

Hellen Prejean

Passionate indictment of the American criminal justice system.
Topic: Death Penalty | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 330

Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member

Sanyika Shakur

Autobiography describing Shakur's experiences of gang-life, racial profiling and police brutality. Indictment of the American criminal justice system.
Topic: Criminal Justice; Racial Justice | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 300

And the Band Played On: Politics, People and the AIDS Epidemic

Randy Shilts

Exhaustive account of the early years of the AIDS crisis that outlines the medical, social and political forces behind the epidemic's origins and spread.
Topic: LGBTQ Rights; Disability Rights | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 650

In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU

Samuel Walker

Comprehensive history of the ACLU by an active member who had complete access to ACLU's archives.
Topic: Civil Liberties | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 500

No More Prisons

William Upski Wimsatt

Self-proclaimed "cool rich kid" William Upski Wimsatt takes on the American penal system and its emphasis on punishment at the expense of hope and rehabilitation.
Topic: Criminal Justice | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 165

Prison Nation: The Warehousing of America's Poor

Paul Wright and Tara Herivel (Eds)

Prisoners, social critics and investigative journalists document the current state of American prisoners’ living conditions.
Topic: Criminal Justice | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 330

People's History of the United States: 1492-Present

Howard Zinn

American history as told from the point of view of women, factory workers, African Americans, American Indians and immigrant laborers.
Topic: Civil Liberties | Format: nonfiction | Pages: 750

Howl and Other Poems

Alan Ginsberg

Classic poem of the Beat Generation that overcame multiple censorship trails to become one of the most widely read political poems in American history.
Topic: Free Speech | Format: poetry | Pages: 50

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