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"A good book is like a journey", somone once said. Well, if that's true, then some destinations have been awfully hard to reach over the course of history. For many different reasons, governments across Europe have banned books that today are considered an important part of our cultural heritage. It might have been because they were afraid of what the books could inspire people to do, it might have been because they didn't agree with what was in the books, or it might have been because they were scared that people actually gain knowledge from books. Read on to discover what books were banned where - you might be surprised to find your favourite book on the list!

# 5: Brave new world

aldous
Photo: Ledbetter (CC BY 2.0)
Aldous probably should have made it a bit clearer that he was not in fact attracted to the idea of totalitarianism

Written in 1931 by Aldous Huxley, Brave New World paints a dark and frightening picture of the future. The World State controls everything. Children are not conceived naturally but bred in hatching farms, and people are no longer (if they ever were...?) in charge of their own fate.

Aldous Huxley said himself that he wrote the book as a satirical response to the optimistic utopias written by the likes of H. G. Wells. Thus, the book was never meant to be taken literally. However, you can't always count on people picking up on stuff like that, let alone governments. Soon after its publication, Ireland banned the book for being "anti-family" and "anti-religion" -  entirely missing the fact that this dystopia of a sci-fi-drama was meant to be a critique of the society it depicted, not a celebration of it.

# 4: An addition from across the pond: Where's wally?

The series of books urging children to find Wally are popular throughout the world, and many of us remember the agonising frustration, then relief and sense of achievement when we had to scan the pages meticulously and finally discovered the hiding place of the friendly, sweater-wearing man. Who would be against that, you might think? Americans, that's who. Wally, created by British illustrator Martin Handford, is called Waldo in the US and is just as well-loved there as he is here in Europe. But in one book, Wally's adventures took a turn for the scandalous. In a spread where Wally is hiding on the beach, one woman (out of the hundreds of portraits on the pages) is sunbathing topless. This proved too much for the state of New York, who banned the book from schools and public libraries numerous times during the 90's. The official reason for banning the book was that it contained "dirty things". Perhaps people were afraid that the popularity of the books didn't come from the joy of finding Wally but rather from looking at naked ladies (who are, as far as I know, otherwise completely inaccessible in the country with the largest porn industry in the world)...

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