SparkNotes Blog

Where Do Banned Books Go? Conspiracy Theories

Pop quiz: What do Invisible Man, Howl, and Leaves of Grass have in common? Besides how rad you look reading them in public… Yes! At one time or another, they’ve been officially banned books. So many greats books have been censored by school districts, churches, and libraries and we’re here to pose the question: “Where do they go after they’ve been banned?” Luckily, we had a chance to chat with The Cather in the Rye about the fate of a tome after it’s been sent home. The Catcher, being one of the most censored books of all time, was eager to provide us with a bunch of conspiracy theories and actual facts. Give the list a whirl and let us know which one you think is closest to the truth?

  1. Banned books live out their years on a tropical island somewhere. The go-to location for anything that has disappeared, true, though the humidity and constant sand between the pages mean this is a hard life of exile.
  2. Banned books are responsible for all modern iPhone apps. This is a highly popular theory, which holds that banned books have been working in quiet isolation for generations to meticulously engineer Snapchat and Burnnote for our app pleasure.
  3. Banned books metamorphose into eBooks. This is a process that involves cocooning as a Very Hungry Caterpillar, the passage of time, and emergence as a beautiful, colorful eBook that can be shared because the internet does not ban.
  4. Banned books move to Vermont, and partake in the “slow food movement.” Presumed dead, they spend their days milking cows, tending to crops, and long hours sitting on the farmhouse porch and sharing stories about the good old days.
  5. Banned books end up boxed up and put in the basement of the local church/school/library. And there they stay.
  6. Banned books go on the lam! With only a suitcase full of their most precious possessions, they hitchhike, hop a freight train, or hot-wire a car in order to cross that precious border into a new district where they are free to entertain you and me.
  7. Banned books are eaten. This is hands-down the cruelest of punishments, but The Catcher assures us that “word by word, bite by bite” is a popular conspiracy theory in the underground world of banned books.
  8. Banned books are hidden in the Sorting Hat. It is bottomless and can harbor an infinite amount of banned books.
  9. Banned books shed their covers and grow new title like a snake. Now they are able to move around in polite society without being noticed… unless… gasp… someone dares to open their pages and then they are discovered as an impostor. All cover-shedders carry a single match in case of such an emergency. They’d rather self-destruct then possibly crack and share the location and identities of other cover-shedders.
  10. Banned books go into nuclear bunkers. Down there, they watch as their public persona increasingly gains attention in social media. Some books, once banned, whittle away their time staring directly into the black hole of the internet, constantly hitting “refresh” and Googling themselves to see who is discussing them, posting pictures about them, and gossiping about who they may or may not be dating and how they may or may not be pregnant.
  11. All banned books move to L.A. and become stars. Little did you know, most of your fave actors were once banned books themselves.
  12. Banned books stay on shelves at home. They can have friends at home, but do not travel with their student to school.
  13. Banned books go on to become the most successful cold-case detectives in history. As a consolation prize, once books are banned they are allowed to investigate any cold case in their local district. This program has actually been proven very successful as banned books have a higher rate of cracking a cold case than actual detectives.
  14. Banned books explore a career doing voice-overs. Darth Vader and the princess from Frozen have all been voiced by censored books.

Where do banned books really go?