The Most Banned Books


Every year, the American Library Association releases a list of the top banned books in the country. But how do you determine which book is the most banned? The statisticians at FiveThirtyEight attempted to figure out exactly which book earned the crowning achievement of most banned book ever. The trouble, they found, is that even the most banned book one year might have been less fervently banned than books in previous years. One thing they did learn, though, was that banned books sell pretty well:

It may not be rigorous or even particularly accurate, but the ALA’s yearly list has drawn attention to many books. Perhaps as a result of that spotlight, “And Tango Makes Three” has been a huge hit, at least as far as books go. It has been debated on “The View.” A decade after it was published, customers still buy dozens of copies a day on Amazon. It has been translated into 11 languages and even turned into a play.

Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at More from this author →