For the second year in a row, the top banned book in the USA is Gender Queer, a graphic novel about the author’s exploration of gender. It was the most attacked book in every New England state, including New Hampshire.
Gender Queer was published in 2019, and no one talked much about it until 2021, when an election was approaching and the content of books in schools became a talking point.
In an interview with PEN America, an organization dedicated to the “freedom to write,” author Maia Kobabe (e/em/eir) says writing the book was an effort to communicate eir identity to family, who did not understand. Kobabe searched for books to help, and could not find anything, so Gender Queer was born. About access to books, Kobabe says:
“There are so many kinds of people in this world, and everyone needs a different kind of story. And stories can serve multiple purposes. They can be mirrors, in which you see yourself, they can be windows in which you can see a view into another person’s lived experience. Even if a book does not seem useful, or valuable to one reader, it might be deeply valuable to another. That’s why we need lots of types of books and lots of types of stories. And I don’t think my book is for everyone. But I think for the people who need it, it could be a lifeline. And I am very against censorship. And I think all books need to stay on the shelves because readers need all kinds of stories.”
Ohrstrom’s first copy of Gender Queer was read so much that its spine gave out and the book fell apart. Now, its pages have been turned into a collage on display above the circulation desk, and a fresh copy of the book is available for check out. In addition, a comic by Kobabe about writing the most banned book in America is posted in the lower lobby entrance.
Here are the other most frequently challenged books of 2022: