Banned Books: Books That Got Us in Trouble

by Whitney Teal

72458904I’ve had a lifelong obsession with reading material of all kinds. This, combined with my endless curiosity as a child, led to the discovery of a few very-adult books that I (rightfully) got into a lot of trouble for reading. Looking back, these pieces seem perfectly tame, but they were far from kid-friendly.

A few real-life banned books:

Disappearing Acts, Terry McMillan. Like nearly all Black 30-somethings in the ‘90s, my mother was a huge fan of Ms. McMillan. Unbeknownst to her, so was I. As she brought them home, I read them, beginning with Mama and ending with How Stella Got Her Groove Back. And she never would have known if I hadn’t let Disappearing Acts fall into the tub while I was deeply engrossed in Franklin and Zora’s love story…

Sex and the City, Candace Bushnell. Sarah Jessica Parker’s curly-haired image was enough to get me to sneak and catch episodes of “Sex & the City” in middle school. Those snippets of the show made me want to furtively get a look at the book, which was, satisfyingly, even more racy than the show. I quickly shared with my schoolmates.

The Color Purple, Alice Walker. I was always warned by concerned old folks that this book was way too mature for a kid to read, so of course I tried really hard to get my hands on it. But since it wasn’t in my elementary school’s library nor in the kiddie section of the public library I had to wait until my younger classmate snuck a copy onto the school bus. After she read a couple of disturbing pages aloud, I hastily agreed with my family and didn’t pick the book up again until college.

Exclusive, Sandra Brown. For the uninitiated, Sandra Brown is a romance novelist turned romantic thriller writer whose novels are about 50/50 mystery and sex. I vividly remember whispering steamier passages to my friends during school breaks in seventh grade after I “borrowed” a copy of this book from my teenaged sister.

Anything by Zane. Luckily I was away at college by the time these Erotica books became popular (no sneaking around!). But had I discovered Zane’s graphic prose a precious few years earlier, I would have been ripe for severe punishment based on the titles alone.

Clutchettes and gents – what books got you in trouble?

  • Lish

    Coffee Makes You Black – April Sinclair

    Like Sisters on the Homefront …..I think this book is a young adult book…but it was a crazy read my mom got mad at me when she was peeping over my shoulder reading it with me lol.

  • Danielle

    Danielle Steel! I shared her name and wanted to be a writer, so I snuck and read a copy of every book of hers my mother owned

  • Jessica

    I don’t know how I got a copy of it, but in 8th grade I was reading Addicted by Zane. I also probably should not have been reading Flyy Girl either. The title threw me off and my mom too I think.

  • Sasha

    Yeah those Zane books were ridiculous, I once read a couple of pages of one in a book store and was horrified. Apparently the author’s son went to my high school and was really weird, probably as a result of his mother writing sex books and thinking that his mother possibly engaged in some of those ratchet activities.

  • FelicityR

    I read a couple of my mother’s books… I stayed away from the E. Lynn Harris books she had, though. I just had a feeling that they would be too much for me, lol. Mommy did find find Maintenance Man by Michael Baisden under my bed, though. It wasn’t mine, a friend had left it over, lol.

  • Riva

    You forgot “The Coldest Winter Ever”, “FlyyGirl” and Erica Jerome Dickey’s books. Lol. That was before I found literature with more sustenance though.

  • Colored Girl Confidential

    I have to admit. I could never stomach Zane, even when I first stumbled across his stuff when I was in 9th grade. But I definitely got scolded for reading “The Coldest Winter Ever” when my mamma thought I should be reading Toni Morrison or Zora Neale Hurston instead!

  • Leonie UK

    “Ruby” by Rosa Guy, I never knew the realtionship between the lead character was a lesbian teen fling, I just thought it was a special kind of female bounding taking place. I was all of 9yrs at the time and only came to the conculsion from my older cousin at the when we were comparing notes. my mother supervised my visits to the library after that incident.

    I liked Zane’s books but then again I also was in college at the time. I needed an outlet which my body could’nt take part in.

  • grateful

    120 days of Sodom by marquis de sade.

    daddy looked at me differently for a few weeks after that discovery in my possession.


  • ebony

    Lady Chatterley’s lover by D. H lawrence. Came across it from my older brother when I was about 12. My dad busted me

  • Alexandra

    Pretty much Zane. I hid all the books I knew would raise eyebrows if they were found.
    I had a two Omar Tyree books too, but thanks to the illustrative covers, no one suspected anything. Haha.

  • iQgraphics

    for my day it was anything Judy Blume

  • Fit_MissC

    Same. After reading most of Blume’s kid-friendly books I figured I had “graduated” and got my hands on “Forever” in Grade 8. That book was read by all my girlfriends…well…actually the steamier parts were read ;) If my Mom knew what sort of information was in that book she would have….

  • soulfullyreal

    I read books/ watched movies/ listened to music that was soooo not age appropiate, lol. I saw Booty Call, bought Foxy Brown’s Ill NaNa and read Iceberg Slim (look him up if you don’t know) novels before I reached jr. high.

    Iceberg Slim’s “Mama Black Widow” was the one for me, eyes wide open like “People do this?!?!?” lol.

  • Lish

    Rosa guy had some great work…very dark though

  • rhea

    Anything by T. McMillan! I think every woman currently between the ages of 21 and 30 had secret of McMillan, Dickey, and Sister Soljah in their possession .

  • CHE

    Zanes books are horrific, IMO-well the one I glanced through

    But it was my mothers old Jackie Collins- busted!!

    But I loved all the sex and violence and crazy twists of her old books.

  • Dalili

    Mils and Boon. My Mum didn’t say a word, she just replaced the books I’d hidden with Famous Five, Nancy Drew, Secret Seven or Hardy Boys books. LOL!

  • grateful


    i’m familiar with all those. miss enid blyton.

    are you…African?

  • Sankofa

    I don’t know what to make of the Marquis De Sade because of his public persona and the content of his books. They’re quite beautifully written and supposed to be allegorical, but they sure do frighten me sometimes. It’s crazy a book hundreds of years old can do that!

  • Dalili

    Hi grateful!

    LOL, I didn’t think anyone would relate. & yes, I am African. :-)

  • Toni

    My mom had a severe love of reading and encouraged me to have the same, so nothing was really “banned” for me. I read all her Jackie Collins books (and I still collect all the hard covers), Jacqueline Susann, VC Andrews (can’t forget Flowers In The Attic) and I used to love me some Iceberg Slim. :)

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