Tennessee’s Most Infamous Challenged and Banned Books

Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

It’s long been said that the best way to expand your world view is to immerse yourself in a good book. That is getting harder and harder to do in some states that are banning novels more and more.  

Most of those books have to do with “mature” themes such as LGBTQ+ and gender-based topics, which have been deemed to be out of bounds for young adults by Tennessee officials.

World Book Day is Tuesday, April 23. To acknowledge it, BetTennessee.com took a break from Tennessee sports betting to compile a top 10 list of the favorite banned or challenged books for Tennessee residents.

Using a list of the top 13 most banned and challenged books, according to the American Library Association, we used Google Trends to see how often those books were searched in Tennessee. The search period was between March 8-April 8, 2024. 

Tennessee’s Most Popular Banned Books

RankBookAuthorSearch Interest Score
1A Court of Mist and FurySarah J. Maas45
2The Perks of Being a WallflowerStephen Chbosky28
3Gender QueerMaia Kobabe12
4The Bluest EyeToni Morrison10
5All Boys Aren’t BlueGeorge M. Johnson7
6Out of DarknessAshley Hope Perez5
7CrankEllen Hopkins4
T-8Looking for AlaskaJohn Green3
T-8The Absolutely True Diary Of a Part-Time IndianSherman Alexie3
10Lawn BoyJonathan Evison3

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Which Banned Books Are the Most Popular?

At the top of the list when it comes to search volume around books that are banned in the state, you will find Sarah J. Maas’ 2015 young adult romance novel, “A Court of Mist and Fury,” which is part of the author’s “A Court of Thorns and Roses” quintet of novels, which were released between 2015 and 2021.  

The series made its way onto The New York Times Best Seller list, while also getting picked up as a TV series by Hulu, with “A Court of Mist and Fury” being the second novel that Maas released way back in 2016.  

Maas’ novel beat out Stephen Chbosky’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” which redefined the young adult literary genre in 1999 by chronicling the thinking of an adolescent boy named Charlie, who navigates his own sexuality, in addition to drug use, sexual assault and topics surrounding mental health.

Chbosky’s novel finished No. 2 in Tennessee among the banned books list, with a search interest score of 28. Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer” was third at 12, Toni Morrison’s seminal novel “The Bluest Eye” was fourth (10) and “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson was fifth (7).  

Throw in “Out of Darkness” by Ashley Hope Perez (5 search interest score), Ellen Hopkins’ “Crank” (4), “Looking for Alaska” andThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” (3 each) and Jonathan Evison’s “Lawn Boy” (2) and you have the full list in the Volunteer State.

If you are looking for other stories of general interest in Tennessee, try this:   What Is Tennessee’s Top Beer Brand?

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Christopher Boan writes for BetTennessee.com and has been covering sports and sports betting for more than seven years, with experience at ArizonaSports.com, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.