Top 10 controversial reads

Check out what books got conversations stirring, arguments brewing and new opinions forming.


1.  A Million Little Pieces - James Frey
With a unique style of writing, James Frey scoops you into the world of drug abuse.  You can literally feel the needles, the pain of withdrawal and the bliss of the next high. The book was thought to be a true story of his life, but it was later revealed that many of the facts were fabricated and it was closer to a work of fiction. 

The fans were in an uproar, including Oprah, and it sparked a worldwide argument about what is right and what is wrong.

I personally loved the book, whether it was based on 100% truth or not.  It's a fantastic read and which genre it is categorised under is irrelevant.  Some people feel very differently to me though - what do you think?

Click here to buy your copy.

2.  We Need To Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver
It takes a lot of guts to write about a child who murders a room full of his classmates.  What makes this book even more phenomenal is that it makes you wonder who is to blame.  Kevin had a very tumultuous relationship with his mother, who just couldn't seem to bond with him.

He would drive her to the point of breakdown, by destroying everything she held dear and screaming non-stop while they were alone together.  When he was with his father, however, he was a different child.  An angel.  It was as if Kevin had two sides to his personality.  Was she over-reacting to his behaviour?

Or maybe she should have sought help before it was too late...was Kevin's mom partly to blame?  Or is this just a story about a really sick child that was screaming for attention?  The book is brilliantly written and won Lionel Shriver the Orange Prize for fiction in 2005.

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3.  My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult
If your child had cancer and the only hope for her survival were stem cells from another one of your children, would you purposefully conceive a child specifically to provide those stem cells?  Would you subject this child to a lifetime of tests and painful operations to keep your other child alive?  Would your new daughter have rights of her own?

Would she be able to say "No"? These are the questions that Jodi Picoult tackles in her best-selling book, "My Sister's Keeper," now also a popular movie.

It is a heart-breaking look at what parents do at the depth of desperation, how far they are willing to go, and how a family deals with cancer, planned conception, human rights and choosing one child above another.

Read our review here.

4.  Forbidden - Tabitha Suzuma
17-year old Lochan and 16-year old Maya Whitely, brother and sister, fall in love in this gripping novel.  It is a vivid account of incest, betrayal and forbidden love.  The horror and revulsion of incest is surprisingly understood, even justified, when you read their story and it makes you, the reader, question your own beliefs.

You want to stop the characters from making the wrong decision, but on the other hand, you wish you could help them find just that inch of happiness they never had.  It's a novel that will play with your convictions and test your boundaries in a powerful way.

Read our review here. You can also check out our interview with Tabitha here.

5.  Oprah - Kitty Kelly
It's the biography that Oprah refuses to comment on and which has created a global conversation.  Was Oprah really abused?  Has she repeatedly lied on public TV?  How poor was she when she was growing up?  Does she say certain things for higher ratings and more money?  Who is the real Oprah?

Kitty Kelly, known for her honest, yet controversial biographies, interviewed dozens of Oprah's family members and friends to pull this book together.  She says it is all based on fact and that what is written is entirely true, but some things are really hard to believe.

I personally find it difficult to question Oprah's integrity, because I have come to love her show and find it admirable that she helps so many millions of people through her fame and fortune.  But who knows?

Click here to buy your copy.

6.  The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
This is a book that many of us read as children, but for many years it was actually banned from schools around the world.  Published in 1951, it caused an immediate uproar.

Filled with profanity, sexual scenes, general subversive nature, smoking, and drinking, it certainly isn't a book that many parents want their children to read.  It is, however, a literary phenomenon that deserves a place on every bookshelf.

Salinger writes about the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, who has since become an icon for teenage rebellion.  It is a brilliant, honest portrayal and has sold more than 65 million copies.

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7.  American Psycho - Bret Easton Ellis
After writing a novel about a self-proclaimed serial killer, Bret Easton Ellis received a massive amount of hate mail and numerous death threats. In some countries, American Psycho cannot be purchased by anyone who is under 18.

It is a satirical novel that was released in 1991, telling the story through Patrick Bateman's eyes.  Patrick is an insane yuppie who is also a murderer, and the book contains extreme levels of graphic violence and sexual torture.  Despite this, however, the book continues to sell well and has also been made into a movie.

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8.  The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
This is the book that had Christians in uproar.  Some questioned their firm belief in certain aspects of the Bible; others condemned Dan Brown for his heretic writing.  The work of fiction revolves around characters who discover a dark secret that’s been hidden by the Catholic Church for centuries, which sheds light on the divinity of Christ. 

It has been criticised for its inaccurate descriptions of history, geography, art and architecture.  Dan Brown has even been sued for plagiarism.  This been said, the book has still sold millions of copies and Tom Hanks plays the lead role in the movie.

Click here to buy your copy.

9.  Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
If your central character is a paedophile, then you are immediately going to be putting yourself on the chopping block as a writer.  First published in 1955 in France, it tells the story of Humbert who has an intense obsession and sexual relationship with 12-year-old Dolores Haze (also known as Lolita).

Although you are repulsed by Humbert, you are also mad at Lolita who seems to taunt him the entire time.  It sold over 100 000 copies in its first three weeks in America, but was banned for a long time in France, the UK, New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa.  It is a cleverly written novel that is characterised by word play, multilingual puns, anagrams and even Nabokov's own made-up words such as nymphet and faunlet.  One of the novel's characters, "Vivian Darkbloom", is an anagram for author Vladimir Nabokov.

Even the title is a term we often use when we think of a promiscuous young woman.  It's a novel with many layers and which has sparked much controversy and conversation since its publication, and which can now be found in all good bookstores in the "Classics" section.

Click here to buy your copy.

10.  To the Point - Herschelle Gibbs
Released just a few weeks ago, this book has already sold thousands of copies.  There has been a media rampage about the book, from before it hit the shelves, and there was even talk about it being banned.

Herschelle Gibbs is loved by millions of cricket fans around the world, even though his behaviour and sporting talent appear to be very inconsistent.  In his biography he talks very frankly about the ups and downs of his personal and professional life.  You will read about that famous dropped catch at the 1999 World Cup, to the six sixes at the 2007 World Cup.

But that isn't what is getting everyone's sporting knickers in a knot...Herschelle also speaks candidly about the marijuana-smoking incident in the Caribbean, his problems with alcohol, his divorce, the multitude of women and the strip-club video.

He also deals honestly with the match-fixing controversies, gives his opinion on his teammates and the Proteas over the past 14 years, and includes some blatant controversial information on various captains and coaches.

Click here to buy your copy.

What is your favourite controversial read? Share your recommendations with us below.

- Women24

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