Last year set records for attempted book censorship in the United States, and books with LGBTQ+ themes were among the most frequently targeted, according to an annual report by the American Library Association.

"Gender Queer: A Memoir" by Maia Kobabe was the most challenged book for the second year in a row, according to the library association's Office for Intellectual Freedom, which released its list of most challenged books Monday. This year's list included 13 titles — up from the usual 10 — because multiple books received the same number of challenges.

Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the association's Office for Intellectual Freedom, defined a book challenge as "a demand to remove a book from a library's collection so that no one else can read it," in a statement last month.

Wanda Mae Huffaker, a longtime librarian with the Salt Lake County Library system, said the County Library also noticed a large jump in the number of requests for books to be pulled — most of them which came in quick succession last summer.

The majority of challenges Huffaker received were for books discussing sex, reproduction and gender. One title was challenged for language and another for religion, she said.

No books were actually pulled from the shelves, but Huffaker said the library handled 22 challenges in 2022. That's up from the 11 challenges in 2021, which at the time was two to three times more than the annual average.

That tracks with the data compiled by the American Library Association, which shows a steep increase in challenges over the past two years, as political groups have taken aim at books by Black or LGBTQ+ authors. The library association documented 1,269 challenges to books last year, although there are likely far more that weren't counted, as the group relies on library data and news stories to track the challenges.

The majority of books were challenged in school libraries, but 41% of challenges were against books in public libraries. Ninety percent of the challenges included attempts to remove multiple books.

"Prior to 2021, the vast majority of challenges to library resources only sought to remove or restrict access to a single book," the American Library Association said in a news release.

Huffaker said her job is to take each challenge seriously, though, and the committee that handles requests is thoughtful about each. Books are rarely removed from the shelves, but are occasionally reclassified to a different age range or subject matter.

"Just as we get the right to freedom of speech, one of the First Amendment rights is also the right to petition the government," she told KSL.com. "We want to make sure that that right is addressed fairly for every person who files a reconsideration. That's not something we want to dismiss lightly."

The American Library Association designated every Monday of National Library Week as Right to Read Day, to celebrate the right to read freely and to push back against censorship. Huffaker said the banned books list is an important tool to draw attention to attempts to censor what other people can read.

"It's never about the book, or even what the book is about, it's about the fact that some people think they can make the choices for other people," she said. "Really, it's about making choices for yourself."

"That's why I work so hard to defend that because I believe we all have free choice," she continued. "I don't think anyone has the right to tell anybody else what to read. I don't care what the subject of the book is, I don't care what it's about, just choose it yourself and let somebody else choose themselves."

Here is the full list of most challenged books nationally in 2022, along with the reasons for the challenges, according to the American Library Association:

  • "Gender Queer: A Memoir" by Maia Kobabe. Challenged for LGBTQ+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit.
  • "All Boys Aren't Blue" by George M. Johnson. Challenged for LGBTQ+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit.
  • "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison. Challenged for depiction of sexual abuse; equity, diversity and inclusion content; claimed to be sexually explicit.
  • "Flamer" by Mike Curato. Challenged for LGBTQ+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit.
  • (tie) "Looking for Alaska" by John Green. Challenged for LGBTQ+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit.
  • (tie) "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky. Challenged for depiction of sexual abuse, LGBTQ+ content, drug use, profanity, claimed to be sexually explicit.
  • "Lawn Boy" by Jonathan Evison. Challenged for LGBTQ+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit.
  • "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie. Challenged for profanity, claimed to be sexually explicit.
  • "Out of Darkness" by Ashley Hope Perez. Challenged for depictions of abuse, claimed to be sexually explicit.
  • (tie) "A Court of Mist and Fury" by Sarah J. Maas. Challenged for claims of being sexually explicit.
  • (tie) "Crank" by Ellen Hopkins. Challenged for drug use, claimed to be sexually explicit.
  • (tie) "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" by Jesse Andrews. Challenged for profanity, claimed to be sexually explicit.
  • (tie) "This Book Is Gay" by Juno Dawson. Challenged for LGBTQ+ content, providing sexual education, claimed to be sexually explicit.