Attaining the greatest positive response of any of his works up to that time, Steinbeck's novella was chosen as a Book of the Month Club selection before it was published. Praise for the work came from many notable critics, including Maxine Garrard (Enquirer-Sun), Christopher Morley, and Harry Thornton Moore (New Republic). New York Times critic Ralph Thompson described the novella as a "grand little book, for all its ultimate melodrama."
The novella has been banned from various US public and school libraries or curricula for allegedly "promoting euthanasia", "condoning racial slurs", being "anti-business", containing profanity, and generally containing "vulgar" and "offensive language". Many of the bans and restrictions have been lifted and it remains required reading in many other American, Australian, Irish, British, New Zealand and Canadian high schools. As a result of being a frequent target of censors, Of Mice and Men appears on the American Library Association's list of the Most Challenged Books of 21st Century (number 4). In the UK, it was listed at number 52 of the "nation's best loved novel" on the BBC's 2003 survey The Big Read.
Despite the book's popularity, there have been controversies surrounding its content that have led Of Mice and Men to become censored in school districts around the country. Of Mice and Men has been challenged 54 times since it was published in 1936. However, scholars like Thomas Scarseth have fought to protect the book by citing its literary value. According to Scarseth "in true great literature the pain of Life is transmuted into the beauty of Art", thus it is through the controversy that people can begin to appreciate.