Late-night Foray into the Void

On a relatively late-night stroll into the ether, or the internet as it were, I found my way into my own particular gut wrenching subsection. I began looking at tiny houses and wondered what it would be like to quit my job and live a life of traveling and seeing the world. Then I was watching a video about a deaf girl who could sing better than I ever could even in the prime of my chorus days and then I landed on the one that broke me. Turned my already fracturing understanding of the human race and its current way of functioning into a pile of ashes.

I splintered and shattered as I looked at an old man while he described to a boy what it was like for him to come out as gay when he was younger. He briefly described that it was illegal and that if you were spending the night with a male friend and the police came in and found you in bed together that you could be arrested simply because. Watching him dream about what it would be like to be able to think about being gay as maybe not “such a big deal” and definitely not face the same consequences as he would have in his youth.

And all I can say is what have we done? What are we still doing? We make people who are too old to restart, or too tired to try again, dream about the sludge that we still turn out as human beings. To fantasize about the trash that is being put forth by many people toward the LGBTQA community is inconceivable to me, even though I know progress has been made. And no, I am not talking about LGBTQA community exclusively, my hopelessness encompasses all oppressed or discriminated against people.

What kind of a society are we that we can’t just let people be. Where I, who pass in all ways, still want to escape the shit people we have become as a society. When did it become so important to everyone what someone does in the privacy of their bedrooms or where someone pees that we have completely ignored that they are still people. Like, holy fuck, just let them pee!

I never before thought I struggled with depression but I am wondering if I have developed it from the deep-seated misanthropy that grows inside of me. The fact that I am considering investing in a tiny house so that I am not tied to one place or so I can easily escape when things become too much is a worrisome thing. I should want to plant roots and make a family but I don’t.

Recent studies have shown that the rate at which people from my generation and younger are having babies is dropping too quickly and I can’t say that I am surprised. There are many reasons why I have chosen a child free life but chief among them is not wanting to bring a child into this world—to see them go through life and be treated like shit the way we treat anyone that doesn’t fit into the box we’ve labelled normal.

They say that normal is just a setting on your washer but truthfully it is this imaginary standard that we measure everyone against. Some fake ideal that we have concocted in our heads from movies, stories, politics, religion, ect, that we use as a ruler and in the end, it’s inadequate, no worse, it’s complete and utter shit and it’s harmful.

We as people can do amazing things and overcome ridiculous obstacles. To be able to write and compose your own songs, then sing those songs with an amazing voice that gives me goosebumps is amazing in general but when it done by someone who is deaf? That is something I would not have thought possible but I was proven wrong. Why can we not use this amazing ability to adapt to accept each other and strive toward greatness and use the resources we currently spend on keeping others down and trying to maintain the imaginary status on helping those in need and decreasing world suck?

When trying to fit people in a box doesn’t work, it’s time to change. When what you believe only hurts and does not help, it’s time to change. When I have to watch an older man, sit and wistfully imagine what it would have been like to experience their first love or crush without the fear of being disowned/abused/arrested/killed it is time to change. When you are putting your personal ideas of what someone else should be before the life and feelings of said person it is time to change.

I can’t teach you to care about others. Empathy, it seems, is becoming an increasingly rare trait and without it we’re all screwed.

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Naughty, Naughty!

Today’s category is one of my favorites: books others don’t want you to read. I love looking through the banned books list. For me, it’s like a list of things I should experience or know. Many of the books that end up on this list are accounts of things that others find hard to handle or that challenge their moral standing. I say bring it, I like a good challenge.

I ran across many lists during my search but the best site I came across was the American Library Association. They have lists upon lists. Challenged classics, most frequently challenged, a banned book list for each year. The lists go on.

They also put up a good fight for everyone’s right to read what they want, to stand up and say that they will not have their books censored for them. They even have an event called banned book week. They have media kits and information for anyone who wants it. Banned book week is coming up September 25 – October 1, 2016.

I believe it is important to know what others are trying to take away from you. So check out the lists below and choose at least one book to enrich your mind and see what others would have you not know.

Challenged Classics
Frequently Challenged Books
Top 100 Most Challenged Books by Decade
Banned Books that Shaped America
Government Banned Books

Lastly, a list of lists from Goodreads, all containing banned books. 😀

I ended up with a few books on my list that were from the banned/challenged book lists I’d found but for my actual banned book I chose The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros.

All the accounts I could find said it was banned because it was about and written by a Mexican American. There was even a court case involving the book because Arizona officials banned Mexican American Studies, claiming it promoted the overthrow of the government. This is the reason I read banned books, to counter act ignorance.

Fight the good fight people and may your brains be sponges.

Bibliophile

If your friend group is anything like mine, you’re never at a loss for book recommendations. Even if you live in a sparsely populated area, there are many online groups for bookworms! But in case you don’t have access to your fellow nerds, Leeann and I have a few recommendations for you.

First, from the more culturally varied of the two of us, Leeann’s choices:

Non-Fiction

We Two: Victoria and Albert : Rulers, Partners, Rivals by Gillian Gill
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
The Wisdom of Whores by Elizabeth Pisani

Fiction
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (series)
I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells (series)
Lisey’s Story by Stephen King

Don’t expect such variation from me. I read solely for a chance to escape. My mind is a cage full of rabid three year olds who what nothing more than to paint my every fancy on the walls of my mind. They need a constant influx of imagery to consume and I’ll be damned if I’m going to wait around to see what happens if the supply runs out.
Sabriel by Garth Nix (series)
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (series)
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (series)
The Shack by Wm. Paul Young
Cathy’s Book by Jordan Weisman & Sean Stewart (interactive and series)

Not so happy tales
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (TW sexual violence)

Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison (TW sexual violence)
Many of the above listed titles will cross reference into other categories for those of you still looking for books to fill your list! My choice for this category is Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (TW self harm) recommended to me by my friend Elisabeth.
Another fun one similar to this is the random selection category. When choosing mine, Elisabeth and I went into a book store together, chose an aisle and spun around with our fingers pointed. You could also go into a book store, especially if you have a small, local one, and ask the clerk for a totally random book. Often they are book lovers just like us and would delight in that fun with you.
Alternately, there is this website which lets you set up to four criteria then pops out a book for you to read. So, completely random? Probably not. Fun? YES.
My book for this category is Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.
Happy Reading!

Don’t Wanna Grow Up

I’ve roped another guest blogger into taking part of my work load. >:D  Her name is Amy Leibowitz and she’s a fabulous author and friend! She’s here to talk about my favorite genre of books, Young Adult Fiction. Without further ado, Amy:

Because I’m a book reviewer and blogger, I thought this challenge would be fairly easy. In some ways, it has been. I’ve been able to cover several categories just from what I normally pick up. But some are less easy, and I’ve had to go out of my way to find good things to read. Fortunately, because I have kids, there’s no shortage of kid and young adult lit in my house.

Every year, there’s a children’s book festival at one of the local college campuses. This year, my middle schooler was excited to go because he was able to meet one of his new favorite authors—Linda Sue Park. She’s the award-winning author of A Long Walk to Water (which is on my reading list for true story and was the assigned book in my son’s classroom) and Newberry Award-winning A Single Shard. She is also a contributing author for The 39 Clues series.

My son was able to have Ms. Park sign his copy of A Long Walk to Water. Meanwhile, my daughter picked up her book Project Mulberry, which is what I chose as my YA fiction. It’s probably closer to a middle-grades (MG) novel, but those categories are closely related.

Project Mulberry is about a Korean-American girl, Julia, and her best friend, Patrick, both of whom are involved in a 4H-type group and working together on a project to enter in the state fair. They choose to raise silkworms, even though Julia wants to do something “more American.”

There are some complex themes in this book, including racism, ethical farming, and cultural pride/sharing. Julia is a terrific narrator, relatable in so many ways. I loved her voice. I read this one out loud with the kids, so we all got to enjoy it together, and we were all excited to see what would happen next. I highly recommend this book, especially for anyone who is on the fence about whether they would enjoy YA or MG novels.

One of the big issues being discussed in YA lit right now is the rampant sexism. Not in the books themselves, per se, but in the community. Some issues which have come up are that male authors “understand” teenage girls better and that books are marketed in such a way that boys are universal (i.e., girls can read about them and relate to them) but girls are special (i.e., boys cannot relate to girls). Obviously, I think those are both terrible. I highly recommend that readers make the effort to read about people who are not exactly like themselves. Books such as Project Mulberry prove that gender and culture have very little to do with whether or not a main character or a plot is interesting or relatable.

If you want to know what else I’m reading (and writing!), you can find me on my blog at http://amleibowitz.com, on twitter @amyunchained, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/UnchainedFaith/. You can read my reviews both on my blog and at Inked Rainbow Reads: http://www.inkedrainbowreads.com/category/reviewer/amy/. If you’re an indie author, an author of LGBTQIA+ lit, or an avid reader looking to talk about books and want to do a guest post, you can drop me a line via my blog on the contact form.

Happy reading!

Stacy again, here’s a few links for you little beasties! And no Goodreads this time. 😮
Top 100 and NPR

Classic, Schmassic

I will be the first to admit that I am not a fan of the classics. No matter how refined I want to be and pretend like me and Shakespeare are home boys, I can’t. Though I am a book lover, that love did not sprout its wings on the runway of high school required reading. More like in spite of…

The other thing that gets me is those lists don’t change much. Which I works for me as a lazy researcher. 😛  There are quite a few comprehensive lists on Goodreads or there is this article that tries to convince you that reading some of these books isn’t the best way to lull yourself to sleep.

All jesting aside, I would love to be among the rank of authors that are forced upon children long after they are dead and I believe that some of them may be very good. As you can tell this category puts my commitment to the challenge to the test. I have chosen Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, even if for no other reason than my partner HATES this song.

One of my favorite trends though is the retelling of classics or fairy tales. I like sprucing up old things and re-purposing items made by others and this is similar. Goodreads comes though again with a long list of retellings and for those of us more predisposed toward YA there’s this one.

I chose Cinder by Mariss Meyer. The cover looks dark like I like and I’m hoping for the best.

Also, if you’re tired of reading lists to find your books, I found you a chart courtesy of Epic Reads!

YA_Retellings_web_vertical_web3

Let me know your choices!

Give Me A Hard One!

We are just over a month into the year and I have to say I am loving this challenge! I missed reading. Curling up with some tea and ignoring my husband, that’s how I want to spend my nights.

Today’s topic of discussion is finding a book from an author with the same initials as you. I found a few sites that will help you do this rather easily.
This is the one I used but I also found this one.
Pretty easy, just go to the one first letter of your last name and find one that starts with your first. 😀

My choice for this category is Black Star, Bright Dawn by Scott O’Dell. I listened to this one on audio book and liked that it was easy to follow. It was about a girl and her running the Iditarod race with her dogs.

I am currently reading Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Haven’t gotten far enough in to be able to tell whether or not I’m going to like it so you’ll have to wait for the results on that one. 😛

For those of you finding this on your own, there is a Facebook group for this challenge if you’d like a community of readers to share your journey with. Until next time!

Rouge Book Choices

Hi, I’m Leeann and I’ll be contributing a few posts to keep you motivated through this year’s reading challenge. You can blame me for this week’s category of choice: A book from a genre you wouldn’t normally read from. I suggested it because even though we are regular readers, or aspiring to be regular readers, it’s easy to get stuck reading the same genres. It’s comfortable, you know what to expect, and when most of us have so little free time, why spend it on genres we don’t normally read and aren’t sure if we’d like?

There’s nothing wrong with reading for pleasure and comfort, and you still reap the many benefits of reading if you choose to stick to what you like. I’m not suggesting you should put down whatever guilty pleasure you’re into right now, but think of this category as a way to challenge yourself.

You’ve probably heard some form of this advice since you were a kid. 1 & 2  So why should we challenge ourselves as adult readers? (Isn’t it enough that we’re still reading books at all?) Reading outside of your favoured genres pushes you outside of your comfort zone. Choosing something new will expose you to different authors, different styles of writing and use of language or vocabulary. Stepping outside of our own echo chambers expands our world view and exposes us to opinions and thoughts that we might not have otherwise encountered.  Author Mike Duran has a great list on the benefits of reading outside your genre if you still need convincing. If you can push out of your comfort zone and potentially broaden your horizons while chilling on the couch, why wouldn’t you give it a shot?

Picking a book from this category can be as easy as choosing a genre you normally avoid, and searching for recommendations in that genre, or asking a friend who reads in that area ( a chance to double up on the recommended book category!). Don’t know what genre to pick, or are not specifically avoiding anything? Wiki has a list of literary genres pick one that you don’t think you’ve ever read from and go from there. You may stumble on a new favourite.

My choice for this category is Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. It’s sitting directly at the crossroads of several paths I rarely choose: serious sci-fi, speculative fiction, techno-thriller, and World War II. It’s heavy on geek cred and page count, weighing in at 1139! I intend to spend the next year expanding my horizons by choosing more complex and difficult books than I’d normally indulge in, and camping outside of my comfort zone. I hope you’ll find at least one book this year that asks the same of you.

Find your anti-genre book yet? Comment below with your choice or join the Facebook group and let us know!