Here is the cute non-literary weekend dealie I stumbled upon. I would love to do moss graffiti - this idea is adorable.
June 11, 2011
June 9, 2011
A particularly smart YA book, Stealing Heaven is about Dani, 18, who has never been to school, taken a test, gotten a driver’s license or had a boyfriend. Well… not a real one, although she did lose her virginity to one of her mother’s flings at the age of 15. Dani has lived on the road, constantly on the go, with her mother all her life. They scout out houses, find an in, steal what they want, and move on to the next town.
Over the course of this novel, however, and without giving away too much, Dani begins to question this process. (Not sure how much of that I buy in reality; you don’t begin to question the only life you’ve ever known and the only family you’ve ever had that suddenly and with little interruption to your normal life.) Ultimately, however, Dani is forced to change her life rather than making a choice for herself. The saving grace here, though, is that there is a satisfying lack of mushiness for a YA book with a romantic subplot.
Fun read, fast-paced, sweet plot, smart protagonist. Recommended for anyone who likes YA fiction.
June 8, 2011
Kevin Brooks’s book would be among the first to go on anyone’s young adult book-banning spree. Joe meets Candy and it’s love at first sight. And it never wanes, even after discovering that she is a seventeen(-ish)-year-old prostitute. He has close calls with her pimp, visits the house where she and the other girls receive their visitors, and watches her go through a brutal withdrawal. Needless to say, this is not exactly on the public school English curriculum.
That is where I take issue.
Apparently, if a work of literature contains brutal homicide, prostitution, rape, incest, profanity, racism, or any kind of general not-niceness, teens are not to be exposed to it UNLESS it was written about 400 years ago, preferably by a Mr. William Shakespeare, in which case all bets are off.
Linda Holmes did an awesome job of addressing the absurdity of actually preventing a young person from reading. It reminds me of the controversy surrounding Ozzy Osbourne when his chanting of “Shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot” was blamed for a teen massacre some time ago. As pointed out then and Linda Holmes points out now, if a kid is going to do something awful, it’s not going to take a book to get him to do it. Really, if a book “makes” someone commit murder, cut themselves, etc., do we really need to question whether or not there is a pre-existing problem that would surface regardless of one’s leisure activities?
But again, Holmes covered that herself, and that’s not even my biggest issue with the banning of YA lit.
The biggest problem with banning any kind of books geared toward teens, in my own opinion as an English teacher and obsessive reader, is not that teens are being stopped from reading books with questionable content; it is that the books offered to teens are books that they are completely unable to relate to on any level whatsoever. It’s only my third year teaching, but I am in the unique position of having a smaller number of students who I get to know over the course of years, and I know them well. Many of them better than I might like to. And there is not a damn thing about light, happy, sunshiney books that makes any kind of sense to them.
Not only should they not be stopped from reading these “dark” books, they should be encouraged to read them! From firsthand experience, I can say that the reading that happens in school is exactly why teens don’t read. Offer them Homecoming (dark in its own way, of course) and only nerds like me will be thrilled; offer them something juicy like Perfect Chemistry and they’ll read with the best of ‘em. (No kidding, I had to order 10 copies of Perfect Chemistry and still had a waiting list of two pages for this book, and then again for Rules of Attraction.) Kids who have never read a book in their lives have read multiple books in my classes this school year because they didn’t know there was anything out there that was at all relevant to them.
Our kids are surrounded by conflicting messages about drugs and sex and violence every single day of their lives. Keeping books with these themes away from them is the literary equivalent of abstinence-only education. If we pretend it doesn’t exist, that doesn’t make it go away. I am a supporter of passing out condoms to students just as I am a supporter of passing out controversial books to students. How could we expect them to deal with complex issues that affect their lives so profoundly if we who are responsible for guiding them pretend these issues don’t exist?
This is a sore subject for me – can you tell? My point is simply this: it is completely and horribly irresponsible for anyone – especially an educator – to 1) deny a book to a young person, and 2) not push controversial, thought-provoking literature into their hands. Did it every occur to anyone that the lazy thinkers produced in schools today are a product of these attitudes? The academic sloppiness is astounding and they are incapable of thinking for themselves… perhaps because everyone makes their decisions for them. Yet making these decisions for them, telling them how to think and feel because we said so, is supposed to cause them to make the right decisions when confronted with drug abuse, underage drinking, and premature sexual activity.
The logic here astounds me.
June 7, 2011
It’s my birthday and I’ll post what I want to. And really, when will I have another excuse to collect pictures of my favorite eyecandy? Bear with me, please.
Truth be told, we won’t see a lot of mainstream athletes on a list (of mine) of this nature. But Brooks is a beast, he’s cute as a button, he plays hockey for the Caps, and I love listening to his interviews.
I still love him. He’s a little young for me but I love Trivium and I love him. I mean, he wrote a song about Matthew Shepard for crying out loud! I don’t care how long and serial killer-y his hair gets. (It’s definitely going that way.) And I don’t care if they do at times sound suspiciously like Metallica. Whatever. Trivium is way better. That’s right. I went there.
Thank God I was never a “Third Rock” fan. Otherwise, I never would have been able to look at JG-L as the eyecandy we see here. He doesn’t get to be as high on the list as his look-alike if for no other reason than to emphasize the fact that he’s awesome in his own right, and not just because he looks like another awesome actor who died tragically. If you haven’t already seen him in “500 Days of Summer,” you really – oh, who am I kidding? Everyone’s seen him in “500 Days of Summer.” Aside from that oh-so-charming movie, though, try to ignore the borderline-hipster thing he has going on now.
This is another obvious one. Don’t sit there and claim you love him for “The Dark Knight” and act like you didn’t fall in love with him in “10 Things I Hate About You” and weren’t the least bit curious (no pun intended) about “Brokeback Mountain.” You love him. Admit it. And you loved “10 Things.”
He was a part of my growing up. He was hot when he was young; he’s hot now that he’s older; he frequently performs all-but naked. I refuse to listen to anything they produced after I hit high school, but he’s one of the great charismatic performers of my lifetime and even though it wasn’t fantastically written, his life made for an interesting book.
What’s more embarrassing than admitting that you’ve got a crush on Mickey Rourke? Admitting that this crush developed as a direct result of “The Wrestler” and “Iron Man 2,” not “9 1/2 Weeks.” What if he looks a lot like an old wrestler boyfriend of yours – does that make it better?
Okay, and this wrestler-crush I make absolutely no apology for. I actually still have an old Edge and Christian nightshirt that I got when I was… maybe 15? (Jeff Hardy was another huge wrestler-crush once upon a time, but since the Victory Road fiasco he has, regrettably, been moved to the douche list.)
He’s my old man-crush, not to mention the man-crush of plenty of male friends of mine. He did “Arlington Road” and “The Door in the Floor,” an adaptation of John Irving’s A Widow for One Year. That’s awesome enough, but then throw in “Crazy Heart”? I can’t wait to (finally) see the new “True Grit.” (Great book, by the way.)
The George Clooney of politics. And what a badass, right? Yet another thing Obama did right.
Short or long hair… Made up or au naturel…
Davey Havok is the love of my life, I won’t lie. It takes a great (and beautiful) man to make me even begin to start to commence considering for even a split-second (because really, that’s all you’re getting) giving up chicken nuggets. I could say all the very obvious stuff – favorite band(s), best live show I’ve ever seen, beautiful artist, etc. – but instead, let us just gaze. I quite literally get a rush every time I listen to his music, regardless of how many times I’ve heard it before.
Happy birthday to me!
June 6, 2011
I make no apologies for a movie list on a weekday. There are few things more literary than a darn good story, and that’s what most of these are.
I am ashamed to say, however, that I still have not seen almost any of the film adaptations of novels as I am still planning to watch them after reading the book. Whenever that is.
June 5, 2011
Another round of cool things I’ve seen begins with some sidewalk chalk art.
Here you’ll find the popular SuperSprayer video that everyone on the planet but me had seen prior to a week ago. I thought it was pretty neat, though.
Finally, the 25 Funniest Moments in Vandalism History is always good for a laugh. Always. Case in point:
June 4, 2011
This is my first non-literary find for the weekend: Greg Rutter’s Definitive List of the 99 Things You Should Have Already Experienced on the Internet Unless You’re a Loser or Old or Something.
I foresee this being a GREAT way to waste a chunk of my weekend, which I need to spend grading. Darn.
June 3, 2011
I cannot tell a lie (despite what my elementary school teachers might have told you) – I enjoyed this book immensely. While there are obvious problems with the book, I find them to be far outweighed by the good stuff.
Keep in mind, of course, that I always read these YA novels with my students in mind, and I always read these YA novels with my girls in mind. Anatomy of a Boyfriend ranks right up there with Rainbow Party on my list of books I would require my students to read… if a teacher’s opinion mattered at all. Each for very different reasons, though.
This book does a spectacular job of capturing the sheer anxiety of young “love.” Dominique is studious and inexperienced, though not naive, when she meets Wes, a track star. They “court” the way people do now: instant messenger and e-mail. And that doesn’t only apply to teenagers anymore, as I think everyone must be aware by now. They decide to date, have a passionate beginning, shift into a long-distance relationship when they leave for college, and it eventually and very predictably crumbles within a year.
The most interesting thing about the book may be the fact that each and every turn of events can be seen coming from about 10 miles away, and yet Snadowsky still perfectly captures the gut-wrenching insecurity and anxiety of a new relationship. Or a long-distance one. Or… any one when you’re 17.
That said, the book is both flat and somewhat of a page-turner because it is so flat. (Huh?) There is no real subplot to the book. Dominique’s grandmother’s death, college acceptance, etc., are given no more attention than needed to explain how it affects her relationship with Wes. Although that makes for a flat story, I totally buy it in this context, and because it’s buy-able it keeps you reading rather than boring the reader.
While the book is definitely dated in terms of technology and pop-culture, the story is universal and the protagonist is believable. Other characters may be cliche (her police officer father and Algebra teacher mother), but the relationship that takes center stage is completely believable and certainly felt true to me.
June 2, 2011
This article attempts to explain the conundrum of Spanish-language bookselling in the United States. Although the article points out that even Spanish-speaking book-lovers have a difficult time reading when they tend to spend so much time working (and working and working and working…) and that they only read .05 books a year on average, it doesn’t cite the fact that only four percent of books sold in the U.S. are Spanish and the fact that Spanish-language books therefore seem to be a poor investment as a part of an unfortunate catch-22. Just saying.
June 1, 2011
I’ll refrain from insisting that a list of books every man should read should necessarily include many books written by women – not just one written by Flannery O’Connor. I’m sure the logic is apparent to anyone with half a working brain.
Instead, I’ll point out that a real man’s man’s list like this one – again, no argument with most of the titles present – presents some glaring deficiencies. Namely, a lack of Song of Solomon (although Jazz is my personal favorite), a lack of To Kill a Mockingbird (which is not even close to being a favorite of mine but necessary nonetheless), a lack of Harry Potter (which I think is a viable option), and a lack of Frankenstein (hello?!). In my mind, these are all problematic gaps in any reading list and are particularly problematic in a reading list for men.
Just like a reading list for women is incomplete without any Shakespeare (also missing from this list), Tropic of Cancer, or Anna Karenina.
That said, that’s a hefty bit of negativity and aside from that (enormous) problem, I actually really like the list.