Monthly Archives: September 2013

Review: Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

No idea why it took me so long to get around to reading this. It felt good to read something that portrayed slavery in the United States where the slaves were both treated as property and subhuman. Books like Gone With the Wind treat slaves as secondary family members.

Uncle Tom bothered me throughout the book. While maybe there were people who maintained such loyalty to both God and master. Pretty sure I would have been more of a George and figured a way to escape.

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Review: The Painted Bird

The Painted Bird
The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosiński
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I chose to read this book for Banned Books Week 2013. A quote from that September 14th blog post:

In tenth grade, this book was assigned to us. It was the most difficult book I had read to that point, but it was also by far the one I wanted to finish most. Traumatic is a good word to describe reading this book. And it has taken a couple decades to want to try reading it again.

Due to a number of parents complaining about the book, our teacher took back the copies. I marked this book as read on Goodreads, but I do not think now I really did finish it. So I plan on finishing it and making it right.

So now I have finished it.

I still think this is the most difficult book I have ever read. The main character suffers constantly from things I can only describe as torture, rape, and assault. I have seen some complaints about the amount of sex and torture in A Song of Ice and Fire. The child in this book is under the age of 12 and goes through more in the first 100 pages than the entirety of ASoIaF. Reading it was an emotional struggle, but I think a book that brings out that much emotion is good.

It lost a star for the ending. The last 30 or so pages left me wondering why they were included as they felt like an entirely different book. Maybe that was something like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder where after so much terror a normal text no longer feels right.

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Constitution Day

Apparently September 17th is Constitution Day. This is the day in 1787 when the document was signed. (July 4th is for the Declaration of Independence.) Schools receiving Federal funding are supposed to spend part of the day teaching about the Constitution.

I wonder how many people have a copy of it?

If you have an eBook reader, then you should be able to get a free copy of the United States Constitution. Because it is in the public domain, anyone can publish it for free. Project Gutenberg posted it back in 2003.

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Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009

Additional thinking about Compiled List of Challenged Books 2008-2012 made me copy Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009 and do the same markup as indicated below.

Those I have already read are in bold. That appears to be fourteen.

Those already on my to-read list are in underlined. That appears to be eight.

Those I just have no interest or failed to finish are in strike-through. That appears to be one.

Looks like the ratio is about the same on this 100 count list as the 34 count list. Maybe I can knock out these eight by the end of next year?

  1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
  2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
  4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
  5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
  6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
  7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
  8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
  9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
  10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
  11. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
  12. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
  13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
  14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
  15. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
  16. Forever, by Judy Blume
  17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
  18. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
  19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
  20. King and King, by Linda de Haan
  21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  22. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
  23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
  24. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
  25. Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
  26. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
  27. My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
  28. Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
  29. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
  30. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
  31. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
  32. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
  33. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
  34. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
  35. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
  36. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  37. It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
  38. Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
  39. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
  40. Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
  41. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
  42. The Fighting Ground, by Avi
  43. Blubber, by Judy Blume
  44. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
  45. Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
  46. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
  47. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby: The First Graphic Novel by George Beard and Harold Hutchins, the creators of Captain Underpants, by Dav Pilkey
  48. Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
  49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
  50. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
  51. Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan
  52. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
  53. You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco
  54. The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole
  55. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
  56. When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester
  57. Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
  58. Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
  59. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
  60. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
  61. Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
  62. The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
  63. The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney
  64. Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park
  65. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
  66. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor
  67. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
  68. Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
  69. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
  70. Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen
  71. Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
  72. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
  73. What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras
  74. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
  75. Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry
  76. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
  77. Crazy: A Novel, by Benjamin Lebert
  78. The Joy of Gay Sex, by Dr. Charles Silverstein
  79. The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
  80. A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
  81. Black Boy, by Richard Wright
  82. Deal With It!, by Esther Drill
  83. Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds
  84. So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Watkins
  85. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher
  86. Cut, by Patricia McCormick
  87. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
  88. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
  89. Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger
  90. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle
  91. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
  92. The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
  93. Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
  94. Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
  95. Shade’s Children, by Garth Nix
  96. Grendel, by John Gardner
  97. The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
  98. I Saw Esau, by Iona Opte
  99. Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
  100. America: A Novel, by E.R. Frank

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Compiled List of Challenged Books 2008-2012

Comments on my Banned Books Week 2013 post yesterday via Facebook made me wonder which of the books recently challenged according the American Library Association’s data I have actually read or plan on reading. So I compiled the 2008-2102 top 10 challenged books for 2008 through 2012 (five years) and sorted and de-duplicated the list. That is a list of 34 books or series.

Those I have already read are in bold. That appears to be five.

Those already on my to-read list are in underlined. That appears to be three.

Those I just have no interest or failed to finish are in strike-through. That appears to be three.

This gives me a starting point to look for additional books to read.

Click through to see the list.

  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie.
  2. Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  3. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.
  4. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
  5. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
  6. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  7. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey.
  8. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
  9. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
  10. The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa
  11. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
  12. Crank, by Ellen Hopkins
  13. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
  14. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James.
  15. Flashcards of My Life, by Charise Mericle Harper
  16. The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
  17. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar
  18. His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman
  19. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
  20. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.
  21. Looking for Alaska, by John Green.
  22. Lush, by Natasha Friend
  23. My Mom’s Having A Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler
  24. My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult
  25. Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich
  26. The Perks of Being A Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
  27. Revolutionary Voices, edited by Amy Sonnie
  28. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
  29. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.
  30. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  31. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
  32. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
  33. Uncle Bobby’s Wedding, by Sarah S. Brannen
  34. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones

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Banned Books Week 2013

Censorship is alive and well in the United States. Someone will object to something in any book. But it takes amazing gall to prevent others from reading what one does not like.

Banned Books Week this year, 2013, is September 22-28. I just received my copy of The Painted Bird a few days ago. I plan to read it that week.

In tenth grade, this book was assigned to us. It was the most difficult book I had read to that point, but it was also by far the one I wanted to finish most. Traumatic is a good word to describe reading this book. And it has taken a couple decades to want to try reading it again.

Due to a number of parents complaining about the book, our teacher took back the copies. I marked this book as read on Goodreads, but I do not think now I really did finish it. So I plan on finishing it and making it right.

A few months ago I read The Kite Runner which apparently is in the top 10 banned books this year. Currently I am reading The Poisonwood Bible which my twelfth grade teacher left her job over the school not supporting her assigning it. (I kind of get how Baptist parents would object to the negative portrayal of a family of them as missionaries in the 1960s Congo as clueless.) I do not TRY to read banned books, but I guess I am just lucky. Maybe I am making up for last year not reading any?

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Review: Dorothy And the Wizard in Oz

Dorothy And the Wizard in Oz
Dorothy And the Wizard in Oz by L. Frank Baum
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was more a series of short stories from starting point of Dorothy acquiring new friends, the Wizard, and a series of unfortunate events. They travel from realm to realm encountering strange peoples. Definitely a Baum book.

My favorite chapter perhaps is the trial of Eureka. I loved this kitten. The chapter seemed a lesson on the problem with relying on pseudo-inductive reasoning. Hypotheticals without teasing out the data to show they reflect real situations are fantasies. Relying on fantasies to decide innocent and guilt are troubling.

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