Filed under: Resources, Updates | Tags: books, education, guest blogger, literacy, news, reading, Shana Swain, writing resources
What a wonderful Saturday. At least, I hope yours has been wonderful.
I have some awesome news for you all. Drum roll?
I’ve created a RESOURCES PAGE! As the clever name implies, this page lists a number of resource for writers, as well as a list of my favorite books (which I think you should read and immediately tell me how brilliant they are).
Feel free (and encouraged) to leave a comment on this post or the resources page itself if there’s anything you want to add to the list, or if you have some recommended reads for me!
And now for another snippet of news…
My First Guest Blogger!
Exciting stuff – an upcoming post will be written by my very first guest blogger. Shana Swain, mother of two and foodie galore, loves books. Do I really need to tell you more? She likes books. So obviously she’s awesome.
If you didn’t sing along, I’m not sure we can be friends.
Shana likes big books, and she also cannot lie about it, and her post will touch on the importance of reading to children. Stay tuned for that next week.
In the meantime, I’m now looking for the best “I like big books and I cannot lie” thing (yes, thing, because I don’t care if it’s a necklace or a pair of underwear). Bonus points to whoever can find the most bizarre ILBB&ICL thing. BIG bonus points.
Filed under: Comma, Grammar, Reblogged Content | Tags: comma, grammar, poetry
Incredible poem about a comma, written by one of my favorite bloggers!
Be sure to check out her other stuff.
Originally posted on A Word Of Substance:
This is my piece, Comma, which was published with The Noctua Review
It’s the little hours I like best. In between moments of rest and wake, eyes parch like paper. Scratchy and dry they turn toward the edges of something missed by only a mark.
The Almost, but Not Quite of a woman turning her head or the skinny places where buildings almost touch. It’s the cross section between thoughts that mean something and thoughts that want to be something. They intersect, briefly touching in a fleeting moment before the intensity is too much. The period at the end of the sentence seems too final.
Filed under: Books, Literature | Tags: American Psycho, banned books, books, Brave New World, censorship, Of Mice and Men, The Catcher in the Rye, The Color Purple
Welcome to the second and final part of The Best Banned Books, According to Me.
Don’t forget to check out Part 1 if you haven’t already.
Oh, Mr. Mackey, you’re just dumb wrong. Books are awesome.
5. American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis
This brilliantly violent novel ran into obstacle after obstacle during its quest to reach readers. Here are just a few things that occurred:
- Simon & Schuster, who was originally going to publish the novel, dropped the project mere months before it was set for release.
- Both the author and the publisher who later came on-board received death threats. (“Hey, let’s fight violence with death! Yay!”)
- Highlights of what this novel has been called: a book of “questionable taste,” “sadistic,” “repulsive,” “the most loathsome offering of the season,” and so on.
- Just last month, Australian police were removing copies from bookstores because they didn’t have them shrink-wrapped, which is a requirement of material that’s deemed to have “restricted classification.”
Well, I’ve made my opinion of American Psycho and its author quite clear in the past, so you know where I stand. And Ellis makes me love him even more with his response to the last bullet point above:
I told my publisher I want all my books restricted and put in little bags. It’s like a little sandwich!
4. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Everyone has their opinions about Brave New World. Some think it’s boring. Dull. Others thing it’s totally badass. I am a member of the latter group.
Among the reasons individuals want this classic piece of literature censored are: blatant sexuality, themes including drugs and suicide, “being anti-family and anti-religion,” not enough multiculturalism, excessive focus on negativity, and a bunch of other reasons over the years.
The author of this article said it best:
Any time you try to censor [Brave New World], excited English teachers print out the article and post it on the Irony board.
Confused about what irony means? Don’t worry. I’m sure I’ll write about it at some point.
3. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
The first John Steinbeck book I ever read – Of Mice and Men – has a long history with regards to book banishment, as attempts have been made to ban it since the ’50s.
But let’s look at a more recent attempt…because it makes me laugh in a so-sad-it’s-funny way.
In May, parents in Idaho did their best to remove the book from schools because of curse words. Let that sink in for a second.
The best quote I found was:
For parent Mary Jo Finney, the use of words such as “bastard” and “God damn” makes it unsuitable for 14- or 15-year-old students. After counting more than 100 “profanities”, she expressed her shock to the Spokesman-Review that “teachers actually had the audacity to have students read these profanities out loud in class”.
With all due respect, Mary Jo, by the time I was a teenager, I could have filled an entire composition notebook with curse words. “Bastard” and “God damn” were small potatoes.
Now I’m thinking maybe Steinbeck wasn’t that far off when he wrote the below passage.
2. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
If you haven’t read The Color Purple, chances are you saw the award-winning film with Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, and Oprah. (No, I didn’t include Oprah’s last name. Because she doesn’t need it.) If you have done neither of these things, I command you to read the book right now. If you’re in a rush, at least watch the damned movie.
Like the other novels on my list of favorite banned books, The Color Purple touches on some incredibly controversial topics, so of course someone wants to censor it.
Some of the many, many reasons cited for banning this Pulitzer-Prize-winning masterpiece are:
- “sexual and social explicitness, and troubling ideas about race relations, man’s relationship to God, African history, and human sexuality” (1984)
- “rough language,” “explicit sex scenes” (1985)
- “smut” (sometime in the ’90s)
- “negative image of black men” (1995)
- “vulgar and X-rated” (1999)
1. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
Ah. Every time I read the title, I can’t help but smile and sigh. The Catcher in the Rye is my all-time favorite book. I’ve read it I’m-not-sure-how-many times and get something new out of it each and every read.
So, of course, people have been trying to ban it for years. World.edu informs, “Between 1961 and 1982, The Catcher in the Rye was the most censored book in high schools and libraries in the United States.”
Among the reasons that my absolute favorite novel should be banned? Profanity, sexual explicitness, violence – and in my home state, it was regarded as a “filthy, filthy book.” Way to make us proud, South Carolina.
Also from World.edu is the following report, which I think is brilliant:
Often, the challengers have been unfamiliar with the plot itself. Shelley Keller-Gage, a high school teacher who faced objections after assigning the novel in her class, noted that the challengers “are being just like Holden…They are trying to be catchers in the rye.”
A Couple of Extra Nuggets
- Apparently, a bookstore in Traverse City, Michigan, is allowing customers to return their copies of Go Set a Watchman for a full refund. Their reason? That Go Set a Watchman is “not a sequel or a prequel to To Kill a Mockingbird. Neither is it a new book.” So that means it’s worthy of a refund? Hmm. As someone who hasn’t read the novel but plans to, in spite of the scathing reviews, I have to ask…is it that bad?
- Shakespeare was a stoner. That is definitely one sentence I never thought I’d say or type. But according to new evidence, it seems the poet had some wacky tobacky mixed in with his tobacco. Just some food for your munchies – I mean, food for thought.
Did I miss any of your favorite banned books? Let me know in the comments below! (I’m a poet and didn’t know it…kind of like Shakespeare the Stoner).
Filed under: Books, Literature | Tags: banned books, ernest hemingway, fahrenheit 451, one flew over the cuckoo's nest, upton sinclair, where the wild things are
I’ve never understood the so-called reasons for banning or burning books. Maybe it’s because books are holy to me. They provide me with a sacred space – a way to participate in a true exploration of the mind.
Stupid book-banners and -burners. (If you’re a book-banner, I apologize for offending you. You should probably leave this blog and find another one that’s more appreciative of your kind.)
Following are five of the top ten books that I do and will always love, and that have a history of being banned and/or burned. Let’s begin, counting down from ten:
10. Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak
Yes. A children’s book has been viewed as controversial. And it’s one of my favorites. I’ll always have a soft spot in my book-loving soul for Max and the Wild Things…even if some view them as “dark.” (What? Kids don’t have “dark” sides? I’m not even a parent, and I can tell you they absolutely do.)
PEN American Center states:
Child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim…wrote in Ladies’ Home Journal, “What [Sendak] failed to understand is the incredible fear it evokes in the child to be sent to bed without supper, and this by the first and foremost giver of food and security—his mother.” Luckily for history, there were a lot more reasoned opinions, like this early review from a Cleveland newspaper : “Boys and girls may have to shield their parents from this book. Parents are very easily scared.”
Sounds to me like Bettelheim needs to grow a pair.
9. The Jungle, Upton Sinclair
I wasn’t required to read this one in school, like many of my peers. In fact, I only read The Jungle about five years ago. It’s definitely not the novel you’d want to read if you’re going through a depressive episode…but it’s shocking and real.
Sinclair’s novel focuses on the meatpacking industry, and its true-to-life descriptions and revelations made more than a few people put down their ground beef in disgust. In fact, it led to the creation of the Food & Drug Administration (thanks, Sinclair!).
The bannings and burnings took place mainly overseas, and mainly because of Sinclair’s political beliefs. Silly Nazis.
8. The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
This was the first Hemingway novel I ever read. And I loved it. I fell in love with Jake and wanted to be Brett. But not everyone loved it – or can see its literary merit.
Sure, there’s cursing. Yeah, there’s sex and libations. And lounging around, with the protagonist an expatriate with nothing but adventure on the brain. Oh, and I can’t neglect to mention Jake’s implied “condition.”
The novel was banned in many countries and (like The Jungle) was one of many books the Nazis deemed fit to be become ash. Even Hemingway’s mom wasn’t a fan: she’s reported to have said it was “one of the filthiest books of the year.” (I have an image of her eating crumpets and sipping tea while saying this.) There’s even a very propaganda-looking website devoted to the many reasons The Sun Also Rises should be banned (visit if you’d like a laugh).
But all of these book-banners forget the impact this novel had on the literary world – and what Hemingway contributed to 20th-century literature as a whole.
7. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey
I won’t lie: I read this book because of the film. While watching the film, even as a pre-teen (do they call them “tweens” now – who the hell knows), I had a strong, almost physical response to Nurse Ratched. And when I read the novel as a twentysomething, I found that my hatred for her could and did run deeper. This novel invoked a number of other emotions in me because the characters are three-dimensional and Kesey doesn’t sugarcoat a damned thing, which may be part of the reason this book has been challenged so frequently.
Banned Books Awareness elaborates:
In 1974, five residents of Strongsville, Ohio, sued the board of education to get the novel removed from classrooms. Labeling it “pornographic,” they charged the novel “glorifies criminal activity, has a tendency to corrupt juveniles, and contains descriptions of bestiality, bizarre violence, and torture, dismemberment, death, and human elimination.”…
…The 21st century saw it challenged at the Placentia-Yorba Linda, California Unified School District in 2000 after complaints by parents stated that teachers “can choose the best books, but they keep choosing this garbage over and over again.”
If this piece of art is garbage, then I am a garbage hoarder.
6. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
You know what would be hilarious? If this list of banned books – books that were censored – contained one that included censorship as a theme. Or, more appropriately, anti-censorship.
Laugh your hiney off, because this is the case. Fahrenheit 451, the first thing I ever read by the genius Ray Bradbury, is a story largely focused on the evils of censorship. Yet folks keep wanting to censor the hell out of it – even in the 21st century!
Purchase College Library’s blog Beyond the Stacks explains:
“I don’t think he saw the irony at all,” Librarian Lois Buckman said of the Texas man who tried to ban the novel from his daughter’s high school. The father claimed it was a “filthy book” that “insulted our firemen.” Buckman added: “I don’t believe he read the book at all, and if he did read it, I don’t think he understood it.”
Father – 0, Lois Buckman – 1
That’s one good-looking list of banned books I have going on. What’s your favorite banned book? And what banned book(s) do you hope are listed in Part 2? Sound off below.
Yes. So many of these are true.
If I had to add one, it would be: “Oh, you’re a writer? I wrote eighty-three books and self-published them. How many have you published?”
Originally posted on Sudrobelle:
Let me be straight with you… If you’re not a writer, your safest bet is to not say anything about writing to a writer. If you are a writer, there’s no hope really… We all know we’re going to accidentally bruise each other’s egos, whatever we say! However, these are some absolute gems of what NOT to say to a writer.
Did you miss me? (Say you did, even if you didn’t.)
Aw, how sweet! I missed you, too. It’s been a long week.
But now I’m back, with several nuggets for your enjoyment. Before we jump in, let’s have a look at a word in this post’s title.
What a weird word. It’s one of those words that, if you look at it for long enough or write it down so many times, it stops looking like a real word (even if you’re not bothering with those special letters).
But it is one! Check out the following image (thanks, Google!) to learn about the word’s roots.
Smörgåsbord has been used in its homeland of Sweden since roughly the 14th century, and it didn’t become widely used among other nations until (according to Wikipedia, the one source you should never use as a source) the 20th century. But after five minutes of Internet searching, I couldn’t find another solid claim as to when the word was first used, spelled “smorgasbord,” in countries other than Sweden.**
On with the smorgasbord, readers. Or, as Jeopardy would call it:
Bill Cosby, Where’d Your Endorsements Go?
I’m sure you have, at the very least, heard about the rape allegations surrounding Bill Cosby. Chances are you’ve come across myriad headlines referring to one of the many cases.
Since the forty-plus allegations, Cosby has lost quite a bit of public support (boohoo). The accused rapist was dealt another blow last week when the publisher of last year’s bestselling biography Cosby: His Life and Times pulled a number of celebrity endorsements from the book. Statements were made on the behalf of Jerry Seinfeld and David Letterman requesting that their quotes be removed from the cover. The biographer, Mark Whitaker, had this to say:
I was wrong to not deal with the sexual assault charges against Cosby and pursue them more aggressively … I am following new developments and will address them at the appropriate time. If true the stories are shocking and horrible.
Mmhmm. I’ll leave my opinions about Cosby’s case (mostly) to myself.
But here’s a very interesting article relating to Cosby, if you’d like to read more.
How Often Is XYZ English Word Used?
Well, don’t ask me! I sure as H-E-double-hockey-sticks don’t know. However, your question might get answered in the below video, which was created by Abacaba using this data.
Katy Perry’s Grammar Sucks
Not very news-breaking that Perry’s tweets are riddled with grammatical errors that would make just about anyone cringe.
Last week, BuzzFeed helped us understand what Perry was really trying to say in the above tweet by pulling out the red pen and going to town.
Needless to say, it made me very happy.
Putin Has a Book Club…
…and it is way better than Oprah’s. Because it enforces censorship, of course! Read more here and share your opinion on the literary plan Putin has put in place.
I hope you all got a chuckle or a grin out of this post. And if not, I’ll just have to try harder next time, won’t I?
**If you find an authoritative source answering the question of when smorgasbord was used for the first time outside of Sweden, I will give you something special. I’m not sure yet what it will be, but it will be freaking awesome.
Filed under: Grammar, Language | Tags: dangling modifier, grammar, grammar rules, modifier
As an editor, I see a lot of grammatical errors. Using “you’re” when it should have been “your.” “Should of” used instead of “should have.”
And then there’s the dreaded dangling modifier.
Yes, that’s a fancy-sounding phrase, but the issue is a real one (no, not bad enough for you to break out the hand sanitizer and SARS mask).
Before we jump into dangling modifiers, let’s do a quick grammar refresher on modifiers.
Here are a couple of examples to get you in the mood for modifiers:
Disgusted, the zombie spit out the fake brains.
In the above, “Disgusted” is the modifier that describes “the zombie.”
Throwing the pine cone, the sasquatch hoped to confuse its hunters.
In this example, “Throwing the pine cone” is the modifier that describes “the sasquatch.”
Easy-peasy, right? So what the hell is a dangling modifier?
Now the real moment of fun has arrived: FUN EXAMPLES!
And now, one from yours truly:
Walking home slowly, the most awesome of all unicorns was on Amanda’s mind.
The moral of the story?
In all seriousness, don’t let your modifiers dangle, guys.
It’s just not cool.