Dec 31, 2011

Chamber of Secrets

I've argued before why this is one of the most underrated books by HP fans.  No one seems to love this book.  I just finished rereading it and I have two hypotheses.  I feel like it could possibly have something to do with how Rowling re-explains concepts introduced in Philosopher's Stone.  It's like those 4 pages that are in every Baby Sitters Club book: they explain how the club was formed, who's in the club, and what they do.  I used to be able to recite those pages.  They served the purpose of familiarizing readers who didn't start with book one, because it wasn't a plot heavy series.  You find it in practically every long running series out there.  It makes sense.

But with Harry Potter, there's really no way you can just pick up a random book and start reading, so there's no reason to have all of this extra explication.  Even if you've seen the movies and think you'll be able to understand, you won't.  Your first question will be, "who the hell is Peeves?"  It's like trying to understand an episode of LOST if you've never seen it before.  The only difference is that a LOST fan will punch you in the face if you try to ask a question while it's playing.  True story, we punch.  

Anyway, after I finished rereading, I realized just how much the cover art gives away.  The cover is practically the entirety of the last 3 chapters of the book! What's there: Fawkes, the sword of Gryffindor, snakes galore, the basilisk's eye, Harry, Ron, and Ginny.  Then there's Mrs. Norris, which makes no sense whatsoever, but oh well.  

Going into the book, there's really no question about what's going to happen.  The other books all have cover art related to their endings as well, but they're a little more cleverly disguised, with the exception of Harry and Hermione riding Buckbeak on the cover for Prisoner of Azkaban.  So was it because we unconsciously already knew that nothing bad was going to happen in this book? 

I can never convince anyone that Chamber of Secrets is better than it seems, but that's okay.  One last thing though: Hermione saves the day whilst unconscious.  What did Bella do when she was practically comatose in New Moon?  Nothing.  Trees were killed so that the months she did nothing could be marked by empty pieces of paper.  Even if that's an unfair comparison, an unconscious Hermione accomplishes more than Bella on her most active day.  Just sayin'. 

Dec 28, 2011

Young Adult

Love. Love. Love.

It's not for everyone.  I wouldn't say it's a chick flick, because it's not when you define chick flick as a sappy movie where the girl ends up with the guy in the most obvious plot possible.  If you want to say a chick flick is a movie with a lead female character, then sure, it's a chick flick.  

People who will (or should) like this movie: young adult book enthusiasts, Diablo Cody fans (it's not as prevalent as "Juno," but there's definitely some vocabulary fun when you compare the generations within the film), people who like watching a woman go crazy, 90s nostalgics who want to hear phrases and songs they remember fondly, and general nostalgics who just need a good slap to get on with their lives.  

Charlize Theron plays a ghost writer for a young adult book series that is declining rapidly in popularity, despite her claims otherwise.  She has severe writer's block while trying to write the last book of the series so she heads home and, like a normal person, attempts to steal back her ex-boyfriend who is happily married and has a newborn.   Yes it sounds chick flickish, but the movie is a lot deeper as it explores how people believe they were at their best in the past, hanging onto any flicker of success to get them through their daily routines.  Soooo good.

Other pluses: there's a scene that takes place near a shelf full of the YA series she writes and they look exactly like a mix between old school Sweet Valley High, Baby Sitters Club, and the Box Car Children, Patton Oswalt is in it, Charlize Theron is awesome playing a crazy person and her character is the complete embodiment of a character from a trashy YA series in the vein of Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars (both terrible, both highly recommended without shame), and it's hilarious despite depressing.  

So in a nutshell, it's wonderful.  Also, according to her twitter, Judy Blume saw it twice, so that mean's you should definitely check it out. 

Dec 26, 2011

#TheList, No. 412: The Happy Prince

I didn't really have much of a reaction to this collection of short stories/morality tales penned by Oscar Wilde.  Maybe it's because I'm a horrible English major who isn't wild about Wilde (yeah, I just made that joke), or maybe it's because I was too preoccupied with Christmas to really put in some effort to deconstruct these stories.  Either way, they were well written, but I wasn't inspired after reading.

All of the stories involve anthropomorphizing animals or elements in order to provide commentary on and correct human behavior.  Basically, after reading these tales, a person should be selfless, charitable, loving, caring, friendly, etc.  An unsurprising Jesus cameo in one of the stories essentially sums up how we should act. 

Even though there's nothing really wrong with Wilde's stories, there are many other stories that cover these moral lessons more effectively, particularly for younger children.  Not that I condone taking the easy way out or am suggesting that kids don't have the mental capacity to get through these stories, but they're just so plain that I think more captivating stories would complete the job.  

However, I do think Wilde's short stories are perfect for junior high and high school English classes.  All fairy tales are wonderful for class discussions and essay writing, so these are perfect candidates.  The religious undertones, depiction of class differences, symbolism, and philosophy found within the stories are practically screaming for a ninth-grade student to write an essay. 

The Help

I'm a huge book snob.  If a book I've read and loved becomes a movie, I want to hate the movie (though "Hugo" was surprisingly wonderful) and if a book I haven't read becomes a movie, I never want to read the book and appear as if I've jumped on the bandwagon.  It's tough.


I kept seeing people reading The Help on the T every day, and each time I could only think of the SNL Weekend Update bit with Tyler Perry (aka Kenan from "Kenan and Kel") where he says "Oh yes, 'The Help!' A film that teaches black women the lesson that if you work hard enough and hum loud enough, Emma Stone will come and save you."  And I would chuckle to myself and keep reading whatever children's book I had with me that day. 

But my grandmother, whom I love dearly, read and recommended The Help to me, and as someone who bought me give or take 1 zillion books when I was growing up, I always read what she recommends.  Plus, I'm a sucker for female empowerment stories, even ones where girls decide they don't want to complain about being single, but want to get a job and just complain about that instead. 

It's.So.Good.  A girl called Skeeter (because, why not?) wants to make it as a serious writer and needs a controversial topic to write about to break into the business.  She interviews black maids and writes their stories, as well as her own, in a book to exploit the horrors of segregation in Mississippi.  But by the end, of course, it's less about her finding success and more about her really wanting to help the women she writes about.

Without getting into the argument over whether or not a white author has the authority to present black point of views, the multiple point of views is the best part about the book.  The only addition that would make it better would be the perspectives of a racist character and a man so it'd be slightly more balanced, but still, it's effective.  Also, the romance bits sometimes seem out of place, but they help to highlight the severe flaws in most of the white characters. 

Who won't like this: Racists.  Sadly, they probably need it the most. 

Dec 20, 2011

Review: The Snow Angel

Over the weekend, I did the unthinkable: read a children's book written by Glenn Beck (in case you don't know me, the fact that a children's book was written by Glenn Beck is what's unthinkable).  It was difficult to get through and off the top of my head, I can't even remember what it was actually about.  I do remember a few things:

1)  The scene is set on the first page of this terrible picture book: two downtrodden children are in the kitchen, eating what looks like the most depressing Kraft macaroni and cheese ever (because it's not the Blues Clues kind, which everyone knows is the best kind and is sadly discontinued).  The measly three lines of text lets us know that Dad doesn't make good macaroni and cheese like Mom.  But now that Mom has a job, Dad's been forced to cook for the kids more often than not. 

Translation: A woman's place is in the kitchen. Grab your torches and pitchforks, the economic crisis is yanking women from their natural environment.  Manly men should not be forced to pick up utensils and prepare food for their offspring.  They should be spending their time killing the food they bring home for their wives to cook. 
Hidden meaning: Obama is not only destroying the economy, but he's ruining the nation's nutrition by forcing men to cook for their children, and upsetting the traditional American family structure.

2)  He couldn't go three pages without mentioning the Middle East.  On the off-chance a woman  neglecting her duties isn't enough to prove the world's demise, he lets the news announcer demonstrate just how serious the setting is in this story.  I'm a little surprised at his restraint from writing about how this family doesn't even have a flat screen television for Dad to watch while he ignores his children's pleas for a better dinner.   

3)  Dad may cook the dinner, but he puts his dishes in the sink, presumably for the wife to wash after busting her metaphorical balls to support her family.  

4)  I just reread the book (UGH) to remember what the story was about: an unappreciated Grandmother telling her bratty grandkids about how her soldier dad once taught her that snow angels store love.  This lesson is somehow supposed to console them about having to eat the same thing each night and never see their parents.  I think that the lesson is mostly supposed to mask the fact that Mr. Beck didn't realize until it was too late that the Grandmother was a viable candidate to cook dinner instead of the Dad.  She apparently takes care of them every night.  It only makes sense. 

5)  So the kids have some sense smacked into them, and they make some paper snow angels for their parents to show them how much they love them.  They also give them breakfast in bed: uncooked macaroni and cheese, which I'll admit did actually make me giggle..but only for a second. 

Is this book good? No.  Should you read it? No.  Not even to give it a chance? No.  Should you buy it for someone else?  Only if you hate them or you're giving it as a joke gift, like the wonderful gentleman who gave it to me.  Thanks, Richard!!

Dec 6, 2011

Adults Judging Childrens Books: Complexity

Whenever I tell people that I'm close to reaching my goal of reading 110 books this year (6.5 to go!), I tend to get a response along the lines of: "But those are easy books. Those are way beneath your level. So why bother?"  Putting aside the obvious problems of them taking the liberty of knowing what my level is and assuming I'm not reading books that I actually enjoy, who is to say that children's and young adult books are beneath anyone's level?

While some "grown-up" books may not be appropriate content-wise for young'ns, readability statistics for some of the most popular adult fiction is right on target for a children's audience.  The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level ("FKGL") test is a readability test that measures total number of sentences, sentence length, and syllables to assign a grade level to a selection of writing.  If you're a student, you're most likely familiar with this test from seeing it after spellchecking your papers in Word (...and then furiously hitting shiftF7 to use the thesaurus to find longer words, yeah don't deny it).  Obviously assigning grade levels is making an assumption about where each grade should be, but let's experiment.

Read this:
"'All your old drinking habits, too. Chewing Excedrin. Wiping your mouth all the time. Cranky in the morning. And you haven't been able to finish the play, yet, have you?'"
According to the FKGL, that's at a 2.8 grade level.  It's also a quote from The Shining, one of the most popular "adult" books of all time.  That quote isn't even as bad as this:
"The wedding. Her father had been there. Her mother had not been. She found she could live with that, if she had Jack. And then Danny had come. Her fine son."
That has a 0.0 rating.  Seriously. 

Now this:
"'From this point forth, we shall be leaving the firm foundation of fact and journeying together through the murky marshes of memory into thickets of wildest guesswork.'"
Yes, that's right.  Dumbledore speaks at a 13.2 grade level.

While the subject matter of Stephen King novels may not be appropriate for a second grader (depending on how liberal you are), they can definitely read it.  So should second graders deem you lazy for reading something way below your level?  I mean, it's a pretty easy read, so why bother?

Okay yes, obviously I picked specific quotes that would prove a point.  But if you put The Shining as a whole up against this test, it averages out at about a 7th grade level.  You know what else does? The Harry Potter series.  So stop judging people for reading things "beneath their level" because guess what? Chances are, so are you. 

Dec 4, 2011

Book Review: Savvy

I know you're not supposed to, but I'm a huge criminal when it comes to judging books by their covers.  So I expected a light-hearted magical journey when I saw this cover with it's swirly and sparkly designs.  It ended up being an incredibly heavy story about loss and uncertainty.  While not a tear-jerking novel, it might not have been the best choice as a relaxing read during my stressful week (end of grad school semester...yikes). 

Savvy is definitely not just another run of the mill, a child gains magical powers and needs to go out and do good in the world after the initial mischief magic phase.  Unlike those books, the children in the Beaumont family know that on their 13th birthday, their magical power, or "savvy," will emerge and it takes time to gain control and understand the mysterious savvy.  So far in the family, the Grandfather can create land, the Grandmother can trap music in jars for future listening, the Mother does everything perfectly, the oldest brother is electrical, and the next oldest brother can create storms.  On the eve of her 13th birthday, Mibs' father, who is not magical, falls into a coma because of a car accident, leaving Mibs praying that her savvy will be something she can use to save her father. Not exactly the fun hijinks a 13 year old would expect to have on his/her birthday, with or without magical powers.

So despite not understanding her new savvy, Mibs, her brothers, and two teens from their congregation, stowaway on a Bible delivery bus driven by a spineless man, in order to get to the hospital miles away and try to save the Beaumont father.  A lot of slight catastrophes occur along the way, some funny, some sad, all while Mibs tries to figure out if her new gift of hearing people's thoughts through their tattoos will be able to help her father.  

It's an interesting adventure story that's worth reading.  I wouldn't give this book to someone who's looking for strictly funny though. This book is more for the thinkers; it's a children's version of a search for meaning in life, just using magic as a means to that question. And despite the cover's semi-girliness, there's enough physical humor to appeal to boy readers, lest they judge the cover the same way I did.

Nov 26, 2011

#TheList, No. 33: Handa’s Surprise

When I picked up this picture book from the library, my first reaction was: "oh crap."  The title was in Arabic and because I only learned the everyday language that is Latin throughout junior high and high school, I figured I would have to read this book like the three year olds it's meant for and just look at the pretty pictures.  But there was an English translation alongside the Arabic within the book, so all was good.
The story is simple: Handa is bringing fruits to her friend Akeyo, but on her journey, animals keep sneaking up and stealing the fruit from her basket.  But within the story, this little picture book covers a lot.  It teaches animal types, fruits, colors, counting, sharing, and hey, a new language (assuming they don't know it already)!  Apparently this book is available in about 20 languages, which is a pretty nifty dynamic to add to a picture book. 

I read this to a three year old to get her perspective on the story because as much as I act like a 3 year old, I'm far too cynical to have their exact outlook on life.  Results: a lot of laughing, a lot of pretending she was the animals in the book and a lot of asking what sound a zebra makes.  So all in all, Eileen Browne's picture book is an effective read for the kiddies.  If you don't mind toddlers bouncing off the walls pretending they're animals in the book (and out of the book), then I say go for it, but probably not as a bedtime story.   

Handa's Surprise would also be a great multicultural project in a library where kids can research the animals, land, and fruit that's held between the covers of the book.  I actually found an adorable video on Youtube of students performing this story dressed as the animals in the story.  Basically, this book can be fun reading or the subject of lesson plans galore and should definitely be kept in any children's library. 

Nov 16, 2011

I do not like the Taylor Swift

Usually my gym has it down with the playlists.  Hall & Oates, NKOTBSB, Huey Lewis and the News...basically all the 80s and 90s nostalgia I need to pretend that I'm a runner.  But yesterday, it was nothing but fail, unless the gym was hosting some weird tween scene for all the middle-aged people on their lunch breaks.  If that's the case, it passed with flying colors: Biebz, Selena Gomez, and the worst of 'em all, the T-Swizzle. 

So this might seem out of place here in a blog about being a librarian-in-training.  But being a librarian isn't all about pushing books on the children.  It's also about embracing other forms of media as sources of education and entertainment.  As such, it allows me to vent about one of the most popular musical acts among kids, tweens, teens, people who think they're country music fans, and college boys.  Here goes:

Alright, she's cute.  They're all cute.  And she didn't start on Disney, so she's most likely got a few more years up the sleeves of her sparkly dresses before she reaches the pivotal point where teen stars need to pick their path as if they were in that Robert Frost poem: will she go down the well-worn path of drugs and shaved heads (yes, I love the Brit Brit, but I'm not blind to that horrible year), or will she take the "one less traveled by" and go for a respectable career?  Probably the latter, although I would much rather she fade away into obscurity.  I get that her stuff is all about cutesy puppy love, but it's sooooooo bad. Please, someone make this girl write something that doesn't sound like she put a bunch of cliches and phrases into a hat and pulled them out one at a time to make a song. Just...please.  I know my taste in music is questionable, but let's just examine one of her "hits," the one that plagued me at the gym yesterday:

This is the Swift version of a  fairy tale
"Today was a Fairytale" - [too bad she doesn't mean one by the Brothers Grimm]

Today was a fairytale
You were the prince
I used to be a damsel in distress
You took me by the hand and you picked me up at six
Today was a fairytale

[Oh good, way to stuff people into forced gender roles.  Also, if this were actually a fairy tale, you would still be a damsel in distress.  Or did you stop becoming a damsel in distress sometime before he picked you up at 6? If that's the case, then by traditional fairy tale lore, you're cheating on the person who saved you, because once you're saved you can't ever leave that person, meaning he shouldn't have to pick you up.  So how sweet of you.  Also, in what fairytale is someone picked up at 6? Midnight, dawn, dusk, etc. tend to be the go-to times, not 6.  Actually, people tend not to get picked up at all.  Maybe lifted in the air as a troll is about to pummel them, but never picked up.  You must mean saved.  He saved you at...6.]

Today was a fairytale

[Yes, you've told us.]

Today was a fairytale
I wore a dress
You wore a dark grey t-shirt
You told me I was pretty
When I looked like a mess
Today was a fairytale
[A dress?  You wore a dress.  Okay, that's...fitting, I guess. But who wears a dark grey t-shirt in a fairy tale? I can't say I recall reading about "Prince Charming" in a dark grey t-shirt.  He told you you looked pretty when you looked like a mess.  Okay, let's dissect this.  You condone lying and you're on a date with a liar.  Also, why do you look like a mess? You just told us you were wearing a dress.  Did you not pick a clean one out of the closet? Even Ariel knew how to make herself look spiffy without a dress.  If you want today to be a fairy tale, think about stepping up your game.]
Time slows down
Whenever you're around

[No. No, it does not.  That's what happens when you're miserable.  Time goes too fast when you're happy.  Get it right.]

Can you feel this magic in the air?
It must have been the way you kissed me
Fell in love when I saw you standing there
It must have been the way
Today was a fairytale
It must have been the way
Today was a fairytale

[Love doesn't happen until you either dance with him or he kisses you to wake you up from a long sleep, thereby obligating you to be in love with him.  Silly girl.]

Today was a fairytale
You've got a smile that takes me to another planet
Every move you make everything you say is right
Today was a fairytale

[That third line makes you seem like Little Red Riding Hood believing your "Grandmother" when she tells you that her eyes are so big because that makes it all the better to see you with.  Or like Michelle Bachman when she believed the lady behind her who said her daughter suffered from mental retardation from the HPV shot.  Now, I realize that this isn't a fairy tale, but as fairy tales were designed to teach moral lessons, I plan on making it one so that future children can learn how to not talk to strangers about health care.  So I guess you're playing up to that gullible female fairy tale role.  Brava!]
Today was a fairytale
All that I can say
Is now it's getting so much clearer
Nothing made sense until the time I saw your face
Today was a fairytale

[So this is one of those fairy tales where you've been sleeping for 100 years, and now that you've been allowed to open your eyes, things have become clear.  Got it.]

I can feel my heart
It's beating in my chest
Did you feel it?
I can't put this down

[WHERE ELSE IS YOUR HEART SUPPOSED TO BEAT?????]

Swift, T. (2010). Today was a fairytale. On Valentine's Day. Big Machine.
This is a 1909 illustration from a
real Brothers Grimm fairy tale.

Nov 15, 2011

Day 30 - Weirdest Book You Loved


Ellen Raskin's The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel) is one of the weirdest books I've ever encountered.  It involves a woman who wears the same outfit for years and years and years so on the off-chance that the man she once "loved" comes back, he'll recognize her.  That sounds chick lit-y.  It's not.  See, the woman was also an heiress to some soup business and was married at age 5 in order to keep it in the family.  The last message she has from her husband was heard whilst he was drowning, so it's obscured by "glubs" and blubs."  She spends the majority of her lifetime trying to solve the puzzle of this message to find his whereabouts and get on with their lives together, with the help of her friend and twins she adopts.  So there's soup, glubs, blubs, word puzzles, changed identities, and just a whole mess of weird randomness.  It's lovely. 

Raskin also wrote The Westing Game which, in the words of my fellow Children's Literature and Media classmates, is "THE BEST BOOK EVER," so I never doubted that this book would be just as great. 

Nov 14, 2011

#TheList, No. 922: Dear Nobody

I had never ever heard of this novel before encountering it on "The List."  Upon investigation, it was published in the early 90s in the UK, which is probably a legitimate reason for the unfamiliarity.  Not everything gets to take off like Harry Potter playing Quidditch (yes, I am lame enough to make that simile), especially problem novels about teenage pregnancy! Huzzah!

Berlie Doherty gets major points for many things (spoilers ahead, I just can't avoid it): 

1.) The two teens, Helen and Chris, don't end up together.  It's open-ended about whether or not they may get back together somewhere down the line, but they don't live happily ever after and I like that about this book.  There's no illusion of a weak girl needing to be rescued, which is perfect because such an illusion doesn't need to exist to tell a compelling story.

2.) We're given the male point of view.  These types of books, or at least the one's I've read in the past, are always from the pregnant teen's perspective.  While we do get Helen's point of view through a series of letters addressed to "Nobody," the unborn baby, that she presents to Chris so he'll understand what she went through those nine glorious months, the story mostly plays out from his perspective.  Sure it's a little gushy here and there with his talk of love for Helen and how much he wants to just hold her hand, but at least it's a solid effort to give a male a voice in this type of novel.  

3.) Abortion is discussed straightforwardly.  Sometimes in these books, especially in books published earlier than 1991, if abortion is mentioned at all it's subtly hinted at via a "bad" girl who once "got rid of her problem" or something that makes it sound like anyone who chooses to have an abortion is directly related to Satan.  No matter what your views on abortion are, it's a legal option and it's fair for teenage readers to see this very real experience discussed in a novel that deals with pregnancy.  If you're pro-choice, there's a character who discusses having once had one - and she's not a "bad" girl either.  If you're pro-life, Helen decides not to go through with it, but does consider the consequences.  I'm a fan of how all of this is portrayed.

4.) Now, this has nothing to do with Doherty's input, but just look how deliciously 90s that cover is! 

It doesn't appear to be that widely known, but I would recommend it for sure if someone wanted a book about teenage pregnancy that wasn't Annie's Baby, one of those "real" diaries of troubled teens that are actually written by Beatrice Sparks.  Dear Nobody is a good book and it doesn't preach to teens.  All in all, I'm surprised I hadn't heard of this book before because it seems like something that should raise alarms all over the place, especially Texas.  I don't know why, but Texas is always my scapegoat state for blaming censorship of books.  Probably because of instances like banning authors from library festivals.  But anyway, my apologies to Texas.  

The Wild Things, by Dave Eggers

We all have favorite picture books from our childhood and for most of us (my age at least), it's one or more of the following (or at least something similar):
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon
  • Goodnight Moon
  • The Stinky Cheese Man
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
  • Corduroy
  • The Polar Express
  • Tuesday
  • Anything by Dr. Seuss
  • The Snowy Day
  • Where the Wild Things Are
Seriously, almost everyone will say one of these.  These are some of the most memorable picture books around.  I want to say it's because they all involve imagination: either with the reader having to use his imagination to fill in the gaps, the characters in the story use their imagination to entertain themselves, or the authors use their imaginations to go beyond traditional storytelling.  Imagination is what childhood is all about and we tend to lose that as we get older, so we hold onto these books as reminders of what that experience is like.  It's sometimes fun to revisit these books and often tempting to wonder what more of the story is beyond the traditional 32 page picture book format. 

The last one on that list, Where the Wild Things Are, is probably one of the top examples of imagination, where Max, angry that he's sent to his room without supper, concocts a world full of monstrous creatures (with human like features) to unleash his anger. Once his anger has subsided, he "leaves" the Wild Things and returns to his real life.  That's all the story we get and really, that's all the story we need.  We can imagine for ourselves where Max's anger stems from, if he ever returns to the Wild Things, what he's like as a child, etc. 

The Wild Things, by Dave Eggers, is a semi-novelization of both the picture book and the 2009 movie release.  This book gives us one explanation for Max's behavior: his parents are divorced, he thinks no one pays attention to him, he most likely has untreated ADHD, and is kind of a misunderstood twerp.  I kind of like this pre-Wild Things visit storyline because it's a lot more involved than the movie version.  It's a perfectly valid explanation for why this kid is acting up all the time.  But then it gets frustrating.

The beauty of the monsters in the original picture book is that the readers get to give them their personalities.  In The Wild Things, we don't have a choice, and quite frankly, they all suck.  Sure, they're all fragmented versions of Max's personality/people in his life, which is a nifty little trick, but they are all so horrible!  While Max probably spent about 15 pages with the Wild Things in the picture book, he's stuck with them for over 100 in this novel.  Over 100 pages that completely drain the imagination and creativity from readers' own original impressions of the monsters. 

I'm a fan of different interpretations of classic stories, like fractured fairytales, but this book just obliterated all the fond memories I have of Where the Wild Things Are (I hated the movie too).  For books that thrive on reader  imagination, maybe it's best to avoid works that offer their own interpretations in favor of your own. 

Nov 13, 2011

Day 29 – A book everyone hated but you liked

People didn't necessarily hate this book, but they complained a lot about it.  The word on the street is that The Higher Power of Lucky only won the Newbery Award because it went for the shock value and used the word "scrotum" on the first page.  I personally don't think it's a big deal and the ALA, and many others agree.  Discussion of a dog's anatomy shouldn't take away from the rest of the book, which is really great.  Really, what's not to love about a 10 year old who eavesdrops on her town's AA meetings?

Nov 11, 2011

#TheList, No. 46: The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck

Alright, I know these Beatrix Potter stories are household names, but I don't remember reading any of them when I was a child.  I'm pretty sure I owned a collection of the stories, but I think it became a coloring book for my siblings (along with my walls and the back of my closet where my brother once drew out his comic book "Triangle Boy" - it's not half bad).  Anyway, my point is that I went into reading this book with the assumption that its inclusion in "The List" is for nostalgia's sake. 

I did not expect to laugh my butt off the entire time I read this book, although that might not have been for the right reasons.  I still think this is a nostalgia title, but there's some worth to it.  It's got a bit of a Little Red Riding Hood feel to it and teaches kids that if you're simple and too trusting, you and your kids will be eaten by a fox who is almost always illustrated while sitting and holding a newspaper which makes him look like he's going potty.  You shouldn't want that to happen to you, so don't be stupid - - a moral I can get behind. 

 

Anyway, I'm going to go through this step by step (like you're in the New Kids) and list my reactions to everything in order. Ready set go:

1) The duck's name is Jemima so I was sincerely hoping for some syrup connection.  She's syrupy sweet in a simpleton kind of way, so I guess that works enough.

2) Miss Jemima is all in a tizzy because the farmer's wife won't let her hatch her eggs (woman's gotta eat!), but her sister-in-law, Rebeccah, but who I call Aunt Becky, is all for letting those eggs get taken away.  She's a busy woman and doesn't have time for that dilly dally nonsense that comes from sitting on top of kids all day.  To this I say: right on! But I guess that's not the attitude I'm supposed to adopt right now.

3) I'll admit that the drawings are pretty fantastic and they make you appreciate the talent that went into drawing everything by hand before computers and graphic art and all that newfangled stuff that the kids are using today came into play.  

4) "She was wearing a shawl and a poke bonnet."  I'm so glad that sentence is in here.  If I had thought for a second that she left the farm without her poke bonnet, I would have thrown this book in a fit of anger.

5) The fox looks like he's sitting on nature's toilet.  Seriously look at that fox.  What is the first thing you think of?  
6) The fox offers his home to Jemima as a place to hatch her eggs. Jemima trusts this fox too much.  Say bye bye to your babies, Jemima!

7) So Jemima keeps her eggs at the fox's house until one day he decides they should eat together and sends her off to buy the fixin's for roast duck.  Luckily a collie who I shall refer to as Lassie even though he (and of course it's a he) has his own name, realizes what the fox is up to and races to save her sorry behind.

8) Her eggs still get eaten by puppies.  I'm a horrible human being because I laughed out loud at that. 

9) Jemima goes home and eventually has more eggs, but not all of them hatched because she never felt the same.  Hooray for depressing endings!

10) Morals: Don't be stupid.   If you're smart, you get to keep your babies.  Stupid people shouldn't have babies. 

Alright, so my reactions were mainly cynical (as usual), but I do actually like the story.  The moral is simple, logical, and great for kids to learn. I recommend it even though I hate when women are portrayed as dainty little weaklings, especially ones who wear poke bonnets. 

Day 28 – Favorite title

There are so many amazing titles out there.  It makes me sad that "One Eyed One Horned Flying Purple People Eater" was never made into a book or this would have been the easiest decision ever. 
But I'm going with Al Capone Does My Shirts as my favorite title.  1) It's silly and draws readers in; 2) By the end of the book you'll be wondering...is it true? 

Nov 3, 2011

Day 27 – The most surprising plot twist or ending


I've mentioned this book before in discussing how this was a perfect example of the inventiveness that is often found in young adult literature.  It also has the best cliffhanger.  This is quite possibly because I was unaware that this was part of a series while I was reading it...despite how it says BOOK ONE right on the cover.  Unfortunately, the book's follow-up, The Ask and the Answer, wasn't fulfilling.  But the first installment's ending is jawdropping for sure.

Nov 2, 2011

Day 26 – A book that changed your opinion about something

Kind of a copout because I have already semi-mentioned it in this countdown, but after reading Twilight with its sparkly, sissy, poorly defined vampire characters (don't worry, the non-vampire characters are also poorly defined) completely cured my vampire phobia.  That was the only thing it was good for.  Well, that and a good laugh.

Nov 1, 2011

Day 25 – A book that you wish more people would’ve read / No. 729: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Now that this book has been made into a Martin Scorsese film ("Hugo"), I may get my wish.  If the movie flops, however, it might be difficult to convince people to read this AMAZING book because people's minds tend to be made up by box office success. Plus it's being released in 3D, and I think we're all sick of 3D by now, so it could be a disaster.  Sigh.
 
 
The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick is one part historical fiction, one part adventure, one part mystery, and three parts awesome sauce, all shaken together and served with incredibly detailed and expressive pencil drawings and a side of prose. As it's a little over 500 pages long, it can look pretty intimidating to a young child reader (and an adult reader, let's be honest), but the majority of the book is made up of full page illustrations.  I didn't know it was part graphic novel prior to reading, which caused me to almost burst into tears at the library when I saw it on the shelf waiting for me the day before I needed to have it read for a class.  Good times.

Selznick tells the story of George Melies, pioneer filmmaker, through a young boy's (Hugo) discovery of an automaton that draws images from Melies' old films.  The text and illustrations are interdependent, meaning you need to spend as much time looking at and dissecting the images as you do reading the text in order to comprehend the full story.  And really, the images are so beautiful it's hard to look away. 

This novel makes wonderful pleasure reading material, but with the plethora of historical movie references, it's easy to pair this novel with history, film and even art lessons.  With the unique format, it's also easy to sneak in a lesson on narrative techniques and symbolism which is my favorite thing about this book aside from the, and I can't stress this enough, wondrous illustrations (it won the Caldecott for a reason).  I once wrote an essay on how shoes frame the novel as a symbol for both moving forward.  I got an A.  Go me.  I'd explain more, but to do so would result in severe spoilers, so just go read the book.  Or see the movie and then read the book.  Either way, reading the book is a must, especially if you love films, graphic novels, magic tricks, and fun. 
 
 
Also, go here for the cutest review of a book I've ever encountered.

Oct 27, 2011

Day 23 – First “chapter book” you can remember reading as a child

It's definitely not the first one I read, but the first one that comes to mind is Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the Babe Ruth Baseball.  For those of you unfamiliar with the amazingness that is the Cam Jansen series, Cam is a lovely girl with a photographic memory.  She is literally a human camera.  She looks at something, says "click," and her mind takes pictures of what's going on around her. Then she goes through these mental images to solve awesome crimes.  Yes, I used to walk around and try to do this.  I failed. 

Oct 24, 2011

Day 22 – Favorite book from your childhood

The Ultimate Visual Dictionary.  An instant classic.

You must be thinking, no, no, surely a Nancy Drew or Baby-Sitters Club book was your favorite, Nicole.  To that, I would scoff. *Scoffs*

I loved this book.  It was my favorite picture book.  I would open up to a random page and just stare.  Once I learned how to read, I would read the corresponding text and learn about starfish, engines, magma, etc.  It.was.the.coolest.

I'm pretty sure I cited this bad boy in every research project I had throughout elementary school.  You can't go wrong with the UVD, and for that, I thank it. 

Oct 23, 2011

#TheList, No. 886: The Neverending Story

I still haven't seen the movie, but now that I've read the book I understand this clip a little more:


The Neverending Story is a pretty intricate and intense fantasy tale that I think most pre-teens, particularly boys if I want to subscribe to gender bias and books, would enjoy.  Apparently the movie only covers the first half of the book.  The author, Michael Ende, filed a lawsuit because he wanted them to change the movie title as it wasn't an accurate representation of his work, but he lost.  Go figure.  Anyway, if you've only seen the movie and want to know what happens after...just read the book.  You should do that for all things anyway.  But I digress.  

The gist of the story is Bastian, a lonely and chubby schoolboy, steals a book called "The Neverending Story" from a cute little bookshop, and skips school to read it.  He literally gets caught up in the story, transferring himself to the world of Fantastica, where he's given the power to write/create "The Neverending Story."  What follows is his growth as a strong leader and inevitable demise as someone with too much power.  

The book has bits that could appeal to a plethora of readers: lonely child who just wants to be loved, sword fights, knights, magical gems, flying dragons, and a bunch of fun/dangerous/annoying creatures.  Good times!  The story is a little confusing, especially because it contains that story within a story nonsense and puts pressure on the reader to go constantly back and forth between two worlds and then put them together, so I would definitely recommend this to older children or advanced readers.

I'm not a huge fan of fantasy, nor do I really understand all of the rules that correspond with the genre.  I'm familiar with the Monomyth or "Hero's Journey," but more in terms of Harry Potter, Ender's Game, and Star Wars.  I definitely recognized elements of the HJ in The Neverending Story, particularly the use of the anti hero in the second half of the tale, which was interesting.  

But even though the story is definitely well written, thought-out, and incorporates the HJ in the story, my main problem is the reliance on the "and no one knows what happened" writing.  I just think it's just lazy.  It's the mechanism Ms. Meyer turned to all the time (Twilight).  The novel is so intricate...you couldn't think of anything else to put there?  Maybe once or even twice, but it happened to many times throughout the novel.  I was thinking that this could be a reflection of how the "creators" of "The Neverending Story" within the novel left gaps in their stories which makes more sense if you've read the book, and if that's the case, then that's pretty interesting writing.  But something felt off about it while I was reading. 

Regardless, it's a pretty interesting read and if you like fantasy, give it a go.

Oct 22, 2011

Day 21 - Book that disappointed you

Mary Shelley's, Frankenstein.  I'm not even a horror fan, but wow, talk about a letdown.  This may or may not be a result of Young Frankenstein being one of my top comedies.  I watched Everybody Loves Raymond because a part of me hoped Peter Boyle would go into a few bars of "Puttin' on the Ritz" every now and then. 

But back to the book. I think once I realized that my whole life up until high school freshmen English was a lie because I thought Frankenstein was the monster or creation or whatever you want to call it, I lost all faith in the "Gothic horror."  I do, however, feel that pretentious pride now whenever I hear someone else refer to the creation as Frankenstein as opposed to Frankenstein's creation. 

Wuss.
There wasn't enough action for me.  Sure the monster killed a bunch of people, but man when he told his side of the story...he's such a wuss!  A man made man killing wuss who just wants to be loved.  Yeah, I get that that humanizes him and we're supposed to be all "aww the poor monster," but geez!  I thought this book was supposed to be scary.  Michelle Bachman's beliefs are scarier than this book.  You know what else annoyed me? Everyone would always talk about how this book was so vital because it utilized varying perspectives.  And sure, the monster does tell his side of the story, but there are quotation marks around the entire thing because he's just talking to Frankenstein.  So technically it's the same point of view...it's just a onesided convo.  In class discussions, when my classmates would talk about the point of view shift, I would passively seethe with anger in my seat without saying anything because class participation was/is not my strong suit. 

The only other part of this book I remember was the word "ignominious."  We had to create a long, 50 word contextual clue vocabulary list while reading this book and that was one I picked.  I later used it in my opening statement when I defended the monster for his wimpy killings in the class debate.  We (rightfully) lost, but I got a sticker on my assignment anyway for good vocab use.  I miss the stickers.  There's a lack of stickers in the adult world.  And that's a disappointment too.

Oct 18, 2011

Day 20 – Book that you can quote/recite

Every time I feel sick, wake up and just want (or need) to go back to sleep, or pretty much have to do something I don't want to do, I start saying to myself: 
"'I cannot go to school today'/Said little Peggy Ann McKay"
"Sick," from Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends is my favorite poem of all time.  Because I constantly quote it is one reason, the others are because it rhymes (poems should rhyme, it's a fact), it's funny and it's relatable for kids AND adults.  I also hate most poetry (not all!) which really helps to narrow it down.  

So even though it's just the one poem that stands out for me, though I do enjoy the others, Where the Sidewalk Ends, is one of my favorite quotable books and most certainly my favorite quotable poetry collection. 

Fun facts: Did you know that Shel used to write and draw cartoons for Playboy?  He also had zero intention of ever writing for kids.  Johnny Cash's song "A Boy Named Sue"?  Shel wrote that.  The more you know.

And semi-related:


Oct 17, 2011

Day 19 - Favorite book turned into movie


It seems like a copout because I used this book for the favorite quote entry, but The Princess Bride is my favorite book and movie, so that's that.  The title just sucks.  During my BC orientation when my group was doing the whole awkward let's pretend to get to know each other by asking about all of your favorite forms of entertainment (this was before we all had Facebook profiles to stalk so we actually had to ask), a girl thought I was talking about The Princess Diaries.  I love Anne Hathaway as much as the next person, but no.  No, no, no, no, no. 

Oct 16, 2011

Day 18 - A book from a series that disappointed you

It's a little painful to admit, but the Hunger Games conclusion, Mockingjay, was less than satisfactory for me.  I was excited to read it because 1) it was the conclusion so I was expecting some of the awesome action that makes up the first two books; and 2) I would always sing the title to myself to the tune of Carly Simon's Mockingbird (Mock-yeah, ing-yeah, jay-yeah, yeah, yeah, Mockingjay...)

I don't even remember what happened really.  It just felt completely nonexistent in comparison to the remainder of the series.  It reduced Katniss to such a weak, stereotypically girly role.  While reading it, all I could think was that Collins was probably pressured to finish this super fast to capitalize on the series' popularity.  It also felt like she wrote the plot in such a way that Team Peeta and Team Gale shirts could be sold as movie merchandise.  I loved the marketing of Harry Potter: a book pretty much every other year and complete faith that the fanbase would not only stay loyal, but would grow.  I wish they had more faith in the readers to do this with the emerging series of today.  Oh well.

Oct 13, 2011

Day 17 – Favorite quote from a book

"There have been five great kisses since 1642 B.C., when Saul and Delilah Korn's inadvertent discovery swept across Western Civilization.  (Before then couples hooked thumbs.)"   -The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
Out of all the books that are great for boys, this one is the best with the worst title.  As Fred Savage says in the movie (one of the few film adaptations of books that actually work), "Is this a kissing book?" 

Oct 12, 2011

Day 16 - Favorite female character

Duh Bella Swan, because I love characters who have names that are questions. Isabella Swan? No. No, it is not.

Kidding, clearly.  I'm just procrastinating before I have to declare either Hermione Granger or Luna Lovegood as my favorite.  I don't think it can be done.  So I'm going to completely copout and say "Hermuna" is my favorite.  I don't know about "Hermuna" being the right name choice.  "Grangegood."  "Lunione."  Heh "Lover" might be the best combo for their last names, but that's just silly...
Grangegood
Sooooo Lover is my personal favorite female character.  She's super smart, believes in zany things that may or may not be true, gets her friends out of trouble even when unconscious, doesn't care what people think of her, has wonderfully frizzy hair, loves her friends unconditionally, punches Malfoy, and gives the best broadcast of a Quidditch game, or any game, ever.  I love Lover.  

But if I have to pick (and I technically don't have to because it's my blog and I can do what I want), I would pick Hermione.  <3

Also, a Google image search for Hermione and Luna leads to slash fanfiction.  Duly noted.

Oct 11, 2011

Day 15 – Favorite male character


Edward Cullen.  Hahahaha yeah right. 

My favorite male character is a sissy though, just a less sparkly sissy.  Major Major Major Major from Joseph Heller's Catch-22.  Major is his rank and all of his names, he bears a striking resemblance to Henry Fonda, avoids doing work by signing every document he receives as either Washington Irving or Irving Washington, and keeps from talking to people by jumping out of his window whenever they approach.  Hilarity.

Oct 10, 2011

Day 14 – Favorite book you read in school

I wholeheartedly declare that 5th grade was the best in-school reading I've ever encountered.  If I wasn't introduced to Harry Potter by my 6th grade teacher, I would declare Mr. Brewster the best book selecter ever.  My favorite book I read in this class was The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin.  

This book is wisely on "The List" because it is agreeably the best mystery out there for children.  This is scientific fact because it was unanimously agreed upon in my Children's Literature and Media class.  I won't talk about the details too much because I'll rave about it some day in the future, but I will share how I had daily panic attacks in the 5th grade over this book.

We had to form small groups in class and keep clue journals in order to figure out "whodunnit."  We were told that we weren't allowed to read ahead, so naturally after completing the first reading assignment, I read the entire book over the weekend.  The following Monday, we were told that we would get pop quizzes from time to time that would include questions we shouldn't know the answers to in order to make sure we kept to the reading schedule.  I would  frantically scan the room during these quizzes to make sure that no one was struggling on the questions I was answering.  Such a bad student I am.  I was also paired with the girl I hated the most in the class who only gave me more reason to hate her because she called me stupid when I was in fact suggesting the correct answer during one of our clue journal sessions.  Ugh.

Search Terms Pt. 3

My favorite part of egotistically glancing at my blog's status overview is reviewing the search terms that people use to mysteriously end up at a specific blog entry.  Some of them make sense: "librarian in the cupboard," anything Harry Potter, "books for kids," etc.  Actually, they all make sense and that's a little bit frightening. Or maybe it's not frightening - it just demonstrates that search engines aren't always the perfect choice for finding information.

"candy chocolate the big bang theory"
I think what this person was searching for was the episode where Sheldon performs operant conditioning on Penny by giving her chocolate for good behavior.  What they were instead led to was a crazed description of how I'm happy when I eat a lot of food and how I met the actor who plays Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory

"telling kids they are ugly"
Yeaaaaa, I don't actually give advice for this one.  My apologies.

"ugly duckling - backstreet boys fan fic"
So, so, so utterly terrifying that I understand why this user ended up at my blog.  (I mention the Backstreet Boys in my rant about The Ugly Duckling - you need to read it to understand why).

"is there symbolism in al capone does my shirts?"
YES! THERE IS!

"picture books that compare to i am the messenger."
I don't have this, but now I'm intrigued.

"list of graphic novels in big bang theory"
Also something I don't have, but intend to work on now

Oct 9, 2011

Day 13 – Your favorite writer

If anyone thought otherwise, they must be crazy.

Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore

I loved this book.  I don't know why.  Well I know why, I was am obsessed with Full House.  Stephanie has to help out Uncle Jesse and cook dinner, realizes she's an amazing cook, and decides to open her own catering business.  Yeah, she's 13 or something, and people totally hire teenage caterers all the time.  It all ends up falling apart because again, she's like an infant (although I bet the Olsen twins could have done it).  

I reread this book all the time as a child, but the lack of it in my life now has not hindered me in any way shape or form...that I know of.  I do want to read Jodie Sweetin's memoir about being a meth addict though. 

Oct 7, 2011

Day 11 – A book you hated


I don't think I even need to write words to explain.  Twilight is unfortunately on "The List" and I'm planning on ranting about the entire series when it comes down to that entry.  But I will say this about New Moon, the biggest offender of the bunch: If he wants to be a shiny vampire in another country? Dealbreaker.  It is never okay to attempt to or pretend to kill yourself because someone dumps you, with the assumption that he'll see how much you love him and will take you back.  Never okay. NEVERDO NOT DO THIS.

Oct 6, 2011

#TheList, No. 10: Miffy

I realized my coverage of picture books is practically nonexistent, so I needed to do something about that.  I picked one at random and moseyed on down to the library to pick it up, purposely stationing myself at the self-checkout machine in front of my favorite security guard.  I could see it in her eyes that she wanted nothing more than to rummage through my bags and judge me for my literary selections, but miracle of miracles the alarm didn't go off when I left!

So Miffy is a cute little picture book by Dick Bruna.  Apparently this is the first of about 30 Miffy books.  The series was made into a television show for Nick Jr. so all the tots could watch this cute little bunny.  The simple, bright pictures, the limited amount of text, and the rhyming sentences clearly make this a book that should be read aloud to children.  The pictures mirror the words, allowing the young child to visualize what's going on.  This is also beneficial for those leaning how to read, as they can consult the images to make sure that they're on the right track.  The book is so simple though that I personally think it's best for read-alouds, preferably at bedtime. 

The story is of Mr. and Mrs. Bunny and their wish for a baby.  An angel comes and brings them Miffy.  All the animals around, except the cow, want to play with her because she's so cute (the cow doesn't think she's that great).  Miffy also can't go out to play because she's sleepy.  It's a little anticlimactic with her just sleeping while everyone wants to play, but that's what makes this one an effective bedtime story.  The angel bit is a little out of nowhere, but I think it just adds to the cuteness factor the book is going for.

Day 10 – Favorite classic book

Now I hate most classics.  I just don't care about them.  I respect them, but that doesn't mean I need to pretend they're my favorite things in the world.  I love the people who only read (i.e. Sparknote) classics so they can reference them in conversation and sound impressive.  Me? I don't care about Jane Austen or her Pride and Prejudice or even the Zombies that followed.  But, I digress.

My favorite "classic" is hands down The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger. Yes, I love that emo Holden Caulfield and his hatred of all things phony. I ate that angst stuff up freshman year of high school and wrote the best essay ever on symbolism because of it. 

I loved the Catcher in the Rye.  It's one of the few classics I read in school that I quite willingly read once I started.  I didn't know what to expect, because the title pretty much means nothing until the end of the novel.  Like Uncle Jesse in that episode of "Full House" when he has to do a book report on Catcher ("You guys could try the Gibbler method. Rent the movie" "Kimmy, that's a teribble idea. And I checked, it's not on video"), I didn't want to read it at first.  I just assumed it would be boring.   But the guy runs away to NY, meets a prostitute, gets beat up by her pimp, and complains a lot.  What's not to love?  And oh, the symbolism! 

This book is actually on "The List" (YES) so I'm goin to stop now and get back to it some other time.  Maybe recopy that amazing essay on symbolism.  I recall talking about the ducks a lot.  A lot

Oct 4, 2011

Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson

I reread this book for the umpteenth time because 1) last week was Banned Books Week and it's one of the most challenged young adult books of the past decade; and 2) I thought it was on "The List."  It wasn't.  But that doesn't matter, because this book is amazing. 
Spoiler (sorry): This follows ninth grader Melinda and how she deals with the aftermath of being raped at a party.  We find out what happened at the party about halfway through the novel, up until then we just know that she underwent something tragic, tragic enough for almost the entire freshman class to hate her and for her to choose selective mutism as a way to repress her pain.  Art class becomes the one place where she unknowingly learns how to express herself and gain the strength to speak the truth about what happened.  It's an incredibly powerful book because it gives a voice to those who suffer silently.  It's also twistedly funny.

I read this book for the first time in 2000 and every time I've reread the book since then, I've folded down a page corner of a quote I liked.  Almost every page has a crease now. I love this one because of my anti-cheerleader attitude (Sorry Mom!).  After the school votes on a new mascot: 
"Cheerleader on the way to my bus. They wrinkle their brows as they struggle to rhyme 'wombat.'  Democracy is a wonderful institution."
This next one kills me, not in an Uncle Joey "cut it out" way, but in a 'that's so depressing' way.  Melinda skips school and hides out in hospital waiting rooms:
 "I put the gown back.  There is nothing wrong with me.  These are really sick people, sick that you can see."
Melinda learns by the novel's conclusion that the invisibility of her illness doesn't detract from its reality.  What kills me is that there are so many people out there who don't realize this. 

Melinda's art teacher, Mr. Freeman, understands that emotion is the core, or should be the core, to everything:
"When people don't express themselves, they die one piece at a time.  You'd be shocked at how many adults are really dead inside-walking through their days with no idea who they are, just waiting for a heart attack or cancer or a Mack truck to come along and finish the job.  It's the saddest thing I know."
I love this partly because this quote reminds me of "Over the Moon" from Rent, but mostly because it's true.  Not just that adults lose sight of what matters, but that they just become so accepting of it.  For me, this ties into how victims start to accept what happened to them, but in the wrong way.  Acceptance is healthy, but when victims put the blame on themselves, they're only hurting more.  That's how I feel, at least.
I don't think anything I say could possibly do justice to how much this book has helped readers, and not just those who have been raped, but any of those who need help finding their voice.  The book doesn't shield readers from the horrors of the world.  I've never understood how people could be so against a book that teaches people to speak up for themselves, to say no, and to be true to themselves.  These problems don't go away just because you don't read about them.  Speak is an amazing piece of realistic fiction.  Read it. 

Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like, but ended up loving

I tend to hate girly things.  Well, maybe hate is a strong word, but when given the option I tend to favor the non-girly choice.  On Thanksgiving, I do everything in my power to stay out of the kitchen and be near the designated football watching area.  And yet, I love to bake. I also love sparkly things and boybands so maybe I do like girly things.  I don't know.  Either way, romantic sappy chick lit is not my cup of tea. 

I picked up The Friday Night Knitting Club because I have a problem leaving a used bookstore without buying something (alright, I am a girl) and because my reference professor told us it was a smart move to acclimate ourselves to other genres.  I assumed I would have to struggle through it and that it would be all sappy and tear-inducing forced drama tied together with a weak attempt of using the knitting club as a mechanism for knitting the women's lives together.  I was right.

But I loved it and I have no idea why.  The whole time I was reading the book I was thinking YAY KNITTING!  It's like how watching "American Ninja Warrior" makes me want to be all athletic.  The book tries to overly force the idea of knitting being a pro-feminism hobby and throws in just about every cliched horrible thing that can happen to women in there, but it works somehow.