A Short Rant

The Youth Media Awards were announced this week. The book Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly won the Newbery Award. I saw one person on Facebook comment that the one review of the book mentioned that the r word is used a lot in the book. I don’t now what review that was, but I found one on Amazon with the same complaint. Is the r word used in the book? Yes, but you have to look at context. It is used multiple times by the bully against a kid who goes to the resource room for special help. I know that we would rather not see the word, but if you are writing realistic fiction you have to be realistic. I guarantee you kids are still calling other kids retarded no matter how many times we tell them the word is hurtful. It is real for the bully to use the word. Nothing about the book makes it seem this is OK.

In the fall there was a big controversy over the book The Black Witch. There was a review online that pulled several racist comments out and used them to say the book was hurtful and should never have been published. People piled on and posted negative reviews on Goodreads without ever reading the book. I read the book. What they fail to comprehend is that those racist statements in the book were said by racist characters. Some were said by the main character, but the entire point of the book was to see the growth in a character who was raised to believe her race was superior only to realize how wrong that was once she goes to school with other races. Context matters. It was a very good book.

I keep seeing over and over again how books are being pulled from schools because parents complained about language or other content without thinking that this language and content is what makes the book real. Why do you want your kids to read sugar-coated realities? Why are we judging books on a few words instead of on the entire content of the book? Why can’t we read challenging and difficult stories anymore?

Also – there was another school shooting today. We seem to be more active in removing “dangerous” books from schools than we are in keeping actual danger out. Maybe we could fix that?

Advertisements

While My Face is Numb…

I am home after a trip to the dentist. I am still partially numb. I had some gum lasered off and a tooth filled. I am afraid of what my mouth will feel like when I am no longer numb. I’m hoping it won’t be as bad as I think.  While I am killing time watching women’s luge some random thoughts that aren’t enough for a full post:

The 2018 Youth Media Awards were announced today. Click here to see the winners. I’ve read The Hate U Give and The Long Way Down. Both excellent books. I’ve checked the Newberry and the Printz winners out and will read them soon. I’ve placed holds on several of the Alex Award winners/ This is perfect timing as I was about to finish the last book I had from the library. I’m looking forward to some good reading.

I stopped at Target on the way home today but bought nothing. I stopped to look at some products like facial wash for men, beard balm, generally things that aren’t necessary but might make me feel a little better about myself. I looked at prices and didn’t buy anything because I wasn’t sure it was worth the money. Basically, that I am not worth the money. Some day I will learn to not walk away from buying something for myself. Today was not that day.

Continuing my bad sports year. Braves were bad. Ravens were bad. Kentucky basketball is bad. Libraries on the are where the Braves play might close, possibly because they wasted so much money on a stadium when the existing stadium was fine. I can take a bad team if they are lovable losers. I loved watching the bumbling Braves of the 80’s These teams are not lovable losers. It’s not fun to watch.

Now I’m off to walk the dog and hope that my face doesn’t start hurting. Happy Monday!

 

 

My Year in Reading 2017

This is the year I finally got lazy and stopped keeping my written list of the books I read. I might try to go back to it this year. You never know when Goodreads might disappear. All of the stats are from Goodreads. My top book are the ones I gave five stars and then the four star books I felt were the best of the rest.  I started the year with a 1000 page book and ended the year with a 700 page book.This year will be an easier start for me. So, here it is – my year in reading for 2017:

Top ten books read in no particular order

  • Strange Weather by Joe Hill
  • Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
  • Revolver by Duane Swierczynski
  • Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  • Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick(I might have a crush and it was audio so she read it to me)
  • The Nix by Nathan Hill
  • Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
  • Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Honorable Mention

  • Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King
  • The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor
  • IQ by Joe Ide
  • Spoiler Alert by Michael Ausiello
  • Unbelievable by Katy Tur

Book I would most recommend

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. It was close between this, Impossible Fortress and The Hate U Give

Worst Books I Finished

  • Who Is Rich by Matthew Klam
  • History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera(though a teenager implied I was too old to get it)

Book I Dustbunnied

None this year. I finished History is All You Left me because it was for work. I’m not sure why I kept reading Who is Rich. I need to be better about abandoning bad books.

Number of books read: 104

Number of pages read according to Goodreads: 30869. I did the math and that averages to 84.5 pages a day. I think I can do better.

 

Halfway There

We have reached the midpoint of the Month of Tater, the month of me posting every day even if I have nothing to say. Here are a few observations:

I can’t write every day. My life isn’t interesting enough to fill posts with anecdotes from my day. I don’t have enough to say on topics to have a full post every day. Sometimes I have things to say about a topic, but I don’t write because for various reasons. The is the last month I will do the write every day thing unless there is a 30 day writing challenge that interests me.

My readership has changed. Until just recently almost all of the clicks on my blog came via Facebook. The only people reading my posts were people I knew from real life. I had the occasional reader from random google searches, but basically my friends and family read what I wrote. Over the past couple of months my clicks from Facebook have steadily gone down and my clicks from WordPress reader and other blogs have increased. The more I write, the less the people who know me read. The more I write and participate in the blogging world, the more other bloggers read.

The more I write, the less I read. The time I spend writing in the morning is time I used to spend reading. That, coupled with my last book I read not being great, has really slowed down my reading lately. I’ve got way too many books from the library and not enough time to read them.

In summary, I’m just as anxious for the month of Tater to be over as you are.

We Need Diverse Books

I know that is a groundbreaking title there. Anyway, this post a personal illustration of connecting with book characters because they are like me. Before anyone else can point it out – yes, I am a white guy. yes, I am white, heterosexual male. yes, there are many books about people like me.  This post is not about me wanting more books about me. I’ve always agreed that we need more diverse books. I can’t imagine why anyone would disagree with this. Kids need to be able to read a book about a person who is like them. I always knew this intellectually. My last two books have been a good illustration of how a connection to the characters improves the reading experience.

I recently read The Serpent King by Jess Zentner. It takes place in rural Tennessee and in the authors words

“I wanted to write about young people who struggle to live lives of dignity and find beauty in a forgotten and unglamorous place. Who wonder what becomes of dreams once they cross the county line. This book is my love letter to those young people and anyone who has ever felt like them, no matter where they grew up.”

I grew up in a place that could be considered forgotten and unglamorous. A small town where many kids dream of escaping to a bigger and brighter world. A small town where some days it seems like your dreams will die. I felt completely connected to the characters and could see a little bit of myself in them. Because of this, the book meant more to me and I was more emotionally invested in the story.

I am now reading Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero. I like the book, but I don’t feel the same connection to the character because I am not a Mexican-American girl living in California. A Mexican-American girl will feel that connection here, but not necessarily in The Serpent King.  It’s important for books like Gabi to exist for that girl. She does not have the plethora of books about people like her like I’ve had my entire life.

I didn’t realize how lucky I was growing up a reader and finding myself in all of the books I read(like the creepy clown in It, for example) and even though I realized it as an adult, it didn’t really sand out to me until I read these two books back to back.

I do think it is important for me to read books about people different from me, but sometimes it is really nice to read a book that feels like home. Everyone should have that opportunity.

Some Random Stuff from My Recent Days

I’m still struggling to finish a blog post. I either discover I don’t have a lot to say, or what I am saying is too boring or whiny for me to post. So, I will bore you with some stuff from my life over the last couple of weeks.

I went to a pre-retirement planning seminar. I’m still a little less than 8 years away from being eligible to retire, but I wanted to go just to get an idea of what to be thinking about over those years. Unfortunately, I did not find a loophole that will allow me to retire early, so I guess I need stop thinking about it for a while so I don’t get depressed.

We went to our last back to school night ever this week. It was a nice, short night because my daughter has a partial schedule. While I’m not looking forward to both of my kids being gone, I am looking forward to being done with the public school system. There’s already so much drama from the school about students not being where they are supposed to be during “pride period”(a time to go to clubs or get academic help from teachers). I agree with my kid. If they would just punish the kids not doing the right thing there wouldn’t be such a problem. I have never agreed with punishing the collective due to the actions of a few.

I finally finished the book that ended good reading streak. The next book I read, The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner, was very good and got me back to where I wanted to read constantly.  Now I’m done and hoping the next book won’t slow me down again. I probably need to take a break between my assigned books. They all seem to have death in them. That can be tough.

Finally, we are one week away from the trip to the Philippines. I’m not looking forward to 24 hours on planes and in airports, but I’m sure the experience will be worth it.

My Year in Reading 2016

I really didn’t think I would make it to 100 books this year. I went through a stretch when it was difficult for me to focus on reading. I did list 10 best books and some honorable mentions, but it was harder this year. I did more audio books this year. There will be fewer of those this year since my commute is shorter and I won’t be driving alone to Kentucky.I set my goal at 100 again, but my real goal is to continue to try to diversify my reading and to read at least one classic I have not read before.

Top ten books read in no particular order

  • The Winter Family by Cifford Jackman
  • I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
  • The Fireman by Joe Hill
  • I Must Say by Martin Short
  • Last Days of Night by Graham Moore
  • End of Watch by Stephen King
  • But What If We’re Wrong by Chuck Klosterman
  • The Whistler by John Grisham
  • Bazaar of Bad Dreans by Stephen King
  • The End by Charlie Higson

Honorable Mention

  • Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth
  • Kraken by China Mieville
  • Ms Marvel vol 1 by G Willow Wilson
  • Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
  • Tell Us Something True by Dana Reinhardt
  • Let the Right One In by John Lindquist

Book I would most recommend

The Fireman by Joe Hill. It is very long, but it is worth the time.

Worst book I finished

If You Find This Letter by Hannah Brencher

Book I Dustbunnied

None this year. I would have stopped reading the above book, but it was for book club and I always finish book club books no matter how bad they are.

Number of books read: 101

Number of pages read according to Goodreads: 31304 – This is wrong. They have one book listed as 6 pages and I know it was around 200, but this is easier than trying to add them all up.