Tag: reading

Rule Breaking in the Best of Ways

by on Oct.01, 2012, under Readings

This week is the 30th anniversary of the National literary community’s Banned Books Week. During this week, a concerted effort is made by libraries and bookstores to draw attention to censorship issues and the books that have drawn the most intense debate for their content, be it for sexually explicit situations, offensive language, religious viewpoints or a myriad of other taboo topics.

I was just talking to a teacher friend of mine at dinner last night about the close-mindedness some of her young high school students already exhibit in reading about ideas that don’t match their own. It saddened us both that these young minds had already been indoctrinated into the “if it doesn’t fall in line with my belief system then it must have little or no value and thus shouldn’t warrant any examination” system of thinking. As you can probably tell, I am a big fan of reading. I am not specific about what I encourage people to read, just that there is always value and new knowledge to be gained by this simple act. Expanding one’s mind is a wonderful side-effect of being entertained by the written word.

My mom is a huge bookworm, thus it is from her I come by my love of reading naturally. I still remember the first real novel I read all by myself which opened a door in my imagination that I ran through and have never looked back at. The BFG by Ronald Dahl changed me forever and I can’t thank Ronald Dahl enough.

I am proud that, through schooling, personal curiosity and rebellion, I can say I have read a number of the books on the current Banned and Challenged Book List. New ideas, even some that are hard to face, can open your mind to a greater understanding of our fellow man and why they sometimes do the seemingly crazy things they do. The world can be a gritty, cruel, and disillusioning place.  Hiding these books and their portrayals is not going to change these fundamentals. Facing them head on and getting your mind in the mix can however, better arm you to deal with the unpleasant side of life. If you are a parent and think your precious snowflake is too young to understand or be exposed to the sexually charged and seedy underbelly of society, turn on an episode of the Jersey Shore or just about any PG-13 movie, and they will be assaulted with enough exposed flesh, profanity, violence and sexual situations to deem these arguments against merely reading about such topics as hypocritical and invalid.

For the TL;DR crowd: Pick up a book from the Banned and Challenged Book List and open your mind! Just don’t blame me if you happen to select Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence and start feeling a little randy.

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Another Book List

by on Apr.23, 2010, under Readings

Since I decided that I needed to up my level of knowledge of classic literature, I have been keeping a look out for lists of recommendations that will help me achieve my goal. Strangely enough, I am not really sure exactly what my goal is. One day I just woke up an realized, the joy I had previous felt about having dodged all those tedious reading and essay assignments in school left a large whole in my education. Not that I have a great memory for these types of things, but it would be cool to once in a while whip out a high-brow reference to some famous work, or actually get a literary quip rather then just smiling and nodding as if I totally understand (then later having to secretly wiki on my phone). To this end, I have already finished a few classics; A Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol and am in the midst of Memiors of a Woman of Pleasure by John Cleland. I also have a personal to-read list that is growing a bit intimidating as I find more to add.

This is an interesting list as it is not just some random person’s opinions of books they consider famous or worthy of reading, but books that other authors have recommended as good reads. I have to admit, I don’t recognize many names on this list, but I few I have heard of, and even one I have read. A so a few more titles go on my list.

50 Famous Authors and Their All-Time Favorite Books

Quick Note: If you haven’t heard of it already and like me, are interested in reading some classic literature, there is a wonderful site where you can download full versions of books where the copyrights have expired and they are now able to be distributed for free, Project Gutenberg. I use this in conjunction with a free e-reader I have for my iPhone, but they also provide PDF versions of books that can be read on just about any electronic device these days. They have loads of great titles, all for no cost to you!

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