Posts tagged with books.

So when I read Meghan Cox Gurdon’s complaints about the “depravity” and “hideously distorted portrayals” of contemporary young adult literature, I laughed at her condescension.

Does Ms. Gurdon honestly believe that a sexually explicit YA novel might somehow traumatize a teen mother? Does she believe that a YA novel about murder and rape will somehow shock a teenager whose life has been damaged by murder and rape? Does she believe a dystopian novel will frighten a kid who already lives in hell?…I can’t speak for other writers, but I think I wrote my YA novel as a way of speaking to my younger, irredeemable self.

June 13 201112·11 am42 notes

Sherman Alexie, Why the Best Kids Books Are Written in Blood

I read a quote by Toni Morisson that she writes the books she wants to read. Without books like this that tell the truth I would have ended up infinitely more of a mess. Sneaking books from the YA section with queer characters and characters with mental health problems was so necessary for me.

(via readnfight)

One of the only things that kept me relatively sane through my childhood and adolescence was reading, and especially reading illicit books. My entire life was books. I read constantly because I didn’t know how else to deal the issues I was facing: growing up gay and with clinical depression in a very homophobic, sexually repressed, religious household. 

My parents would often confiscate books I’d checked out from the library because they were “smutty” or otherwise “inappropriate”. I simply took to hiding those books better or only reading them at school.  I read books about sex, about queer characters, with feminist themes. I read books which questioned the idealisation of monogamy or the denigration of prostitution in our society. 

It’s true that I didn’t understand everything I was reading, or know how much the themes of self-acceptance and rejection of social expectations I was reading about would later become so influential and important in my life. But reading about queer characters who were free, who were happy, and whom I could relate to and also dream about becoming like allowed me to deal with the pain of having to keep my turmoil and confusion a secret year after year.  Reading books that many parents, even secular ones, would deem “inappropriate” for my age probably kept me from killing myself as a teenager, and certainly gave me solace when I had no where and no one else to turn to with my problems. 

Too often parents try to control the information their kids are exposed to, and I honestly find that reprehensible. Kids deserve to live in and learn about reality. It’s not always pretty or painless, but to keep your kids “innocent” is far more damaging in the long run. It is, in my opinion, a form of mental and emotional child abuse when parents censor and attempt to control what their kids are exposed to, especially peri- and post-puberty when self-doubt and and the need to find out where you belong and who you are are most intense.

 Censorship is a tool used solely to manipulate others. It is degrading, condescending, and supremely unethical. Censorship of any kind makes me absolutely furious, no doubt in large part because of how hard my parents tried to censor reality for me and how much more difficult that then made it for me to learn who I truly was.

(via reinventionoftheprintingpress-d)

Just got back from the Prairie du Chien Memorial Library which has the world’s worst library website.  Despite that, I did get some nifty books about evolution, atheism, Mormonism, and a couple cookbooks, as well as three movies (why the fuck is the word “movies” not in my browser’s dictionary?!) which I’ve been meaning to watch: Watchmen, Working Girl, and The Invention of Lying. I’ve actually already read The End of Faith and Why Evolution is True, but it’s been a few years and I couldn’t remember exactly how I liked them. 
Anyways, I feel better about having some slightly more productive ways to spend my days off from work, and I get to ogle the fantastically cute Jamie Oliver’s recipes.  The blue book towards the top right corner is gay young adult novel Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan which I’ve heard is good, and has been well reviewed by some critics, so I was curious. 
Sidebar: I’ve always been really disappointed that the whole Naked Chef thing wasn’t actually literal.
I’m thinking of posting some short reviews on the books, so look for that in the future. Maybe. If I even do it. We’ll see.
January 31 201108·14 pm

Just got back from the Prairie du Chien Memorial Library which has the world’s worst library website.  Despite that, I did get some nifty books about evolution, atheism, Mormonism, and a couple cookbooks, as well as three movies (why the fuck is the word “movies” not in my browser’s dictionary?!) which I’ve been meaning to watch: Watchmen, Working Girl, and The Invention of Lying. I’ve actually already read The End of Faith and Why Evolution is True, but it’s been a few years and I couldn’t remember exactly how I liked them. 

Anyways, I feel better about having some slightly more productive ways to spend my days off from work, and I get to ogle the fantastically cute Jamie Oliver’s recipes.  The blue book towards the top right corner is gay young adult novel Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan which I’ve heard is good, and has been well reviewed by some critics, so I was curious. 

Sidebar: I’ve always been really disappointed that the whole Naked Chef thing wasn’t actually literal.

I’m thinking of posting some short reviews on the books, so look for that in the future. Maybe. If I even do it. We’ll see.

you g*dd*mn muthaf*ckin’ d-bag

I ran across this website which advertises reviews of “good, clean books for your teens and tweens”.  The site takes Mormon insane prudish morality to an extreme I thought only my mother practised. She (the reviewer) reads each book and marks how many times she is offended by the language usage of the characters. Apparently, even if the person is fake, this woman can be offended by what they say. (One wonders if her eyes bleed from all the naughty words she must be confronted with on a daily basis).  I quote from the most insane of her rantings,

Because taking the Lord’s name in vain is so offensive to many people, even one use of it bumps the rating up at least to Mild. So any book with a rating of Very Mild for Offensive Language shouldn’t have any uses of names of deity as expletives.

Less offensive than names of deity are other words I consider actual swear words…

Because saying “Oh, my god” is somehow more offensive than saying “bloody fucking cunt licker”.  And we wonder why it’s impossible to have a useful conversation with these people.

She does say that she’s fine with using the names of “other gods” in vain, as in when one says “By Jove”. Rofl. (Actually, honey, it’s the same goddamn thing because there’s no such thing as your goddamn fucking god, and if he did exist, and gave a god-fucking-damn about people “using his name in vain” then he’s a motherfucking petulant baby who needs to fucking get over himself and fucking deal with the motherfucking bloody fact that we motherfucking humans are a bloody well going to fucking use his “name” as a goddamn expletive because of all the goddamn fucking shit he’s put us through. But since he’s only real in your fucked up head, we’re going to use the name of your Jesus fucking Mary god as explicitly as we bloody well fucking please.)

So offensive though are swears that she refuses to actually spell them, and uses asterixes for all the vowels, including “bl**dy”, because “it’s an offensive British swear word”.

The absurdity doesn’t end though, and just gets more hilarious and eye-gouging,

In addition to names for diety and swear words, to me there are other offensive words as well. Where I grew up, we got in trouble for saying “shut up” to each other—and rightly so, to my mind. I deplore what I call the Bart Simpsonization of America—the snappy (and rude) comeback, the child who’s disrespectful to her parents, the constant put-downs.

So I started marking and then counting the times “shut up” was used as well as other language I considered offensive. At first, however, I over-counted, marking every use of the word “stupid,” for example. But while I consider it offensive to call someone “stupid”—or think it—it’s not offensive to say, “I made a stupid decision” when it was stupid. So I’ve cut back. Hopefully, I’ll get to the point where I instantly distinguish a “stupid” that’s offensive from one that isn’t.

In the meantime, I’ll keep counting—even though this week I wondered if I was being utterly silly and foolish as I solemnly counted the number of times someone—animal, human, or djinn—was called “silly” or “foolish” in Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories!

Yes, you were being silly and foolish, but not for the reasons you think, you crazy, crazy bitch.

She then continues on to explain how and why to censor your teenager’s reading, so as to make sure they never get exposed to a single idea you disagree with, or in any way learn about real human experiences or the existence of sex and violence. Because when you get married and are allowed to have sex for the first time, it’ll be the best sex if you’ve not ever never touched yourself or anyone else, but if you’ve never even read about, thought about, or been exposed to the very idea of sex before. (This is the ideal situation on a young couple’s first night together *shudder*).

The following two situations for why it’s a great idea to keep reality away from your children were the ones that most made want to throttle this woman through the intertubes.

Explain Why You Disapprove
For teens, it may be better to explain your reasons rather than simply forbidding something. I’ve never forgotten the story a woman told in church at least 20 years ago, a story not related to reading, but applicable. Her son and his friends wanted to paint their faces to show support for their team at a football game. She first simply told him no. He argued and resisted. The disagreement escalated. Finally, in tears, she explained her reasons, using scriptures. He accepted her explanation and agreed not to paint his face.

Require Additional Reading
More recently, I read an essay by a mother about how she handled her daughter’s poor reading choices. The mother, herself an author of young adult books, saw her daughter’s behavior and even appearance change as she began exclusively reading Anne Rice books, books about vampires. The mother told her daughter that she could still read the Anne Rice books but that she also had to read books the mother and librarian chose. As she began reading books by other authors, the daughter began to look and behave like herself again.

What the motherfucking fuck?

I can’t even comment on the previous two paragraphs without having a brain haemorrhage about the sheer degree of brainwashy insanity and manipulativeness.

Part of the reason this makes me so furious is that this is exactly how I was raised. I can’t even count the number of times one of my parents tried to censor my reading, not just as a child, but as a teenager. And not because it was terribly written literature (though some of it was), but because sex was discussed, or (horror of horrors) actually portrayed by the characters without any ensuing morality tale!  Of course it never worked. I would just not take those books home and would read them at school and keep them in my locker. 

This is what passes for morality within Mormonism.  Not feeding the homeless, nor treating women and gays as actual people, nor worrying about taking care of the environment, nor especially treating others with respect and kindness and embracing human diversity. No, the pressing duty of the parent is to make sure that your child never reads the word “ass”, “cunt”, “shit”, “goddamn”, or “Jesus-fucking-Christ”, and never, ever allowing your child to read that people actually do fuck and murder and rape and love and hate and masturbate. You musn’t ever let your children realise that when you write about real-life situations you have to motherfucking use some goddamn swear words because life is both fucking hard and wonderful and normal people who actually live in reality do motherfucking swear and curse gods and have constant, indiscriminate, lust-filled sex with themselves and each other because we’re nothing more than barely self-aware hypersexual animals.

You tampon-licker.