Banning Books Will Never Work

A parent in Virginia has concerns about schools assigning The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird. As a result, both books are now temporarily banned from use in the classroom until some kind of hearing can take place. The rationale behind her concerns is that the N-word is used quite a bit in both, which leaves students focusing on its repeated use rather than on the book. I couldn’t disagree more.

I, like just about all of you, have read both books. And though I absolutely have a problem with the language and offer no justification during any time period for its use, I can’t help but scratch my head. Why? I actually found a quote from the parent in which she backs her argument about how divided the country is. To me, it sounds like her concerns about the language are just a front for her political motivation.

I’m curious as to whether she thinks books written in the 19th and 20th centuries and taught to teens in school actually contribute to that division she speaks of. I’m curious as to whether she believes highly educated teachers are incapable of teaching books such as these two because of the language within each of them. I’m curious as to whether she would rather kids be taught books written in the 21st century with absolutely no historical element. And I’m curious as to whether she utilized her ability to opt out of the assignment of particular books in school. Because I know schools and teachers always make it 100% clear BEFORE an assigned book is started that parents can choose to have their son or daughter read something else if they have a problem with a title.

But doing this and causing these two books to be banned from classroom use does nothing positive for anyone. I’m sitting here thinking about what my reaction to some of the events in To Kill a Mockingbird would have been had I read the book in class.

A question I’d have wanted to discuss is what I thought would have happened at the jail had Scout and Jem not showed up alongside Atticus. Because we all know what that mob group intended to do. And we all know why they intended to do it. That discussion taking place amongst friends and a highly educated teacher who has likely read and studied the book several times is where I want it to take place. Because parents don’t always know what to say about certain things.

As you can see, I have strong feelings about any book being banned for any reason. But this parent’s argument simply doesn’t hold up under the weight of its own words.

A Milestone I Didn’t See Coming

Twice this week I’ve said I’d post an update on my reading challenge and twice this week I’ve changed my mind. But I do have some fun news to share. Just look:

I don’t hardly look at my stats at this point because I’m content with where I am. Yesterday I just happened to look at them in the app and this beauty of a number was staring back at me. 100,000 views on my little piece of the internet!

I’m of the opinion that views and likes and all of that stuff don’t really matter. Why? Because there are bloggers out there with no following who post fantastic content on a regular basis. I’ve simply managed to find an audience. Johnny Reads is no better or worse than the next blog.

All that said, WOW. This year has been rough for me. I’ve left two jobs in less than four months. I’m again in the midst of a job search that I’m hoping doesn’t last as long as my last one. BUT at the end of the day there’s one thing that’s remained constant throughout 2016. I’m still just a guy who enjoys talking books with like-minded people. That’s what it comes down to.

So whether you’ve been around here for a week or a year, it’s a pleasure to have you. I hope you’ll stick around. 😁

2016 Reading Challenge: The Burning Room

This won’t contain any spoilers.

If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time it’s highly likely you’ve read something about Harry Bosch. I’ve written about him more than just about any character, even KATNISS!

He is the epitome of who and what I think a fictional detective should be. This was the 17th book in the series I’ve read, and to me it was the best one yet. No matter the character being written, an author who can keep the reader interested in a single character over two decades is one of those rare jewels in literature. Michael Connelly is right there with the likes of Sue Grafton and Robert B. Parker.

Harry Bosch has never become stagnant or boring. His stories have never escaped the realm of reality. And he’s never forgotten his mantra that “Everybody counts or nobody counts”.

This book satisfied the requirement of my 2016 reading challenge to read a crime novel.

Now TOMORROW I will post an update on my progress! Stay tuned!

Also, the first book in the Harry Bosch series is The Black Echo. Just saying. 😊

2016 Reading Challenge: Every Day

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

I’m way behind on my own 2016 Reading Challenge, but there’s cause for hope! In the week since I left another job I managed to finish two books already!

The first one was Every Day by David Levithan, which I finished on the morning of Thanksgiving.

First, a little about the book. A, the main character and protagonist of the story is unlike any person you’ve ever read about. At least I haven’t. She’s a sixteen-year-old teen who wakes up in a different body every single day. She lives in these different bodies until midnight each night, only to wake up in another body in the morning. She has no physical presence outside of inhabiting these other bodies for the single day, which leaves her longing for much of the interactions and feelings we take for granted. That all changes when she wakes up in the body of Justin, and spends the day with his girlfriend, Rhiannon. Nothing is the same after that single day.

The day is all but perfect. The two cut class and spend the day at the beach. Rhiannon enjoys it but doesn’t understand why Justin is acting so differently for no apparent reason. Shortly thereafter A drops a bombshell and tells Rhiannon what’s really been going on. Of course, telling a teen that you wake up in a different body every day is hardly believable. But they continue to see each other just about every day with A in a different body.

Enough of my quick little summary, let me get to what I thought of the book. First off, this was the first book I’ve read by David Levithan. I bought this one over a year ago at someone’s recommendation. I immediately read the back of it and was intrigued, though it took me forever to get around to reading it.

I thoroughly enjoyed A. She wasn’t your typical smart-mouthed teen (mostly because she chose not to dramatically alter the lives of the bodies she inhabited). She didn’t give off this feeling of knowing all there is to know about life or certain events. Which would have been easy because she experienced life from a different perspective every single day. And the entire concept of the story was something I’d never really thought about. I mean, can you imagine what it would be like to wake up in a different body each and every day? You essentially have control over 365 lives every year. You can change any thing, whether it’s a boyfriend or how you treat your parents.

A typically doesn’t change any thing in the lives of those she inhabits. But one body stood out to me. She woke in the body of a girl who was seriously contemplating suicide. She’d set a deadline for six days into the future to do it. A considered doing nothing, but ultimately decided she had to help this girl. The girl’s relationship with her father was rough at best, but told him during the night before she left the body that she needed help. That she wanted to kill herself. And that she might try to forget this conversation took place in the morning, but he couldn’t let her change her mind. She also gave him her journal in which she’d drawn herself committing suicide in several different ways. It was never confirmed, but it appeared the girl was sent to get help for what she was feeling after that night.

I enjoyed A and Rhiannon, but the main issue I had with the book was also them. They spent one day together, right? A was Justin and Rhiannon had no idea what she was dealing with. After that single day A proclaimed to the reader that she was in love. That it was different this time around. I understand the book is young adult fantasy, but for someone to say they are in love with someone after one day with someone is about as childish as it gets. Over the course of the rest of book they became closer and their relationship grew more in line into what I’d expect, but the idea that the whole thing started after a single day is simply absurd.

All in all, I enjoyed the book. It was completely different from anything I’ve read.

The book satisfied the requirement on my Reading Challenge to read a book that starts a new series. I’ll post an update on my overall progress tomorrow!

Have you read Every Day? What did you think of it?

Some Holiday Advice

The holiday season is officially in full swing. Which means people all over the country are now doing their best to buy things for people who don’t need them. This definitely includes books. I’m sure some would argue that gifting books is better than an iPad or new TV, but I would disagree.

So, my holiday advice to anyone who is thinking of gifting books to a loved one or relative would be this: DON’T. Why? Because I can tell you what will happen. They will say thank you and smile and then put it on their shelf never to read it. Unless you are absolutely certain they want that particular title, don’t do it. I’d say give a gift card to Half Price Books instead. Because your money will go toward more books than if you give a gift card to one of the other book retailers. No doubt about that.

Are you planning on gifting any books this holiday season? I’m not. 

Why Does Wal Mart Sell Books?

Serious question. I can name one person off the top of my head who I know buys books fairly regularly from Wal Mart. I’ve definitely done my share of browsing the books at Wal Mart, but my memory tells me I’ve never actually bought a book from there. I usually just look to see if I know which books they’ll have in stock without even thinking about it.

If I set up my tripod near the books and threw Harry’s invisibility cloak over the top of it I’d see just how few people actually stop to take a look at them. I own something like 250 books. But when I think of Wal Mart I think of groceries, essentials, and TVs.

I’ve bought books from Barnes and Noble, Borders, Amazon, Half Price Books, Murder by the Book in Houston, and the Wal Mart website. We have so many options at this point that I just don’t see any benefit for a grocery store to sell such a limited number of books. They sell mega bestselling new releases and ultra popular older ones. The problem is that just about anyone who’d be interested in buying these particular books has bought them elsewhere.

Also, Target does a MUCH better job with their books than Wal Mart does. Better titles and better selection in every store I’ve been in. But still, I haven’t bought from there either.

My question still stands. Why does Wal Mart sell books? 

What I’m Thankful for

Tricked ya.

I’m not going to list or explain the things I’m thankful for. Because my list is likely very different and very similar to yours. There are things every one of us should be thankful for, whether we recognize it or not. But we should be thankful for most of the things we have every single day, not just when the calendar tells us to. Otherwise we’re taking things for granted.

My message today is to think of your own life experience and decide if you are thankful each day or if you wait for the rest of the country to tell you to be thankful. That’s it.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.