Books I Recommended to Someone who Asked for a sad Read

The actual request was for a book that may make them cry.

Lone Survivor

Night

To Kill a Mockingbird

The Martian

All of the books have completely different storylines. Two are based in fact. Two are not. The common thing from all of them is that I believe there are lessons to be learned from each. Just like there’s a lesson to be learned from nearly every book ever published. The messaging may be off and the writing poor, but find a book in which you take nothing away from it and I’ll gladly hand you hundreds in which you’ll find something hidden beneath the printed words.

What was the last book that made you cry?

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The White House is Being Swamped…With Books

See what I did there?

President Trump has more than his fair share of critics. And one group is inundating the new president with books. I said I’d write a letter to him with some book recommendations, but why write a letter recommending books when I can just send them!?

So I’ll do it. I’ll send a handful of books with short notes off to the White House. The odds of him ever seeing the books or the notes are incredibly unlikely, but I think it’s worth the few dollars it’ll cost me. It isn’t much different from calling your representative or senator. You won’t have them on the other end of the line, but your message will be heard by someone.

I encourage everyone to grab a book, write an inscription, and send it off to the White House. I know for certain I’ll be sending Night, To Kill a Mockingbird, and a copy of the US Constitution.

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.

Top Five Wednesday: Books Outside my Comfort Zone

Today’s Top Five Wednesday topic is the best books I’ve read outside my comfort zone, which is definitely mystery. I probably had 6-7 books in mind when I came up with my list, but I ultimately stuck with the required five books. I’ve actually talked about all five books at some point either on here or in previous videos, so there really should be no surprise  this time around.

Now watch: It’s quick!

What are the best books you’ve read that fell outside your literary comfort zone?

Top Five Wednesday: Dads

FINALLY. Finally a new video y’all might actually be interested in. Y’all know about Top Five Wednesday, and this topic is pretty straightforward. Now just watch and see if my favorite literary Papa Bears are similar to yours.

PS: There’s a twist!

Who are YOUR favorites?!

Harper Lee has Died

An American icon died today. And even though today is video day and I have a new video for y’all, I felt that I should write one more post about Harper Lee.

I’ve written extensively over the last year about the Pulitzer Prize winning author. Mostly because she popped up in the news for the first time in years and I finally got around to reading To Kill a Mockingbird. But you know what my first thought was when I learned of her death? Some of you will know it. It was that she wouldn’t be taken advantage of anymore.

I’m not upset or critical of her for only writing one book during her lifetime (I still don’t consider Go Set a Watchman anything more than a draft that was never meant to see the light of day). I don’t fault her for not relishing in the media attention she received as a result of her book. And I don’t blame her for her second book coming out.

Harper Lee did in one book what so many people fail to do in a lifetime. She changed lives. Imagine what it would have been like reading her book for the first time in 1960. Depending on your personal ideology and mindset the book would have been eye-opening or repulsive. But when we read it now it gives a glimpse into the ugly history of the southern United States. We all know that not everyone living during the period was racist or experienced racism in their day-to-day lives, which is why her book is so important. It shows the bad in people during the period, but it also shows how good people really were. There were millions of Atticus Finch’s all over the country, but not everyone was fortunate enough to know one.

I won’t thank Harper Lee for writing a masterpiece. Instead I’ll thank her for doing her part to ensure that a terrible time period in the history of this country is never forgotten. So thank you, Ms. Lee. May you rest in peace.

I’ll leave you with my To Kill a Mockingbird video from last year.

The Most Popular Books at US Public Libraries are:

First off, sorry for the late post. I’d had every intention to have it publish at my usual time, but today I’ve been a bit distracted by something unexpected. And I decided that my attention was needed elsewhere. But now I’m here with you, as always, just a little late today.

Recently Quartz was given data from some of the top public libraries around the country regarding their most popular books. The data isn’t all from the same time period, but we’re only talking a difference of about a month at the most, so it’s pretty accurate. If I had to guess with no information about any of the libraries, I’d of course think that Go Set a Watchman would likely be at or near the top of some of the lists. I’d also think of To Kill a Mockingbird. Besides those two I’m not sure I’d have any other books come to mind. Here’s the list in no particular order.

Seattle – Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.

San Francisco – Fairyland by Alysia Abbott.

Los Angeles – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

San JoseThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

San Diego – The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

Denver – Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf.

Phoenix – Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.

Dallas The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

Houston – Truth or Die by James Patterson.

Memphis To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Jacksonville – The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

Washington D.C. – The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

Baltimore – Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.

New York – The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

Indianapolis – Wicked Charms by Janet Evanovich.

I really can’t say I’m surprised by any of these, though I will admit that I’ve never heard of the titles from Denver and San Francisco. The others seem pretty understandable. They’re pretty much mega bestsellers that people are reading all over the country. Maybe just a little surprised that Paper Towns didn’t make it to the top of at least one list. Even though I know the movie isn’t nearly as popular as the first of the John Green adaptations, the book was popular enough to nab a movie deal.

Are you surprised by any of the titles that are the most popular books at some of the public libraries in the US? Maybe you think some titles should be right near the top that aren’t listed?