Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Banned Book Week. Part 3

So banned book week was from September 30 - October 6, and my plan was to read three banned books during that week.  The first two books  (here and here) written for teenagers and were read in about 3 days, the last one was serious adult literature and took me two weeks, which is why this post is arriving so late.

The third book that I read for this series was Song of Solomon, by Toni Morison.  

This novel tells the story of Macon Dead (III), a young black man born and raised in Michigan.  Throughout the early part of his life, he is defined almost entirely by the people around him.  As the story progresses he is is driven to take control of the direction of his own life, as he searches for the origin of his family roots, which are shrouded in mystery throughout the story.  

I posted a tweet, a week or so ago, about why High School makes you hate reading.  I think this novel is a case in point.  It is the sort of book that literary critics love because it is full of complex themes, and symbolic imagery, that makes some people feel smart.  The problem is that it's also the sort of book that can bore the rest of us to tears.  Now I'm not against any of those literary tools, provided they are not used at the expense of storytelling.  The story told in this book is not bad, in-fact, it is pretty good in some places.  The problem is that it's not great and at times the book meanders along at a pretty slow pace.  I feel a little more scholarly having read it, but I cannot say that it was particularly enjoyable.

Since this book was read in celebration of Banned Book Week, I suppose I should comment on how I feel about attempts to restrict the readership of this novel.  First and foremost, this is a novel for adults.  I don't care how many Nobel Prizes Toni Morrison has, this novel is not appropriate for kids under the age of about 15, it doesn't belong in Middle School Libraries, and I wouldn't be comfortable if it was assigned reading even for a High School student.  Nevertheless I think that any teenager mature enough to get through the first few chapters, could handle this book.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Diet and Exercise

If anyone is wondering why I don't post photos of anything besides my hands, its because I'm definitely a plus-size girl and I really don't like how I look in photos.  Nevertheless, I have been dieting and exercising pretty religiously for the past couple of months (I'm down 18lbs...Yea Me!).  I bought a pedometer application for my I-Phone, and it has been really helpful in keeping track of the miles I have walked.

As you can see, since Aug 23 I have logged 57.2 miles of walking.

So, here is the thing, diets are very hard for me.  I'm a girl who lives to eat, not eats to live.  I can't help it, I just love food.  However, I don't like the idea of "cheat days" on my diet, because they always seem to start a slippery slope right back to my old lifestyle.

That's when I came up with a great idea, rather than "cheat days"  I have "Earned Days".  So every time I log 25 miles on my pedometer, I get a day off from my diet.  The great thing about this is, if I exercise more, I get more days to eat the foods I love, exercise less, and I gotta stick with the diet longer.   Also because I earned my days off, I don't have to feel guilty enjoying desert.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Banned Book Week, Part 2

So the first  Banned Book in this series of posts was about a teenage girl, noq this one is about teenage boys.

The second book that I read for Banned Book Week (September 30- October 6) was The Chocolate War By Robert Cormier.

This book has the distinction of being one of the most frequently challenged books in the past 20 years.  It is written in subjective 3rd person, and tells the stories of several teenage boys who attend the all-boys Trinity Catholic School. Although the teachers are officially in charge of the school, the real power lies with a secret society of students called the Vigils.  The Vigils are effectively controlled by the officer known as the "assigner" which is held by Archie Costello, an intelligent,  manipulative sociopath whose thrives on risk and a lust for power.  I basically imagined him as a teenage version of Lex Luthor.

The primary challenges to this book appear to be mostly on sexual ground, although the only really sexual issues that we discover is that teenage boys masturbate a lot, something pretty much everyone knows already.  Nevertheless, I found this book to be pretty disturbing to me since overall it tended to glorify the villain and in some sense exculpate his actions.  The author, and many fans of the book, claim that the purpose of this is that it reflects the true reality of life.  Be that as it may, as a victim of bullying as a teenager I found the story (and particularly the ending) very disturbing.