How to Not Judge Another’s Reading Choices

It’s hard to be myself sometimes. It’s especially hard to be myself when it comes to books. There’s a certain kind of pressure to appear culture and refined. If you don’t read certain books, then somehow your opinions on good reading is undervalued or not at all.

A friend of mine is into speculative fiction. At one point she considered getting a Ph.d. in creative writing with a focus in fiction/speculative fiction. Apparently there were only a couple of universities that had one or two students that focused on speculative fiction. People just don’t think it’s a genre that carries much weight in the literary world.

It’s the same with romance novels and even erotic novels. There are people who come into certain libraries and when they check out these types of books they sometimes say, “I’m kind of ashamed to be checking this book out. I don’t want anybody else to know.” And when other people observe this they say, “If they’re that ashamed about what they’re checking out, then they shouldn’t be reading it at all.” And that’s why I don’t check these types of books out myself just to see what they’re about because I know someone might see me and silently judge me for my choices.

And that’s a shame because I think genre writing can carry a lot of weight. Science fiction presents certain ideas about life and society that we wouldn’t have thought about otherwise if that author hadn’t written about it. Historical fiction presents us with different viewpoints in different historical points and makes us interested in researching those time periods for ourselves.

Judging others for what they read and shaming them to read certain books isn’t going to make them do so. It only discourages them from wanting to read at all since society is shaming them from reading what they truly enjoy and if they do read what they love, then they tend to read it in secret. Why not encourage all writers to produce better quality of work? In the very least, it’ll encourage a diverse variety of reading choices and that’s all any of us are really asking for.

50 Books for 50 States.

Something I always wanted to do was to read a book from each of the states in the U.S. I never did because 1. It’s time consuming and 2. I didn’t want to take the time look up books for each of the 50 states. Even as the bookworm that I am, I can be quite the lazy procrastinator (is that like a double negative? I don’t know…)

Well, I finally decided to Google it and Business Insider has a nice little article called “The Most Famous Book That Takes Place in Every State.” I thought that this might be a good place to start in my quest to read every state. I’m going to list the books and authors here if anybody’s interested, but click on the link if you want to know more about them. Or go buy the books themselves and find out on your reading time. It looks like some of the books I’ve read, but a lot of them I haven’t, so that will be fun to read (and maybe even re-read).

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Alabama)
  2. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (Alaska)
  3. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver (Arizona)
  4. A Painted House by John Grisham (Arkansas)
  5. East of Eden by John Steinbeck (California)
  6. The Shining by Stephen King (Colorado)
  7. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates (Connecticut)
  8. The Saint of Lost Things by Christopher Castellini (Delaware)
  9. To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway (Florida)
  10. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (Georgia)
  11. Hawaii by James Michener (Hawaii)
  12. Housekeeping by Marilyn Robinson (Idaho)
  13. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (Illinois)
  14. The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington (Indiana)
  15. A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley (Iowa)
  16. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (Kansas)
  17. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (Kentucky)
  18. Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice (Louisiana)
  19. Carrie by Stephen King (Maine)
  20. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler (Maryland)
  21. Walden by Henry David Thoreau (Massachusetts)
  22. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides (Michigan)
  23. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis (Minnesota)
  24. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (Mississippi)
  25. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (Missouri)
  26. A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean (Montana)
  27. My Antonia by Willa Cather (Nebraska)
  28. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson (Nevada)
  29. The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving (New Hampshire)
  30. Drown by Junot Diaz (New Jersey)
  31. Red Sky At Morning by Richard Bradford (New Mexico)
  32. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (New York)
  33. A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks (North Carolina)
  34. The Round House by Louise Erdich (North Dakota)
  35. The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace (Ohio)
  36. Paradise by Toni Morrison (Oklahoma)
  37. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey (Oregon)
  38. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (Pennsylvania)
  39. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult (Rhode Island)
  40. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (South Carolina)
  41. A Long Way From Home by Tom Brokaw (South Dakota)
  42. The Client by John Grisham (Tennessee)
  43. No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy (Texas)
  44. The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff (Utah)
  45. Pollyana by Eleanor H Porter (Vermont)
  46. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson (Virginia)
  47. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (Washington)
  48. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown (Washington, D.C.) – I’m taking this is a bonus book?
  49. Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (West Virginia)
  50. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Wisconsin)
  51. The Laramie Project by Moises Kauffman (Wyoming)

Ten Book Blogs You Need to Go Follow.

One of the best things about blogging is reading other blogs. And if you’re into books as I am, finding a good book blog is like finding the Holy Grail. The following are some bookish blogs that I enjoy reading from time to time.

  1. The Perpetual Page Turner
  2. The Broke and the Bookish
  3. Blogs of a Bookaholic
  4. The Captive Reader
  5. The Suspense is Thrilling Me
  6. Escape Through the Pages
  7. Brown Books and Green Tea
  8. Bookishness and Tea
  9. Twin Tales Book Review
  10. Book Snob

Why Rowling Transcends All Magical Borders.

I can draw a line in the sand in my history of reading: before and after Harry Potter.

It was 1998. I was 11 years old and I’d just gotten the first three Harry Potter books for Christmas. I was very excited because a neighbor had told me about them a couple months earlier and I was just aching to read them. I hadn’t been a big reader of fantasy and science fiction prior to this, but for some reason, J.K. Rowling’s books seemed somehow different.

And was I ever grateful that it was Christmas break. I started with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and the rest was history. Each book took me a week or less to get through. When I finished with The Prisoner of Azkaban, I was hooked. When I realized I had to wait for the next book, I was disappointed and more than a little impatient. And so began the saga of Harry Potter. I’d wait or bated breath for two years until the next book come out, ten I’d rip through the pages only to wait impatiently until the next one came out. I felt as if I truly grew up with Harry, and in a sense, I did.

What I love about the books is its complexities. We start out as first years, a light hearted gander through the magical world of England, learning along with Harry. Then, as he gets older, we view the more complicated issues of the magical world – and ours.

After Harry Potter, I read Lord of the Rings, then Robert Jordan’s works, and much more recent, George R.R. Martin. But if I hadn’t read Harry Potter first, I probably wouldn’t have read any of it.

And this is where I give a lot of credit to J.K. Rowling. Not only has she given me an opening to a new magical world, she’s also my inspiration as a writer. Ever since I was a child, I’ve dreamed of becoming a writer. As with such dreams, when I grew older, people told me I needed to focus on a real job and have writing as a sideline hobby. Learning about Rowling’s struggles, about her success when she was dirt poor made me realize that if she can still write and become successful at where she was, then I can still continue to pursue my own creativity. I might not see it right away, but hard work will get me there eventually.

And that is why Harry Potter (and J.K. Rowling) will always have a soft spot in my heart.

On American Writers.

I need to make a confession:

I haven’t read a lot of the American classics.

Isn’t that wild? You’d think that as an American, we’d make it our main focus, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. At least in my experience.

It seems like the majority of what I read in class about American literature has been short stories and poetry. Some of the classics I’ve read I read because it was one of several different options. I went online and googled “American classics” and realized I read more than I thought I did, but it’s still less than what a lot of others have had to read, it seems like.

Some of the American classics I’ve read include the following:

  • On the Road by Jack Keruac
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • White Fang by Jack London
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Crucible

For me, American writers always seem to be a little dry. The simplistic writing style of Hemingway and followers always feels textbook dry to me and others feel wieldy (The Scarlet Letter-esque writers.) That being said, I did enjoy To Kill a Mockingbird and White Fang. Maybe I should read more Southern Gothic and Nature based books?

If you have any suggestions, let me know!

Authors I’ve Been Dying to Meet.

L.M. Montgomery

When I was in sixth grade, I discovered the Anne of Green Gables series on my teacher’s book shelf. I started with the first book and worked my way through the series throughout the school year. I don’t quite know what drew me into Anne’s world, maybe she reminded me of Laura Ingalls a little bit, but I couldn’t wait until I could get my hands on the next books. I even wondered if L.M. Montgomery was still alive and working on her next book. How disappointed I was when I found out that she’d died in the early part of the 20th century!

If you’re like me, then you know what it’s like to fall in love with a book so hard you want to meet the creative genius behind it. If there was a time machine, you’d even go back to meet some past authors!

The following are some of my favorite authors of all time, the ones that I’d give anything to meet in real life:

  • J.K. Rowling (The Harry Potter series)
  • J.R.R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit)
  • L.M. Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables, Emily of New Moon)
  • Charles Dickens (Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations)
  • George R.R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire series)
  • Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time series)
  • Charles Frazier (Cold Mountain)
  • Libba Bray (A Great and Terrible Beauty)
  • Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice)
  • The Brontes (Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights)
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House on the Prairie)
  • JoJo Moyes (Me Before You)
  • Stephen King (The Green Mile, On Writing)
  • Chris Woodyard (Haunted Ohio)
  • Veronica Roth (Divergent)

Best Father Figures in Literature

Charles IngallsToday we’re celebrating those important men in our lives who have given us a fatherly role to look up to and protect us from harm. Authors, too, have given us some memorable fathers to love. Here are some of my favorite father figures in literature:

  • Charles Ingalls – Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Atticus Finch – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Mr. Bennet – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Matthew Gilbert – Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  • Albus Dumbledore, Mr. Weasley, Professor Lupin, Sirius Black – Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
  • Reverend Monroe – Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
  • Otto Frank – The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

What are some of your favorite fatherly figures in literature? Let me know in the comments below!