Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Top 5 Wednesdays - Banned Books I've Read

Hello everyone!

Its been a while since I wrote a T5W post, sometimes I just don't love the topic. But I really thought this one is an interesting one. This weeks topic, banned books, is a very interesting one. Here in Canada, I feel like we are a little more free about our reading selections for school and that sort of thing, at least more so than the United States.

Still, the topic of a banned book is interesting. What makes a book "banned?" Who has the authority to ban these books and what are the messages that people are missing out on by avoiding these banned books?

I'll go through my full list in a little bit, but one of the most widely criticized "modern classics" if you will is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Now, I myself have read and loved this book twice, having to read it for both grade 11 and grade 12 (I moved schools) and I think there is a great message to this book.

Now, despite whatever your thoughts are on Hosseini's writing style, and whether or not you think the book has too much of a "full circle" ending, this is a widely fought book. Why do you ask? Is it because the story takes place in war-torn Afghanistan and there are terrible scenes with terrorist groups? Is it because the book deals with drinking and drugs? Or adultery? These are all perfectly acceptable reasons why some parents may not want their child reading this book. But the main reason? A male-male rape scene.

Now, I had an English teacher in grade 12 who had a parent come to her, frantic, saying that their child cannot read such a book. But they had no problems with that child reading The Lovely Bones, a book where a little girl is kidnapped, raped and murdered by a male neighbour. Now, this isn't a discussion on sexuality, or whatever. This is solely about the fact that some books, having certain content are less acceptable then other books, with a similar situation.

It concerns me that some parents won't allow their child to experience real life events in a fairly safe and controlled environment. If you are a parent, I'm not trying to tell you how to raise your child, and I'm certainly not condoning a book with a rape scene for a child who cannot handle a situation like that nor am I condoning this kind of behaviour, but at some point, kids need to learn about the world around them, as scary and frightening as it may be for the parents.

I guess my main point here is, can we ban books from schools? And why should we? I think that a classroom is a great place to learn about these scary topics, whether it is rape in The Kite Runner or racism in To Kill a Mockingbird, these are hard topics that people need to know about for the real world.

So, after that long and drawn out tangent, I will now get to my list of banned books!

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

This book was banned for "depictions of homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoints and sexually explicit scenes." As I said earlier, I've read and loved this book multiple times, but I can see where some parents would have problems with this book. That being said, should it be unavailable to all?

(source)

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

This classic, which I also loved, is criticized for being "demoralizing, in that it implies that man is little more than an animal" as well as being considered racist and containing “statements defamatory to minorities, God, women, and the disabled.” While some other these claims do have some backing, the book was published in the 50's, a time when people were a lot less understanding than they are now, and the author was writing for the time period he was in.

(source)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Similar to LotF, this is a book written and published in the 60's, in the height of American segregation and racism. It is critiqued for causing “psychological damage to the positive integration process and represents institutionalized racism under the guise of good literature.” The book also uses the N-word, at least 4 dozen or so times, and may be the most controversial banned book. I read this book in grade 9, and it was an eye-opener for sure. Should children be allowed to experience this drastic use of racism and prejudice? And at what age is this book acceptable to read?

(source)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

This book, as well as the movie adaptation, deal with a few important issues teens deal with, including sexuality, abuse, mental health - in an easy to read letter format. Many reviewers called this a book that "will engage teen readers for years" and while it wasn't one of my personal favourites, I agree with those who think that these are important lessons for young people to understand. The book has been banned in one American city "because of a two-page section of the book in which Charlie witnesses date rape. It’s the section most often contested [to the American Library Association]."

The Giver by Lois Lowry

I had to do a little research on this one, because even though I've read it twice, once in grade 7 and again last winter, I can't think of anything offhand that might make this book offensive. Apparently, most of the challenges against this book are about "violence" and the fact that it is "unsuitable for the age group". I guess that could be an issue for some people, but I don't know if there is enough of it in the book to really have a cause for concern.



And that's that! I'm interested in your thoughts on banned books. Should we restrict reading? Who should be able to decide what is and isn't accessible to the younger generation? Leave a comment with your thoughts!



Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Reading + University Life - A Struggle

Hello everyone!

I have been feeling a little unhappy with my blog lately, and reading in general, and so I figured I would do what I feel like would benefit others struggling with this as well, write a blog post about it.

Originally, I was writing a TBR Tuesday post, and I got a little off topic and thought I should make it its own post. I was talking about how since starting university, I have read 5 books. In about 20 days.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself, if you know my reading habits, that this is unheard of. I read a 300 page book in one day, max two, depending on whether I like the book, etc. So that means I am like 15 books behind schedule.

However, since I started university this month, my life and reading has changed majorly for me. Instead of in high school, where you are reading 2-3 pages of a textbook in class, going home for the day, and doing 30 mins. of homework and you are free for the rest of the night. BUT, in university, you are expected to have all the reading done ahead of time, usually at least one chapter of the textbook (anywhere from 30-50 pages) for one class, and some classes have two textbooks. And then you have anywhere from 4-5 classes a week, you don't have a lot of free time. For today alone, I had to have read roughly 100 pages, from four different textbooks, all by 9:25 am this morning!

This post isn't supposed to be something to discourage you from going to university, or anything like that. I am simply saying that for me, and many others, the jump from high school to post-secondary is very difficult. And as much as I would love to sit and read my novels for 6 hours at a time like I did three months ago, it just doesn't happen.

I guess I just wanted to say that even if I'm not posting as regularly, or go a week with nothing, its because I simply haven't had the time to sit down and write 5 half-decent posts or read that review book. And I hope you understand!

If you have any time management tips, please feel free to leave them down below! I may not be able to respond right away but I would appreciate the thoughts from someone who has been here.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Top 5 Wednesday - Fall/Winter 2015 Most Anticipated Reads

Hello everyone!

I am back with another Top 5 Wednesday! If you want to check it out, you can go to the Goodreads group and read more about it. 

I know, its been a while since I did a T5W, but I wanted to get back in the swing of things, so here we go!

This week's topic is top 5 title fonts, however, I wasn't really feeling that so I decided to change it up and make my own topic, my top 5 fall/winter most anticipated reads for the rest of 2015!

Through the Dark by Alexandra Bracken - Released: October 6
can't wait to  get back into this world! I haven't read any of the novella's, so I am excited to see what happens in them! Plus there's a sneak peak of Passenger, her next novel and I am so excited for that book too!

Winter by Marissa Meyer - Released: November 10
There was no way I couldn't not include this book in my list! I picked up Cinder, book one, just over a year ago after it sitting on my shelf for months. I loved it and picked up the rest of the series immediately! I loved each book more than the last, and Cress, book three, was pretty great, so needless to say I have very high hopes for Winter!

November 9 by Colleen Hoover - Released: November 10
I don't even bother reading the synopsis' of CoHo's books anymore! She has become an auto buy author for me, I would read anything she writes! I cannot wait for this book!

Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray - Released: November 3
Ok, so obviously, first things first, the covers of this series so far have been so incredibly gorgeous! I thought A Thousand Pieces of You had a great cover, well then they revealed this cover and oh my gosh! Stunning! I really loved Gray's writing and I cannot wait to see what is in store for Marguerite!

I Crawl Through It by A.S. King - Released: September 22
A.S. King is another one of those auto but authors for me. Please Ignore Vera Dietz was spectacular, and while I have yet to find another one of her books that gives me the same feels as that one, I keep buying, hoping that this will be the one! She has an amazing writing style, and I love the elements of magical realism she puts into her stories!

Well, I guess that's it! What are some of your most anticipated fall/winter releases? Let me know!


Monday, September 21, 2015

Monday Reviews - The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Hello everyone!

I am back with another Monday Reviews! This week, I am reviewing Margaret Atwood's newest novel, The Heart Goes Last. Thanks so much to Penguin Random House for sending me this book in exchange of an honest review!


I... I don't know what to say.

I was really enjoying this book, loving the realistic post-apocolyptic/post-economic collapse vibe and then I got to a certain point in the story, probably a third of the way through, and I was just so confused. 

I didn't get the direction the book went in, it just seemed weird. I was expecting a post-socioeconomic apocalypse with a plan for the future but what I got was a book with a strange, cultish, sexually driven society and what I thought was the main storyline of two characters trying to work out their marriage was quickly forgotten.

Now, this was my very first experience with Atwood, so I am not really familiar with her style. 

I just felt like I wasn't feeling the story and I didn't connect to any of the characters. Stan was a bit of a stick in the mud and Charmaine, oh don't even get me started!

In the end, it wasn't my favourite. Perhaps some diehard Atwood fans out there will read it and love it, but I just couldn't.

I rated this book 2/5 stars on Goodreads.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Monday Reviews - Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review! This week, I am reviewing Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling. Thanks so much to Penguin Random House for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review!

Let me start off by saying that this is my first Kaling book, and my first essay collection book.

And I have to say. I really enjoyed it!

I loved her work in The Mindy Project and found Mindy's voice in this book to very well spoken and just very honest. She talks about some funnier things, as well as some more hard hitting topics such as body image and self-perception.

I felt like Mindy's personality and very "tell it how it is" attitude really showed in this book and I enjoyed that.

These essay covered a variety of topics, from crushes to body image to life on set. I really enjoyed this look at Mindy's life and I plan on picking up her first book soon!

If you are maybe in a reading slump, or you just are looking for something different than the usual fiction, I definitely recommend this book!


Friday, September 11, 2015

Monday Reviews - On a Friday! - I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

Hello everyone!

I am back with another Monday Reviews on a Friday! This week, I am reviewing a book I just finished this week, I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson. 


As some of you may know, I was a little preoccupied these past few weeks getting ready for university, so even though it took me 6 days to read this book (when it probably would normally have taken 3), it was not because it was a bad book. I really enjoyed it actually.

This book was just such a deep and detailed book, I could only read small sections at a time before needing to take a break. I feel like there were maybe ten chapters in this book, but they were long. Like one of them was close to 75-80 pages. I did end up really enjoying this book, but the long chapters made for putting the book down in the middle of one inevitable, which is something I don't usually like doing. 

I did get some great quotes and it was one of the most well written books I've ever read.


I really liked how the title was incorporated into the book. I love it when you can see how the title was chosen, and in this book, it was just such a great choice I think.
My only complaint is that I felt like once the big issue was resolved in the last two chapters, the ending was a little lacklustre. Nobody really was too upset, and I guess they went with the high road mentality and just kind of went with the flow, but I didn't really think that was realistic.

I ended up giving this book a 4/5 stars on Goodreads, and I would definitely recommend it!


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

TBR Tuesday - Books I'm Bringing to University!

Hello everyone!

If you are a regular reader here on Ryley Reads, you would have noticed that I have been on a bit of a hiatus on and off for the past few weeks. That's because on Sunday, I moved into my university dorm room and I have spent these last few weeks anxiously shopping and organizing the things I will be bringing with me.

In an effort to be comfortable and keep my anti-social self company when I'm not studying, I have compiled a pile of books I plan on bringing with me to my dorm room.

These are all books I need to read, so I figured I would start with those first, and then depending on if I read all those, I will bring more.

Anyways, enough chit-chat! Here is my list of reading I brought to university!

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
Vortex by S.J. Kincaid
Stand-Off by Andrew Smith
Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch
Burying Water by K.A. Tucker
Becoming Rain by K.A. Tucker
Chasing River by K.A. Tucker
Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly
Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

I also brought I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, because that was my current read, and I just finished it yesterday afternoon. Stay tuned for a review of that on Friday!