Banned.

Let’s talk about banned books: STOP banning books.  Talk over.

No really, knock it off.  Stop dumbing down society.  Stop screaming about “cancel culture” except for when it suits you.  Read a damn book, so you can learn about something other than yourself.

Sorry…I’m a little heated.  Maybe it’s because my teacher let me check Mein Kampf out of the library when I was 13.  If you don’t want to click the link, I will summarize.  Just know that this wasn’t pleasure reading, it was for a term paper I wrote on Hitler, whom I chose out of spite because my teacher said I couldn’t do Anne Frank, and to find someone else from the Holocaust to focus on.  So, I went straight to the source of the whole thing, and read his stupid book one weekend in 8th grade.  The point of this story is that I read Mein Kampf and grew up to see nationalists as absolute flaming garbage humans, so maybe it’s not the actual content that’s the problem.

Another banned book that made an impact on me was Annie on my Mind, by Nancy Garden, who was writing queer characters long before it was cool.  I just realized I don’t own a copy, though I must’ve checked it out of the library a dozen times.  It’s about two teenage girls in NYC who fall in love, in a time when that is verboten…so really it could be anytime and anywhere.  Now, I’m not a lesbian, but I loved this story because it made me understand lesbians.  See, I understood gay men because my dad had two gay male friends, but I didn’t have any girl-on-girl exposure until I read that book.  A few years later, my aunt came out, and I thought of Ms. Garden’s tome and smiled, because I was okay with it.  Other people in my family weren’t right away, but I was, because of my books.

Should I have been reading Stephen King when I was 10?  Probably not.  But I did anyway, and I expanded my vocabulary by leaps and bounds.  I developed my writing style off of his more than any other author I have read.  His works were deeply formative to me, and if I had been restricted from reading them, I don’t think I would have some of the ability that I have now.

My father never restricted my reading, telling me that if I could read the words. I could read the book.  So, I read the books…as many as I could get my hands on, until my eyeballs gave out a little and made it a difficult task. 

So, they are banning Maus, apparently, which I have not read but seems I would really enjoy.  And they claim it’s not for Holocaust content, but rather nudity.  Nude…mice.  Because, you know, mouse fashion is a really important aspect of our reality.

It’s an excuse.  It’s always an excuse…I mean look at all the horror and gore and sex and nudity and witchcraft and violence in the Bible,..but ain’t nobody banning that. 

If they are banning books, they are doing it because they want to censor the reader, not the book.  They are trying to steal knowledge from you.  Don’t let them; fight back and read, read, read.

That’s pretty much all I’ve got to say on that, aside from the fact that I really hope to someday be on this here list.

Happy Thursday.  Read a book.

The Reading Room

I did not update on Monday, as I was sick still.  I am well now, but it is a peculiar health, one that seems extra fragile as I sip my Gatorade and eat my yogurt.  I don’t want to talk about it anymore.  Let’s talk about reading.

Once upon a time, I lived down the street from a library.  It was very tiny and I’m not sure if it was part of the county library system, but I have almost zero memory of it.  I could not have been more than three when it closed and the big one opened across the street.  It was the first brand-new building I ever set foot in, and I thought it was a castle.  My father walked me through the doors and I asked him, “Which book can I read?”

“Whichever you want.”

My little head exploded.  I knew I would walk out of there with picture books by the loads, but there was also the possibility of BIG BOOKS: the ones with no pictures, the ones for grownups, where the cover is the only glimpse into the magical coded world that lie inside.  I was only just learning to read but I found myself cracking this code a little more every day and could not wait to get my hands on one of those BIG BOOKS.  And here was my father, telling me I could read whatever I wanted?  I knew the underlying lesson there: I could read whatever I wanted, so long as I could READ.

So I read.  I read every picture book I could get my hands on.  And when I was proficient in those,  I moved on to others, like Amelia Bedelia.  Then Judy Blume’s, then the most of the Babysitters Club series.  I discovered my favorite genre, horror, though RL Stine.  Then, sometime around 5th grade, I started reading “actual” novels, meaning not meant for the teen or tween crowd. 

We moved, so my old library was replaced by another, and I spent many afternoons amongst its stacks, reading and learning.  I was never one to ask for help-I have always been terrible at it.  So whenever I had a problem, I went to the library, and I researched the hell out of it.  I did all my schoolwork there.  I spent hours perusing the shelves.  And now…

Now there is a library a couple blocks from the house but I never go.  I don’t need to.  I have all my information in my pocket on my phone.  I do like to go pick out a book or two every now and then but they usually languish unread on the bar while I hate-watch another episode of House Hunters.  It was my eyeball’s fault for a long time, but now I find I am just not concentrating on a book as I used to.  My New Year’s resolution was to read more, and my first book of the year was The Institute, and I’m only halfway through.  It’s a Stephen King book about kids with super powers.  I should have devoured that a month ago.

I wish I could read like I did as a kid, so voraciously.  I love seeing kids reading.  Sometimes the girls do and that’s nice.  My cousin Grace and I like to talk about books sometimes, too-she is ten and plugged into all things middle grade and YA.  Right now, she is reading some old favorites of mine, like Blubber by Judy Blume.  When I was her age I had Carrie in my hands for the first time.  Some might say a little much for a ten-year-old, but I knew what I think my father knew: You’ll read what you’re ready for. 

And reading made me ready for everything.