Celebrate the Freedom to Read!

This week, September 24-October 1, is Banned Books Week—an annual celebration of intellectual freedom. It also serves to educate about the dangers of censorship. The American Library Association, and librarians in general, are pretty vehement about the freedom to read, asserting that it is up to the patron (or, in the case of young kids, the parent) to determine what they want to read. Librarians—superheroes of the First Amendment!


Here are some great, often challenged books that I personally recommend:

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

ttyl by Lauren Myracle

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson


More info about Banned Books Week: http://ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/bannedbooksweek/index.cfm

Question: What do you think about book censorship?


Geek Out: Baking

Editor’s Note: I know this is a site about doing nothing but reading, but let’s be honest: we fill our time with lots of other activities! This is a new feature, Geek Out, in which Marissa and I will tell you about the other things in our lives that we love.

I am mildly obsessed with baking cookies, cakes, pies, etc. Not that I actually do all of that, really, but I think I’m obsessed with the idea.

My boyfriend is in graduate school for his MBA, so he’s a really busy guy to say the least. To make him feel like he’s at home when he’s learning about dividends or whatever, I’ve been trying to bake little treats for him to take to school. The bonus is that I also get to eat them.

Baking not only makes me feel useful, but it’s sort of like magic. (Or as my favorite webcomic says, “Baking is science for hungry people!”) You can’t mess around with baked goods as much as you can with cooking. If you’re making a chicken dish, and oops, there’s not enough cream of mushroom soup, you can find something to replace it. In baking, substitutions sound more like chemistry equations.

My house smells amazing right now because I just made some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with dark chocolate chips. I used the recipe on the Quaker Oats canister, but substituted (don’t worry, it’s one of those easy ones) some delicious chocolate for the evil raisins. I also used less sugar, because a cup and a half (3/4 brown, 1/2 white) seemed like a lot. They are amazing. I’m going to keep them in my adorable monkey cookie jar, and add them to his bagged lunches!

Question for you!

What’s your favorite cookie recipe?

Geek Out: Yarn

A more appropriate title for this might be Geek Out: Art and Craftiness, but I chose yarn specifically because it’s been on my mind, like, today.

I LOVE YARN. I have too much of it. I specifically like sock yarn because I love to knit socks. What is geekier than knitting socks? Not much, especially if you sit home weekend nights knitting socks and watching TV. I have so many socks that I knitted for myself that my sock drawer is FULL. If I lived in Alaska, it might make sense to have this many warm, cozy, handknit socks. But I live in Connecticut, where it is temperate most of the year.

I also geek out about sheep. Not in a weird, yucky way, but in a “AWW! SHEEP ARE SO CUTE!” way. Ask my friend Andrea, who made the mistake of letting me into the sheep building at the Big E last year. I think we were there at least an hour? Maybe two? And I pet the sheep and talked to all the knitting and yarn people.

So for knitting books, I highly recommend the always informative and hilarious Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. I also (today!) started a book by Catherine Friend called Sheepish which describes her experience living on a sheep farm.

That’s just one of my geek-outs. Any other yarn fans out there?

Speak Out with Your Geek Out!

It’s Speak Out with Your Geek Out week! This event is an effort to make being a geek more acceptable, and to end bullying surrounding geek stuff. Geeks can be positive role models, so this week, a lot of bloggers are “coming out” with their geekiness.

I’ve been a reader and a book nerd since I was 2, and I used to get made fun of a lot. Spending my time reading a book during lunch was, apparently, not the cool thing to do. Now that I’m an adult, I’m the kind of adult who goes to comic book conventions, reads horror novels, and plays video games. Geeking out is about doing what you love, and not really caring what people think about it.

Question for you, Dear Reader:

What do you “geek out” about? What’s your nerdy passion?

Do you remember what you were reading?

Today is the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Ten years seems like a long time, but it goes by in the blink of an eye. I’m sure a lot of people remember that day, but do you remember what you were reading at that time?

It seems like a silly question…almost “Who CARES what I was reading when 3,000 people died?” I think it’s important to reflect on past reads, though, because they shape us, no matter how subtly.

My grandmother kept track of what she read, and so I started to do so as my New Year’s resolution in 2001. And so, in the beginning of September 2001, I read 1000 Acres by Jane Smiley and Shakespeare’s King Lear (I was in high school AP English). Looking back, I remember how sad these two particular stories were and how there was a sense of hopelessness around them (they are essentially the same story, Jane Smiley’s is an updated version of Lear.) I remember finishing 1000 Acres and just sitting there like a lump, like, how much more sadness is there to bear?

I’m not trying to be a downer, I just find it interesting that what we read often reflects our environment at the time.

Do any of you keep a list of what you read? Do you remember what you were reading?

Harry Potter, re-read

I love the Harry Potter books. I have a long relationship with them, spanning middle school, high school, college, grad school, and beyond.

The last time I read the series all the way through was when Book 7 came out, in 2007. This summer, I decided to re-read all of the books, straight through. It was glorious.

It took about three weeks to get through Books 1-7, and it would have taken less time if I hadn’t had a busy schedule during August. (Side note: I’m unemployed (boo!), so I have lots of free time for reading.) I had some days where I didn’t read anything, and one day where I finished the second book, read the entire third book, and started the fourth book.

Verdict: this series really holds up. Really. The seventh book, which I read in one day the first time around, is fantastic. Everything comes together so nicely! Reading the series from start to finish makes all those little connections so much more interesting. The characters age realistically, and, going along with that, readers who start out with the first book at age 11 will be mature enough to read the seventh book when they get to it, probably.

If you haven’t read the Harry Potter books in a while, add them to your reading list! Every library everywhere should have them, and if they don’t, they are silly.

Question for you, dear readers!

What’s your favorite series?

Hello Wisconsin…and elsewhere!

First, I want to thank Amanda for inviting me onboard. I feel like the fan who gets to get up on stage during a concert. I love the idea of a holiday that is all about reading, but I also think it’s so important to incorporate reading for fun into every day.

I found out yesterday that my mom has never read E.B. White’s classic Charlotte’s Web. For my part, I never read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn until earlier this summer. My sister and I are working through the 2008 edition of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, which is what got me to read Huck Finn.

Are there books that you’ve never read that you wish you had, or books that you think people would be surprised that you haven’t gotten to yet?