Posts Tagged ‘books’

Library Book Sale Fallout: The Great Snape Debate

This book was probably the best thing anyone has ever found at a library book sale:

The "Unauthorized" Great Snape Debate

The “Unauthorized” Great Snape Debate

This book is amazing for so many reasons. The giant “BORDERS EXCLUSIVE!” sticker, the fact that if you flip it upside down, you get the counterpoint argument:

Children love this shit

Children love this shit

But most of all that this book was ONLY culturally relevant between July 2005 and July 2007, when Book 6 ended with (spoiler alert?) SNAPE KILLING DUMBLEDORE and Book 7 revealed HIS DRAMATIC BACKSTORY. In consequence, reading this time capsule in 2015 is hilarious. Also, I highlighted parts to remember for this blog post, so the next person to read this book is going to think a crazy person was the last to read this (they may be right).

Both The Case for Snape’s Innocence and The Case for Snape’s Guilt go through the same format:

Chapter 1: Proof from the book of Snape’s Innocence/Guilt
Chapter 2: Literary Devices employed that support either theory
Chapter 3: A Biography of Snape from each perspective
Chapter 4: Other roles Alan Rickman has played where he’s been a reluctant hero/villain
Chapter 5: Slytherin House Isn’t All Bad/Slytherin House Includes Only Hitlers

Even though (spoiler alert?) Book 7 would reveal that the “Snape’s Innocence” section was ultimately right in that Snape was following Dumbledore’s orders to kill him, “Snape’s Guilt” section made FAR better points in this book. I think because, even though Snape ended up being “good” (arguably), he was still a raging asshole. Reasons why we should trust Snape supposedly include:

“Snape teaches Harry exactly the things he needs to know in order to survive the dangers at hand or to make sense of confusing events” (3)

Which is only a little bit true if you assume Snape is responsible for the set Hogwarts potions curriculum.

The main justification this section uses is the same as the one in the book: that Dumbledore trusts him and Dumbledore is COMPLETELY trustworthy and has everyone’s best interests at heart.

Sometimes he [Dumbledore] is wrong. But from what we’ve seen of his unfailingly ethical and civil behavior…” (10)

Snape’s Guilt has my back on this, because even if you don’t use any evidence from Book 7, Dumbledore is still sketchy as hell.

“the “well-protected” Sorcerer’s Stone is blocked by a set of creatures and tasks that three mere first-year students are able to overcome all by themselves” (8)

“Dumbledore hires the inept egomaniac Gilderoy Lockhart for the Defense Against the Dark Arts position in Harry’s second year, while Harry and his friends see through his thin facade of talent after a single class… Lockhart, however, is not in league with Voldemort, making him an almost decent choice in comparison to some of the others” (7)

“Dumbledore is not exactly the best judge of character” (5)

Dude couldn’t even recognize that his boy Mad-Eye Moody was actually a Death Eater in disguise for ALL OF BOOK 4. And you’re all trusting him to not get you killed? Come on.

The Case for Snape’s Innocence also makes you try to think that Snape had ~hidden good guy reasons~ for all his shitty behavior:

“Snape had concerns–Lupin presented a danger to students, as he almost was to Snape himself… in his very first class, the memory of his own near-miss with death due to Lupin’s nature impossible to put aside, [he] assigned an essay on how to recognize werewolves so that, should Lupin become a danger, his students would be prepared” (52)

Yeah, that time he got Lupin fired he was just ~worried about the children~. Plus, even if he is an ass, The Case for Snape’s Innocence knows it’s not really his fault he’s like this. After all, everyone saw his underwear when he was 15!!!!

“The underpants, and the shame they represent, are at the root of everything” (37)

The Case for Snape’s Guilt calls bullshit on this too:

“In a display of bitterness and stunted emotional growth, Snape takes his revenge on James by picking on Harry… it’s tempting to view him as a victim, but Harry has had a pretty rotten childhood himself, yet still manages to rise above misery and self-pity” (35)

My favorite part from the Case for Snape’s Innocence section is either this:

“The beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses” (137). The only way this could have been a greater entrance was if Snape recited the speech while being lowered into the classroom on a harness like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible.”

Because what the hell? Or citing Alan Rickman’s character in Love Actually as a “flawed hero” figure:

“Although thoughtless to the effect his wandering attention is having on his wife, Harry does resist the temptation Mia presents” (61)

Except, nope, Word of God confirms that was a full-on affair.

But besides trying to defend Snape’s questionable virtue, the ACTUAL best part about this book is how many Harry Potter fan theories about Book 7 it contains. Prevalent among them was that somehow Dumbledore wasn’t really dead:

“Some fans who believe Snape is innocent theorize that Snape and Dumbledore faked Dumbledore’s death… Rowling’s response was, “Dumbledore is definitely dead.” (She didn’t, however, say anything about whether he’s going to stay that way…)” (11)

And of course lots of people had predicted the Snape/Lily unrequited love before Book 7 confirmed it, but The Case for Snape’s Innocence doesn’t want to go too far into fan theory territory, just noting that mabye “Snape and Lily formed some kind of bond over their mutual talent for potion making” (12). The Case for Snape’s Guilt argues right back that, if Snape actually loved Lily, “Wouldn’t he avoid pointlessly harassing Lily’s only son, even if it is just for her sake?” (21). You’d think, but sometimes the assholery is too strong to resist.

Other amazing theories:

“Could there be a good-magic equivalent of the dark-magic Horcrux?” (81)

This was part of a possible explanation about how Dumbledore might not really be dead lol. And:

“Based on what we know about Lily’s mastery of ancient magic, it’s possible, even likely, that Lily’s ability to see “the beauty in others” was more than a figure of speech” (23)

A surprising amount of time was devoted to this theory which rests on a line from the movie version of Prisoner of Azkaban and an understanding that Lily dying for her son=protecting him from Voldemort was something she did with conscious knowledge about what would happen (debatable). The authors go on for at least a page about how Harry “having his mother’s eyes” probably means that he also has inherited this magical ability they’ve made up about “seeing into people’s hearts.” Nice try, 2006.

Previously: Library Book Sale

Library Book Sale Cheap Day Makes Dreams Come True

This year there were 350,000 books at the Wake County Public Library book sale, which is actually down from last year since they had trouble getting rid of them all in just 4 days. Steven and I always go on the last day, Sunday, where you can fill up a bag or a box for just $3. These are all books that have either been pulled from the collection or donated in the past year, so it’s rare to find things in stellar condition, especially on the last day. So I generally end up filling my bag with funny things that will make great “gifts” for friends. A lot of them get donated right back to the library within a month, but I still feel like I got my few cents worth. This year was no exception.

Obligatory romance novel grab

Obligatory romance novel grab

You know James and I love to make fun of bad romance novels, and one time I even made Brian join in, so you can bet you’ll be hearing about these again.

To Catch an Heiress by Julie Quinn: Caroline Trent is determined to avoid marriage to her fortune-hunting guardian’s nitwit son, even if it means running off into the night–and into the arms of the devastatingly handsome Blake Ravenscroft, the equally determined agent of the crown who mistakes her for a notorious traitor!

Warlord by Elizabeth Elliot: Lady Tess longed to return in peace to her beloved Remmington Castle–but she never thought that the price of reclaiming her land would be marriage to the most notorious warlord in all of England. Fierce and fearless, Kenric of Montague had never admitted defeat, and now he demanded Tess’ loyalty–and her surrender. But how could she give herself to a man who pledged to keep her safe yet stirred her most dangerous passions?

The Counterfeit Heart by Anthea Malcolm: Nicola Crawford was hardly surprised when her cousin’s betrothed disappeared on some mysterious quest with hardly a fare-thee-well. Anyone engaged to Charles Windham was bound to run off sooner or later. Charles might be deucedly handsome, but he hadn’t a romantic bone in his body. Of course, Nicola had once fancied herself in love with him, but she soon recovered from that fit of madness. And she would rather faint dead away than admit she had even considered entrusting her heart to so conventional, so horridly practical a man!

The Courtesan’s Secret by Claudia Dain: On the night of her debut two years ago, Lady Louisa Kirkland fell for the devilishly handsome Marquis of Dutton. It’s high time, she’s decided, that he realized he loves her in return. Also, there is the little matter of Louisa’s family pearls that are in his possession. For both problems, Louisa will need help–bue she need not look far. For was it not Sophia, Countess of Dalby, who master-minded her own daughter’s whirlwind courtship and marriage–above her station and within days? As an ex-courtesan, Sophia is delighted to help any woman acquire jewelry and so she agrees. Although she knows Dutton couldn’t care less about Louisa, Sophia also knows of another gentleman, Lord Henry Blakesley, who couldn’t love Louisa more.

Real Vamps Don’t Drink O-Neg by Tawny Taylor: Although Sophie Hahn works as a paranormal researcher, she doesn’t believe in ghosts, werewolves, or anything. But when it appears that her best friend Dao is slowly being killed by a female vampire, her beliefs are put to the test. Dao’s new wife is the prime suspect, though she doesn’t look capable of hurting a fly. That’s when Sophie meets sexy college professor and vampire Ric Vogel, who needs her help in tracking down two ancient relics that have the power to end his people’s suffering forever.

And, the best romance novel of all…

YES, that tagline does say "Set phasers to do me"

YES, that tagline does say “Set phasers to do me”

I usually spend a lot of time in the Foreign Language/Travel section wading through Chinese picture books to find travel guides to places I may or may not ever visit. I still like reading about hotels and restaurants there.

Disney World, Nepal, Portland

Disney World, Nepal, Portland

The reference section took a big hit this year as it takes up valuable shelf space and isn’t used nearly as much as in the pre-Internet days. So I knew the reference tables would be worth a look. I wasn’t disappointed.

HOW could we have gotten rid of such a useful reference tool?

HOW could we have gotten rid of such a useful reference tool?

Then I hit up Self Help, because the definition of that is incredibly broad and amazing:

There are illustrations which are just Olde Timey Misogyny Cartoons

There are illustrations which are just Olde Timey Misogyny Cartoons

Don’t worry, dudes, you can be unfairly stereotyped too:

Copyright 1987

Copyright 1987

I usually look through the knitting and crochet books for legitimate purposes, but that is NOT the reason I picked up this thing:

WHY was it still left on Cheap Day?

WHY was it still left on Cheap Day?

What is “pop culture crochet”? Obviously:

A crochet bikini!

A crochet bikini!

A crochet... whatever the hell this thing is

A crochet… whatever the hell this thing is

BUT my single greatest find of the year was this gem:

The "Unauthorized" Great Snape Debate

The “Unauthorized” Great Snape Debate

A BORDERS EXCLUSIVE. Published between books 6 and 7 of the Harry Potter series, this book is such a strange artifact from a different time.

Oh, and did I mention half the essays are written upside down to be read from THE OTHER SIDE?

BECAUSE HERE IS THE BACK upside down

BECAUSE HERE IS THE BACK upside down

I cannot wait to revisit my shameful past as a HP fanfic writer through this time capsule of an “unauthorized” Borders exclusive.

Hate Book Club: The Art of the Deal

Sketch722285-1

Brian chose this edition of Hate Book Club, but I don’t blame him because we both thought it would end up being better than it was. First published in 1987, this book is a portrait of a past version of Donald Trump. Less bombastic, more optimistic, far more boring.

That hair

Still got ridic hair, though

As always, I have to begin Hate Book Club by finding three nice things to say about the book:
1. This life advice:

“If it can’t be fun, what’s the point?” (2)

2. It made me falsely nostalgic for a simpler time when you had to call people on landlines to get anything done. Oh, romantic inconvenience
3. It reminded me SO MUCH of the Futurama episode “Future Stock,” about a 1980s business guy who gets frozen and reawakened in the year 3001 to try to use 80s tactics to succeed in future business. So I ended up rewatching that episode, and it’s a great one.

This book is shelved in the biography section of my library because it is a monotonous chronicling of Trump’s every business move from high school forward. It basically reads like a grocery list. But there were some glimmerings of the ridiculous troll-beast that would emerge in decades to come, like his condescending attitude towards women:

One of the first things I did was join Le Club, which at the time was the hottest club in the city and perhaps the most exclusive… Its membership included some of the most successful men and the most beautiful women in the world. (95)

Because success:men::beauty:women. Obviously. You can also clearly see the casual condescension and privilege that will become such a pillar of his public persona:

My father had done very well for himself, but he didn’t believe in giving his children huge trust funds. When I graduated from college, I had a net worth of perhaps $200,000 (93)

HAULING MYSELF UP BY MY BOOTSTRAPS with only $200,000, in 1960s money. Don’t worry, this judgment also extends to his own family:

Maryanne [his sister, a federal judge] is really something. My younger sister, Elizabeth, is kind and bright but less ambitious, and she works at Chase Manhattan Bank in Manhattan. (70)

Working at a bank is a perfectly normal career, but in the Trump family you have to preface it with “but she has a great personality.”

I also learned some of Trump’s baffling personal habits:

I ask Norma Foerderer, my executive assistant… to bring me lunch: a can of tomato juice” (7)

The best part was definitely when he punched a teacher in the face:

Even in elementary school I was a very assertive, aggressive kid. In the second grade I actually gave a teacher a black eye–I punched my music teacher because I didn’t think he knew anything about music (71)

Honestly, I skimmed a lot of this book, so I don’t have a ton of notes, but to give you a general feel for it, here are some quotes from Futurama:

Steve Castle: Let’s cut to the chase. There are two kinds of people: Sheep and sharks. Anyone who’s a sheep is fired. Who’s a sheep?
Zoidberg: Uh, excuse me? Which is the one people like to hug?
Steve Castle: Gutsy question. You’re a shark. Sharks are winners and they don’t look back ’cause they don’t have necks. Necks are for sheep. [Everyone sinks down and covers their necks.] I am proud to be the shepherd of this herd of sharks

Steve Castle: Fry, I’m an 80’s guy. Friendship to me means that for two bucks I’d beat you with a pool cue till you got detached retinas.

awesome_to_the_max

Here’s the graph I made of my experience reading this book:

trump2

And here’s a gif that sums up my reaction to this book:

boring

Don’t forget to read Brian’s review here!

And the New Day was a Great Big Fish: My Top 10 Discworld Novels

I was more upset than seems natural that the world lost one of its greatest writers, and, more importantly, a kind and awesome person when Sir Terry Pratchett died yesterday. His books are, quite simply, magic. They mean so much to me that I’ve rewritten this post at least twelve times because it never seems to be enough. I can’t explain it well enough to do them justice, especially if you’ve never read any.

The Discworld floats through space, supported by four gigantic elephants who are themselves standing on a giant turtle. A Star Turtle. It seems strange at first, but after you’re one or two books in, it seems completely natural.

The Discworld

The Discworld

Discworld books always get shelved in fantasy, because some of the characters are subpar wizards and there are swamp dragons and time travel and trolls. But it’s not some High Fantasy bullshit where you need a giant appendix with a glossary of elvish terms and characters. The Discworld is more about our world than anything. It’s about war and death and the pain of growing up and growing old, the magic in everyday things and the power of humans and what they can do together–for good or for evil.

Also, it’s hilarious.

I mean, if you couldn’t tell from the giant world turtle. My favorite books are hilarious but also meaningful. The other great thing about Discworld is that it really is an entire world. There are over 40 books, but most of them don’t go in any particular order. There are a few general storylines, but also many one-off novels, and characters from different books appear as minor characters in others. That in itself is a feature I love, like unexpectedly bumping into an old friend. I really think this means that there is a Discworld book for everyone. I love all of them, but at certain times in my life I’ve been more drawn to the Rincewind stories, for instance, whereas now (as you’ll see from my list) anything featuring Vimes usually gets top billing. It was hard to decide on a Top 10, and I feel like I will change my mind about some of the ordering even tomorrow, but for now:

10. Men at Arms

menatarms

I love Vimes novels because I love: 1) a good mystery, 2) a scruffy, world-weary underdog, and 3) the underlying themes of inclusion and justice. Vimes works for the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, which, at least at the beginning, gets about as much respect as those flunky guards who always get killed by the hero on the way in to save the princess in a trope-filled fantasy novel. Still, I would classify these books as police procedurals, with werewolves. In this one, Vimes has to catch a serial killer on the loose in Ankh-Morpork with a strange new weapon that does untold damage. He also has to deal with new species integration in the Watch, when he’s forced to hire a dwarf, a troll, and a werewolf.

The werewolf is Sergeant Angua and I LOVE HER

The werewolf is Sergeant Angua and I LOVE HER

I really like watching Vimes grow as a person throughout the books about him, but still retain that hard-bitten core of Vimesishness. This book uses the anti-dwarf/troll/werewolf attitudes espoused by Vimes, other Watch members, and the populace at large to parody real issues of racism and sexism, and Pratchett’s portrayal is spot fucking on.

9.The Fifth Elephant

fifthelephant

This is another, later City Watch novel, where Vimes is sent as a diplomatic envoy from Ankh-Morpork to Uberwald for the crowning of a new Low King of the dwarfs. Of course, since it’s a Vimes novel, there’s a mystery to solve–namely, the theft of a sacred dwarf artifact. And the theft of a model of it from an Ankh-Morpork museum. And the murder of a condom maker. Related? Maybe! This book builds on previous worldbuilding and gives us an insight into “traditional” dwarf, werewolf, and vampire society. Ankh-Morpork and all its problems are downright cosmopolitan by comparison. Case in point: Corporal Cheery Littlebottom, one of the first openly female dwarfs.

Note the riveted skirt and earrings. Get it, girl

Note the riveted skirt and earrings. Get it, girl

Pratchett’s depiction of traditional dwarf society, with all the attendant legends and mythology of a people who have lived their lives underground, in near-darkness, is breathtaking. The way he plays with traditional tropes is hilarious (the main vampire character, a Countess, knits her own cardigans). This book is as much a political thriller as it is a mystery, and Vimes is the best forever.
Read the rest of this entry »

Things I Learned From Bob Garner’s New Book

Bob Garner is kind of a joke between Steven and I. I always DVR the show North Carolina Weekend on the local PBS affiliate because sometimes it gives me ideas about cool things to do. Also, I have become fake-frenemies with everyone on it. For instance, when the host, Deborah Holt Noel, has her coworkers going to some wooden duck museum while she gets to check out the hottest new restaurant in Raleigh, YEAH, I SEE WHAT YOU’RE DOING, GIRL. It’s fine. I would abuse my power too, if I had any.

But Bob Garner is definitely the most hilarious part of North Carolina Weekend. He reviews restaurants in the measured, dulcet tones of Mitch McConnell. It’s basically watching an old guy eat and then proclaiming everything delicious, so Top Chef it’s not. He never has complaints, and you can only tell the variation in the dishes based on the noises he makes, usually some variation of “Mmmmmmm-mmmmmm”. But is it with his eyes closed or open? Does he turn his face upward towards the camera as if basking in the pure, heavenly perfection of this fish sandwich/hushpuppy/pie? Clearly I have too much time on my hands.

Then one day at the library I noticed he’d written a book:

The Book

The Book

FOODS THAT MAKE YOU SAY MMM-MMM!!!!!!! I had to check it out. There are definitely some good recipes inside, but most of it is history and information about various North Carolina foods. I actually learned a lot. Including:

1. Bob Garner completely owns being Bob Garner

BOB GARNER KNOWS THAT HE IS SEMI-RIDICULOUS!!!!! This changes everything. Check out this author photo:

This man knows exactly what he's doing

This man knows exactly what he’s doing

The fact that Bob Garner is in on the joke that is Bob Garner is amazing. I feel less bad for mimicking him stupidly whenever Steven makes me a smoothie now. Plus, he actually does seem to know a lot of stuff about North Carolina foods. I should have known that WUNC wouldn’t put just any old dude in front of a camera to eat pimento cheese.

2. Atkinson Milling

This mill is an hour from my house, and has been operating since 1757!!! These are two invaluable facts for me to know.

And it looks pretty!

And it looks pretty!

The grinding of the cornmeal is still done with water power, and it’s the only remaining water-powered mill in a four county area (at least)!

3. Muscadine and scuppernongs

These are the two kinds of grapes native to North Carolina! They make delicious wine, but I didn’t know that a scuppernong is actually a type of muscadine. “North Carolinians refer to any bronze- or greenish-hued muscadines as scuppernongs… because many cuttings of what was first simply called “the big white grape” were planted and cultivated during the 1700s around Asupernung river” (52).

They are "about the size of a hog's eye"

They are “about the size of a hog’s eye”

Apparently these grapes are also one of the healthiest and sweetest varieties in the world. The hot, humid climate of eastern NC is prone to fungal diseases, so the grapes produce extra antioxidants to protect themselves. Bob Garner also provides recipes from the annual North Carolina Muscadine Harvest Festival, which is awesome because I really only knew about them from wine. This includes Sparkling Oatmeal Muffins, Chicken Vegetable Kabobs with Muscadine Barbecue Sauce, Muscadine Nachos, and Muscadine Grape Hull Pie.

4. National Banana Pudding Festival

Oh my god y’all there is a National Banana Pudding Festival and it is in Centerville, Tennessee! THAT IS LIKE HALF AN HOUR FROM WHERE MY PARENTS ARE GOING TO RETIRE OMG.

This is just all I want out of life

This is just all I want out of life

What I’m saying is, Banana Pudding Festival 2017, I AM IN.

5. Texas Pete

I don’t want to alarm you, but Texas Pete is actually from North Carolina.

I KNOW

I KNOW

The company started as a barbecue stand in 1929 in Winston-Salem. The red pepper sauce was apparently almost named “Mexian Joe” except DAMNIT, WE ARE AMERICAN AND PROUD or something. Steven was crushed to lose yet another piece of his Texas pride.

Women need pink for reading comprehension

So here’s a book I found at the library:

Essential Car Care for Women!

Essential Car Care for Women!

Dudes, you don’t need this. You were born knowing how a four stroke combustion engine works. But ladies, in the name of equality, you’ve got a lot of catching up to do. Literally that’s how the back justifies itself:

Despite the many advances women have made since the internal combustion engine was invented, there is still one widely held belief that won’t seem to go away: “When it comes to cars, women should just leave it to the men.” In Essential Care Care for Women, ESPN NASCAR pit reporter Jamie Little and Discovery Channel “Turbo Expert” Danielle McCormick team up to dispel this myth once and for all

Because a special pink book for women really dispels the myth that they know fuck-all about cars and can never learn. Or maybe we just can’t learn without someone condescending to us! It’s true that I have trouble understanding text that’s not pink.

Finally someone understands my lady-needs

Finally someone understands my lady-needs

And yet, to my knowledge, this hasn’t made it on to any challenged book lists. I feel like debating this would be a better use of our time than freaking out about classical breasts on the cover of The Awakening.

Challenged Books: The Popularity Papers

Hey team!

Sorry I have been failing at my 2014 goal of posting a blogpost every week. Moving is stressful and I’ve lacked the internet for 5 days now (currently at the library like a cool kid)! And I’m mainly posting this just to prove that I did in fact read a challenged book each week of September.

The Popularity Papers by Amy Ignatow

The Popularity Papers by Amy Ignatow

This book was super cute!! It reminded me a lot of the Ameila’s Notebook series by Marissa Moss I remember buying from my elementary school book fair, full of hand-drawn pictures and text to look like handwriting. The story chronicles two 5th grade girls’ attempts to watch the popular girls and figure out how to become popular themselves. It’s pretty standard older-elementary/early-middle school themes about friendship and acceptance and maybe just discovering some boys are not gross (maybe). The only reason it was challenged was because one of the protagonists has two dads.

Previously: The Bluest Eye and The Color Purple

Challenged Books: The Bluest Eye and The Color Purple

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Recently East Wake High School, about 30 minutes from my apartment, banned the use of The Bluest Eye in English classrooms after parental complaints, and relegated The Color Purple to alternate assignment lists. I hadn’t read either of these before, and I was excited for the excuse to get some more Toni Morrison in my life. In the end, I think I liked Alice Walker better, but I can see why these books are often taught together, as they treat similar themes in different ways.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

I get why some people objected to these books. They deal with serious topics and harsh realities that we wish didn’t exist. You should feel uncomfortable reading these books, because the reality experienced by the characters is upsetting. It’s not the kind of book someone picks up for a fun escape, and therefore might be largely ignored for the majority of casual readers outside a classroom context. And I think that’s why it’s important for books like these to be read. For anyone dealing with the issues of poverty, racism, and abuse in their own lives, it’s important to see themselves in literature, realize that they’re struggles aren’t their’s alone. Breaking free of the isolating nature of these problems is the first step to overcoming them. For any of us lucky enough not to have to face those issues firsthand, books like these teach us empathy. It’s one thing to read statistics or factual reports about other people’s problems, but works of fiction can get us to feel for them and really understand their lives in ways that news reports often can’t. I really think the ability to imagine yourself in someone else’s position is one of the greatest assets to becoming a compassionate human, and reading literature outside of our comfort zone is an important way to gain that skill. That’s why I’m grateful to my high school curriculum, for assigning books I definitely would not have picked up on my own even though I’m an avid reader, about characters whose lives were so distant from mine that their struggles shouldn’t have been able to touch me. Good writers can take us outside our own narrow experience and broaden our worldview in a way that’s needed more than ever as society becomes more interconnected and global.

So, I’m sad that these books won’t be able to change lives, but I’m happy that the controversy at least let them change mine.

Previously: A Bad Boy Can Be Good For A Girl

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