Banned Books #32- The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night-Time by Mark Haddon

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Welcome to this month’s edition of Banned Books where Beth and I have read The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night-Time by Mark Haddon.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Synopsis:

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a murder mystery novel like no other. The detective, and narrator, is Christopher Boone. Christopher is fifteen and has Asperger’s, a form of autism. He knows a very great deal about maths and very little about human beings. He loves lists, patterns and the truth. He hates the colours yellow and brown and being touched. He has never gone further than the end of the road on his own, but when he finds a neighbour’s dog murdered he sets out on a terrifying journey which will turn his whole world upside down.

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time by Mark Haddon
First published: 2003
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2015 (source)
Reasons: offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”)

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: First of all, I can’t believe that this book is now fourteen years old! That blows my mind. Chrissi and I read it not long after it had first come out and it’s one of those books that we’ve both kept on our favourite shelves, such was the impact it had on us. Things haven’t changed that much in the last fourteen years so my opinion is going to be the same for the first two questions. (We may be a little biased also because it is one of our favourite books!) Only one of the reasons I can accept as being an accurate reflection of what is in the book but that is not to say that I necessarily agree with it.

This is the offensive language reason which, although I don’t think it’s particularly over-used in the novel but I admit there are several instances of swearing and even one instance of the “c” word which may offend some people and fair enough. You are entitled to be offended by foul language – that is your prerogative. However, I don’t see bad language as a reason to ban/challenge a book outright as I don’t think you can shield children from things they are more than likely to hear in the playground/on television/in the streets if they don’t read it in books.

CHRISSI: Fourteen years old. That’s crazy! I still remember reading it for the first time and being really impressed. On my re-read I was just as impressed. To be honest, I can see why it might be challenged due to profanity, but that’s not to say I don’t agree with it. Some children are exposed to profanity in their every day lives and I don’t think challenging a book because of that is the right thing to do. I can almost guarantee that this book wouldn’t be the first time children had heard bad language. Would I read it in the classroom? No. But it still deserves to be in the library just waiting to be explored.

How about now?

BETH: Same answer – I don’t agree with the reasons for banning/challenging this book. Particularly those that wax on about a religious viewpoint/atheism. Personally, I love learning about beliefs from all over the globe from a variety of different people and I really can’t remember an instance in this book where I felt like the character’s religious views were shoved down my throat. I’ve read books before that fall into the “preachy” line and was immediately put off however this was unequivocally NOT this kind of book. As for it being inappropriate for the age group (young adult) – seriously what was so appalling that a well-adjusted or even not so well adjusted teenager should be protected from this book??

CHRISSI: Again, I wouldn’t personally use it in the classroom with teenagers (if I taught teenagers!) but I’d highly recommend it to them to read as an independent choice. Yes, there’s bad language, but as I mentioned before they’ll hear it anyway. I teach a boy with Asperger’s and I could recognise so many qualities in our main protagonist. I believe that many people with autism could find something special in this book. Those that don’t, can get an insight into what life is like for those with ASD.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: Well, this is pretty obvious I guess….I loved it! I’m always worried when reading an old favourite that I won’t enjoy it as much as I did previously however this definitely wasn’t the case. In fact, I feel I got even more from the book than I did on the first reading and especially loved the additional illustrations and maths problems that broke up the text and gave us a real insight into the mind of Christopher. It is so important that conditions such as Asperger’s are highlighted and I think a book like this could really help anyone with it or those who know someone with it. For me, it was an education and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

CHRISSI: I really enjoyed rediscovering this book. As I mentioned, I have experience with children on both ends of the spectrum and it reminded me how difficult life can be for them. It made me feel super proud of their day-to-day achievements.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Without a doubt!

Banned Books #31- Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin

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Welcome to the first Banned Books of 2017, where Beth and I read Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin.

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out

Synopsis:

Author and photographer Susan Kuklin met and interviewed six transgender or gender-neutral young adults and used her considerable skills to represent them thoughtfully and respectfully before, during, and after their personal acknowledgment of gender preference. Portraits, family photographs, and candid images grace the pages, augmenting the emotional and physical journey each youth has taken. Each honest discussion and disclosure, whether joyful or heartbreaking, is completely different from the other because of family dynamics, living situations, gender, and the transition these teens make in recognition of their true selves.

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
First published: 2014
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2015 (source)
Reasons: anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: This is a one of our most recently published “banned/challenged” books that we’ve chosen, only being published in 2014. Well, it sure seemed to cause a stir as it was immediately placed on the frequently challenged list for 2015! I don’t agree with any of the reasons for this book being challenged to be perfectly honest but I think I do know why the topic causes such a furore. I think the world of children who are transgender is relatively new (in the fact that we hear about it a hell of a lot more, not that the children never existed before). I think a lot of people either don’t understand or don’t believe that being transgender even exists and find it difficult to come to terms with, sometimes especially if it is their own child. I’m hoping with more publicity that people can educate themselves and the majority of ignorance surrounding it can be reduced.

CHRISSI:  This is one of the books that is banned/challenged that I want to roll my eyes at, because it really shouldn’t be. Like Beth, I understand why it has been challenged. It seems recently that transgender is much more publicised than it used to be. Of course, there’s always been transgender around, but it’s definitely more prevalent in the media. You would think that this means the book shouldn’t be banned, and I’d agree, but I can see why it is at challenged because it kicks off a whole debate and arguments about what gender really is. I hope that one day it won’t be such an issue and those that aren’t educated about transgender could be!

How about now?

BETH: See above answer. I will however, go into more depth about the reasons but will try to remain relatively calm. Offensive language – yep, I admit, it’s in there but as I’ve said about other banned books in our series, no worse than what children would hear in school, television, out and about etc. Then there are other reasons that make me want to do that little red angry emoji face. Like anti-family?! I mean, WHAT? Why would being a transgender teenager threaten or go against a loving family? Especially if they are supportive which is just all kinds of awesome if they are. And the last reason…oh my goodness, I just really wonder at the people who are complaining, to be honest. They really need some education.

CHRISSI: My answer is the same as the above although I would like to see the world in change in their attitude towards transgender. It seems ridiculous to me that we can’t be more accepting but perhaps that’s me being naive. As I read this book, I thought of a girl at my current school that still adamantly insists she’s a boy. I wonder what the future holds for her and hope it’s a more accepting one.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I enjoyed it! I felt I learned a lot more about what teenagers go through if they feel they have been born into the wrong body. I watched a Louis Theroux documentary here in the UK recently about transgender children and that was brilliant but I really wanted an informative, touching non-fiction book about the real experience as kids grow up. That was exactly what I got. The photographs were the icing on the cake and it was marvellous to see the children in their “wrong” and in their “right” body. I think this could be a hugely important book for any teenager struggling with this issue.

CHRISSI: I thought it was a great book! It was really interesting to read from their experience of how they felt in their ‘wrong’ body. It was fascinating to see the photographs too. I really thought that added to the reading experience.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!
CHRISSI: Yes! 3.5 stars!

Banned Books 2017… REVEALED!

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JANUARY – Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak OutSusan Kuklin

FEBRUARY – The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night TimeMark Haddon

MARCH – Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

APRIL –  HabibiCraig Thompson

MAY – Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story From AfghanistanJeanette Winter

JUNE – Saga – Volume 2Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples

JULY – The Kite RunnerKhaled Hosseini

AUGUST – Thirteen Reasons WhyJay Asher

SEPTEMBER – Scary StoriesAlvin Schwartz

OCTOBER – ttylLauren Myracle

NOVEMBER – The Color Of EarthKim Dong Hwa

DECEMBER – The Agony Of AlicePhyllis Reynolds Naylor

Round up of Challenges 2016- How did I do?

Finishing The Series Challenge 2016

I have been working on finishing series for a few years now and I joined in with this challenge which was hosted by Bea’s Book Nook (Finishing The Series )

I signed up for the experienced challenge which meant that I aimed to finish between 3-6 series.

I finished:

I did add on Bad Girls Don’t Die because I couldn’t get on with my original pick which was The Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater. I was really pleased to finish these series and I’ll definitely be looking at a similar challenge for 2017.

The British Books Challenge 2016

This was hosted by Kirsty at Overflowing Library. I read 66 British books in 2016! I will be continuing this challenge into 2017. It’s one of my favourites!

Banned Books 2016

My sister Beth and I read 12 more Banned Books this year. On every last Monday of a month we read a banned/challenged book and we talk about the reasons why!

  1. Persepolis– Marjane Satrapi
  2. It’s Perfectly Normal– Robie H.Harris and Michael Emberley
  3. Saga, Volume 1– Brian K.Vaughan and Fiona Staples
  4. A Stolen Life– Jaycee Dugard
  5. Drama– Raina Telgemeier
  6. The Adventures of Captain Underpants– Dav Pilkey
  7. A Bad Boy Can Be Good For A Girl– Tanya Lee Stone
  8. Bless Me, Ultima– Rudolfo Anaya
  9. Bone– Jeff Smith
  10. The Glass Castle– Jeannette Walls
  11. Gossip Girl– Cecily von Ziegesar
  12. My Sister’s Keeper– Jodi Picoult

It’s been a great year of reading challenges which I feel really vary my reading choices. I’m hoping for more of the same in 2017.

Banned Books #30- My Sister’s Keeper

Banner made by Luna @ LunaslittlelibraryWelcome to the last Banned Books of 2016, where we read My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult.

My Sister's Keeper
Synopsis: 

Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate — a life and a role that she has never challenged…until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister — and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves.

My Sister’s Keeper examines what it means to be a good parent, a good sister, a good person. Is it morally correct to do whatever it takes to save a child’s life, even if that means infringing upon the rights of another? Is it worth trying to discover who you really are, if that quest makes you like yourself less? Should you follow your own heart, or let others lead you? Once again, in My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult tackles a controversial real-life subject with grace, wisdom, and sensitivity.

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
First published: 2004
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2009 (source)
Reasons: homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexisms, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: First of all, I can’t believe this book is now over ten years old. This book is a huge favourite of mine, actually one of my all time favourite books and again, it’s one of the more recent releases on our list so I don’t believe opinions have changed much in the past decade or so. No I don’t understand OR agree with ANY of the reasons for this book being challenged/banned when it was first published. Just look at the reasons, for goodness sake! I’ll go into a couple of them here and a couple of them in the next question because I feel like I’ve got a lot to rant about.

Let’s start with homosexuality. My memory must be failing me in this but I can’t actually remember any homosexual activity in this book – are we talking about the same story? Please, if anyone can correct me on this, I’d be happy to be corrected but I don’t recall anything homosexual at all! And, even if there was, (I think you know what I’m going to say), is that a good reason for challenging a book? We should all be aware of all the different types of people in this world and saying that a person’s sexuality is a reason for challenging a book is just all kinds of wrong.

Religious viewpoint. Again, struggling to remember when religion was forced down my throat in this novel which I finished a few hours ago. Because it wasn’t. I’ve read a couple of “preachy” books in my time and this book definitely does not fall into that category. If anything, it makes you think about your own morality and make your own decisions.

CHRISSI: I’m laughing a little bit at Beth’s passionate response to that question. Not because it’s funny, but because she feels so strongly about it and rightly so. I actually was so confused when we found this book on the banned or challenged list. I guess it does call into question what is morally right, so that might have some impact on religion, but I definitely don’t think religion was shoved down my throat. I am NOT a fan of books like that, so I think I would pick up if the book was like that at all.

In my eyes, this book isn’t an easy read but should it be challenged? No. It should be praised because it’s making people think. It’s pushing boundaries, it’s raw and it should be read in my opinion.

How about now?

BETH: See previous answer! So, the other reasons for challenging this book. Sexism. (??) I’m a bit of a feminist myself and nowhere in this book was I offended or thought that the role of women or men was being undermined. Sexually explicit? Where exactly was the explicit sexual scenes? I mean honestly…. are we reading the same book? Finally the last reason I’d like to talk about – violence. There is a very upsetting scene near the end of the novel but it’s not something I would call violence. This book does deal with very controversial topics as a whole (and is the first book I bawled my eyes out to) but I really don’t see this as a reason for challenging/banning it. I think it’s a great idea for teenagers to be exposed to it and who knows, it may encourage interesting debate and start them thinking about their own morals and ethics.

CHRISSI: Definitely not. I think this book does push some boundaries but boundaries that should, in my opinion, be pushed and talked about. It doesn’t hurt to question and think about our own morals and that’s what this book does for me at least!

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I think it’s quite obvious from my over-long, rambling answers (sorry!) how passionate I feel about this book. It was the first Jodi Picoult book I read and remains one of my all time favourite novels. I was quite scared about re-reading it again as I hadn’t read it in about ten years and I didn’t want any of that old magic I felt back then to be spoiled. However, I needn’t have worried. I loved it just as much and it affected me just as deeply as it did the first time.

CHRISSI: This is my second time reading this book as well and I found it just as addictive the second time around. I wouldn’t say I felt as passionately about it as Beth does, but I’m inspired by her re-reading a favourite and still enjoying it. It makes me think about whether I should reread my favourite….

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

Join us again in 2017 when we will have a fresh batch of banned books to talk about – we can’t wait to get started! Happy New Year everyone!

Banned Books #29- Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar

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A little late…but welcome to Banned Books where in November, we read Gossip Girl by Cecily Von Ziegesar.

Gossip Girl (Gossip Girl, #1)

Synopsis:

Welcome to New York City’s Upper East Side, where my friends and I live, go to school, play, and sleep—sometimes with each other.

S is back from boarding school, and if we aren’t careful, she’s going to win over our teachers, wear that dress we couldn’t fit into, steal our boyfriends’ hearts, and basically ruin our lives in a major way. I’ll be watching closely . . .

You know you love me,

gossip girl

First published: 2002
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2006 (source)
Reasons: homosexuality, sexually explicit, offensive language, unsuited to age group

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: As one of the more recent releases, I don’t believe opinions have changed much in the last ten or so years so I don’t agree with any of the challenges to the book. First of all (getting ready to jump on soap box) the homosexuality. There is no reason on earth why homosexuality should not be portrayed in a book, especially one aimed at teenagers. In fact, if teenagers don’t read about the wide variety of people and sexual orientations we have on our planet aren’t they more likely to grow up to be bigots when they’re older? Just saying. Offensive language – I don’t really remember a lot of bad language in the book it either passed me by completely or didn’t offend me in the slightest. Yes, it does talk about sex but I don’t think it’s particularly explicit and no worse than you’d hear on the television or in other forms of media.

CHRISSI: My opinion on this is exactly the same as Beth’s. I think the TV series is so popular and so many teenagers have seen it. I don’t think the book is as explicit. It may have sexual content but it’s nothing more than what they’d see on TV, read in other books or hear from their friends. I think we need to treat teenagers with some level of maturity and if they’re of the age that can handle sexual content, I don’t see the harm in allowing teens to read this book. Would I teach it? No. I wouldn’t deny teenagers the chance to read it though.

How about now?

BETH: Guess what? Same answer. I think the Gossip Girl books are particularly aimed at teenage girls and I don’t think there’s anything in the books that girls wouldn’t hear from their friends or elsewhere. As a result, I think that saying it’s unsuited to the age group is a bit strange. I’m a big fan of the TV series, that Chrissi got me into and while that is slightly more graphic it’s still not something that I would be worried about a teenager seeing. 

CHRISSI: Definitely not now. Teens talk and they can speak in much more graphic terms than teens would experience from reading this book.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I enjoyed it! As I came to the TV series first, a few things were different and surprised me a bit but on the whole I think the series stayed very true to the book in general. I already felt like I knew the characters so well and obviously had the actors faces in mind as I was reading so it was almost like reading a nice, familiar book that I had read before.

CHRISSI: I did enjoy it but I do have a fond place in my heart for the TV series. ❤ I did think of Leighton Meester and Blake Lively particularly when reading about Blair and Serena!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Probably!

CHRISSI:  Yes!

Banned Books #28 The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

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Welcome to this month’s edition of Banned Books, where this month Beth and I have read The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

The Glass Castle

First published: 2005
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2012 (source)
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: As one of the more fairly recent releases for our banned books list this year, answers for the first two questions are going to be similar as I don’t think attitudes have changed that much in the last ten or so years. There are a few profanities in the text with one mention of the “c” word which I know some people may not take too kindly to. However, I feel that no matter where you go or what you try to avoid, you cannot help but hear bad language, whether it’s in the street or on the television. If you’re offended by bad language, fair enough that’s your own personal right and you can choose to read this book or not. In my opinion, it’s not completely littered with profanity so I was perfectly happy whilst reading it.

CHRISSI: It does have some offensive language, I know the ‘c’ word certainly offends me, but when used in this book it didn’t bother me so much because it was the reality of the situation. It didn’t prevent me from reading this book, it just made me cringe a little. That’s fine. That’s real. I can see that its heavy subject matter might be too much for teenagers but moving into YA and adult, I don’t think it’s something that should be necessarily banned. As Beth says, you can hear much worse on TV, around friends and with music.

How about now?

BETH: See first answer! This book is not marketed as a young adult novel. In fact, it is on the “adult” category of GoodReads. This may be down to the occasional bad language, sexual references or some of the more adult content that it contains. The subject matter that this novel deals with is difficult and was, at times, hard to read for me but I’m incredibly glad that I did because I found it a wonderful, highly emotional piece of writing. I can’t really think of any hard and fast reasons why it should be challenged/banned and think a memoir of this standard deserves to be read.

CHRISSI:  Like Beth, I don’t think it should be necessarily challenged or banned as I think it’s a highly important read. Perhaps, if in a high school/college library it should have a notice for explicit content, but an outright ban? No I wouldn’t agree with that.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I thought it was a brilliant read! The fact that it is a memoir just made Jeanette’s difficult upbringing with her family all the more poignant and a little chilling in places if I’m honest. I felt so sorry for Jeanette and her brother and sisters being brought up in such an environment, moving from place to place, sleeping in cars and rooting through rubbish bins just to find something to eat. It’s a life that no child should have to experience and really made me think about people that are less fortunate and don’t have the blessing of a stable home/family.

CHRISSI: I was utterly gripped by this book. I couldn’t put it down, but at the same time, I wanted to because it was such an intense read. It was tough to read about what Jeannette and her siblings went through. It made me realise how lucky I was to have the upbringing that I did. It certainly kept me thinking and I imagine this book will stay with me for a long time.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!