Friday, October 27, 2006

Reading, reading

An Incomplete Education: 3,684 things you should have learned but probably didn't by Judy Jones and William Wilson. Wow. It took me two passes to finish this one off (I started it last spring) but it really isn't the sort of book you read cover to cover. Full of all sorts of trivia (my favorite kind of non-fiction book) about things that have danced on the periphery of my awareness for many years but on which I have never previously focussed my attention. Lots of fun, and somewhat educational. Although, except for those bits of trivia that really sunk in, it really only gives me a place to go find a piece of information again.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Scary Stories 3, by Alvin Schwartz. Part of my new decision to read more of the "challenged books". When I looked over the list, I realized that 1. I've only read 21 of the books on the list* 2. I've only given my children 11 of the books on the list and 3. many of the books on the list are children's books written more recently that I have been reading children's books for myself**. The Scary Stories books are compilations of folk stories, urban legends and campfire tales. Some of the stories are ones I remember being told in camp before the counselors banned ghost stories as leading to inability to sleep and nightmares. The biggest objection on a personal level was to the illustrations - I can take a verbal description much better than the pictoral. It's not a book I would have enjoyed as a child, but some people like being scared. Not a book I would discourage my own child from reading unless it did give them nightmares.

Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite. A picture book. An obvious magnet for those who would sweep people with differences under the rug. I suppose it has its place in some people's lives, but it struck me as being too much like early feminist fiction for girls: no particular point to the story except the point being hammered in. In Mr. Willhoite's defense I will say that it is difficult within the scope of a picture book to get much subtlety involved. Only the very best author/artist combinations seem to manage it well.

The Chocolate War by Richard Cormier. A "did not finish". A type of fiction I just can't deal with. I read the first two chapters and the last one. I don't like mean sadistic people and rarely manage to read books about them all the way through. Unfortunately, a lot of YA fiction seems to be based around this. I didn't like it as a "young adult" and don't care for it now.

The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce. An excellent addition to the Circle of Magic books. Probably destined to hit the "challenged books" list, but, too late, I've already handed it to my son to read.

Young Warriors: Stories of Strength, ed. by Tamora Pierce and Josepha Sherman. Short stories by some favorite authors and some new ones. Some were ok, some were good and a couple were great. My opinion about which were which would probably be different from anyone else's. Another book to hand to the offspring.

'Ware Hawk, by Andre Norton. How did I manage to overlook this one? Addition to the Witch World books. Not my favorite but fun.

The Mirror of Helen, by Richard Purtill. I had read the first two books of what are now labelled "The Kaphtu Trilogy" but not this one. Very enjoyable rendition of the story of Helen. I'll have to look into the "Lost Tales of Kaphtu" that seem to be new books by the same author.

*It's actually more than 21, but the list condenses series' by a single author into one entry; e.g. All the Harry Potter books are one entry.

** I have been reading children's books, but very selectively, mostly by particular authors; this is in contrast to my younger days where I pored over the entire children's shelf and was at least aware of most things even if not interested.


Cathy said...

I've read 30 of the challenged books - and half of those reside in my library for rereading. I never kept my kid from reading anything he wanted - learned behavior - I read most of my parents library books. I read one when I was 13 which shocked my uncle's wife. She felt it was totally unsuitable for a child. I don't even remember the author but it was about Greek gods in modern times. Very funny.

Elizabeth said...

I don't think I've ever forbidden my children to read a book, just mentioned that they might think some of the books are "too old" for them. If pressed for an age, I usually make a guess on what would be good. This works for three reasons: Each of them has tried "too old" books once or twice and found them to be, in fact, "too old" for them i.e. dry and boring difficult to read. The second reason is that one of my children was subject to nightmares and didn't watch most movies until three or four years later than his contemporaries, and he is willing to trust my judgement when I say that something will be scary. The third reason is simply that with thousands of books in the house, books that I don't think are yet appropriate are easy to lose in the shuffle ;-) If they find it and don't find it boring, they were probably old enough to read it.