Censorship! Censorship! Read all about it!

So… this week, the topic of censorship keeps popping up as a topic of conversation in and out of classes.

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What do I mean when I say “censorship“? Well, this time, it’s in reference to books. Why some people think they are more fit to determine what is “right” and “wrong” for the whole of society is beyond me. Many people probably still remember the whole “Harry Potter” controversy that ruled the world more than a decade ago (when the books first came out and started gaining popularity, especially in the US). I had the extreme honor of witnessing it first hand (being in Catholic school K-12, in a town run by Polish-Catholics), and even though I was ten, I still remember it vividly.

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It was banned from the schools, the libraries, the bookstores, pretty much the whole town. We weren’t allowed to have it in school, even if it was our own copy, because it was all about magic and witchcraft and was “the devil’s handbook,” or some nonsense like that. My mom read the first book before me, then handed it over and said: “There’s no harm in you reading this.”

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Since then, this series has become some of my all-time favorite books and sometimes I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that it was “taboo” when I first started reading it, not to mention it’s awesome plots and characters.

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I know I’m not the only one to have experiences with books being censored, but I wonder how many other people had reactions similar to mine when it comes to “tabooed” books.

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All About Attitude

It’s all about attitude. Head up. Think positively.

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Things we all hear or say at one point or another in our everyday lives. Attitude becomes especially important when you are in the public eye, like many authors today are. Your attitude directly effects how people think of you. No question about it.

So, what happens when one of those people in the public eyes – author, actor, what have you – shows a disturbingly poor attitude about trifle things, such as criticisms?

This past week, my classmates and I were asked to read various articles and blog posts about reviewing books (for say Amazon, and such). While many of them passed by in a whirlwind of disjointed words, there was one that stuck to me.

It was a blog post by a woman named Corey Ann who had reviewed a book by Emily Giffin. After some pretty unjustified drama started between another reviewer and Giffin’s husband on Amazon, Corey Ann went in and changed her review from a four star to a one star review, because she could not, on good faith, recommend this book to others. Fair enough, right? Well, Giffin fans didn’t think so. The onslaught of insults and threats were unbelievable. Even though the author herself wasn’t involved in the drama war on Amazon, never once did she issue an apology on behalf of her fans (who were sending death threats by this time), and at one point even said that Corey Ann was enjoying the drama. Completely unbelievable. Yes, I’m sure everyone wants to come home to death threats on their answering machine over some book review (oh, a little sarcasm dripped through there). You can read more about it here.

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Such poor attitudes on everyone’s parts just completely boggled my mind. When I finished I thought: Well, there’s another author I’ll never read.

I mean, no one is by any means “perfect.” But, come on. When someone in the public eye acts with such poor attitude, they can’t really expect people to just overlook it. I’m sure a lot of people still remember the whole Brooke Shields versus Tom Cruise mess ( I know, actors and authors are sometimes like apples and oranges, but still – poor attitude in play), as well as the mess with Mel Gibson a few years ago and of course all of Charlie Sheen’s lovely little tirades.

After reading Corey Ann’s poor ordeal, I’m kind of down on this whole reviewing books thing. I definitely have my opinions, as do many people, and I’m not opposed to to giving them, but I really don’t want death threats left on my voicemail. It’s just really not how I want to spend my day. So, then why should I or anyone else for that matter?

Attitude. In the end, that’s what matters in a lot of things. It affects your jobs, future endeavors, and how your friends and family see you.

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The Unappreciated…

Hello, all!

First, I must get this off my chest. I am a huge fan of the television show “Supernatural” and am pleased to inform you all that it has been renewed for a ninth season! For a show that wasn’t supposed to progress past it’s fifth season, it’s still going strong. You should all go out an watch it if you’re into that kind of stuff (ghosts, legends, demons vs angels, etc). The first seven seasons are available on Netflix Instant Play.

Okay, now on to the unappreciated, because let’s face it – Supernatural is obviously not unappreciated by a long shot.

Firstly, I found a single copy of some random British book entitled “Frozen Fire” at a little nothing kind of a book store in my hometown, which is smaller than most. Anyway, despite the fact that it’s obviously not geared towards readers outside of the London area, it is a fascinating tale, not weighed down by romance and such.  However, just because of a fact like that, it’s an unappreciated, incredibly intriguing tale that has only 325 reviews on Goodreads. Compared to Twilight’s insanely high 77,000+ reviews, it seems like an insignificant number. I implore you, if you enjoy a good mystery or adventure, give the book a chance.

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Now, onto the unappreciated movie I found this weekend. Always adding random movies and television shows to the Instant Play feature on Netflix, I pick ones that sound interesting, no matter if I know the cast/crew or not. This time there was a movie named “From Time To Time” with Maggie Smith. Absolutely enchanting. Couldn’t have asked for a better surprise. I advise you all to go out an watch it. Once again, it’s something with a little mystery, intrigue, and adventure. Extremely imaginative and enchanting, but then again Maggie Smith picks her movies well.

So, here it is. The next time you’re walking through a bookstore/library, or are flipping through the channels (Netflix, OnDemand, etc) stop and take a chance on something you’ve never heard of, because you could be completely enchanted with it.

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Pink is for Girls, Blue is for Boys

Pink is for girls, blue is for boys…something we’ve all heard or thought at one point or another, right? I’ll admit I used to think that, until I had a blue room, then I thought I was a rebel. But what is with these stereotypes, that certain things are for boys only and others are for girls only? Currently, one of my classes is dealing with the idea of stereotypes when it comes to reading (specifically, when it comes to reading comics), and it got me thinking: How many people actually fit into these stereotypes?

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We were assigned a couple of readings about manga comics and throughout the entire reading, the idea kept coming up that comics are for men. Then, one of my classmates explained that because it’s written mostly by men, mostly men read it. But is that really true? In my head this explanation translated to: comics, adventure, horror, etc are for boys and girls should stick to romance. It’s thought that I’m supposed to be reading romance, instead of secretly snuggling up with horror books. Where do we get these ideas, anyway? Just because most romance books are written by women means that women are supposed to read them?

Some of my favorite authors are men (Stephen King, JM Barrie, Michael J Fox, etc) and my favorite female authors wrote books with male leads (JK Rowling, SE Hinton, etc), so what does that say about me? Does anyone actually fit into these stereotypes? I know I sure don’t.

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Oh, the horror…

So, one of my favorite authors of all time is Stephen King: The Master of Horror. I’ve written term/research papers on him, I’ve read/watched anything he’s produced, and I’ve started collecting first edition copies of his books. Today, however, I find myself steering towards whatever he writes, whether it be short stories, novels, or screenplays.

In my last post, I talked about how I tend to devour books. However, when it comes to the works of King, I find myself taking my time to let everything soak through me (I still burn through the books faster than most people though). Stephen King has been scaring America for most of his life with the fantastically spooky worlds he spins. Sadly, it’s because of this fondness for King’s stories that has caused so many of his stories to be flashed up onto the big screen (or the TV in the cases where he didn’t want to cut the times down to a suitable amount). And now that Hollywood seems to be losing it’s creative flare, more and more of his stories keep getting optioned, and it’s starting to get a little tiring, annoying, etc.

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What’s wrong with the original movies? We’re going onto the third releasing of “Carrie,” adapted from King’s novel Carrie, the second releasing of “IT” (which isn’t even keeping true to the story), and the second releasing of “The Stand.” Sissy Spacek, John Ritter, Tim Curry, and Gary Sinese did fantastic jobs in these movies, just leave well enough alone.

Now, I know other movies based off of his books have more than one edition, but in all fairness…He called for those, like with The Shining. I’m sorry, but Stanley Kubrick butchered that story. The Twins? Never mentioned. Jack Nickolson’s death? Kubrick’s imagination running wild. Scatman Crothers’ death by axe? Never happened, didn’t even have an axe in the book. The reason this infuriates me is because when directors decide to take these stories and mutilate them, and then every time I go to read those stories, I have to block out the memories of the movies in order to fully enjoy it. All the remakes are just starting to get nauseating when I go to read a good book. I wonder if I’m the only one this bothered by the issue.

Stephen King once said, “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” I find this to be very true, but I’s becoming more and more difficult to keep the horror of Hollywood at bay while I enter these magical worlds.

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A Sudden Hunger

Thirst. Hunger. Need. Want. All words associated with the sudden desire to devour more books than would seem humanly possible. Recently, my hunger for books has seemed insatiable. Ever year, my mom asks me to write up a Christmas list – a list of ideas for Christmas gifts so she’s not bumbling around in the dark and so I can still be surprised Christmas morning, not fully knowing what will be waiting for me. Being her only child, she still enjoys this part of Christmas very much, despite the fact that I am twenty-two. This year, I received five books among my gifts. Before I returned to campus I had already read four of them. Between December 25 and January 8, amidst the Christmas festivities, my grandparents’ anniversary, New Year’s celebrations, and my mom’s birthday, I was able to become completely lost in four separate books, all over 300 pages.

Upon my return home this past weekend, I had one major project: clean up my room. My mom is getting the house refinanced and is expecting an inspector, so my room needed to be in tip-top shape. This meant getting rid of the books that cluttered up my room. Besides the extremely large built-in bookshelf that encompasses one solid wall in the basement Rec room, I have a small collection on an even smaller bookshelf in my room – a place to put my absolute favorites, just inches from my bed. So, I pulled all the books around me and embarked upon the seemingly impossible task of choosing which would stay and which would be banished to the basement bookshelves – book shelves I have to climb in order to actually reach any of my books. During this brief stay, I informed my mom to keep an eye out for a delivery for me – more books, to my delight and her dismay. Not that she doesn’t like books, we are just running out of room to stash them.

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When I told one of my friends how many books I had read, she looked at me, pure shock on her face, and demanded: “How do you do that???” I shrugged my shoulders. I don’t know. Do I graze? Do I daze off? Do I actually pay attention? I don’t know. I’d like to think I pay attention and take everything in. So, then, I began to wonder if it was the material I was reading. Was it too easy? I didn’t think so. Here’s my GoodReads, check it out for yourself.

Even now, I’m tempted to abandon this blog and pick up one of my books. Am I the only one who finds themselves reading like this at times? And not just out of necessity for work or school, but for fun? I hope not. I am reminded of a quote from Stephen King: “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” Is this what happened to me? Was I transported by the book’s magic, losing myself in it? I hope so.

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Applying for Citizenship

I have to apply for citizenship? Those were the words that popped into my head when this idea of “Literary Citizenship” was first brought to my attention. At the end of last semester, one of my professors brought this idea up to our Novel Writing class, encouraging us to become stronger literary citizens, and adding in the fact that there was going to be a class on the subject offered the following semester. Intrigued, I enrolled in the class.

I have only ever created one website, a requirement for one of my courses, and I only have twenty followers on Twitter, by no means noteworthy. Having very little experience with these sorts of things, I figured that I could learn a lot from this course – most of all, how to become a better literary citizen. The first step was to create and post in a blog – something I have never ever done before and had never considered doing until now. Not only have I never created a blog, but I am unfamiliar with the conventions and norms that pertain to starting and maintaining a successful blog and following.

I had no idea how important creating an online following was to my literary future. And I had no idea how far behind I was in the grand scheme of things.

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So, what is “Literary Citizenship?” Good question! I still have no solid idea, having only attended one class thus far. However, on of the biggest things I picked up from that lecture was: Be interested in what other people are doing. Why should people be interested in what you have to say if you’re not interested in what they have to say?

This question jarred me quite a bit when I was listening/reading our introductory materials. It was something I had never actually thought about before and I immediately began to question what I had been doing up to this point. I was also forced to reevaluate my opinions on some things. For example, before being introduced to the idea of “Literary Citizenship,” I didn’t feel it necessary to consistently post Facebook, Twitter, or even create a blog. From my previous experiences, people only used these outlets to whine about the things that weren’t being fulfilled in their own lives. However, I soon discovered that I wasn’t looking in the right place. At all.

Finally, I find that what I need the most is to learn how to improve and build off of the foundation I already have. I need to push myself much, much further into the writing community, because, as I said before, why should people be interested in me, if I’m not interested in them?

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