Warning labels on books: A controversial discussion

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I’d been intending to discuss this topic in a future post and had been holding off due to the fact that some may consider it a bit controversial, but I came across a great post at Pages Unbound and it addressed a lot of the same topic.  So while it is fresh in my mind, I’d like to throw in my humble two cents.

If you are a reader of middle grade or young adult fiction, it will come as no surprise to you that these books, YA in particular, are featuring more and more mature content. And that’s great. Readers can find all kinds of stories to suit all tastes.

But here is my dilemma.

While I would never want to be Nazi book mom, and call for removing books from libraries or angrily snatch books from my kids’ hands, I struggle with how I should handle these kinds of books in regards to my oldest who is soon to be 11 years old. When I was his age I was reading Judy Blume books and the Boxcar children. He on the other hand has a lot more to choose from. I encourage reading in our household and I know he is capable of reading at a level beyond middle grade books… but I don’t necessarily feel comfortable with him reading about things like rape just yet. After all, though he’s almost 11, he is quite naive in regards to a lot of things. His reading level may be advancing quickly but he is still a little boy who thinks the word “butt” is funny. Not quite ready to fully understand things like sex trafficking and torture. Now I know the simple answer would be to just monitor what he reads, but that becomes a little difficult when I don’t know the content of every single book that’s out there and he is fast approaching the “target age” for most YA.

I recently read an article where college students at several different colleges had called for “trigger warning” labels to be placed on books that dealt with distressing content. And while I admit I was sort of dismissive of the idea, it has gotten me thinking. Would it be feasible for publishers to publish future books with a small label? Something along the lines of “contains graphic violence” or “contains sexual content”. I’m curious to know what other readers think of this.

Now my dilemma may resolve itself. I may just be worried about nothing. He may decide “ewww this book is weird” and decide not to read it of his own accord until he is ready (or ever). In which case I will have another few years before I deal with the same issue again with my daughter. I know that for myself, I was around 12 when I started looking for more mature things to read. And I found them. I turned out okay, but I also think I was a little more mature and more prepared to handle difficult content than my son is now.

So I am curious to know what other readers and other parents think?  How do you handle mature content in books with your kids, siblings, students etc?

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You force your toddler to read?? In which Nicky rants… just a bit.

Not very long ago, someone said to me “Wow, she really DOES love books” (referring to my daughter Isabella) and I thought to myself “WTF did you think I was lying?”

For Christmas several of our relatives and friends asked what shows and tv characters she’s into so they could buy gifts and I was honestly stumped. She has never been interested in tv and to date has never sat through any toddler tv show (sometimes I envy those parents who can put The Wiggles on tv and sneak away to take a shower or make dinner). I suggested dogs (because she fangirls at any dogs she sees) and books. The response was a little depressing. I heard everything from “I don’t want to get her books…. I want to get something she’ll play with” to “You can’t give her books for Christmas!” And this really upset me because I know my children (nobody commented that I didn’t suggest books for Junior… it was only Bella) and I know that books are the one thing you can’t go wrong with her.

I know that while Junior is a casual reader, Bella is likely going to be a reader like me.

Not that I or any parent should have to explain ourselves but this is not me forcing books down the child’s throat. She is literally fascinated by stories and the pictures in her books. So I thought I would finish out with several reasons why I think she is going to be a reader so I can direct any more well meaning people to this post instead of wasting my breath.

  1. She loves the quality time during story time
  2. She sees that it is my main form of entertainment and she tries to emulate me
  3. Even when someone is not reading to her, she will often be sitting in her room flipping pages
  4. She sits through a whole story…and wants more
  5. She’s fascinated by bookshelves and is always pulling my books off my shelves and hers off hers
  6. She is not exposed to much television because only my son is really into tv
  7. While I am cooking she will usually bring me a book and command me to sit down and read it to her

Now by no means am I saying books are better or that my kid is some genius because she likes books. And I’m not saying that she doesn’t also play. I’m just trying to point out that it IS possible for kids to prefer books.

Oh and we received a ridiculous amount of toys from both sides of the family. I am so thankful we have family who are able to send anything at all but I can’t help thinking how much unnecessary money was spent. Only my dad and my husband’s stepmom followed my advice and sent only books while a couple of others sent books in lieu of cards which I suggested later. And while she occasionally will rock on her rocking horse or pretend to make food in her kitchen, a lot of the other toys sit largely neglected (and taking up space) and the ones she plays with religiously are the books she got. This just goes to show that parents always know their kids best.

If you have read to the end of my rant, I thank you. This was a lot rantier than I wanted it to be. Til next time.

2018 Reading Goals

Hello again! I thought I’d better discuss my 2018 Reading goals while we’re still in February before I blink and it’s suddenly November and I have no idea where I am or what I’ve done with my life all year.

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I am not the best at sticking to a TBR every month (but that is a post for another time).  The way that I get around this is by participating in challenges and by sticking to my yearly Goodreads goal.

Last year I didn’t have a specific TBR list that I confined myself to, instead I just set my goodreads goal to 30 books which would have been atleast two books a month.  I had wanted to set it higher but with a new baby AND going back to work, I was worried about stressing myself out so I set my initial goal to 30. One 18 book series later and I was only in April so I upped my goal to 50.  Long story short I ended up reading 92 books last year.

THIS year:

I am participating in the following challenges:

I must include:

  • 5-10 NonFiction
  • More contemporary fiction

Books I want to get to this year:

  • Don Quixote
  • The King’s Pearl
  • The Luminaries
  • Moby Dick
  • The Hercule Poirot books left in Project Poirot

For my unable-to-contain-myself-to-a-TBR list self, I think this is very doable and not too strict so as to make it a chore. My goal is simply to expand beyond my usual genres and to tackle books that may have intimidated me in the past.

I’d love to see what you think of this and hear what everyone else’s goals are. Thanks for stopping by!

1000 Books before Kindergarten

We recently moved and discovered that we had a library very close to the house which is of course, very awesome news. I had recently been there a few times by myself and got myself a new library card and I decided that I would bring Bella with me next time. While we were there, it came to my attention that our library is enrolled in the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program. We had been doing a paper log version of this but our librarian informed us that it is a nationwide program and we could log books online and get little prizes for different milestones.

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First trip to our new library

So since Bella is showing every indication that she’s going to be a reader, I thought it would be fun to incorporate this with our paper log so we signed up with our library and started from scratch.

 

The goal is to not only create early readers, but to enjoy a positive family activity together every day.  A thousand books may seem like a lot of books, but in reality it is achievable within a few months.  Reading just 3 books a day with a child will bring you to 1000 within a year. Something I wasn’t aware of when I grabbed the paper logs from our old library is that repeating books totally counts.  I really wish I had known that earlier because there are days when Bella brings me the same book 5 and 6 times a night to read to her.  We would have been at goal last year. But that’s fine and we are loving every minute of story time.

Over the course of last week, we read and logged over 25 books and so she earned her first prize-(a library card holder and lanyard) which she was super excited about even though she doesn’t understand yet what it is.

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Mommy using Bella’s first prize to hold car keys

If you’ve read this far I thank you for joining me! Stay tuned for updates as we hit each milestone.

You can find out more about the program here. 

TBR or No TBR: in which we discover that Nicky sucks at TBRs and uses the word loose more than is necessary

Ahhh, the big debate- to follow a TBR list or not.

There are so many pros to reading through a TBR list.

Personally I consider a TBR list more of a loose set of “guidelines”

I’ll be honest, sticking to a strict TBR makes me feel very anxious.  I am a confessed mood reader all the way.  I like to have a general idea of what I’ll be reading soon-ish, but I tip my hat to all you strict TBRers.  I am the kind of reader who feels pulled towards certain books based on my mood. Sometimes this means I might have a stack of shiny new books that I can’t wait to get to and then I have a bad day and I pick up one of my old trusty standbys and re-read that instead.  LUCKILY, I have figured out a way to trick myself into sticking to a sort of TBR.  Challenges.  And of course my Goodreads goal.

The good thing about challenges is that many of them are loose rules or include loose suggestions or a loose theme of what to read. (I promise not to use the word “loose” any more in this post) But anyway, you get the idea. They don’t say, “you must read these specific titles”, it’s more of a “read a book in this category” sort of thing. For example, in my classics club challenge, I compiled a list of 60 titles and yes it is a sort of TBR, but I can read them based on my mood since I have so long to complete this challenge.  I can pick up one of the books on my list and decide I’m not in the mood for it and not come back to it for a couple months or more.  This gives me more flexibility and the ability to read based on how I’m feeling, while still sticking to a list.

Goodreads is an awesome tool for me.  I’ve had an account for years and just recently started figuring out how to change shelves around and updating settings to better suit my needs.  One of the things that I love about Goodreads is the ability to set up a yearly goal for myself.  I love to work towards a goal and I must seriously be the biggest dork in the world with how excited I get every time a book is completed towards my goal. I just tell myself I’d like to read atleast X amount of books in X genre this year and then I’m free to read whatever specific titles I want in each genre.

When I had my old blog, I was posting a TBR every month (when before I had never really stuck to one) and I found myself stressing over it.  There were times when I just wasn’t in the mood to read something and I forced myself to because it was on my TBR.  Reading is my happy place and it should never be stressful for me.  So my intention for this blog is to have a monthly TBR but not a concrete one.  I will give myself some choices for each month and let myself be the free little bird that I am inside.

If you prefer to stick to a TBR, first off I admire you, and secondly, I am genuinely curious as to how and why you prefer to do so. So please comment below!

Classics reading challenge

Back in August (when I still had my old blog) I joined The Classics Club with a goal to read at least 50 classics in 5 years.

I had already decided I wanted to include more of the classics in my reading and was thrilled when I came across their blog.

The rules are simple:

  • – choose 50+ classics
  • – list them at your blog
  • – choose a reading completion goal date up to five years in the future and note that date on your classics list of 50+ titles
  • – e-mail the moderators of this blog (theclassicsclubblog@gmail.com) with your list link and information and it will be posted on the Members Page!
  • – write about each title on your list as you finish reading it, and link it to your main list
  • – when you’ve written about every single title, let us know!

This seemed simple enough and indeed it has been so far. I’ve been enjoying it so much that since I joined on August 23rd 2017, I have read 9 of the books on my list. I am committed to the 50 on my original list but being so far ahead of schedule got me thinking that even if I were to read only one per month over the next 5 years I could read 60. So that is what I am doing. I am updating my list so that it now includes 60 books.

Start date: August 23, 2017

End date: August 23, 2022

My list:

  1. Don Quixote -Miguel de Cervantes
  2. The Pilgrim’s Progress -John Bunyan
  3. Lady Susan -Jane Austen*
  4. Persuasion -Jane Austen*
  5. Northanger Abbey -Jane Austen*
  6. Oliver Twist -Charles Dickens
  7. Jane Eyre -Charlotte Bronte*
  8. Villette -Charlotte Bronte
  9. Wuthering Heights -Emily Bronte
  10. Agnes Grey -Anne Bronte
  11. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall -Anne Bronte
  12. The Scarlett Letter -Nathaniel Hawthorne
  13. Moby Dick -Herman Melville (I have tried and failed with this one before)
  14. One Thousand and One Nights
  15. The Canterbury Tales -Geoffrey Chaucer
  16. Madame Bovary -Gustave Flaubert
  17. Crime and Punishment -Fyodor Dostoevesky*
  18. A Christmas Carol -Charles Dickens
  19. War and Peace -Leo Tolstoy*
  20. The Brothers Karamazov -Fyodor Dostoevesky
  21. The Portait of a Lady -Henry James
  22. MaryAnne -Daphne Du Maurier
  23. Passage to India -EM Forster
  24. A Study in Scarlet -Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  25. Mythology -Edith Hamilton
  26. Alice in Wonderland- Lewis Carrol
  27. The Odyssey -Homer
  28. The Hunchback of Notre Dame -Victor Hugo
  29. The Tale of Genji -Lady Muraski
  30. Paradise Lost -John Milton
  31. The Epic of Gilgamesh
  32. The Little Prince -Antoine Saint Exupery
  33. Gone With the Wind -Margaret Mitchell*
  34. Frankenstein -Mary Shelley
  35. Oedipus Rex -Sophocles
  36. Vanity Fair -William Makepeace Thackeray*
  37. Kokoro -Natsume Soseki
  38. Utopia -Sir Thomas More
  39. The Mysteries of Udolpho -Ann Radcliffe
  40. The Picture of Dorian Gray -Oscar Wilde
  41. My Cousin Rachel -Daphne Du Maurier
  42. The Jungle Book -Rudyard Kipling
  43. Macbeth -William Shakespeare
  44. Hamlet -William Shakespeare
  45. The Age of Innocence -Edith Wharton
  46. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
  47. Cranford- Elizabeth Gaskell
  48. Mrs Dalloway -Virginia Wolfe
  49. Wives and Daughters -Elizabeth Gaskell
  50. My Bondage and My Freedom -Frederick Douglass
  51. North and South -Elizabeth Gaskell
  52. Dracula -Bram Stoker*
  53. The Shuttle -Frances Hodgson Burnett
  54. A Little Princess -Francess Hodgson Burnett* (reading with my daughter Bella)
  55. Far From the Madding Crowd -Thomas Hardy
  56. The Divine Comedy -Dante Alighieri (plan on reading the three books separately)
  57. The Three Musketeers -Alexandre Dumas
  58. War of the Worlds -HG Wells
  59. The Diary of Anne Frank
  60. The Dumbhouse -John Burnside

An * denotes a reread

This list seems daunting when you look at it, but honestly, I am getting so much pleasure out of all the books I’ve been reading  (or at the very least, they have been thought provoking) and it is a 5 year goal so hopefully I can get to all of them.  And while I am committing to this list, I reserve the right to add to it as I find other titles that interest me.

So that’s it.  How does this challenge sound to you?

Project Poirot

Some time around September I was binge watching booktube and came across a new book tuber who had just started what she called Project Poirot. Even if you are not an avid Agatha Christie fan, you will probably have heard of her most famous detective- Hercule Poirot.  Now I happen to be one of those who love Agatha Christie and in the last 20 or so years since I discovered Agatha Christie (holy shit I’m getting old) I have read all of her Hercule Poirot books and most of the short stories at some point.  When I am in a reading slump I often pick up one of my favorite of these and it gets me right back in the reading mood.

What intrigued me about Project Poirot is that we are reading all 40 ish (there’s 40ish depending on whether you consider the play adaptations novels or not) IN ORDER over the course of a year.  Not only does this play into my borderline obsession with Hercule Poirot, it is also fascinating to see how her writing evolved over the course of her career and how Poirot himself evolved as a character.  Taking it a step further, one of the things I also find fascinating was to see how the quality of her writing changed before and after (what is largely considered to be her masterpiece) The Murder on the Orient Express.

The list of books that I’m going through is:

  1. The Mysterious Affair at Styles
  2. Murder on the Links
  3. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (considered by some to be her masterpiece)
  4. The Big Four
  5. The Mystery of the Blue Train
  6. Peril at End House
  7. Lord Edgware Dies
  8. Murder in Mesopotamia
  9. Murder on the Orient Express
  10. Three Act Tragedy
  11. Death in the Clouds
  12. The ABC Murders
  13. Dumb Witness
  14. Cards on the Table
  15. Death on the Nile
  16. Appointment with Death
  17. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas
  18. One Two Buckle My Shoe
  19. Sad Cypress
  20. Evil Under the Sun
  21. Five Little Pigs
  22. The Hollow
  23. Taken at the Flood
  24. Mrs Mcginty’s Dead
  25. After the Funeral
  26. Hickory Dickory Dock
  27. Dead Man’s Folly
  28. Cat Among the Pigeons
  29. The Clocks
  30. Third Girl
  31. Halloween Party
  32. Elephants Can Remember
  33. Curtain

I joined this challenge a little late and was a couple books behind and then I caught up but I am now behind again as I am missing the next book in succession and haven’t been able to find it at the libraries near me.  So I will be purchasing that book along with a couple of others.  This has been a really enjoyable challenge and I enjoy how Mara creates a video for each book she completes.

If there are any fellow Christie fans out there reading this, what do you think about this challenge?