Sunday, April 7, 2013

Brain Candy

Ah, April.  Such an interesting month.

Things that are awesome:

1.  Spring is finally here!
2.  The stuff I planted is actually growing.
3.  Our anniversary is in April and we have big plans.

Things that are not so awesome:

1.  Parent of students problems.
2.  AIMS
3.  The end of the school year is almost here but not close enough.

Now, on to the actual blog bit.

So, I like to read.  And I like to challenge myself.  Doesn't that sound pretentious?  For the most part, though, it's true.  At least, when I was in the dawn of my reading life.  I was the kid who 1984 for fun in 8th grade.  The kid who read her English textbook for giggles sophomore year.  The kid who freaked out when the summer reading list got passed out at the end of the year. Sad but true.  When I got to college, I challenged myself not with the novels I was reading (rarely was one of actual interest -- way to go, Sexing the Cherry), but with the non-fiction I was reading.  I had never been much of one for non-fiction, and suddenly my college degree depended on it.  Since then, I always feel like I challenge myself with non-fiction, even if I also try to enjoy it.  Oooh, I got a whole bunch of neat, free non-fiction books in the mail the other day!  They are so cool, and originally meant to be used as textbooks, so they have documents and stuff included in them, for example.  Definitely started the Darwin one already.  So fascinating.

Despite all this, sometimes you just have to let the challenge go, let your brain go, and read something just for giggles.  Recently, I've been achieving that by reading thrillers: Sphere, by Michael Crichton, The Ice Limit and Relic by Preston/Child, etc.  Entertaining, and relatively easy to get through 500 pages in a week or less.  Those I don't feel too bad about, though, because they're not awful.  In fact, often, they're pretty good.  But they're not a treatise on African religion mixed with Islam and the resulting heterogeneous culture in the late 11th century by the famous Dr. Reese.

However, I've sunk to a new low.  I don't even necessarily want to tell you the name of the book.  It's that bad.  It's like Twilight, except without the force of popularity vaulting it into college classes.  The good thing is, it's almost exactly like any supernatural YA novel, with hardly any variation.

For example:  There are two young people who fall in love almost immediately, with no real reasons behind it.  It's almost as bad as The Little Mermaid, where Ariel sees Eric, thinks he's cute, and less than twelve hours later is spewing absolute inanities like "But Daddy, I love him!".  Somehow I don't actually believe you, honey pie.  There's a major secret that one character is hiding, which turns into a huge conspiracy.  The person who doesn't know what the major secret is spends all his time trying to wheedle it out of the secret-keeper by saying things like, "it's destiny".  Whatever, dude.  Plus, I do not believe the protagonist.  He is supposed to be a teenage boy.  I so do not believe it.  I think I met one boy who was like that at 15.  I'm not saying it's not possible, I'm just saying it's wildly improbable.  There's this weird trend, too, where crap writers think they can elevate their work by mentioning classic literature, as well as making their protagonists seem brainy and better than everyone else in the book.  In Twilight, it was Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, and any other cliched teenage girl novel you can think of that was published before the 20th century.  This book's choice of classic literature to attempt to lift it out of YA purgatory is To Kill a Mockingbird.  How clever.  Choose the most visible book about Southern culture that also just happens to be anti-racist.  It must have been so hard to find it, what with it being on every school reading list in the United States, on Oprah's Booklist, and an award-winning movie.  Oh, and they regularly mention Gone with the Wind.  Also, super original.  It's like the authors have read two books only based in Southern culture.  That must make them experts.

Needless to say, when I actually finish this book, I will have a lot to say.  Why am I reading it?  Well, because every now and again, it's nice to read something that reminds me that there is an actual difference between good literature and bad literature.  You have to know the bad to appreciate the good.  Here I am, reading the bad so I can laugh at how horrible it is.  Hopefully, this way, too, I will recognize the bad among the touted-as-good.  Haha, we'll see.  Like I said, pretentious.

Any other terrible teenage books I should be reading?