The Magicians and other ramblings

I’ve been attempting this 52 books in 52 weeks thing. Thus far, I’m not sure where I stand. I’ve lost track a little bit, though I’m updating my Goodreads list as I write this post. The most recent book I’ve finished (aside from re-reading non-Twilight vampirevampyre drivel) is The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

I was very hesitant about this book. It was compelling to listen to (audiobooks are my friend when I knit), but I found myself frustrated with the protagonist, Quentin Coldwater. I find myself agreeing with Leila over at Bookshelves of Doom:

My major personal difficulty with the book boiled down to this: Quentin Coldwater is not very likable. He’s selfish and apathetic, never happy with what he has, even when what he has is exactly what he originally thought he wanted. He’s the personification of the-grass-is-always-greener. I never doubted him as a character — he seemed very real to me — but I didn’t like him. But I’m not sure if I was supposedto like him. If this was a book about Magic in the Real World, it stands to reason that the hero wouldn’t just not be heroic — he wouldn’t be a hero. And, ultimately, I didn’t see him as one. He was just a protagonist. Which, really, made sense.

As I said on my Goodreads review of the book, Quentin frustrated me. I found myself frequently wanting to reach through my iPod and shake him. It wasn’t a horrible book – there were parts I certainly enjoyed, and I gave it three stars on Goodreads. The parallels between Fillory and Narnia kind of hurt my head. In the end, I’m still not certain whether I enjoyed it or not.

Otherwise, I’ve been knitting for the House Cup. This weekend I participated in the International Date Line challenge representing my Quidditch team, Team Rosetta Stone.

Three hats in two days isnt so bad.

Three hats in two days isn't so bad.

The task was to use 200 yards of yarn crafting something for the charity your Quidditch team had chosen. We’re doing hats for a cancer center. That smallest hat used about 70 yards of yarn, I’m guessing. Of my two competitors, one was knitting on an illusion baby blanket (with stars!) and the other was designing a cabled earflap hat. I’ve just seen both of them, and they are fantastic. (Especially that hat. I’m definitely going to donate money for the pattern!)

I also turned in my Herbology assignment today: the Spiderweb Tam. (The homework was to identify garden pests and helpers.) I wanted to keep naughty little Billywigs away from a bouquet of flowers I got from a friend for making sure her house wasn’t burning down. (Long story.)

Channeling spiders for this months Herbology assignment.

Channeling spiders for this month's Herbology assignment.

I’m very happy with it, although at the largest point the stitch count was a whopping 216. Yikes!

That’s all I’ve got for today.


Banned Books Week

I was catching up on my feeds last night and saw on Bookshelves of Doom that it’s Banned Books Week. I spent the next little bit searching for a comprehensive list, which was rather difficult to find until I decided to search for a banned books meme, which you’ll find below. Here are the most commonly challenged books in the US (according to Wikipedia), and here’s a list of the most challenged books in 2008, from the American Library Association. (I’ve read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, and I really like it.)

At one point I saw Lysistrata by Aristophanes listed, though it may have only been banned in Greece by the government. I had a copy of Four Plays by Aristophanes on my bookshelf, to I got it out. I have to say, Lysistrata is absolutely hilarious. I actually laughed out loud a couple of times, of what I had the chance to read last night. The translations are by William Arrowsmith, Richmond Lattimore and Douglass Parker. One of the characters, Lampito, is a Spartan woman. According to the notes, “Athenians regarded Spartans as formidably old-fashioned bumpkins”; the translator attempted to convey that in her lines.

Lampito: Hit’s right onsettlin’ fer gals to sleep all lonely-like, withouten no humpin’. But I’m on your shide. We shore need Peace, too.
Lysistrata: You’re a darling — the only woman here worthy of the name!
Kleonike: Well, just suppose we did, as much as possible, abstain from … what you said, you know — not that we would — could something like that bring Peace any sooner?
Lysistrata: Certainly. Here’s how it works: We’ll paint, powder, and pluck ourselves to the last detail, and stay inside, and wear those filmy tunics that set off everything we have — and then slink up to the men. They’ll snap to attention, go absolutely mad to love us — but we won’t let them. We’ll Abstain. I imagine they’ll conclude a treaty rather quickly.
Lampito: (Nodding.) Menelaos he tuck one squint at Helen’s bubbies all nekkid, and plumb throwed up. (Pause for thought.) Throwed up his sword.

That last line was surely my favorite; Lampito’s a riot to read. I could just hug the translator for this. I’ll be finishing Lysistrata to celebrate Banned Books Week, then perhaps I’ll take a look at Boccaccio’s Decameron. I might just dig out Brave New World again, because it’s been a while since I’ve read it.

This list of 110 banned books was taken from aeirol on livejournal. In bold are the ones I’ve read, italics are partially read. Those waiting in the wings are marked **. A lot of books are not on this list, like the Harry Potter series (which I love). I didn’t add any on, though there are plenty of banned and challenged books I’d like to have a look at, if I haven’t read them. (And I haven’t read many of them, though you can see a bunch are on my list.)

1. The Bible
2. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
3. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
4. The Koran
5. Arabian Nights
6. Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
7. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
8. Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer **
9. Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
10. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

11. Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli **
12. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
13. Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
14. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
15. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens **
16. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
17. Dracula by Bram Stoker
18. Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
19. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
20. Essays by Michel de Montaigne

21. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck **
22. History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon **
23. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
24. Origin of Species by Charles Darwin **
25. Ulysses by James Joyce **
26. Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio **
27. Animal Farm by George Orwell **
28. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
29. Candide by Voltaire **
30. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

31. Analects by Confucius
32. Dubliners by James Joyce
33. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
34. Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
35. Red and the Black by Stendhal
36. Capital by Karl Marx
37. Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
38. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
39. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence
40. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

41. Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
42. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
43. Jungle by Upton Sinclair
44. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
45. Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx **
46. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
47. Diary by Samuel Pepys
48. Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
49. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
50. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury **

51. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
52. Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
53. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
54. Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus
55. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (I borrowed this from a friend in college, and just couldn’t get into it.)
56. Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
57. Color Purple by Alice Walker
58. Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
59. Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke
60. Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

61. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
62. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
63. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
64. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison **
65. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
66. Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau
67. Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais
68. Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
69. The Talmud
70. Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau

71. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson **
72. Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
73. American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
74. Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler **
75. Separate Peace by John Knowles
76. Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
77. Red Pony by John Steinbeck
78. Popol Vuh
79. Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith
80. Satyricon by Petronius **

81. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl **
82. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov **
83. Black Boy by Richard Wright
84. Spirit of the Laws by Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu
85. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
86. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
87. Metaphysics by Aristotle
88. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
89. Institutes of the Christian Religion by Jean Calvin
90. Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse

91. Power and the Glory by Graham Greene **
92. Sanctuary by William Faulkner
93. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
94. Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
95. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
96. Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
97. General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
98. Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood **
99. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown
100. Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess **

101. Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines
102. Émile Jean by Jacques Rousseau
103. Nana by Émile Zola
104. Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
105. Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
106. Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
107. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein **
108. Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
109. Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
110. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes **