Banned Books Week: Naked Lunch by William Burroughs

I remembered reading this book last year and telling people what was the latest book I was reading. There was always a reaction such as “say what?” or “so…why did you want to read this book?” I remembered the hesitation from my roommate when she asked me “so…umm…how was Naked Lunch?”

Calm down honey badgers, just because there’s the word “Naked” in the title doesn’t mean it’s porn!

I was also mocked for reading it. When my friend (who graduated with an English degree) read the opening line:

“I can feel the heat closing in, feel them out there making their moves, setting up their devil doll stool pigeons, crooning over my spoon and dropper I throw away at Washington Square Station, vault a turnstile and two flights down the iron stairs, catch an uptown A train…”

And ends it with “what the heck Julie? Why DID you want to read this book?”

I do like books that doesn’t follow a conventional language structure–it could be plot structure, it could be sentence structure. It may turn off some people but I think if you can pull it off, it can be brilliant! Just reading something unconventional just opens up your mind and makes you think why did they write the style they did. Structure goes beyond explicit symbols and motifs.

Naked Lunch was a wild read and it was not easy read either. You really can read the chapters in any order–it’s really that non-linear.

Why was Naked Lunch banned–the moment you read it, the reasons are pretty given. Featured is child murder, pedophilia, raw language, drug use, and homosexuality.

Love is….


I wish I could say I drew this. Told my boyfriend he did kind of buy it but no.

Like I said, I wish I drew this picture because it reminded me of the time when he was gone for a month and we talked almost every night.

Banned Books Week: Reviewing Hunger Games and Catching Fire

Since it’s Banned Books Week Until October 1st, I’m going to post reviews of banned books I’ve read since the start of this blog.

So to start off I’ll review the first two parts of the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. This was on the 2010 banned books list.

Why is the Hunger Games series a banned book?

The Hunger Games trilogy takes place in an unidentified future time period after the destruction of the current nations of North America, in a nation known as “Panem.” Panem used to consist of a rich Capitol, located somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, and thirteen surrounding, poorer districts which cater to the Capitol’s needs. As punishment for a previous rebellion against the Capitol wherein the thirteenth district was supposedly destroyed, every year one boy and one girl from each of the remaining twelve districts, between the ages of twelve and eighteen, are selected by lottery and forced to participate in the “Hunger Games.” The Games are a televised event where the participants, called “tributes,” must fight to the death in a dangerous outdoor arena until only one remains. The winning tribute and his/her corresponding district is then rewarded handsomely. It is required viewing for everyone in the districts.


Challenges: violence, inappropriate for age groups, causes nightmares

This book definitely lives up to the hype and I usually don’t like books that everyone is so hyped up about.

To me, what makes a good book is if I can draw some parallels to current events. Something that makes me think. Something that challenges me in some way. My favorite type of books are usually set in some sort of dystopia.

I do think Hunger Games qualifies for what makes a good book in my definition. It makes me think how people are into reality TV and what it’s like to be into reality TV. Like in reality TV you are this certain character that you’re portrayed in front of the camera for the audience, yet you are yourself. It’s hard to explain without trying to spoil it for you. I’m really trying to do a review without revealing the story. But think of any person reality who gets the bitch edit but they’re not really bitches in real life.

The book has anti-war tones…It made me think about our troops–being a volunteer yet still a pawn. Coming in with good intentions and come out a scapegoat. Attacking for the sake of shock and awe but nothing truly accomplished…just casualities and sad families.

I think what got me into with this book was that there’s so many references from classic and ancient literature. The whole idea came from Theseus and the Minotaur. It’s the longer version of “The Lottery” meets Orwell meets every Greek hero stories (I took a class on different heroes across different times–Katniss is definitely a Greek hero). This author is very well versed.

The only problem I do have with Hunger Games series is that in the first book Katniss can come off as annoying but it doesn’t stop me from not liking the book. She does develop in the next book, Catching Fire. She seems more mature and aware–the tone and way she just carries herself  is just different. I’m still reading it but so far I think it’s better than the first book–much more twisted.

To you, what makes a good book?

More to come: Naked Lunch, Slaughterhouse Five, and New Moon (yes it’s exactly what you think but it’s going to be a very short review)

Banned Books Week: 2000-2009

Here’s from between 2000-2009.

The ones in bold are the ones I’ve read at some point in my life.

What banned books have you read?

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling 
2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck 
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou 
7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Myracle, Lauren
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky 
11. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
12. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain 
15. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
16Forever, by Judy Blume 
17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger 
20. King and King, by Linda de Haan
21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee 
22. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry 
24. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
25. Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
26. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
27. My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
28. Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
29. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
30. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
31. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
32. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
33. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
34. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
35. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
36. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley 
37. It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
38. Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
39. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
40. Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
41. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
42. The Fighting Ground, by Avi
43. Blubber, by Judy Blume
44. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
45. Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
46Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut 
47. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby, by George Beard
48. Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey 
50. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
51. Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan
52. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
53. You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco
54. The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole
55. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
56. When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester
57. Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
58. Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
59. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
60. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
61. Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
62. The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
63. The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney
64. Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park
65. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
66. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor 
67. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
68. Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
69. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
70. Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen
71. Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park 
72. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison 
73. What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras
74. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
75. Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry
76. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
77. Crazy: A Novel, by Benjamin Lebert
78. The Joy of Gay Sex, by Dr. Charles Silverstein
79. The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
80. A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
81. Black Boy, by Richard Wright
82. Deal With It!, by Esther Drill
83. Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds
84. So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Watkins
85. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher
86. Cut, by Patricia McCormick
87. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
88. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
89. Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger
90. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle 
91. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
92. The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
93. Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
94. Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine 
95. Shade’s Children, by Garth Nix
96. Grendel, by John Gardner
97. The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
98. I Saw Esau, by Iona Opte
99. Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume 
100. America: A Novel, by E.R. Frank

Banned Books Week: List from 1900-1999 for the most frequently challenged books

From September 24 – Oct 1st is Banned Books Week.

Anyways here’s a list from 1900-1999 for the most frequently challenged books.

The ones I put in bold are books I’ve read at some point in my life.



Some of them I was pretty surprised–look for #87.

  1. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
  2. Daddy’s Roommate, by Michael Willhoite
  3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
  4. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
  6. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
  7. Forever, by Judy Blume
  8. Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
  9. Heather Has Two Mommies, by Leslea Newman
  10. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
  11. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
  12. My Brother Sam is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
  13. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
  14. Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  15. Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
  16. A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
  17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
  18. Sex, by Madonna
  19. Earth’s Children (series), by Jean M. Auel
  20. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
  21. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
  22. The Witches, by Roald Dahl
  23. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle
  24. The New Joy of Gay Sex, by Charles Silverstein
  25. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
  26. The Goats, by Brock Cole
  27. The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
  28. Anastasia Krupnik (series), by Lois Lowry
  29. Final Exit, by Derek Humphry
  30. Blubber, by Judy Blume
  31. Halloween ABC, by Eve Merriam
  32. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
  33. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
  34. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
  35. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters, by Lynda Madaras
  36. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
  37. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
  38. The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton
  39. The Pigman, by Paul Zindel
  40. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  41. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
  42. Deenie, by Judy Blume
  43. Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes
  44. Annie on My Mind, by Nancy Garden
  45. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
  46. The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
  47. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat, by Alvin Schwartz
  48. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
  49. Cujo, by Stephen King
  50. James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl
  51. A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein
  52. Ordinary People, by Judith Guest
  53. American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis
  54. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  55. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy, by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
  56. Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
  57. Asking About Sex and Growing Up, by Joanna Cole
  58. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons, by Lynda Madaras
  59. The Anarchist Cookbook, by William Powell
  60. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
  61. Boys and Sex, by Wardell Pomeroy
  62. Crazy Lady, by Jane Conly
  63. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
  64. Killing Mr. Griffin, by Lois Duncan
  65. Fade, by Robert Cormier
  66. Guess What?, by Mem Fox
  67. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
  68. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
  69. Native Son, by Richard Wright
  70. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies, by Nancy Friday
  71. Curses, Hexes and Spells, by Daniel Cohen
  72. On My Honor, by Marion Dane Bauer
  73. The House of Spirits, by Isabel Allende
  74. Jack, by A.M. Homes
  75. Arizona Kid, by Ron Koertge
  76. Family Secrets, by Norma Klein
  77. Mommy Laid an Egg, by Babette Cole
  78. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo A. Anaya
  79. Where Did I Come From?, by Peter Mayle
  80. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline Cooney
  81. Carrie, by Stephen King
  82. The Dead Zone, by Stephen King
  83. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
  84. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
  85. Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
  86. Private Parts, by Howard Stern
  87. Where’s Waldo?, by Martin Hanford
  88. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Greene
  89. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
  90. Little Black Sambo, by Helen Bannerman
  91. Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett
  92. Running Loose, by Chris Crutcher
  93. Sex Education, by Jenny Davis
  94. Jumper, by Steven Gould
  95. Christine, by Stephen King
  96. The Drowning of Stephen Jones, by Bette Greene
  97. That Was Then, This is Now, by S.E. Hinton
  98. Girls and Sex, by Wardell Pomeroy
  99. The Wish Giver, by Bill Brittain
  100. Jump Ship to Freedom, by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

Forget about #28–get a dSLR

This is better!

So in an earlier post, I wish-listed an instant film camera.

I’m not an impulsive buyer I like to research on what I want to buy before I buy. But anyways I showed my boyfriend that I was thinking about buying an instant film camera or thinking about buying a 35mm camera (toy camera) because I really I take better pictures in 35mm than digital.

But anyways my boyfriend thought I was going to buy it and suddenly said “that’s what I got you for your birthday!” And I said “you bought it?” and he says “I bought a few days ago” and I thought he was joking until he showed me the confirmation e-mail. He kept telling me he was afraid I was going to buy it but I told him that I’m not an impulsive shopper. If I were buy it myself…give me a month and I’ll eventually buy it. I would keep going through flickr seeing what kind of results this film produces.

How did he know?

Too cute! So cute you might puke :-P.

It arrived this morning and I did couple snapshots to experiment. There’s four settings: indoor/dark, cloudy/shady, fine, and bright.

The first snapshot I took on the left is when I used the “fine” setting. I should’ve used the bright setting.

The second snapshot is a view from my bedroom window–it looks a lot better and I used the “bright” setting.

Anyways here are more samples with the mini film in this blog and on flickr.

Book reviews

These reviews have long been awaited.

1. The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine

I thought this book was overrated. At best it was ok but I wasn’t that impressed. I don’t know why it’s the “most talked about book of the year.” Is it because of her credentials?(which she often mentions in the book).

But then…again…this is super biased because I did graduate in neuroscience and I think I can find a better neuroscience book.

I think my favorite chapter would be towards end when they talked about a mature female brain. I think it’s relate-able when she talks about her one patient who is post meno-pausal and wants to divorce her husband because she woke one day realizing how unhappy she was and how tiring it was to serve people all her life (her husband, her kids, her friends) and finally decided to take charge of her life and focus on what makes her happy.

Each chapter was a vignette of the different stages of life (drama) of what they’re going through with a dash of neuroscience. Great for someone who doesn’t know the basics of neuroscience but really boring for someone like me (FYI, I did graduate with a neuroscience degree).

There’s actually another book out there by the same title. I heard it focuses on a the structural and functional differences between male and female brain but ahh! It’s 50 dollars!!

Major turnoff: The half the book was footnotes. So…the book is 279 pages long. By page 159 it was epilogue. Page 165 is Appendix 1, 2, 3. Page 189 was notes. Page 191 was footnotes. I didn’t read the epilogue because I really didn’t feel like reading that.

The main lesson I learned from this book was don’t wait until you get older to find your happiness. Take care of yourself first before you take care of others (this is from the Mature Female Brain chapter).

2. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I like this book because it is based on a true historical event and it made me learn that truth is a lot stranger than fiction. From looking at the pictures, I wish the White City was still up today. The story is about two men who live in the same time period in Chicago in the 1890s but never met each other in history.

One man is Daniel Burnham, he’s an architect and his goal was to build the World Fair and make Chicago the center of the world.

The second man is Herman Webster Mudgett–and he goes by many names I warn you but most of the book he goes by Holmes. He’s was America’s first serial killer and puts Jack the Ripper to shame. The last part made me sick though.

I describe the book as though it’s a novel but it reads as nonfiction and it’s great for those who are interested in learning some Chicago history. But what I didn’t like was the structure because it really did read as a nonfiction. I wish it wrote itself more…livelier. But I would like to read more of Lars0n’s books.

Anyways I do have the book, Devil in the White City so let me know if you want to book swap with me!

Caprese Pasta

I got this recipe from this blog. Served good both hot and cold. Very light and very simple to make :-).

Note: Couldn’t find any basil in the grocery store so I used spinach instead.


5 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced.***To do this, cut a shallow “X” on the bottom of each tomato. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, and place the tomatoes in the water for about 15 seconds or so. Immediately remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon and place into an ice water bath. This will stop the tomatoes from cooking. At this point, the skins should be easy to remove, and the tomatoes can be easily de-seeded and diced at this point.

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon salt

Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Pinch cayenne pepper

1 pound rigatoni

8 ounces mozzarella cheese, sliced or cubed as desired

Approximately 15-20 fresh basil leaves, finely shredded


1. Place the peeled and diced tomatoes in a colander for about 15 minutes to remove excess juices.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the drained tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper.  Mix the ingredients well and let sit for 20 minutes at room temperature.

3. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat.

4.  Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente.

5. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

6. Add the tomato mixture, mozzarella, and basil.  Toss gently, and serve immediately.