Showing posts with label daniel keyes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label daniel keyes. Show all posts

Friday, October 4, 2013

Moved In! September 2013 in Review

Another busy month around these parts!  Obviously my posting frequency has gone down lately, but I am happy to report that we are fully moved into our new home...PHEW!!  We are still busy with unpacking the last few boxes, making endless trips to Home Depot, and wishing we had a box spring (our queen size box spring didn't fit up the stairs...therefore, I have been sleeping on a mattress on the floor for the last 3 weeks as we await our new!), but overall the move went well and I am looking forward to getting into a routine around here.

We did have lots of exciting milestones this month too.  The Hubs and I celebrated our 6-year anniversary, though it landed smack on moving day, so it was mostly celebrated by unloading boxes and sweating too much.  Still, a great day:

I also had my 30th birthday (as you know), and I hit the third trimester of this crazy pregnancy!  Time is flying and I can't believe I have less than 3 months til Tater Tot arrives.  EEK!!  Here's an update on my growing bump for ya...this was taken when we went out to dinner for my birthday (27ish weeks), and I feel the moving boxes as background are very appropriate:

Otherwise, I have been trying to fit in all the reading I can with my new birthday gift, a Kindle Paperwhite (thanks Mom!).  I am pretty much in lurve with it, madly and deeply.

Anyway, how was the reading this month?

The September 2013 Fave/Least Fave picks go to:

September 2013 Favorite:  Flowers for Algernon  by Daniel Keyes
September 2013 Least Favorite:  Help for the Haunted by John Searles

In total, I read/reviewed 6 books:

Early Decision  by Lacy Crawford
The Shining by Stephen King
Why Have Kids? by Jessica Valenti
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Expecting Better by Emily Oster
Help for the Haunted by John Searles

Otherwise, I celebrated my favorite books of love, and created my "30 Books to Read by 35" list (kinda) in honor of my epic birthday.

Now, on to October!  Month of fall and pumpkins and PSLs and way too many apples!  (Seriously, we went apple picking last weekend and I have a bushel of them, so send me all your apple recipes before I develop a fruit fly problem.)  Enjoy your month, reader friends!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

BANNED! Book Review: Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Title: Flowers for Algernon
Author: Daniel Keyes
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World
Publication Date: March 1966
Source: won in a giveaway from

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

Flowers for Algernon  is the beloved, classic story of a mentally disabled man whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of Algernon, an extraordinary lab mouse. In poignant diary entries, Charlie tells how a brain operation increases his IQ and changes his life. As the experimental procedure takes effect, Charlie's intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctors who engineered his metamorphosis. The experiment seems to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance--until Algernon begins his sudden, unexpected deterioration. Will the same happen to Charlie?

My Review:

As promised, today I am reviewing Flowers for Algernon in honor of Banned Book Week!  Sheila over at Book Journey hosts a Banned Book Week event each year, and last year it was one of the first blog "events" that I participated in after I opened up shop here.  I loved reviewing One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey last year, and I knew I wanted to jump on the "banned" wagon again this time around.

Lucky for me, I won a giveaway from Shannon @ Giraffe Days during last year's celebrations, and I got a copy of Flowers for Algernon as a result.  So what better time to put it to use??

Anyway: the book.  The one word that kept ringing in my head as I read it was "heartbreaking".  Even in Charlie's happiest of times, I was filled with sadness either by the way others were treating him, or by the dread of what I knew was to come.  Much of the emotional nature of this novel is a direct result of the perspective that is used.  The entire story is told through Charlie's personal diary entries, so you get the full effect of his intellectual and emotional changes throughout the novel.

It feels overly obvious for me to point this out, but the book is also heartbreaking in the way that it illustrates the treatment of people who are mentally disabled.  Charlie begins the novel with an IQ of 70, before skyrocketing upwards on the intelligence scales, past even what his doctors had predicted.  This may sound wonderful for him, but in addition to all of the book-learning he gains, he also begins to see that the seemingly innocent or funny actions of his "friends" in the past were really jokes at his expense.  In a world where bullying is such a hot topic in schools, I can think of no better novel that could make an adolescent think through their hurtful words before doling them out.

Why is this book important to read, even though it's one of the top 100 banned books (according to the ALA)?  Many of the attempted bans on Flowers for Algernon are based around its sexual content.  Charlie's intellectual advances don't automatically equate to emotional advances, so as he gets smarter, he also finds that he has a whole world of sexual desires to attempt to understand.  There are several scenes that handle this topic, but I would hardly call them "filthy and immoral" (as some protesters have done).  Instead, they highlight one of the central themes of the novel: that emotional and IQ intelligence are not the same thing, and that different capacities are needed in order to reach happiness in each area.  Without these scenes, Charlie's character would be incomplete, and the full impact of the novel would never be felt.

You want happy and uplifting?  Flowers for Algernon is not for you.  But if you want an emotional read with a unique perspective that is sure to tug at your heart strings, you need to jump into Charlie's story ASAP.

Have you read Flowers for Algernon?  If not, what's one of your favorite books that often makes the "banned" list?
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