I’m writing to you because Banned Book Week gives a good opportunity for students, like myself, to share my opinions on Looking For Alaska being the #1 most challenged book of 2015. Looking For Alaska was mainly challenged due to its “sexual content” and for its “inappropriate language.” However, as a high school student, I can attest that the content of Looking For Alaska is a realistic portrayal of many aspects of the teen experience.
One of the two scenes relating to sex in the book is the epitome of how unattractive, undesirable, and empty physical intimacy can be without deep emotional connection. The other potentially “sexual” scene depicts how much more powerful, rewarding, and meaningful something as little as a kiss can feel when a deep emotional connection is present.
The “sexual” concepts in the book are in no way “pornographic” as they have been perceived. If anything, the book teaches essential lessons in a non-direct, non-experimental way. As for the so-called “inappropriate language,” it is nothing but real. The language used in the book is a realistic look into a conversation between teenagers, which Looking For Alaska is meant to reflect. The novel did an excellent job of doing so and I would highly recommend it to others.
In closing, I would like to take a moment to appreciate your writing which reflects the strong, authentic narrative of contemporary teenagers. Your books deserve to be read.
I have spent most of my years wondering what Hogwarts house I would belong in. And when I say that, I mean I’ve spent way too many hours obsessively tapping my fingers in introspection.
For about half of those many years I have been told time and time again that I am unquestionably, undoubtably a Ravenclaw. So when Pottermore launched, part of me was just itching to go and check, but something stopped me. I did not go to Pottermore, in fact I waited approximately seven years before I visited.
I now know that I was terrified, as dorky and riddikulus as it sounds, yes I was terrified. What if I ended up in a house I didn’t feel like I was part of? Part of me had always held onto this idea that I, like the trio, was part of Gryffindor, but I knew that I was probably Ravenclaw.
I have spent years avoiding my inevitable sorting, but I finally caved. I’m not sure how I feel now that I have. I took every other quiz I could before this one, including an Ilvermorny house quiz, which I was surprised to find I am not a Horned Serpent, I am a Wampus, known to be the body of a wizard and the warrior. So maybe that should’ve been my first warning flag.
When I finally took the sorting quiz, I came out Slytherin. I understand to a degree, but I wanted a second opinion. So I did something taboo, I cheated the system, which, thinking about it now, may make me more Slytherin than I thought. But still, I made another account. It never hurts to get a second opinion.
This time Ilvermorny was not a Horned Serpent, instead a Thunderbird, known for spirit and adventure. Both for Ilvermorny and Hogwarts I tried to answer very similarly to the first sorting and as true to myself as I felt I could be.
For Hogwarts, this time I came out Gryffindor. I should be ecstatic, the secret hope has been partially confirmed. But something still doesn’t sit right.
I feel the most closely linked to Ravenclaw and the Horned Serpent, the houses of the wise, studious, and intellectuals. How could my results say traits, that yes, I do have and pride myself on, outweigh what I believe to actually be my strongest characteristics?
I have spent so many years of my life wondering about this… to the point where I am just straight up confused now.
Understandably, the houses together form one complete concept – everybody has a bit of every house. The point of the sorting is to identify the strongest of those traits, so why do I feel that the traits identified by a J.K. Rowling-approved computer algorithm as my strongest are wrong?
Maybe because that’s just it. Despite my unerring geekiness and absolute worshipping of J.K. Rowling, I am not going to trust a computer to tell me what house I’m supposed to be for Ilvermorny or Hogwarts. The decision is for the Sorting Hat and the Carvings alone to make, and it is widely recognized that the Sorting Hat takes your belief into consideration and it is a personal belief that the carvings of Ilvermorny do too.
I, to give Pottermore some credit, as I stated before have an unerring belief in almost anything J.K. Rowling approves. That being said, I believe that this was partially correct both times and partially wrong both times.
The readers are what bring the story to life, and believe me, I am a reader and Harry Potter is definitely very much real life to me. So shouldn’t what I believe to be true mean something?
I feel that I have the ambition, resourcefulness, and many other characteristics of a Slytherin, but I also feel that I have the boldness, daring, and countless other traits of a Gryffindor, and equal to both of the previous I feel that I have the curiosity, drive for wisdom, and basically everything else that Ravenclaw treasures. My feelings on the Ilvermorny houses mirror my feelings on the Hogwarts houses – I value adventure, strength, and wisdom.
Simply put, I will continue to stand by my allegiance to all: Ravenclaw, Slytherin, Gryffindor, Wampus, Thunderbird, and Horned Serpent.
But those of the steadfast Pottermore belief will have to forgive me for my terrible sin: I am going to take Pottermore as suggestion.
I will continue to believe that I am a Ravenclaw/Horned Serpent who has very strong tendencies toward the many other houses, like the well-rounded person, with an inclination toward intellect, I believe myself to be.
This question occurred to me last night as I leaned against my kitchen counter. I had a bent copy of The Great Gatsby held lazily in my left hand, an uncapped, drying, pink highlighter in my right, and a black pen tucked in my shorts pocket. There was a weather-beaten espresso percolator heating on the stove, I was wearing a second-hand cardigan and hand-knit socks. A Portuguese cover album of David Bowie, from a Wes Anderson film, was playing softly in the background.
I am actually a tangible version Andrew McMahon’s Art School Girlfriend.
I wear oversized cardigans, I have a collection of vintage Classic books, I have a pocket copy of War and Peace, I have a cracked 5 versions late phone, I embroider, I knit, and I drink my coffee black.
How has this happened? Has my own psyche sabotaged me and turned me into a poster child?
There is no feeling in the world like finishing a good book.
It’s like a slap in the face, or getting a bucket of ice water poured on your head. It’s a jolt that causes me to realize that I haven’t been in my body for the past – a glance at the clock – seven hours.
Nothing mattered. I was running through the streets of Ketterdam, a thief fighting the odds alongside Kaz Brekker, I was battling he who must not be named with my fellow students and professors, I was Aelin Galathynius and no one could stop me.
But once my eyes greedily devour what’s left on that page, I’m back to being me.
Just a girl with cold feet, a stiff posture and the most marvelous one pound object in front of me.
I’ll spend the rest of the day in a blind daze. Wondering why I am no longer in Ketterdam, or at Hogwarts.
And it hurts. A physical ache in my chest. Why isn’t this me? Why aren’t I living this kind of life?
And its an awful realization that I’m not.
For the rest of the day I’m shaky, seconds away from crying for no good reason. I’m hyperaware of whatever I’m doing in the world around me, but lost, aimlessly drifting in a world that seems like it’s not quite real.
I’m lost, just wanting to be able to read the book for the first time again. To get lost all over again.
I wander through the house, wanting that life, wanting to just disappear into the books that I love, to live these incredible lives.
Despite the struggle, the scars, the damage, the truly horrendous pasts that give dimension to the people who I am closer to than anyone else in the world, I want to be these people.
And **** the writers who create these worlds and these people. I run from my emotions and yet I can’t run from reading, and emotions are all I get from reading. I can’t bring myself to run from these writers. I’m like a junkie who hates what they do to themselves but loves the ride too much.
All I want to do is read and never reach the end. But equally so, the end is the best part. I am constantly tempted to rip out the last page and toss it to hell but I can’t. I always walk through the fire for it.
It’s not like finishing a movie or a show. That is me watching someone else doing something. When I finish a book, I have been put through the same ringer the characters have. I have lived the same life.
Part of my soul is fulfilled and yet a larger part of it is missing. Finishing a book is losing a part of myself. A part of myself that I have committed hours to, I have paced for, I have lived for.
When I finish a book, I finish a lifetime. I say goodbye to friends who never knew me but I knew them. I say goodbye to a family that I loved in that time more than I have ever loved. I say goodbye to a reincarnation of myself. I say goodbye to something that doesn’t even know I exist and yet has wrecked me.
There is no feeling in the world like finishing a good book.
It is a feeling akin to finding the one thing in all of life that you search for, and losing the one thing in all the universe that you cannot stand to lose.
I have a bad habit of reading a lot of good books very quickly. I’ll pick one up and think hmm seems interesting enough and then all of a sudden my Saturday is gone. I realize that somehow I am now reading in the dark.
So, it’s January.
The last word has been read, the cover closed and I want the rest of the story right then and there instantly in my hands. Forget food or anything else. After a cursory search of my shelves I realize I don’t have the second, third, fourth, tenth, or umpteenth book. My heart breaks.
In point two seconds my phone is in hand as I research the next book.
I religiously read the description hoping to glean just a little bit of information before my greedy fingers move to order it.
I move the mouse down till I find the order button.
My heart more than breaks it is razed, obliterated, ground into nothingness.
Receive order on November 2.
I slide out of my seat into a puddle on the floor. The middle of the school year. I can’t help but think, I’ll bet a million bucks I’ll have a calc test to study for, and goodness knows how much other homework.
So I give up, I order it and put it on my shelf to look at me and shake it’s head in disappointment. Every once in a while I’ll look up at it like a scolded kid as I try to figure out the slope of a tangent line before it costs me my grade the next day.
The Onion, a satirical newspaper that exists primarily to mock America’s antics, is one of my favorite forms of entertainment. While scrolling through Facebook, articles randomly pop up on my news feed, and never fail to provide amusement.
Even funnier than the articles themselves though, are the headlines – I cannot explain my love for them. I admit, I don’t always get around to reading the actual stories – that’s a big commitment – but the headlines, a short and easy read, are simply genius.
Impeccably sarcastic and wittily worded, these headlines are the epitome of satire – I love it.
Here are ten of my all-time favorites, in no particular order.
‘I Am Under 18’ Button Clicked For First Time In History Of Internet
Miracle Of Birth Occurs For 83 Billionth Time
Taylor Swift Now Dating Senator Joseph McCarthy
Secondhand Smoke Linked To Secondhand Coolness
Gay Teen Worried He Might Be Christian
Kitten Thinks Of Nothing But Murder All Day
Dwarf Falls Equivalent Of 10 Stories
Fun Toy Banned Because Of Three Stupid Dead Kids
Alcoholic Father Disappointed In Pothead Son
Buddy System Responsible For Additional Death
It doesn’t even matter if you read the articles themselves– the headline is all you need.