Banned Books Week 2021: Read Dangerously

Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance. – Laurie Halse Anderson

Ah, it’s that lovely time of year. The time of year where I pull out my soapbox, climb on it, and start yelling about how much I disagree with the banning and censoring of books. That’s right- it’s Banned Books Week!

According to the American Library Association, “a challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials.” I think most people can understand why this is a dangerous concept. Banning a book allows us to silence people we disagree with. It allows history to be ignored. It takes away the chance to learn from or connect with a different point of view.

Let me start with a little backstory here. The banning of books is nothing new. In fact, it’s believed that the first widely banned book in the U.S. was Uncle Tom’s Cabin, banned for having a “pro-abolitionist agenda”. (via lithub) Howl was actually put on trial. The defendants were told to prove that the book had “literary merit”. Ender’s Game was challenged in 2012 for pornographic content despite that fact that there is no sexual content in the book at all, much less content of a pornographic nature. Even the children’s book Where the Wild Things are has been banned in the past.

Books are banned and challenged for a myriad of reasons. These include sexual issues, the idea that a book has content that is unsuitable for its intended age group, language that is considered offensive, LBTQIA+ content, or any topic that might be considered divisive, really.

Courtesy of The American Library Association

The banning and challenging of books still happens. In fact, you can read about a recent incident involving a full list of books being banned in a York, PA school district. Incidentally, every single book was either by or about a person of color. ( via Penn Live Patriot News) Thankfully, the huge public outcry pressured the schoolboard into reversing the ban. While authors including Brian Meltzer were closely involved in the protest, it was originally led by students. How cool is that? I tell you, the younger generation will shake this world.

The list of banned and challenged books is huge. It includes ‘classics’ such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Catch 22. Children’s books as ubiquitous as Where’s Waldo and A Light in the Attic have also made the list. Some of the most commonly challenged books in recent years include And Tango Makes Three, the Harry Potter series, The Hate You Give, Thirteen Reasons Why, The Handmaid’s Tale, and the Captain Underpants series. To Kill a Mockingbird seems to be constantly challenged or banned. The reasons are varied, but I think they all have something in common: those who are challenging are doing so because they are scared. They are scared of reading things they don’t understand, don’t agree with, or don’t want to think about.

Choosing not to read a book is always an option, of course, which leads into a conversation on canceling, as the words canceling and banning tend to get a little confused. I think we’re all familiar with the term “cancel culture” by now. According to Miriam-Webster, cancel culture is “the practice or tendency of engaging in mass canceling as a way of expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure.” Canceling and banning a book are two very different things. Canceling is basically a boycott and it is a personal choice. Book banning involves having your choice to read or not read a book taken from you by others. I am unequivocally against the banning of books. No group of people should be able to deny others the opportunity to read books.

So, what can we do? Read banned books. Buy banned books. Speak out against the banning of books. You can find an excellent list of commonly banned books to get you started here. I also went to social media to see what people’s favorite banned books are. You can find the results of that at the end of this post. It’s a great list, and there are a few on there that I haven’t read yet (I plan to change that).

There are many experiences that I haven’t had, shoes that I haven’t walked in, or situations that I haven’t dealt with…but books can help me understand and empathize with those who have. They teach us compassion and broaden our horizons. So, are they dangerous? I should hope so. After all, growth and change generally are.

Live dangerously. Read.

Social media’s favorite banned and/or challenged books:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Bible

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Peig: The Autobiography of Peig Sayers of the Great Blasket Island by Peig Sayers

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’engle

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair by Mariko Tamaki

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Howl and other Poems by Allen Ginsberg

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Library: A Fragile History by Andrew Pettegree and Arthur Der Weduwen

Famed across the known world, jealously guarded by private collectors, built up over centuries, destroyed in a single day, ornamented with gold leaf and frescoes, or filled with bean bags and children’s drawings—the history of the library is rich, varied, and stuffed full of incident. In The Library, historians Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen introduce us to the antiquarians and philanthropists who shaped the world’s great collections, trace the rise and fall of literary tastes, and reveal the high crimes and misdemeanors committed in pursuit of rare manuscripts. In doing so, they reveal that while collections themselves are fragile, often falling into ruin within a few decades, the idea of the library has been remarkably resilient as each generation makes—and remakes—the institution anew. 
 
Beautifully written and deeply researched, The Library is essential reading for booklovers, collectors, and anyone who has ever gotten blissfully lost in the stacks. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. The Library: A Fragile History will be available for purchase on November ninth.

I was so excited to read The Library: A Fragile History! A book dedicated simply and wholly to the subject of libraries? Yes, please! This is an exhaustive, detailed dive into a subject that is dear to most book lovers: namely the history of libraries and the roles they have played over the years. I fully expected this to become a new favorite.

Unfortunately, that was not my final takeaway. This is the sort of book that does not benefit from a straight cover-to-cover read. It would be better taken in pieces over a longer period of time. There is simply so much information to take in. It is apparent that the authors took great care in doing their research and they spared no detail. And I mean no detail. Therein lies my difficulty. As much as the subject appeals to me, and as much as I’ve enjoyed other books about similar subjects, this book bored me.

It wasn’t for lack of knowledge on the authors’ parts. It wasn’t that the book was poorly organized. Rather, it was very well put together. There was just no excitement shown in the pages. I felt like the authors weren’t really all that invested in what they were writing. And that sort of rubbed off on me a little bit. This would make a great study guide, but as a book that is read for enjoyment, it just didn’t quite do it for me. I will admit that I might have enjoyed it more if I had read it in bits and bursts, instead of straight through. There was so much information to take in, after all.

If you don’t mind books that are a little dry, the information in this book might appeal to you. After all, if you’re taking the time to read a book blog, chances are high that you love books and libraries. I really wanted to love The Library: A Fragile History, but this book just wasn’t for me.

Not Cool: Europe by Train in a Heat Wave by Jules Brown- Cover Reveal

Today I have the opportunity to show off a great cover for a book that looks hilarious. This is the sort of book I’d happily curl up in front of the pool with if I did, in fact, have a pool. Check out the cover and blurb!

Are you ready?

Here it is!

A laugh-out-loud train journey across Europe with a travel writer who should know better.

Inspired by the budget InterRail trips of his youth, veteran travel writer Jules Brown thought he’d try and visit 9 cities in 9 countries in 9 days. Sadly, that wasn’t his only mistake.

It soon turned into a hot and steamy adventure (no, steady on, not that kind) by rail across Europe, taking in Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Liechtenstein, Zürich and Milan.

A tale of relaxing train rides to famous tourist destinations and guidebook sights? Not so much. All aboard for an offbeat travel adventure with a very funny writer seriously in danger of losing his cool.

About the author:

I took my first solo trip around Europe when I was seventeen, and I’ve been travelling and writing professionally since I published my first travel guide – to Scandinavia – in 1988. Since then I’ve eaten a puffin in Iceland, got stuck up a mountain in the Lake District, crash-landed in Iran, fallen off a husky sled in Canada, and got stranded on a Mediterranean island. Not all of those things were my fault. You can read about my travelling life in my memoir, Don’t Eat The Puffin.

I wrote Rough Guide travel books for over thirty years, but now that I no longer have to copy down bus timetables for a living I don’t really know what to do with myself. So I come up with ridiculous ideas for trips and then write about them, which is where my 9-city, 9-day, 9-country trip came from – that’s covered in Not Cool: Europe by Train in a Heatwave.

I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.

You can find out more about me and my books at my publishing website, www.trustmetravel.com.

I also blog at www.julestoldme.com, sharing travel stories, travel-writing tips, videos and inspiring destinations – see you there, and happy travels.

Author Links

Website: www.trustmetravel.com

Blog:  www.julestoldme.com

Twitter: @julesbrown4

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JulesBrownWriter

Committed: Dispatches from a Psychiatrist in Training

Adam Stern was a student at a state medical school before being selected to train as a psychiatry resident at one of the most prestigious programs in the country. His new and initially intimidating classmates were high achievers from the Ivy League and other elite universities around the nation. Faculty raved about the group as though the residency program had won the lottery, nicknaming them “The Golden Class,” but would Stern ever prove that he belonged?

In his memoir, Stern pulls back the curtain on the intense and emotionally challenging lessons he and his fellow doctors learned while studying the human condition, and ultimately, the value of connection. The narrative focuses on these residents, their growth as doctors, and the life choices they make as they try to survive their grueling four-year residency. Rich with drama, insight, and emotion, Stern shares engrossing stories of life on the psychiatric wards, as well as the group’s experiences as they grapple with impostor syndrome and learn about love and loss. Most importantly, as they study how to help distressed patients in search of a better life, they discover the meaning of failure and the preciousness of success. 

Stern’s growth as a doctor, and as a man, have readers rooting for him and his patients, and ultimately find their own hearts fuller for having taken this journey with him. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book will be available on July thirteenth.

Committed: Dispatches from a Psychiatrist in Training is an engrossing look into the lives of those learning how to help those with mental illnesses and provide quality mental health care. Told from the perspective of Adam, a psychiatrist-in-training, it follows his life as he tries to navigate the world of mental health care as well as his personal life.

I don’t read memoirs all that often. In fiction, I do not need to relate to or like a character to enjoy the book- I just want them to be interesting. In nonfiction, it helps if I care about the person the book is about. Adam was supremely human and very open about both his strengths and weaknesses. That takes bravery on the part of the author. He vacillated between feeling very out of his depth and unqualified and seemingly having extreme bouts of self-confidence. I can definitely relate to feeling unqualified as I am well acquainted with Imposter Syndrome in most aspects of my life.

I loved seeing Adam’s growth in his ability to properly diagnose and treat patients, but more importantly in his ability to connect with his patients. He realized that his patients are more than just a diagnosis and list of medications: they are real people with unique stories, backgrounds, and experiences. Watching his empathy and understanding grow was an incredibly rewarding experience.

The patients themselves were fascinating. I wanted them all to find the help they needed and defeat their personal demons. I could feel the sadness in Adam Stern when a patient was lost (spoiler alert: not every patient has a happy ending). I could also see his excitement and renewed sense of purpose when a patient improved.

I did sometimes find the switch from Adam’s psychiatric situations to his dating life a little bit jarring from time to time. I understand why it was there-to highlight the way a profession in mental health affects every aspect of a person’s life- but I struggled to pay attention during those parts. It just wasn’t as interesting to me.

Taken as a whole, I found Committed to be a fascinating look at life as a mental health expert. It is an important profession, when taken up by caring individuals, and I have the utmost respect for Dr. Adam Stern for the aid he is able to provide.

Kids on the March: 15 Stories of Speaking Out, Protesting, and Fighting for Justice by Michael G. Long- Book Tour

From the March on Washington to March for Our Lives to Black Lives Matter, the powerful stories of kid-led protest in America. 
  
Kids have always been activists. They have even launched movements. Long before they could vote, kids have spoken up, walked out, gone on strike, and marched for racial justice, climate protection, gun control, world peace, and more.  
 
Kids on the March tells the stories of these protests, from the March of the Mill Children, who walked out of factories in 1903 for a shorter work week, to 1951’s Strike for a Better School, which helped build the case for Brown v. Board of Education, to the twenty-first century’s most iconic movements, including March for Our Lives, the Climate Strike, and the recent Black Lives Matter protests reshaping our nation. 
  
Powerfully told and inspiring, Kids on the March shows how standing up, speaking out, and marching for what you believe in can advance the causes of justice, and that no one is too small or too young to make a difference. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to  Algonquin Young Readers for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. Kids on the March will be available on March 23rd.

Kids on the March touched me, educated me, inspired me, and left me in awe of what children have done, and continue to do, when confronted with injustice. While adults sometimes waffle- or even turn a blind eye- children stand up for change.

“When democracy was threatened, kids were there. When people on the margins needed a voice of protest, kids were there. In some cases, kids were there, marching and chanting, long before adults even thought about protesting.”– Michael G. Long

This isn’t your average history book. Aside from the fact that it focuses entirely on children’s activism throughout history, it educates in a way that is accessible for older children without speaking down to them. While there is no glorification in the sometimes ugly response to demands for change, it is also not left out. There is no pretending that opposition doesn’t exist. At the same time, the focus is on the kids’ activism.

I loved the timeline that is provided at the beginning of the book. As a homeschool teacher, this will be extremely handy. For me personally, it helped highlight how active children have been, and for how long. Kids on the March starts in 1903 and goes all the way up to 2020! That is a long history of children standing up and moving the world. It was truly astonishing to see.

There were several marches/protests that I knew nothing about. Whether that is an oversight throughout school history classes, or me just not paying enough attention growing up, it was surprising to see. There were a few early protests over issues that were eerily similar to things happening now.

At the end, there are “tips for marching”, which is exactly what it sounds like. Children can shake the world and affect change by standing up and speaking out. In many ways, children have been examples to adults. They have been examples of bravery, compassion, and action.

Kids on the March made me cry on more than one occasion. It provided me with teachable moments for my child, and moved me. I cannot recommend this book enough.

“Let us pray with our legs. Let us march in unison to the rhythm of justice, because I say enough is enough.”

-Demetri Hoth, senior at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School (2018)

Where to find the book:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble


White Trash Warlock by David R. Slayton- The Write Reads Blog Tour

Not all magicians go to schools of magic.

Adam Binder has the Sight. It’s a power that runs in his bloodline: the ability to see beyond this world and into another, a realm of magic populated by elves, gnomes, and spirits of every kind. But for much of Adam’s life, that power has been a curse, hindering friendships, worrying his backwoods family, and fueling his abusive father’s rage.

Years after his brother, Bobby, had him committed to a psych ward, Adam is ready to come to grips with who he is, to live his life on his terms, to find love, and maybe even use his magic to do some good. Hoping to track down his missing father, Adam follows a trail of cursed artifacts to Denver, only to discover that an ancient and horrifying spirit has taken possession of Bobby’s wife.

It isn’t long before Adam becomes the spirit’s next target. To survive the confrontation, save his sister-in-law, and learn the truth about his father, Adam will have to risk bargaining with very dangerous beings … including his first love. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to the author and to The Write Reads for allowing me to join this blog tour. It is available for purchase now.

White Trash Warlock is a book that is much bigger than the sum of its parts. Ostensibly about a sort-of warlock on a mission to save his sister-in-law from demonic possession, this book uses that platform to tackle themes of acceptance, grief, anger, and family dynamics.

Adam has stirrings of magic in him. He can see and interact with the spirit world, a talent that got him left in a psych ward as a kid. Now an adult, Adam is happily estranged from his mom and brother Bobby (who committed him to the psych ward years ago), eking out a living and trying to find his missing dad. So, getting a call from Bobby is unusual. Doubly so, when Bobby is asking for help with his wife, who seems to be possessed. Adam decides to drive to Denver, figure out what’s going on with his sister-in-law, and hopefully fix it. Then, he’ll go back to his own life, as far away from his brother as he can get. Unfortunately, things are far less simple than Adam expected.

First, I’ll start with the world building. Denver itself is…Denver, a city like any other. However, layer spirit towers, Reapers, and giant evil thingies over it like tracing paper, and you get the Denver of the book. Think “Upside Down” from Stranger Things, and you have the general idea. It was an intriguing concept, and one that worked quite well, taking the everyday and making it just a little…off. I loved seeing the different worlds cross over, like when a car stolen in the real world is used in the spirit world.

Great plot? Check. Interesting world? Check. Fantastic, complicated characters? Triple check. The characters are what elevated this book from good to amazing for me. There was Bobby, with his perfect little house, his perfect little car, and his perfect little life being upended. He wanted to retreat into the familiar and completely ordinary, but was unable to. He was so lost, and blamed Adam for feeling out of place. That he asked for Adam’s help despite their history and Bobby’s dislike of anything he didn’t understand opened the door to some meaningful interactions between the two. The mom didn’t really figure in all that much, but her additions were interesting. There were a few other characters, two of which I’m not going to name, so as not to spoil anything. I liked them both, especially as ways to further the development in other characters.

Then there’s Adam. I loved Adam so much! He was a mix of emotions and reflex-reactions. He so badly wanted to be seen, yet was afraid for anyone to know the real him. His mix of anger over the past, and the strong desire to avoid dealing with that past felt incredibly authentic. Little details mentioned throughout the book really resonated with me. At one point, Adam gets incredibly annoyed at someone for referring to a mental institution as a “loony bin”, which I was nodding at: I’ve spent time in a mental hospital, and it bothers me when people say things like that too. He was competent and willing to sacrifice everything for a sister-in-law he really didn’t know. I cheered for him from minute one, and wanted him to see his own worth.

The story ratcheted up from a bit of mystery (who was responsible for the possession and why?) to a full-out battle involving manticores, Reapers, and a dragon. I do wish the ending had taken a little longer, just because I was enjoying the book so much. White Trash Warlock was a supernatural show-down combined with complicated real-life problems. I loved it and can’t wait to see what happens next.

Kids on the March: 15 Stories of Kids Speaking Out, Protesting, and Fighting for Justice by Michael G. Long- Book Spotlight

From the March on Washington to March for Our Lives to Black Lives Matter, the powerful stories of kid-led protest in America. 
  
Kids have always been activists. They have even launched movements. Long before they could vote, kids have spoken up, walked out, gone on strike, and marched for racial justice, climate protection, gun control, world peace, and more.  
 
Kids on the March tells the stories of these protests, from the March of the Mill Children, who walked out of factories in 1903 for a shorter work week, to 1951’s Strike for a Better School, which helped build the case for Brown v. Board of Education, to the twenty-first century’s most iconic movements, including March for Our Lives, the Climate Strike, and the recent Black Lives Matter protests reshaping our nation. 
  
Powerfully told and inspiring, Kids on the March shows how standing up, speaking out, and marching for what you believe in can advance the causes of justice, and that no one is too small or too young to make a difference. (taken from Amazon)

I am ridiculously excited about this book! Aside from the subject matter being interesting, I have a new perspective: my child. He’s a little guy, too young to even ride a bike without training wheels, but he has big dreams. He likes mostly nonfiction books about historical figures, people who he sees as world changers. Kids on the March sounds perfect for him. He says he wants to change the world when he grows up: how cool will it be for him to see examples of kids who didn’t wait until they had a drivers’ license or were old enough to vote? Kids everywhere need to see that they can affect change, that they can SHAKE THE WORLD. They’ve done it before. They’re doing it now. And I am so jazzed to read about it.

I’ll have a review coming up before too long. This book will be available on March 23rd.

Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops by Shaun Bythell

From behind the counter, Shaun Bythell catalogs the customers who roam his shop in Wigtown, Scotland. There’s the Expert (divided into subspecies from the Bore to the Helpful Person), the Young Family (ranging from the Exhausted to the Aspirational), Occultists (from Conspiracy Theorist to Craft Woman).

Then there’s the Loiterer (including the Erotica Browser and the Self-Published Author), the Bearded Pensioner (including the Lyrca Clad), and the The Not-So-Silent Traveller (the Whistler, Sniffer, Hummer, Farter, and Tutter). Two bonus sections include Staff and, finally, Perfect Customer―all add up to one of the funniest book about books you’ll ever find. (taken from Amazon)

With a title like this, I just had to read Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops. This is a nonfiction written by someone whose profession affords him the excellent opportunity to people watch. As a bookseller, author Bythell has experienced all kinds of customers, and has sorted them into categories, easily explained and commented on.

This book was funny and snarky, although it segued into meanness every now and again. Categories such as “Genus: Peritas (Expert)” are sorted into sub-categories and described in hilarious detail. I have to apologetically admit to fitting neatly into the “Young Family” category: I truly do try to keep the fingerprints off of glass, though.

I found myself chuckling at some of the things the author notes. His ability to both poke fun at, and show appreciation for, all kinds of people was incredibly entertaining. I did feel that Bythell took things too far from time to time, particularly when discussing self-published authors. I’m sure his comments were made without malicious intent, but I did get a little annoyed on these authors’ behalf. Right when I was at my most ticked off, he mentioned a delightful encounter with a self-published author, smoothing my ruffled feathers a bit.

I didn’t love the book the way I was hoping, but I did find it to be a very diverting read. It’s a one-and-done sort of book, but those also have their place. Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops would be a great palette cleanser in-between books that require an emotional investment.

Into the Never: Nine Inch Nails and the Creation of Downward Spiral

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book is available now.

Full of information, speculation, and a fair amount of geeking out, this book nonetheless failed to keep my attention. Pretty much everyone over a certain age knows who Nine Inch Nails is. It was one of my “angry” go-to bands for the longest time, and I still listen to their music on a semi-regular basis. Whether it’s your cup of tea or not, I think everyone can agree that NIN did things with music that hadn’t been done before. The subject of the book is an interesting one.

Author Adam Stein went deep down the proverbial rabbit hole with this book. He pulled out quotes from years ago, found new points of view, and dug up information that painted an introspective and profound picture of Trent Reznor (founder and singer of NIN) and his emotional state when Downward Spiral was being created. He also waxed enthusiastic over NIN and every move made by Reznor. That enthusiasm made the book much more relatable. It’s difficult to be interested in a subject that the author cares nothing about, so his interest made this book fascinating.

Unlike many such books, Into the Never focused on the artist through the lens of his art, instead of the other way around. The author took a very song-by-song breakdown approach toward the latter half of the book, and made connections that I certainly wouldn’t have known to make. Reznor’s thoughts on faith, religion, and the human condition were both fascinating and sometimes unsettling. While I personally don’t agree much with Reznor’s viewpoints, it was engrossing to read them.

Unfortunately, about halfway through, the author’s extreme love of NIN became a little grating. I felt that the author’s enthusiasm started to cloud the point of the book a little bit. It would be that way with anything written by an extreme fan, though. There’s that moment where it becomes a bit much for “normal people” (aka, people who don’t have driving obsessions). For example, you don’t want to discuss Firefly with me unless you’ve cleared your schedule because I’ll go from Firefly to the actors’ continued careers, and segue into the epicacity (I’m over here making up words now) of Nathan Fillion’s mustache. See? There’s always that point where the excitement needs to be reined in, or at least given direction.

I have a feeling that I would have enjoyed this book much more if I’d taken longer to read it, maybe even putting it down to read something cheerful in-between parts. It’s interesting, but also a bit too much at times. It started out strong and I wanted to love it, but this book ends up getting something closer to a “meh” from me.

They Just Seem a Little Weird: How KISS, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, and Starz Remade Rock and Roll by Dough Brod

Amazon.com: They Just Seem a Little Weird: How KISS, Cheap Trick,  Aerosmith, and Starz Remade Rock and Roll (9780306845192): Brod, Doug: Books

A veteran music journalist explores how four legendary rock bands-KISS, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, and Starz-laid the foundation for two diametrically opposed subgenres: hair metal in the ’80s and grunge in the ’90s.

They Just Seem a Little Weird offers an original, eye- and ear-opening look at a crucial moment in hard-rock history, when the music became fun again and a concert became a show. It’s the story of four bands that started in the ’70s and drew from the same seminal sources but devised vastly different sounds. It’s the story of friends and frenemies who rose, fell, and soared again, often sharing stages, producers, engineers, managers, and fans-and who are still collaborating more than 40 years later.

In the tradition of books like David Browne’s bestselling Fire and Rain, They Just Seem a Little Weird seamlessly weaves the narratives of the mega-selling KISS, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith with . . . Starz, a criminally neglected band whose fate may have been sealed by a shocking act of violence. It’s the story of how the four groups-three of them now enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall Fame-went on to influence multiple generations of musicians, laying the foundation for two diametrically opposed rock subgenres: the hair metal of Bon Jovi, Poison, Skid Row, and Mötley Crüe in the ’80s, and the grunge of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Melvins in the ’90s. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book will be available on December first.

First off, let me just say: I’m not a huge fan of any of these bands, just because I only know them passingly well. They were just a teensy bit before my time. Of course, I don’t live under a rock, so I have at least heard their music. So, if I’m not an uber fan, why did I scurry to read this book? Because it sounded fascinating.

It is an interesting foray into the bizarre world of rock and roll. There were a lot of weird, random happenstances that let me know how small the world of professional music-making truly is. There’s a major “six degrees to Kevin Bacon” vibe that permeates the book. So many things that happened were connected in the oddest ways. About halfway through, I was ready to start singing, “It’s a small world after all…”

Despite this, I found myself getting confused at times because there were so many names to remember. Not only that, each person seemed to have several nicknames bestowed by several different people and the nicknames got a bit perplexing. Also, the way they were all connected to each other was very convoluted at times. Read this book with a pencil ready in case you get name confusion like I did.

That being said, this book is a very engrossing read. The beginning of these music giants was just so much fun to read about, and the little asides were flat-out strange. It made for an incredibly entertaining book. I now know more about these bands than I thought was humanly possible for someone who wasn’t already an obsessive fan.

My biggest gripe is that there was a lot of information but not a lot of emotion. There was a ton of “how” and “when” but not a lot of “why,” if that makes sense. I wanted a little more personality than I got. That’s just a small little complaint, though.

The writing is succinct and well-worded. It flowed well and there weren’t really any parts that dragged or felt superfluous. For those of you who love any of these bands, or are huge music buffs in general, you’ll want to add this to your collection. For me, I liked it but fell just short of loving it.