Tag: literature

Graffiti Vandals Sentenced to Read Books

Two and a half years ago, in September 2016, Prosecutor and Deputy Commonwealth Attorney Alejandra Rueda dealt with a case where five teenagers between the ages of sixteen and seventeen were arrested for spraying offensive, racist graffiti such as swastikas on an old schoolhouse in Virginia. The schoolhouse taught black students during the era of segregation. The teenagers pleaded guilty to one count of destruction of private property and one count of unlawful entry.


image via bbc


When Rueda heard what was going on years ago, she decided to investigate it further, and when she realized it was the teenagers, she took matters into her own hands.


“The graffiti was racially charged – they had spray-painted swastikas and phrases like ‘White Power’ and ‘Brown Power’. But there were also images of dinosaurs, women’s breasts and penises. And I thought, ‘This doesn’t look like the work of sophisticated KKK people out to intimidate – it looks more like the work of dumb teenagers.'”


image via bbc


Reuda saw this as a learning opportunity since she believed that the children did not know what they were doing, especially when it came to spraying painting a swastika.

The judge endorsed the prosecutor’s order that the teenagers should be handed down a “disposition” as a sentence known for juvenile cases. Alejandra Rueda made a list of thirty-five books and ordered the offenders to choose one title a month for a year and to write a book report on each of the twelve books they wanted. Rueda explained that they had to write twelve assignments and 3,500-word essay on racism and what they had done.


Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou

The Tortilla Curtain – T.C. Boyle

The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

12 Years a Slave – Solomon Northup

The Crucible – Arthur Miller

Cry the Beloved Country – Alan Paton

My Name is Asher Lev – Chaim Potok

Exodus – Leon Uris

The Color Purple – Alice Walker

Night – Elie Wiesel


Volunteers painted over the graffiti and the old schoolhouse was opened to the public in 2017.


image via bbc


image via bbc


All five of the teenagers completed their reading and writing assignments and completed their mandatory visits to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and the Museum of American History’s exhibit on Japanese American internment camps in the US. Two years later, the teens were unwilling to give an interview, but one of them agreed to share their final essay. “We have to educate kids out of ignorance,” says Alejandra Rueda. “And with children, our focus has to be on rehabilitation and not retribution if we want results,” the prosecutor said.


The final paragraph, the conclusion of the essay said, People should not feel less than what they are, and nobody should make them feel that way. I think especially awful after writing this paper about how I made anybody feel bad. Everybody should be treated with equality, no matter their race or religion or sexual orientation. I will do my best to see to it that I am never this ignorant again.


Check out more of the story from BBC, reported by Emma Jane Kirby and you can hear Emma Jane Kirby’s report on the World at One, on BBC Radio 4.


Featured Image via Photo by Kelli Tungay on Unsplash

‘Game of Thrones’ Lady Lyanna Mormont Was Only Meant to Be in 1 Episode

Game of Thrones co-creator David Benioff revealed to Entertainment Weekly that Bella Ramsey’s character Lady Lyanna was only meant to be featured in one episode, “The Winds of Winter”!

He continued, “Part of what excites me is the performance of these actors. So many of them have been with us since the beginning and they’ve grown — both literally for the kids, and as characters. In many cases, they’re going so far beyond what was expected for them. Some, like Lyanna Mormont, were just supposed to be in one scene. Bella is such an incredible actress that we kept bringing her back because we wanted more Bella.”




Bella Ramsey is an English actress who first featured in the leading role of Mildred Hubble in the 2017 CBBC television series The Worst Witch. She is also the title character Hilda on Netflix. Her breaking role is HBO’s Game of Thrones and is still in a recurring role as the badass Lady Lyanna Mormont who was in last night’s episode, confronting Jon Snow about the forfeit of his crown to Daenerys.

Her Game of Thrones co-star Liam Cunningham, who plays favorite Ser Davos-Seaworth, spoke highly of her, saying “From the moment she came in, she was on it: She was professional, and she was just brilliant. There’s an old adage about how actors should never work with children or animals, but that’s B.S. When kids are as good as this young lady is, it’s a joy to play opposite. She was absolutely amazing. When somebody comes in and is that good, it makes your job that much easier,” Cunningham said.




The sixteen-year-old was shocked how everyone liked her twelve-year-old character when she told the UK Metro, “I was scared I’d be received in a bad way. I was very shocked people liked my performance.”

Ramsey impressed the Game of Thrones producers so much that they had to star her again, and giving her more screen time.


Featured Image Via actress.camera
A precarious stack of books. Too many? Certainly not

Why I Love Having Too Many Books Despite Its Inconveniences

I’m an avid reader, and the only time I read is when I take the train. I live in New York, so the train is like my mobile home, and finishing books is not an issue for me. As for my real house, my bedroom… you could say that it’s slowly becoming the book haven of my dreams—like the kind that has a bed, drawers, clothes, and essentials for every day, while I pick one book at a time from my stack of books. I say a stack of books rather than a shelf full of books because I, unfortunately, have not yet acquired a bookshelf, but it is becoming more and more of a priority. Out of necessity. The mountain of books is getting higher and higher to the point that it’s now just a centimeter away from touching my ceiling.


image via EDIS RUNE


And yet, I cannot help but to buy more books. My unexpected book trips to Barnes and Noble tell my wallet no but my heart yes. (That’s what the New York Public Library is for although I prefer buying.) As the typical millennial that I am, I order mostly online on Amazon. I love watching my stack of books grow like I am watering a plant as it blooms to a tall flower, and you cannot help but think sometimes you might have to cut some of the vines to make some room.


Image via thewalrus.ca (PHOTO: erhui1979)


At times, I do get frustrated when I don’t have space in my bedroom for my bag, my makeup box, or other personal belongings. I made a self-compromising decision that I would place all these items in the living room instead. It’s not the most terrible thing in the world, of course, yet I couldn’t help but question just how far am I willing to go to buy and collect more books. I know what you must be thinking: “stop buying books then? or give some of the books you read or don’t want anymore to someone who will appreciate it more?” I would argue that a real book lover would not give up their books that easily, regardless of their feelings towards even the books they’ve left untouched—people’s taste in literature changes over time, and I don’t want any book among my collection to be the ‘one that got away.’


image via independent.co.uk (photo: Poetry is good for the soul ( iStock )


I’ve read about half the books in my collection. A lot of these books like White Teeth, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar WaoIn Cold Blood and many others are from back in my English major days. I never liked to rent books because I see books as something that is not for borrowing, not something you can put a deadline on. Stories, works of fiction, poetry, are captured in a place of timelessness—and reading a book is what you put into it. Getting the full experience and to truly appreciate the book means not having to worry about time waiting by the door, fumbling its fingers with impatience. That is also why I cannot rent books at the library, but I still support them with donations, and you should too!


image via usishield.com


When family, friends, or boyfriends come into my room, the first point of eye contact is my books, looking down at us, questioning us if we would like to read one of them. Some of my loved ones challenge me as to why I keep the books I read or unread, or books I just completely lost interest in. I wouldn’t say I am a complete monster. I let people borrow my books; HOWEVER, I need a guaranteed return. I know all of a sudden I sound like a librarian, but I won’t charge late fees. Of course, I will send receipts of the promises you made that you would return them, like text messages, emails, all that good stuff. Now the most important questions of all, do I want to be a book hoarder? No, I don’t, and then people ask, what’s the point of keeping the books since spring cleaning is right around the corner? Why not make room for things that are possibly a bit more important?


image via nowtoronto.com (photo: tanja tiziana)


I hope it doesn’t sound crazy to say that I am enjoying this problem. I enjoy it because I don’t have to solve it, and it’s not a problem, at least for me. The way I see it, when you finish reading a book, you can’t help but have this feeling of a sense of accomplishment, regardless if you enjoyed the story or not. It feels fantastic to finish a book because of your commitment, consistency, persistence, and dedication, all realized. It’s not like writing where you have something to show what you did; you can only talk about it. But if you keep a collection of books and share your gallery of works, written by your favorite authors, in whom you have invested time—then that becomes your published work. It’s also important to note how seeing a small mountain of books can strike inspiration for people to become better readers or writers. My nine-year-old niece (a notorious non-reader) saw how protective of my small book fortress I am and FINALLY changed her perspective. Now, she’s obsessed with the Captain Underpants series and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. My books are not her taste (as she is, as we established, nine), but I think my books are like the fine wine that I love to sip while reading them.


image via longroom.com


I know I may be Marie Kondo’s nightmare, but that’s okay, as long as I am living my dream. Inside The Bell Jar of my world, and book in hand, I will continue to live my best life.


featured image via Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Apple Hiring Writers and Editors To Improve Siri

Ultron was a dick. Hal 9000 was a liability. Wintermute + Neuromancer= bad. The eternal struggle of man vs. machine has inspired a plethora of literature regarding the topic. If there is one thing we have learned from the cautionary tales of science fiction—it’s that artificial intelligence is probably not a good thing. Worst case scenario, human beings create self-aware machines that ultimately rebel and replace us as the dominant species.

think artificial intelligence GIF by Massive Science

The sometimes swift and other times comfortingly slow (if the predictions that exist in popular fiction are any indication) advancement of artificial intelligence has startled some of the greatest minds in history. People who rely on technology. Stephen Hawking wasn’t pleased, Bill Gates has expressed fear and Elon Musk once urged people at the highest levels of government to slow the f down. Still, no group of people has been able to better articulate the growing concern of artificial intelligence than writers. Stan Lee, Samuel Butler, William Gibson, Frank Herbert, H.G Wells, Arthur C. Clarke, Orson Scott Card, Ann Leckie, Martha Wells, and Mary Shelly; all of these writers and MANY more played with themes of technology and the danger of playing God.


Ironically, things have now come full circle. Writers are needed to aid with the development of Siri—the “chick” is a dial tone (I’m going to put every pronoun in quotes because she’s technically not a she). Apparently, the female-voiced ominous agent of societal collapse lacks relatability. In an article published on Thinknum Media‘s website, it was reported that Apple is looking to hire teams of writers and editors to help improve the way their virtual assistant, Siri, communicates. The goal is to make Apple’s low-key mischievious “madame” more engaging. Siri’s popularity is in peril as she lacks the amount of sports knowledge, anecdotes and incidental information necessary to succeed as an A.I. I guess people are just doing things themselves due to a lack of interest in Siri’s narrative? God/secular tyrants built by us forbid. The adjectives “witty” and “funny” were used to describe the way in which they would like “her” to be improved.

Thinknum Media has tracked hiring data over the past few months and found job posts that revolve around making the digital assistant more entertaining. Various job listings aim to recruit engineers with a deep knowledge of and appreciate for particular subjects; however, the top postings are of the literary variety—-a Siri Editorial Manager and an International Creative Writer, as seen above.

Siri, along with her cohorts Alexa and Google, have helped us play our favorite songs, schedule various appointments, and order food (for which we are forever grateful)…It’s worth mentioning that I am more of a Droid fan and have no idea what Siri is capable of…Should the literary community lend “her” a pinch of the quirkiness that is invaluable and unique to human beings? Maybe we owe it to “her.” I for one think that this particular form of magic should not be lent to a potential threat. The kind of magic that is often a beautiful result of chance or sometimes something that took hours of hair pulling, chain-smoking, and rewriting to lend to a fictional character conceived in our mind.

So I implore writers and editors reading this to harbor their wit. Don’t apply to those available positions. Save it for your friends, family members, and star-struck groupies who follow you on your book tour when you inevitability publish the next great cautionary tale of scientific corruption. Save it for the page.

…but if you are unemployed and REALLY need some income…I guess go for it. I mean I did apply; although this article probably offsets any good my brown-nosing cover letter did.

Featured Image Via Apple.com/Images Via Media.thinknum.com

4 Hilarious April Fool’s Day Literary Hoaxes!

It’s April Fools Day, and you know what that means? Yes, it’s time to dive deep into the pool of literary hoaxes and have some fun, while being educated along the way!


1. Fifty Shades of Grey Toilet Paper


50 Shade of Grey toilet paper



That’s right folks, toilet paper. In 2013, the Daily Mail reported that Asda supermarket in the U.K. made a deal with author E.L. James to produce toilet paper inspired by her phenomenally successful erotic fiction. Each square of the roll would be a different shade of grey, and would bear the names of the lead character’s traits like Christian Grey— ‘enigmatic’ or ‘obsessive.’


2. Getting Real with Sherlock Holmes


image via pintrest


According to Hoaxes.org, The London Times published an article purporting to reveal secrets about the private life of Sherlock Holmes, said to have been discovered among papers belonging to Holmes’s doctor. The allegations included the ‘fact’ that Holmes’s arch enemy Professor Moriarty was nothing but “a figment of the detective’s imagination, distorted by stress and despair and by a burning desire to ‘punish’ Watson for what Holmes saw as his disloyalty.”


3. Happy April Fools Day from Chaucer in 1392!




Chaucer’s “Nun Priest’s Tale” is about a vain cock, Chauntecleer, who falls for a fox’s tricks, and is almost eaten. In the tale appear the lines:


When that the monthe in which the world bigan
That highte March, whan God first maked man,
Was complet, and passed were also
Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two


Scholars believe that this is a reference to April 1st, as thirty-two days “Syn March bigan” (since March began) would be April 1st. The “Nun Priest’s Tale” may be the earliest reference of April Fools Day we have yet in literary history, scholars have speculated if it were to be true, which I think it was!


4. Shakespeare was French?


image via theshakespeareblog.com


BBC Radio 4 ran a segment reporting that a locket owned by Shakespeare’s mother had been unearthed during an excavation at his home in Stratford-Upon-Avon, meaning that both he and his mother were actually French!

he French Culture Minister who said, “We are delighted to learn that Shakespeare was French… We are looking into how to honor the great playwrights. Of course, we have Racine and Molière, but we will make some room for him in our national pantheon of literature.”


Check out more of these hoaxes on Hoaxes.org! Happy April Fools Day!


Featured Image Via Blog.oup.com