Judging Matters of Opinion


Bet you never thought you’d see these two books pictured together!

I like the Walking Dead, Longmire, and Man in the High Castle.  I couldn’t care less about Game of Thrones.

I liked Twilight and 50 Shades of Gray, but I liked The Girl With All the Gifts by MR Carey and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury better.

I see judgmental articles online all the time about what it means if someone likes “trashy” books like Twilight and 50 Shades.  I also see tons of response articles with people saying they won’t apologize for their taste.

Why is this so common?  Why is it such a thing for people to pass judgement on other people’s choice of entertainment?  What in particular does it say about me as a person that I can enjoy the entire spectrum of novels, all the way from the widely criticized to the highly revered?

In my opinion, the answer is not much.

What it says about me is that I have broad tastes and that I enjoy many things.  I enjoy things, not because I’m supposed to or they’re popular (or unpopular), but simply because they entertain me.  I’m all about relishing what entertains me, unapologetically.  I don’t feel the need to hide fondness for romance, or to brag about it when I’m reading classics.  Because while one might expand my knowledge and thinking, the other is something I like.  I don’t need reasons to enjoy something, just like I don’t need to explain why, for me, mint chocolate chip will always win over vanilla.

If you see me sitting at the coffee shop, and I’m reading a book that you consider awful, think about this: yesterday, I may have been reading a classic or difficult book.  And if I am reading that “difficult book” while I’m standing in line at the grocery store, don’t assume that says anything about me.  I’m likely to also have something by Nora Roberts in my purse.

I read a lot, and I don’t judge other people for any reading habits, other than when they say, “I like to read, but I don’t have time for it.”  If you don’t like to read and don’t do it, that’s cool.  But if you claim you don’t have time, I call shenanigans.  There’s always time for what you like.

Anyway, the point is that judging people based on their taste in entertainment is silly.  And if you weren’t sneaking peeks at what I’m reading, maybe you’d have time to finish that book that’s been sitting on your bedside table for the last six months.

Not that I’m judging.  ;)


Can’t We Agree To Disagree on This Election?


This is the expression on my face when I watch other people take political discussions personally.

I have my own thoughts on the upcoming US Presidential election, and since this isn’t a political blog, I’m not going to talk about them.  What I did want to talk about was a trend that’s disturbing me among my Facebook friends.

Some people are posting support for one candidate or another in the upcoming elections, and responses to those posts have been varied.  But far more often, I’ve seen people posting opposition to one candidate or another.  Instead of saying, “I support A,” people are saying, “You shouldn’t support A.  They’re a (fill in derogatory term).”

Recently, one of my friends posted something like this, and one of the responses was that this election has been the most polarizing election they remember.  My friend, without a trace of irony, said something like, “Yeah, I’ve had to unfriend a number of people for their views.”

People… let’s agree to disagree on the candidates.  There are very few people (I’ve seen) who are offering unqualified support of either candidate.  Most people are choosing what they view as the lesser of two evils.  Why are we going to argue about that?  Supporting one candidate over another doesn’t mean you support racism, sexism, lying, conspiracy theories, or whatever it is the opposition says that candidate is all about.  Supporting one candidate over another means you have your reasons, and that’s all I need to know.

I have gotten into political debates/ discussions with some people.  But only in person, with people I feel safe voicing my opinions with.  In a public forum like Facebook, I think there’s too much room for misunderstanding and hard feelings.  It’s unlikely I’m going to change anyone’s mind about their choice, so in this particular case, I’m not going to try.

It’s easy and tempting to believe that others aren’t as informed or haven’t thought it through the way I have.  That’s probably not true though.  Others value some issues more than others, just as I do.  And we’re all different.

Let’s rise above the political candidates and stop the name calling.  Let’s stop getting angry with people because they disagree on our views.  If you must get into a political discussion, please be respectful of the other person’s views, even if you don’t agree with them.  Let’s thank others for the lively discussions that may ensue.  And above all, let’s be grateful that we live in a country where it’s okay to publicly criticize candidates, and that others can do so too.

In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury discusses how censorship started by certain interest groups demanding that things that offended them be taken out, until there was nothing left.  Let’s not encourage censorship by demeaning the opinions of others.

Let’s just agree to disagree.  And be grateful that we can.

The Friends I’ve Left Behind



I spent the first 24 years of my life in the same house.  I lived on campus during my first year of college, but I never really considered it home, and after that first year, I became a commuter.  I was never particularly adventurous.

Since then, I’ve moved four times and had seven jobs.  I’ve met a lot of people.  Most of them didn’t leave much of a mark on me.  I met them, maybe laughed with them, learned some things about them, and moved on.  They might give me a passing thought now and then, as I do them, but nothing more.

I sometimes talk about how Facebook and other social media have allowed us to disconnect in some ways, and I still believe that.  But I’ve also been able to connect with other people I’d lost touch with.  I stay connected with childhood friends and family.  Though I may not follow their daily lives, I can see how they’re doing and how they’re children are doing.  It’s a really nice thing that would have been difficult and unlikely in a pre-technology world.

There are a handful of people who’ve been important to me, who I’ve lost contact with for one reason or another.  There was a guy I worked with at Wal-mart, and we didn’t stay in touch when I moved to a different job.  There was a couple who my husband and I hung out with.  We moved out of that area abruptly and during a period of transition, lost touch.  I don’t remember their last names.

I think about them, and others, from time to time and wonder what’s happened to them, how they’re doing, and where they’ve been.  I’d love to reconnect with some of these people, just to know how they’re doing.

When I started moving on, leaving people behind, I didn’t think of it that way.  For the first two decades plus of my life, I’d stayed put, so I didn’t think about the effort it takes to stay connected.

I’m grateful for our connected world, but I’m also aware that real connections take effort.  And if someone is important, they’re worth the effort.  Sometimes people get left behind, and that’s okay too.

I’ve been the person that’s been left behind, and I have to remind myself that people don’t always do it on purpose.  There are a lot of reasons to lose touch with someone.

That’s why it’s so important to really enjoy the people I’m with, be in the moment with them, without cell phones or distractions.  If I lose touch with them, I’ll have had those great moments.  It’s okay to move on, to have different friends or different interests.

None of us stand still.  Or we shouldn’t, if we’re growing.

Have you had an experience of losing touch with a friend and wishing you could reconnect?

How My Former Bullies Are Doing Now


Halloween 2015

We weren’t friends.  I knew her since elementary school because we rode the bus together.  I distinctly remember her bullying me a time or two.

In high school, she left me alone.  I don’t think we ever had a real conversation.

She friended me on Facebook, and I accepted.  Since then, she’s been open about her struggle with depression, which makes sense in light of my memories of her and what I know now about the link between depression and anger in kids.

A few years ago, I posted pictures of a Halloween party I had when I was 10 on Facebook.  Recently, this girl commented on the photo that she remembered the party and that she had such a good time.

I am positive that she was not there.

I have no doubt that she remembers being there.  It’s clear to me that she wants to belong, is seeking out positive memories to help her get through the day.  My first thought was to argue with her and let her know that she wasn’t there; I like to be “right” sometimes too.

But then I thought about it and wondered why I should spoil a good memory she has, even if she’s not correct.  She’s not a bully anymore.  She’s a person struggling to live her life as best as she can.  So, why should it matter to me if she has good memories of a party she wasn’t invited to?

I wasn’t a popular kid.  I was a weird kid, who was usually too buried in books or my own imagination to notice how not popular I was.  The only time I gave it much thought was when people picked on me.

It makes me wonder, if in some way, this girl wanted to be my friend.  Because honestly, I wouldn’t have noticed that either.  But whether she was someone who picked on me because she was unhappy, or someone who picked on me because she wanted me to notice her, it doesn’t much matter to me.  It’s all long since forgiven.

As a side note, I’ve had a few people who bullied me as a kid end up friending me on Facebook.  And I find it interesting that all of them struggle with depression.  They all talk about not wanting to be judged for their struggles.

Keep that in mind next time you hear about a kid who’s bullying someone else.  I know that most of us react that we want to slap that bully down and put them in their place.  But is that really the best approach for everyone involved?

I’m not scarred from the bullying that happened to me.  It also wasn’t that bad, overall.  Not compared to what you hear about nowadays.  And I didn’t have to deal with cyberbullying because it didn’t exist back then.  So I’m not saying that bullying can’t be quite bad and scarring.  But in my case, I believe that it made me stronger, less reactive.  I have thick skin, but I also try to be understanding of people who don’t.  Because I’ve been there.

Have you ever been bullied?  Have you reconnected with any of your bullies?  Did it change your thoughts about them in any way?

To Buy or Not to Buy… That is the Question…

img_6614Actually, even though the title of the post is to buy or not, that’s not really the question.  The question is whether to keep them once bought.

I’m a little bit of a hoarder.  I know people who change out their wardrobes seasonally, and have no trouble getting rid of old clothes, but I figure that if I buy it, I should keep it.

That’s why I have thousands of books.  Literally, thousands.

I try not to buy books.  I really try.  I use my local library for both ebooks and paper books.  But when I buy a book, I prefer to have the physical copy.

When I was attempting to shelve my huge collection, I started giving a lot of thought to clutter, and how much I hate it.  I started to really think about why I own so many books.  I haven’t read all of them.  Some of them were given to me by people who know I like books.  Some of them are well-loved books I’ve read a million times or might read again.  So, how do I decide which stay and which ones go?  I’ve made up a few rules.

If it has sentimental value.  My grandfather didn’t read many books, but he read and loved Marley and Me.  I enjoyed that book too, but even if I didn’t, I’d still own a copy.  It always makes me think of him.  And fairy tales make me think of my grandma.

If I’m going to re-read it.  I’ve read Watership Down more times than I can count.  So much so that I recently had to buy a new copy, as my old one was falling apart.  I love books that bear those kinds of marks of how well-loved they are.  My copy of Pride and Prejudice has post-it flags stuck in my favorite parts, so if I’m having a bad day, I can visit my favorite parts of the story and get a quick mood boost.

If it’s a classic.  I’m working my way through many of the classics, and even the ones I didn’t like, I’m keeping on my shelf.  I figure that it it’s stood up that much over the years, I may want to revisit it at a different point in my life.  I tried reading 1984 for the first time a few years ago, and though I recognized that it was a good book and I should like it, I just couldn’t stay interested.  Two years later, I picked it up and sped through it.  What’s going on in my life absolutely affects what I read and how I perceive it.

If it’s a “reference” book.  This is kind of a tricky one.  I write speculative fiction, so having books full of ghost stories, myths and legends, on my shelves is good practice.  I never know where I might find inspiration.

I haven’t read it yet, but I plan to.  I’m a sucker for used bookstores.  Sometimes I just have to pick something up because it looks good, but then I don’t get to it for awhile.  I’m okay with that.  But there are some books that I’ll probably never get to, and I need to learn to let them go.

These rules are flexible and subject to change.  But I’ve already taken two boxes of books to my local Half-Price books, and it feels good to know I’m reducing some of the clutter.

Do you buy books or get them from the library?  How do you decide which to keep and which to get rid of?

How Many Likes Do I Have?

I resisted joining Instagram for awhile.  Well, to be more accurate, I joined, but I didn’t understand it, so I left my account abandoned for a few years.

Recently, I’ve been trying to be more active on social media and learn more about it.  I resurrected my Instagram account and started posting.

I followed a few accounts, mostly people like me who like books, like posting pictures of books, like admiring their bookshelves and browsing through bookstores.  From my first post, I started getting likes.  It was oddly satisfying, seeing that people saw my photo and took just a second to click the like button.  It made me feel validated, somehow.

I asked friends to tell me more about monthly photo challenges, and they directed me to search for #circleofbookishfriends.  So I found and joined a bookish photo challenge for October.


Getting likes is encouraging.  It makes me want to post more.  Just like comments and likes here are reinforcing.  (Hint, hint).

It made me wonder how many behaviors in real life could be reinforced if a virtual thumbs up popped up.  I think that giving trophies for participation is a bad thing because it  rewards everyone, no matter what their effort or ability.  But I do think that people tend to not recognize the good stuff other people do.  Or maybe they recognize it, but just don’t acknowledge it.  Either way, I try to make sure that I notice when people do something I like, and to say something out loud.

In any case, it’s fun to post pictures of books and to see what other people are reading.  I enjoy looking at books as art pieces, and taking time to compose a shot and appreciate the aesthetics of my books.

If you post your Instagram handle in the comments, I’ll be sure to follow you.  I’m @doreeweller.

What do you like about social media?


Words Have Power

img_6692For Banned Books Week this week, I’ve been reading up on why books get challenged and banned.  I made myself a fun little project, where I went through many of the challenged books I have on my shelf and tagged them with Post-its as to why.

First off, when we talk about challenged and banned books, we’re usually talking about from schools.  Mostly middle schools and high schools.  There are some extremists who try to get books banned from public libraries or taken off the shelf at bookstores, but those  challenges are less common.

Why do people want to ban books?  It seems like the people who want to ban books recognize the power of words, and they’re afraid of that power.  Words lead to thought, which lead to ideas, which lead to challenging, questioning, and often disagreeing with the status quo.

Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year.  Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damn full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information.  Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving.  And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change.  Don’t give them any slippery stuff like psychology or sociology to tie things up with.

-From Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

So why don’t some people want others (but especially kids) to think?  I believe it’s for a few reasons.

First, book banners believe that they know the “right” way to live, and don’t want to offer alternatives.  Some people believe that the only thing that stops others from making bad choices is prevention from there being a choice.  They cloak kids in misinformation and deception, saying it’s for their own good.  We know it doesn’t work.  When abstinence is the only option, kids get pregnant.  When we lie and say all drugs (even marijuana) will kill you, then we lose our credibility when we say that spice and bath salts are actually really dangerous.

Second, thinking kids are questioning kids.  Teens are already rebellious.  They talk back, they annoy, and they think they know it all.  Why add fuel to that fire?  In my mind, that’s the time to add fuel to that particular fire, before it’s all burned out and ashes going cold.  Teenagers are looking for their place in the world.  Help them learn to think before they become mindless adults.  They’re already worried about the upcoming zombie apocalypse, and in some ways they ‘re probably aware that it’s already here.

Third, denial.  If we deny that bad language, sexual behaviors, violence, and racism exist, then it won’t.  Oh, if only it were that easy!  Taxes would have ceased to exist years ago.  Along with traffic and those people who take 20 minutes to special order coffee at Starbucks.

Denial doesn’t work.

Thinking, arguing, discoursing work.  Where do you stand on book banning?  What’s your favorite banned book?