Notice for Review Requests

I receive review requests weekly. However, my personal schedule is hectic and I no longer review actively. (I also manage another blog called The Toronto Cafe and Food Blog). I do read every request sent but I apologize in advance that I do not reply to them all.

If I do take on a request, I will forewarn that it may take some time before I can review it. I am now looking to review adult fiction and self-help books instead of young adult fiction because I have grown out of it. If you are to request a review for either adult fiction or self-help, I will more likely to give it a shot.

In the meantime, Stop, Drop, and Read! serves as an archive book review blog. When I have the time, I may post a review. Thank you for understanding.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Lee Bantle: A letter

Lee Bantle, Author of David Inside Out


Dear Anne:

An eighteenth birthday is a turning point in life. Not only are you recognized in law as an adult, but it marks the year in which you will leave behind day-to-day life with your family, go off to college and begin a new period of great independence. For me, it was a long-awaited moment. I was so eager to get out of the house and away from the parental eye always looking over my shoulder.

I did not actually leave home until my sophomore year in college, which was, I think, a mistake. You cannot immerse yourself in college life or get the full value out of it when you are commuting from home each day. Living on campus changes the dynamic in a dramatic (and fun) way. Even if you choose to go to a local school, I hope you will live on (or near) campus from the start. Your parents will miss you greatly when you move out, but I think they are free from the worry that you are leaving while still in need of their supervision. You have shown yourself to be reliable and mature beyond your years. Which isn’t to say that you will never do wild and crazy things during your college days. I hope you will. But, I have faith in your uncommon good sense.

As you ponder which college to attend, I will throw in my humble opinion. I have always regretted going to a large state school. I suppose the education I received was adequate, but it was too huge, too impersonal, and too close to home. In comparing notes with others over the years, those who rave most about their undergraduate experience went to small, private colleges in pastoral settings. For reasons not hard to discern, this type of college promotes bonding among the students, close interactions with the faculty, and freedom from outside world distractions.

While college is a means to a degree and a career, it can be so much more than that. It presents a unique opportunity to spend four years pursuing knowledge and meaning for their own sake. I’m afraid that I was rather goal-oriented in my undergraduate days. What curriculum requirements had to be satisfied? What books did I have to read and what papers did I have to submit to get A’s? (One teacher actually wrote a note to me which said: “good understanding is more important than good grades.”) Looking back, I wish I had spent more time steeped in art, music, philosophy and literature, all of which ennoble and make sense of the human experience. There are only so many chances in life to sit under a tree on a weekday afternoon reading George Elliot or Henry James (to name two of my favorite novelists) and then to discuss their writings at seminar. Good grades and graduation will come naturally to you. Forget about them and seek out understanding. (If your bent is toward science, I would certainly encourage that. But physics and chemistry need to be balanced with a little Emily Dickinson.)

Life at college is, of course, highly social. Many say it is the best time in life. I am not so willing to write off everything that comes after, but I agree that those years were a highlight. I still have close friends from college. Perhaps you are a little more shy than I was, but no matter. If you look, you will find your soul mates. I hope you will seek out people who are very different from you as well as those who come from similar backgrounds. It is fascinating to learn how people of different races, ethnicity and national origin perceive life. The more time I spend in New York City, the more enthralled I become with its diversity or what former Mayor David Dinkins called our “gorgeous mosaic.” I am sure you have encountered diversity in your high school. College will increase the opportunity to find it.

And if you really want to meet a lot of people from far flung places, why not spend a semester or a whole year studying abroad? At the very least, you should plan some travel in and around the United States and beyond during your college years. (It wouldn’t bother me if you took off a year from college and knocked around Europe or South America. This would also make for a great year following graduation.) The coming years are your time to see the world--before the obligations of career and family take hold. I don’t understand why people who have spent virtually every friggin’ moment of their lives in the Twin Cities are so self-satisfied. Every Minnesotan should be required to spend a summer on one of the coasts and a summer abroad before inertia lands them in a three bedroom split level in the suburbs. Don’t let this happen to you. Explore the world before you decide where to settle down.

College is a time to experiment, to sample the unknown, to try out new behaviors, new ways of thinking. I received a Christmas card this year from my friend, Gary, who is an artist. It was a big yellow sheet of construction paper which had two large words printed on it: “Be Bold!” I can think of no better words of encouragement to give a freshman leaving for college. Take risks. Lots of them. Talk up during class discussion. (It gets easier after you have broken the ice a few times.) Invite that student from the Ivory Coast out to tea.. Go to a meeting of Anarchists for a New Social Order. Knock on the door of that cute boy in your dorm. Be Bold!

Anne, I could go on, but I’ve probably already given you more advice than you wanted (and certainly more than you asked for). I can’t believe you are all grown up and planning to leave for college. I remember, like it was yesterday, looking at your bald head and laughingly calling you the moon baby. Now you are an adult. The thought of you going off to college is so exciting. I think you are going to love it. I know you are going to excel. I look forward to hearing about it.

With love,

Uncle Lee


Click to read my review of David Inside Out here! This is actually the first LGBT novel I have read. And it's pretty good!

Lee wants you guys to know that he and Lauren from Shooting Stars Mag came together to make a new blog called Lets Get Beyond Tolerance, where it focuses on LGBT themes. Stop by!

Contest Time

Giveaway Item(s): 2 copies of David Inside Out
# of Winners: 2
Eligibility: International

Entries (Leave links if needed)

+1 New follower (MANDATORY)
+2 Old follower
+1 Link (5 max)
+1 Add Stop, Drop, and Read! to your blogroll

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Shooting Stars Mag said...

No need to enter me of course but I just wanted to say that this is a lovely letter, and wonderful advice!! Thanks for sharing, Lee. And thanks for posting about the new site Diana!


Thao said...

That's such a lovely letter. Thanks for posting it up, Diana ^^

Aik said...

Please count me in!

+2 Old follower
+1 Link on Twitter
+1 Link on Plurk
+1 Add Stop, Drop, and Read! to my blogroll

aikychien at yahoo dot com

Meredith said...

Count me in!

+2 Old follower

meredithfl at gmail dot com

Liviania said...

+2 Old follower
+1 Add Stop, Drop, and Read! to your blogroll

Lovely advice. But I love my larger, urban state schools. There are ways to form small communities within a large school.

Alexandra said...

Sounds like an interesting read!
+2 old follower

EVA SB said...

Such a sweet letter!

+1 New follower
+1 Tweet
+1 sidebar
+1 I added Stop, Drop, and Read! to my blogroll[@]gmail[.]com

Celeste said...

I want to read this book!!

+1 new follower

francis leonela said...

1+ new follower

i wanna read this book!!

Ambar said...

Entries (Leave links if needed)

+2 Old follower
+1 Link (5 max)!/group.php?gid=130467126976819&ref=ts

Maddie M. said...

+2 Old follower
+1 Add Stop, Drop, and Read! to your blogroll

Audrey said...

Thanks for the giveaway!
+1 new follower

FairyWhispers said...


+2 old follower


baddict17 said...

I wish I'd had an uncle who'd write me a letter :-( And I've visited your tolernace blog before and I think it's great!

+2 Olf Follower
+1 Tweet:

xnzkisha17 at yahoo dot com

Cass (Words on Paper) said...

Thanks for the great post & contest!

+2 Old follower
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Total: 3

cc932005 at hotmail dot com

Kulsuma said...

Count me in please!

+2 Old follower
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Anne Royce said...

+2 Old follower
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jen7waters said...

+1 New follower
+1 sidebar:
+1 Add Stop, Drop, and Read! to your blogroll:

thank you


vickyvak said...

+1 New follower

Great giveaway!!

How To Dream said...

great giveaway!

+1 new follower

The Itzel Library said...

LGBT, sounds great. Enter me, please.

+2 old follower
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itzel_library at

Wanda said...

+1 - new follower

Karen Senoo said...

I want this book \o/

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