Literary News: In Case You (Really) Missed It

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The past 14 hours have been a whirlwind of fun: last night my book club met to drink a few bottles of wine while discussing the horrendous novel All the Birds in the Sky (review coming next week!). This morning was even invigorating, because I was finally able to login to Pokemon Go, the mobile game that’s taken over the globe. I’ve been gallivanting around San Francisco hoping to catch them all!

But now it’s time to get serious…I have a confession to make.

In full disclosure, I have a terrible habit of filing away articles for my blog, then forgetting that they exist. Every time my cursor hovers over the bookmarks folder on my browser, I cringe and try to ignore the growing list as best I can.

But 2016 is half over, and I just can’t take it anymore! Time for some summer cleaning!

Here are the first six months of literary news in review, in case you really, really missed the boat, or just want to relive the excitement!

Literary Feminism

  • “Damn, you’re not reading any books by white men this year? That’s so freakin brave and cool” (Jezebel)
  • “In literature and in life, men and women still want different things in a mate” (Jezebel)
  • “One weird trick that makes a novel addictive” (Jezebel)

Harry Potter News

  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child to be eighth book” (BBC)
  • “J.K. Rowling’s History of Magic in North America was a travesty from start to finish” (io9)

Hollywood Adaptations

  • “Ava DuVernay confirmed to direct A Wrinkle in Time” (IndieWire)
  • “Inside the peculiar new home of Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine” (Entertainment Weekly)
  • “6 adaptations that fixed the book (according to the author)” (Cracked)
  • “First Look as Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf on A Series of Unfortunate Events set” (Spinoff Online)
  • Will drama about young William Shakespeare picked up to series by TNT” (Deadline)

Et Cetera

  • Placing Literature maps out real places you’ve read about in books” (Lifehacker)
  • “The mass-market edition of To Kill a Mockingbird is dead” (New Republic)

Can you tell I’m a fan of Gawker Media publications? After reading this list, what literary news made you most excited? And if I missed any headlines, please send them my way!

RIP Harper Lee, America’s Literary Sweetheart

I was feeling cheery this Friday morning and was brainstorming my next blog post, when I clicked through my RSS feed and this news broke my heart.

It’s not that I was surprised that Lee passed away, given that she was 89 and in failing health. It’s that a light has gone out in American culture. As the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee has shaped our views on race relations, the justice system, and what it means to be a true patriot. In a sense, it’s as if Lee and Atticus Finch were synonymous in our minds, and today we are all Scout mourning the loss of a parent.

I can only hope that Lee found peace in her last years, and that her lawyers and publishers respect her final wishes. I’ve already discussed why I won’t be reading Go Set a Watchman, given the controversy surrounding its release, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t hold Lee’s words dear. In fact, it only seems right that I share some of my favorite quotes from America’s literary sweetheart:

On reading: “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”

On equality: “I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.”

On courage: “Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It’s knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”

I could write pages and pages worth of gratitude, but my words would never deliver as much impact as yours have. Thank you for all that you have done, Harper Lee. The world will surely miss you.

Merry Christmas to Me: Nicholas Sparks is Sued and Other Literary News

Happy holidays everyone! ‘Tis the season to sit around a fire, drink hot cocoa, spend time with your loved ones…and relish the fact that the author you hate the most is in a bit of legal trouble. Hey, what can I say? I’m on Santa’s naughty list!

But before I jump into this major headline, let me quickly recap the latest literary news of this month:

  1. 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and the literary world is going wild! Adaptations of the Bard’s plays will soon be flooding a city near you. I have yet to watch this year’s “Macbeth” retelling with Michael Fassbender, and I’ve been told that I really need to see Joss Whedon’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” both of which sound like excellent ways to celebrate #Shakespeare400!
  2. I’ve been procrastinating big time when it comes to finishing Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf, but perhaps this upcoming TV series will inspire me! This 13 episode drama will premiere on Esquire on Saturday, January 23, at 10 p.m. ET.
  3. Want to boost your speed-reading skills? Lifehacker has a how-to guide on reading an entire book in one day. My personal best was 12 hours for each of the last few Harry Potter novels!
  4. The Internet Engineering Steering Group recently approved Error 451, a status code to inform web visitors that the content they can’t see is due to censorship. This online addition is appropriately named after–you guessed it–Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

Image via Queerty

Now moving on to the big news! My blog followers obviously know how much I loathe Nicholas Sparks; in fact, last month one reader informed me that the author is now caught in a legal feud for being–let’s face it–an utter ass.

In 2006, Sparks poured $10 million of his own money to found the Epiphany School, a Christian prep school in New Bern, North Carolina. This devout Catholic who refuses to write about homosexual love is now being sued by Saul Hillel Benjamin, the former headmaster of his own school, for discrimination.

Sources report that Benjamin is accusing Sparks of threatening him and creating a hostile environment after he attempted to establish a non-discrimination policy and a gay-straight alliance organization at Epiphany. Other claims against Sparks include barring African-Americans and promoting anti-Semitism. When Benjamin resigned after he was allegedly held hostage in a conference room to explain his beliefs, he called the school “a veritable cauldron of bigotry.”

Sparks’ defense? Taking a plot from his own books, he claims that Benjamin has Alzheimer’s and is making everything up. I for one completely believe that Sparks is a raging bigot and am not surprised to hear that he uses religious fundamentalism to spread his hateful views.

Granted, the lawsuit was filed in October of last year, so this news isn’t exactly new, but I’m sure that I’m not the only one to receive the story belatedly. Everyone has a mission in life: mine is making sure that the entire world knows that Sparks is a total scumbag, but fortunately he seems to be doing a fine job of that on his own.

Literary News I Missed Last Month

As most of you are already aware, I spent November participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). For the past three years, I put blogging on hold during this time, only to feel overwhelmed about getting back on track each December.

Right now, I’m reading the finale to the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children trilogy, Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs, as well as Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk for my real-life book club. I’ve also had the chance to complete God’s Debris by Scott Adams and watched “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Pt. 2” in theaters, so stay tuned for all my reviews, which I’ll be posting soon!

This post, however, is going to cover the tidbits of literary news that I bookmarked last month. Some of these you’ve probably already come across yourself, but if you’re like me, life can get so hectic that you simply can’t keep up with all the headlines. So let’s catch up together!

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Image via BuzzFeed

Judging Books by Their Covers

Want some artistic inspiration? Check out the Book Cover Archive, which categorizes a plethora of books by their cover designs. Seeing them all side by side makes you appreciate the creativity that goes into them!

This BuzzFeed quiz is titled, “The Hardest Book Cover Quiz You’ll Ever Take,” but I still scored 17 out of 22! Not too shabby! Try it out for yourself!

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Image via Jezebel

White-Washing Woes

One of my favorite manga, Death Note, written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata, is coming to the big screen, but I can’t say that I’m looking forward to it. Hollywood continues to perpetuate its lack of racial diversity by pathetically white-washing Death Note’s Japanese characters. Much to many fans’ disappointment, Light and Misa will be played by Nat Wolff and Margaret Qualley respectively, although I imagine that their names will be changed to something as bland as these actors.

The white-washing continued in the blockbuster of the season, The Martian, adapted from the novel by Ridley Scott. In another slight to the Asian acting community, a white actress was cast as Korean scientist Mindy Park, and a black actor took the place of an Indian NASA director. Seriously, Hollywood, STOP with this nonsense!

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Image via ComingSoon.net

Fantasy Adaptations

The Merlin Saga by T.A. Barron finally has a screenwriter: none other than Philippa Boyens, who worked with Peter Jackson on the LOTR trilogy! As a child, I read most of this series when the books were published, beginning with The Lost Years of Merlin in 1996 and ending with The Great Tree of Avalon in 2004. Disney better do this movie right!

Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials gets another chance to prove its genius, this time in a drama series on BBC One. After watching the outrageously bad American movie version, which I’ve attempted scrubbing from my memory, I’m ecstatic to hear that the U.K. plans give this story the long-form development on TV that it deserves.

Lastly, Margaret Atwood, the literary celebrity whom I had the opportunity of a lifetime to meet, recently announced that she’s writing her first graphic novel series, Angel Catbird. With a superhero that’s part-cat and part-owl, the story sounds utterly ridiculous, but knowing Atwood, there’s much more to it than fur and feathers.

That’s all for now! Let me know what you think about these news stories, and feel free to send me more that I might have missed!

Jonathan Franzen’s Still a Jerk…and Other Literary News

Image via Gawker Media

Before I post my review of this month’s book club selection, I wanted to pass along some tidbits of news that I’ve bookmarked over the past weeks. There are a lot of interesting stories, so let’s hop right to it!

Movie Adaptations

  • After watching this trailer for “Victor Frankenstein,” I’m much less enthusiastic about the film. Looks like loads of special effects but very little substance. How unfortunate! Do yourself a favor and read Mary Shelley’s classic novel instead! (Source: ComingSoon.net)
  • Warner Bros. has purchased the rights to Dante’s Inferno, which will be written by Dwain Worrell as an epic love story through the nine circles of hell. I believe that there’s a tenth circle for horrible film adaptations (looking at you, “The Golden Compass!”), so fingers crossed this turns out well! (Source: Deadline)

Humorous Headlines

  • Was Shakespeare a gigantic stoner? Perhaps, says the South African researchers who found cannabis residue in 400-year-old tobacco pipes found in his Stratford-upon-Avon garden. (Source: The Conversation)
  • The hashtag #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter trended on Twitter, with many famous authors contributing to the dialogue. My favorite tweet? S.E. Hinton of The Outsiders‘ response: “I thought you were dead.” #LOL (Source: Huffington Post)
  • A German artist with the hardest Tumblr domain to pronounce is getting her 15 minutes with her amusing Harry Potter comics in which Dumbledore has the perfect IDGAF attitude. (Source: BuzzFeed)

Et Cetera

  • A new fantasy tale will be published by the Tolkien estate in October: The Story of Kullervo. Based on Finnish poetry, it was one of the oldest stories written by the author in his college years starting in 1914. Hopefully, I’ll finish Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf before this is released! (Source: io9)
  • Speaking of Tolkien, George R. R. Martin has revealed that he wants his Game of Thrones series to end much like The Lord of the Rings did, as a “bittersweet victory.” The only victory here is whether this ending ever gets completed. What’s the holdup, Martin? Less interviews, more writing! (Source: Observer)
  • Finally, I still hate Jonathan Franzen. The latest reason was his flippant desire to adopt an Iraqi war orphan so he can better empathize with children. This was my favorite response from Rembert Browne:

Hey, Franzen? How about you take your “get off my lawn” attitude and just evacuate the planet? Kthxbai! (Source: Jezebel)

Any other literary news I missed? Let me know in the comments!

The First Book Club Babes Selection: Uganda Be Kidding Me

I know that I’ve been late to inform you of the first Book Club Babes selection for this month, so here’s a quick update. For July, my real-life book club will be reading Chelsea Handler’s Uganda Be Kidding Me!

After listening to everyone’s preferences, it was decided that our first book should be fun, lighthearted, and easy to read. A small group of eight women attended the selection committee meeting and narrowed down all our recommendations to the comedic memoir genre.

Our original choice was Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, but since a few people had recently finished the book, we went with Chelsea Handler as our runner-up. I was the only one in the meeting who had read this book, so I’m excited to share the laughs with everyone!

It’s been several months since I first posted my review in the beginning of March, so to celebrate our kickoff book club pick, I’ve reblogged my thoughts on the audiobook version below. Feel free to add this memoir to your reading list this month if you’d like to virtually follow our book club experience!

Enjoy!

Image via Goodreads

Rating: 4 out of 5

Chelsea Handler knocks it out of the park again with her latest comedic memoir, Uganda Be Kidding Me. Published in March of last year, the book retells Handler’s traveling escapades in the past few years, including a ski trip at the private Yellowstone Club in Montana and a brief stint in Montenegro.

The majority of the memoir, however, covers her African safari trip with her close friends. A self-labeled ‘professional alcoholic,’ they spend their time guzzling cocktails and hitting on their South African guide named Rex.

“There’s a difference between being a class act and being classy. Peeing off the side of a jeep doesn’t mean you’re not classy, it just means you’re a free spirit with a small bladder.” – Chelsea Handler

Many readers will hate Handler for being the typical ugly American tourist, who keeps asking where the tigers are in the bush and complaining about her bit of vacation weight gain.

And yes, I admit that she is outrageous and abrasive. I’ve seen her talk show “Chelsea Lately” and read her other books, My Horizontal Life and Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea, so I know her particular brand of humor well. She is the exact opposite of politically correct, making wise cracks at every minority imaginable–little people, blacks, Asians, and the LBGT, among others.

Sometimes I just have to rock myself back and forth and say, “You’ve offended so many people at this point. Don’t try to keep track now, girl.”

The reason why I enjoy her despite her offensiveness is that she’s also self-deprecating. She has been famous long enough to know just how dependent she is on her countless assistants. It may be humble-bragging when she declares that she doesn’t pack her own suitcases or make her own margaritas, but it also goes to show that you can be a hot mess no matter how much money you make.

Case in point: Last weekend I was visiting my family and had to try to keep quiet late one night in my old bedroom, because I was laughing so hard listening to Handler share her embarrassing story of when she shit herself in her swimsuit while kayaking in the Bahamas. The joke builds and builds on itself until she sneaks into a guest house in the wee hours of the morning, only to drunkenly open the front door for someone without her bikini bottoms on. It had me giggling like a crazy person and was easily the most hilarious portion of the book.

Ultimately, Chelsea Handler is the woman you’d want at a party, because she’s unapologetic about who she is, and she definitely knows how to have fun. She also loves her dogs dearly and never, ever wants children, so I have a feeling we would make fast friends. She may not be the best role model, but I think she’s better than that, because she’s real.

The Latest in Literary News!

It’s a bit of an understatement to say that I’ve been busy lately. Without going into too much detail, I’ll just say that I’m going through a stressful transition, so apologies for missing blog opportunities like Top Ten Tuesday!

I’m currently reading Sisterhood Everlasting, the 2011 sequel to the Sisterhood of Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares. In the meantime before I post my review, I thought that I would pop in to share some tidbits of literary news that I’ve come across:

Image via Amazon

1.    Mindy Kaling’s second memoir Why Not Me? will be published on September 29, and is currently available for pre-order. I loved listening to the audiobook of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? so I’m sure that I’ll scoop this book up as well. It’s unfortunate that her show, “The Mindy Project,” was recently canceled, because I believe that Kaling is an under-appreciated comedic voice. She seems like such a sweet person, and I wish her success with her upcoming book!

Image via Rotten Tomatoes

2.     Thomas Vinterberg’s adaptation of “Far From the Madding Crowd” was released in limited theaters on May 1. Although I was not a fan of Thomas Hardy’s poetry or writing of Tess of the d’Urbervilles, this looks like a beautiful film. I can’t resist period dramas, especially those that star the exquisite Carey Mulligan. It has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 83%, so perhaps I should give Hardy another shot before seeing this adaptation!

Image via Monkeys Fighting Robots

3.     Aldous Huxley’s dystopian classic Brave New World is coming to the small screen with a TV series on Syfy. The network is collaborating with Steven Spielberg’s production company Amblin Television. No word yet on its release, but the bar will be set awfully high for one of my favorite books of all time.

Are you as excited as I am about these three new and upcoming releases? Share your thoughts in the comments!