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!

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Some Friday Fun: Book Cover Flipping

Happy Friday everyone! I can’t believe that it’s the end of May already; time just seems to fly by!

This is especially disconcerting when I realize that the year is 42% over, and I’ve only read 35% of my reading quota. Alas! I’m about 100 pages into Catch-22, which I’m enjoying so far, but I definitely need to spend time this weekend making a bigger dent into the novel.

Some might say that setting an annual reading goal is stifling, but I find that it keeps me motivated and pushes me to be a better blogger for my followers. I only wish that sleep was unnecessary–oh, how many books we could all read then!

Anyways, I found an interesting literary link that I thought I’d share: The Huffington Post’s coverage of author Maureen Johnson’s book cover flip experiment. As a YA fiction writer, Johnson was frustrated with the stereotypes targeted toward books written by women:

And the simple fact of the matter is, if you are a female author, you are much more likely to get the package that suggests the book is of a lower perceived quality. Because it’s “girly,” which is somehow inherently different and easier on the palate. A man and a woman can write books about the same subject matter, at the same level of quality, and that woman is simply more likely to get the soft-sell cover with the warm glow and the feeling of smooth jazz blowing off of it. If we sell more — and we often don’t — it is simply because we produce candy, and who doesn’t like candy? We’re the high fructose corn syrup of literature, even when our products are the same.

So Johnson tweeted her request that people recreate book covers as if the stories were written by the opposite gender. Here are some of my favorites, all of which you can check out at HuffPo:

 

 


I completely agree with Johnson. I believe that the publishing industry can be extremely sexist, perpetuating the idea that men won’t read female authors by packaging their novels in highly feminine covers–despite the fact that the quality of work is just as good as that of their male counterparts.

And while I have nothing against “chick lit” as a genre, since I read quite a bit of it, I realize that there’s no such thing as “dude lit.” We have perceived stories about women’s lives as different, and thereby somehow lesser.

So yes, I’ve described books as fluffy, light, beach reads, but only as an indicator of subject matter, not sex. There’s a huge difference between teen queen Meg Cabot and activist Margaret Atwood, and whomever you enjoy more is just a matter of preference.

And when it comes to my preferences, what I think is trash also has nothing to do with gender. I love romance novels when they’re written well, and loathe them when they’re written by Nicholas Sparks.

But if boys are so insecure in their sexuality that they refuse to read books with “girly” covers or written by women who use their first names instead of initials, then we have only ourselves to blame.

Let’s stop giving into cultural misogyny and start teaching all children to love reading, no matter what the main characters’ or authors’ genders are. Let’s stop polarizing the publishing industry by book covers and start encouraging more gender-neutral marketing. Lastly, let’s stop writing off entire genres as inferior and start reading outside our comfort zone so that we expand our preconceived notions and actually learn from one another.

Who’s with me?!