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Tag: Fiction (11-20 of 303)

Hey grown-ups: should you be embarrassed to read YA books?

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Should adults be embarrassed about loving books meant for teens? With The Fault in Our Stars expected to take in as much as $45 million this weekend at the box office — in no small part due to the swarm of grown-ups eager to see Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters live on the big screen — Slate writer Ruth Graham poses a question that might make some fans squirm: Should adults be ashamed about indulging in “literature” meant for the school-aged set? READ FULL STORY

What We're Reading Now: The Secret of Magic; Deborah Johnson

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Do you know what feeling I love?

Sitting in the glow of a warm window. Afternoon streams in, warming the nape of your neck, the tops of your shoulders, somedays even the corners of your soul.

It’s the simplest of simple pleasures.

There are a million metaphors I could use to describe Deborah Johnson’s writing in The Secret of Magic – but all of them are inadequate in conveying the ebb and flow of her phrasing or the care in crafting her characters (guess you’ll just have to, like, actually read it) but that attempt above is as close as I can get.

JoJo Marshall recommended it to me, having reviewed it for EW earlier this year. Handing me her copy, she gave me a hearty, “If you liked The Help, you’ll love this one!” I over-enthusiastically nodded my head in return, made a few exclamatory sounds, probably threw in an awkward wink and scooted off, never copping to having committed the ultimate Book Club faux pas: Nope, I haven’t read The Help….

In her review, JoJo writes that Magic is about, “…the troubling duality of the Jim Crow Era South.” It follows Reggie Robichard, a black female NAACP lawyer from New York who travels to Mississippi to investigate the (alleged) murder of Joe Howard, while navigating “the town’s segregated social structure with equal parts horror and wonder.”

It is also about local mythology and politics and the town matriarch, her convoluted definition of “family” and the legacy of slavery in Revere, Mississippi.

And, as JoJo’s first sentence claims, it is troubling. For all those pretty words, it is troubling. Troubling because the brutality and racism (or rather, the brutality of racism) ingrained in this town and tale remain such important parts of our current national dialogue. I read about Reggie taking in Jim Crow Mississippi and want to sigh in relief, grateful that such a time has passed. I want to shake my head and mutter “How could it have ever been so?” but, I, and we, can’t. That awareness, for me, was present throughout the entire experience.

On a more literary level — the cadence of Johnson’s writing is an absolute joy. I know that seems contrary to the weight of my prior paragraph but I stand by both notions and refuse to take either back (!). I can’t think of any other recent book in which I have so enjoyed an author’s actual stringing-together-of-words (is there where you tell me to read The Help?).

What about for y’all? What book has been the most enjoyable to actually read?

'Arrow' producer Marc Guggenheim breaks down his book 'Overwatch' and teases a sequel

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As an executive producer on CW’s Arrow, Marc Guggenheim knows how to pull off an awesome cliffhanger. Which is why anyone who has come to the ending of his new book, Overwatch, about a lawyer who finds himself unraveling a CIA conspiracy, was probably left wondering, ‘…and now what?!’

We thought the same thing and set out for some answers.

“I think the two reasons I really want to do another novel is because I have [a] story to tell,” Guggenheim says of his in-the-works sequel. “And then the second reason, quite frankly, is that I feel like I learned so much [during the first book], I want to put that knowledge to use.”

Below, Guggenheim opens up about the Overwatch follow-up and which characters will (and won’t!) be returning.

[In other words, book spoilers below.]  READ FULL STORY

On The Books: Aboriginal author Doris Pilkington Garimara dies at 76

Doris Pilkington Garimara, the Aboriginal novelist who wrote Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence, has passed away at 76 years old in Perth, Australia. Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence, her most well known book, was published in 1996 and tells the heart-wrenching story of her own mother’s life. As a young aboriginal in the 1930’s she was torn from her family and sent to a government “re-education camp,” but she broke free and spent nine weeks braving the Outback to return to her home. In 2002, the book was adapted into a film called Rabbit Proof Fence starring Kenneth Branagh. The success of Doris’ story helped draw attention to the aboriginal cause, and she used her fame to further promote reparations between natives and white Australians. The New York Times says that Doris was a member of the Reconciliation Committee and a principal promoter of National Sorry Day, an annual event started in 1998 to commemorate the government’s mistreatment of Aborigines.  [New York Times]

If you’re a vocabulary stickler, a strict constructionist for wordsmithing or just into useless apps, then you should be pleased to hear about this new app for Google Chrome that replaces all appearances of “literally” on webpages with the more proper usage of “figuratively.” So the next time one of your friends posts a status update like, “I’m literally perishing from the heat,” you’ll read “I’m figuratively perishing from the heat.” The caveat is that it will replace even proper usages of literally. So when I say that “I could literally kill someone for a coffee,” then you’ll think I’m kidding. It’s Monday – don’t cross me. [Slate]

Over at The Guardian, Elizabeth Edmondson is also getting into a huff over definitions. She’s taking aim at “literary fiction,” which she thinks is a crock. She argues that “Lit Fic” is just a fancy way of marketing books that posterity has decided are exemplary, while the original authors were just trying to entertain folks like the rest of us hacks. Agreed. [Guardian]

Ann Brashares, author of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, has a new book coming out and it’s less “traveling pants” and more “traveling time and blood plagues.” Her publisher probably told her that dystopian blood plagues are very now. [NPR]

Fans have browbeat the Hugo Award judging committee into shortlisting The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan’s 15 book, 4.5 million word epic series that a some Sci-Fi academics (What?) have slated as being “a long-winded Lord of the Rings.” Ouch. [Guardian]

 

On The Books: Laura Hillenbrand rewrote 'Unbroken' as a YA book

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Laura Hillenbrand has rewritten her best-seller Unbroken, the life story of Olympic runner Louie Zamperini, as a YA nonfiction book that will be published on Veterans Day (Nov. 11, 2014). The original Unbroken tells the tale of Zamperini’s Odysseian journey from a hard-scrabble kid in Southern California during the Depression to his meteoric rise as an Olympic runner in the 1936 Berlin Games. Later he signed up as a fighter pilot during World War II and flew planes in the South Pacific. His bomber crashed 850 miles off the coast of Hawaii and he spent 47 days stranded on a raft before being captured by the Japanese and brutally abused in a POW camp until the end up the war. But it’s not a downer! He perseveres and with the same buoyant spirit that carried him to the Olympics, he recovers from his wartime experiences and finds new life for himself.

I’m not sure why this needs a “YA” version. It sounds pretty appropriate for the 12+ ages of the “young adult” genre. Surely if you can be conscripted to read Lord of the Flies at 13, you can read this amazing real-life tale of the triumph of human spirit. Hillenbrand didn’t say specifically what she changed for the younger version, only that “Louie Zamperini’s story is spellbinding to people of every age. At the urging of librarians, teachers, and parents, I’ve created this edition specifically for younger readers. I’m delighted to bring Louie’s inspiring, exhilarating story to a new generation.” Since its original publication in November 2010, Unbroken has sold nearly 4 million copies and has remained on the bestseller list for over 160 weeks, with 14 weeks at #1. Angelina Jolie is directing a film adaptation (written by the Cohen brothers no less!) which is set for release on Christmas Day 2014.

READ FULL STORY

Tina Fey and Jason Bateman to headline 'This Is Where I Leave You' BookCon panel -- EXCLUSIVE

Reasons to get excited about this spring’s first annual BookCon, which is sort of like Comic-Con, but for, uh, actual books:

1. Panel headliners include Amy Poehler, Martin Short, R.L. Stine, Stan Lee, and Cassandra Clare.

2. EW can exclusively announce that Tina Fey and Jason Bateman will also headline a panel, which will serve as BookCon’s kickoff celebration.

3. Tina Fey!!!

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On The Books: CIA used 'Dr. Zhivago' as anti-USSR propoganda

When I first read that the CIA used Dr. Zhivago to breakdown the USSR during The Cold War, I assumed that they forced Soviets to watch that movie on repeat as a form of torture. I know, I know, before you get all up in arms about “how wonderful that film is” and “what a classic,” I’m a big fan of Omar Sharif and Alec Guinness (hello, Lawrence of Arabia.) But think about Dr. Zhivago‘s torture potential. No human could watch that 3+ hour Russian downer drama twice in a row without cracking. You would have to have a will of steel not to end up in a ball crying, “The balalaika! It’s always the balalaika!”

But I guess the CIA wasn’t on the same page. According to recently declassified CIA documents, the U.S. government commissioned Russian-language editions of Boris Pasternak’s novel (which Mother Russia had banned) and distributed them to citizens in Moscow. The story largely takes place during the Bolshevik Revolution and dramatizes the casualties of the Communist rising, so the Americans thought it would make great anti-USSR propaganda. We should fight more wars with these kinds of non-lethal weapons. This plot ranks right up there with blue jeans and MTV bringing down the Berlin Wall. [Washington Post]

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On The Books: 'Gone With The Wind' prequel centers on Mammy

The Margaret Mitchell estate has authorized a prequel to Gone With The Wind which will follow the life of the house slave, Mammy. Donald McCaig is authoring the book,called Ruth’s Journey, which is slated for publication in October. McCaig also wrote Rhett Butler’s People, one of two sequels to the epic Southern tale. Gone with the Wind has sold hundreds of millions of copies since its publication in 1936 and it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1937. Of course we can’t forget the Oscar-winning movie from 1939 starring Clark Gable, Vivian Leigh and the inimitable Hattie McDaniel as Mammy. Mammy captured hearts with her staunch morality, loyalty, and best of all, her harsh verbal lashings of Miss Scarlett. McCaig plans to delve into Mammy’s past, and the first order of business is to give her a real name (since Mitchell never did): Ruth. The story begins in 1804, when Ruth is brought from her birthplace, the French colony of Saint-Domingue that is now known as Haiti, to Savannah, GA where she will end up with Scarlett’s mother, Ellen. [New York Times]

The American Scholar has made a list of the “Ten Best Sentences” ever written. That’s a tall order. NPR’s All Things Considered has an interview with associate editor Margaret Foster, who explains their reasoning. No real surprises in the author’s on the list (although some of the chosen sentences are odd): Joan Didion, James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Truman Capote, Toni Morrison, Ernst Hemingway, Charles Dickens, Tim O’Brien, Vladimir Nabokov, John Hersey and Jane Austen. Austen is a bit of a surprise. I wouldn’t say her writing is the pinnacle of our craft. My choices for authors would be very different. I’d have to include Cormac McCarthy, Edward Abbey, Raymond Chandler, and David Foster Wallace. What sentences or authors would make your list? [American Scholar]

Ian Fleming, the author who created James Bond, was a notorious womanizer — color me stunned. And a series of love letters and postcards that he wrote to one of his girlfriends are being auctioned off in London. The auctioneer writes that the relationship was “typically tempestuous with hints of sadomasochism.” Here’s a quote from one of the letters:

I will only buy the castle if you will live with me there. So, do you offer yourself or not, everything included, naturally. High class ninny, the dust is a meter deep in the apartment. Since the day you went away, I have not been back there again, and there must be some letters for you there. Your flowers must be there too. When will you come back and clean everything up? You can have it whenever you want to and I won’t “bother” you, and you won’t have to watch out for my lies. Please, Edith, come. I can’t use the apartment in any case, because it still stinks of you (should I have said smells), and besides no candidate is available. [Peter Harrington]

Meg Wolitzer, author of The Interestings, wrote a piece in The New Yorker about what cultural things she drew upon for inspiration in her novel. Wolitzer’s sharp sense of humor is a treat for the Thursday slump. She says she subscribes to the “ ‘give yourself treats’ school of writing. (Not to be confused with the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.)” I subscribe to that school too.

Jonathan Schell, author of many nonfiction books on 20th century warfare, died of cancer on Tuesday at his home in Brooklyn. One of his most famous books is The Village of Ben Suc (1967), which chronicled the systematic devastation of a South Vietnamese village by American forces during the Vietnam War. [New York Times]

Listen to Kristen Bell narrate new 'Veronica Mars' novel, 'The Thousand Dollar Tan Line' -- AUDIO

Are you a diehard Marshmallow who’s seen the Veronica Mars movie five times — but still needs a fix? If so, here’s a little something that might help.

Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas has paired up with Jennifer Graham to write a mystery series that keeps the show’s story alive. The duo also managed to snag Kristen Bell to narrate the audiobook version of the series’s first volume, The Thousand Dollar Tan Line. Check out Bell channeling Veronica below:

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On The Books: Jimmy Carter talks biblical misogyny and an author imagines Hitler is a comedian

It’s a weird collection of book news this Monday. To start with, Jimmy Carter has a new book, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power, which hits shelves tomorrow. The 39th President has published more than 25 books during his career, covering everything from history to politics to “The Virtues of Aging.” But his newest book is on the subjugation of women around the world, looking closely at how religion is used as a tool of oppression. NPR interviewed the former president this weekend and you can listen to an excerpt on their website.

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