Happy September, bookworms. Normally, this is right around when I start to get excited for the fall and autumnal weather. But I live in Ireland now, and our summer was basically three days at the end of June. So it’s already cool, and fall-like here (think hoodies, yoga pants and socks). But the bigger news is that my PhD programme is starting soon! I mean, technically, I’ve already started working because a PhD is no joke, my friends. But the official kick-off is next week. Eeeeeek! While I freak out yet again, how about you read the book news?
- Back at the end of July, I wrote about the removal of Courtney Summers’ Some Girls Are from a SC high school’s reading list, and the subsequent efforts to do something positive in reply. Kelly Jensen at Book Riot has an excellent wrap-up of the challenge she issued to get copies of Summers’ book into the hands of the teenagers in SC. More than 800 copies donated by readers across the country and from Canada eventually made their way to a librarian in Charleston, who then distributed them to local libraries and directly to the high school students themselves. Thankfully, it also looks like the high school in question will be revising their challenge procedures (which weren’t followed in this case anyway) so that in the future, one parent’s opinion of a book won’t stop all readers from having a chance to discover a book for themselves.
- So, the Hugo Awards this year were kind of a mess. I can’t remember if I wrote about the nominations earlier this year, but basically, major categories were stacked thanks to a campaign by a small but vocal group of readers and writers. But the unhappiness over the nomination process resulted in a surge in voting members, so eventually chose to give “no award” in several categories when the winners were announced. In happier news, both Ms. Marvel (Best Graphic Story) and an episode of Orphan Black (Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form) won awards and deservedly so. (And in case you wonder why the Hugos matter, Wired answered that question for you.)
- And moving on to yet ANOTHER controversy. (Jeez, what is in the water?) Apparently, some folks just have trouble with the idea of optional summer reading. Duke University included Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home on its list of optional (key word there, optional) summer reading for incoming freshmen. A number of those incoming freshmen not only refused to read it on “moral grounds” but took their objections with the book to Facebook. Be careful what you put on the Internet, little college freshmen, because now it’s national news. I can understand someone for choosing not to read a specific book if they think it will conflict with their personal beliefs, but I don’t understand the outrage over a book that was OPTIONAL to begin with. Moreover, as Book Riot points out, college is a stepping stone between childhood and adulthood. And adulthood can be uncomfortable. Us adults have to interact and even get along with different people all the time. Reading material you wouldn’t normally read is actually a good exercise in learning how to navigate a world that doesn’t always agree with you.
- In happier news, J.K. Rowling continues to be the Queen of Twitter. In a conversation that started with questions about the upcoming West End “it’s not a prequel” Harry Potter play, Rowling also touched upon Hagrid’s abilities, joked with some of the actors from the films and revealed her favourite theory about her beloved series. For the record? He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is not the titular cursed child in the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play, which will open next summer in London. (Road trip!)
- Mayeth the Force be with thee. If you haven’t discovered the sheer awesome-ness that is William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, then get thee to a bookstore or computer, stat! Quirk Books, the publishers behind the Shakespearean versions of that well-loved epic from a galaxy far, far away has launched a Star Wars Sonnet Generator. Answer four easy(ish) questions and a 14-line, iambic ode to the Force will be yours. Now you can profess your love for Han Solo as the Bard intended.
- The first full-length trailer for Room, based on Emma Donoghue’s book of the same name, has been released. The book and the movie tell the story of young Jack, whose entire life takes place in one single room. Over time, Jack and readers realise that Jack’s mother is being held captive by the man who had kidnapped her. Donoghue adapted her own book for the screenplay. The movie will be released in October.
As always, happy reading.