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Book News, Dec. 20th

It’s been awhile bookworms, and for that, I am sorry. I wish I had more time to write here, and specifically more time to write actual bookish things, like reviews, instead of just curating semi-interesting news. But free time? I haz none. At least not these days. And that’s likely to continue for quite awhile. At any rate, please enjoy what will likely be the last book news of 2014 and I promise to try to come up with an end-of-the-year wrap up post. Those faithful of you who have stuck around deserve it.

  • Me? I’d read all the time if I had nothing else to do, but that’s just me. According to Scholastic, a staggering 73% of children (ages 6 – 17) would read more if they could find more books they liked. That statistic comes from the 5th edition of the Kids & Family Reading Report, which will be released in full in January. I’m interested to see if the full report offers any explanation for why these kids feel they aren’t finding books they like. Is it access? Is it lack of diversity? (I’ll answer this one: YES!) Is it a matter of format (i.e., print over e-book, or vice versa)? There are so many books out there, I really do wonder why kids aren’t finding things they like (at least to the degree that they’d read more if they could).
  • It probably won’t surprise you to learn e-books are responsible for bringing in more revenue than print, but did you know females read more e-books than males (33% to 23%, respectively). Data journalist Niall McCarthy recently shared an infographic on the state of e-books with Forbes. Among some of his other data points are suggestions that the e-book industry is stagnating in terms of growth, with sales growth decreasing while revenue increases (something likely connected to the ongoing battle over e-book pricing).
  • The Blume is back! Judy Blume recently announced the release date, title and plot details for her next book, her first publication since 1998. Next June, Alfred A. Knopf will publish Blume’s In the Unlikely Event, a story that will follow three generations of family and friends affected by a series of mysterious plane crashes. Blume drew from her own life for inspiration, recalling a similar situation in 1951 and 1952. Though probably best known for her children’s and young adult books, this will be Blume’s second adult novel.
  • Write a divisive book, get a Golden Globe nomination. Okay, so perhaps it doesn’t work exactly like that for most people, but it worked for Gillian Flynn. When the Golden Globes nominations were recently announced, Flynn received one for writing the screenplay adaptation of her best-selling novel, Gone Girl. I’ve heard good things about the movie, but since the book made me want to throw it against the wall for its twists and turns (side note: I didn’t throw; it was a library book), I think I’m going to hold off on the movie for now. Still, many congratulations to Flynn!
  • SyFy has found its Quentin. The cable channel recently announced it had cast Jason Ralph as Quentin Coldwater in the upcoming adaptation of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians. Meanwhile, Sosie Bacon (daughter of Kevin and thus most likely connected to everyone) will play Alice, one of the key female roles. Production on the series has already begun in New Orleans and SyFy intends to release The Magicians sometime next year.
  • And some last minute fun stuff: I assume you’ve been paying attention to J.K. Rowling’s 12 Days of Christmas gifts on Pottermore? Though many of the stories seem to be rehashing certain plot points that we already knew, it’s still fun to solve Rowling’s riddles. (Plus, did you hear? Hogwarts had Jewish students, and LGBT students – magic for everyone! – even if you can’t see them because they’re not part of the plot). And in completely unrelated news, the first trailer for an animated movie version of The Little Prince was released. It’s in French, it’s completely and totally adorable, and I want to see it, even though I don’t understand it.

As always, happy reading.

Book News, Dec. 6th

It’s December, bookworms, so Christmastime is officially here. Give in to the temptation and listen to all the Christmas music you want (unless you don’t celebrate Christmas. Though you can still listen to the music, I guess, while making latkes?). At any rate, we’re in full holiday mode. Here’s some book news to tide you over:

  • Last month, the National Book Foundation announced the winners of the 2014 National Book Awards. Jacqueline Woodson won the Young People’s Literature Award for Brown Girl Dreaming. Unfortunately, there was controversy surrounding host Daniel Handler’s racist and inappropriate comments after Woodson’s win, but to his credit, Handler addressed the controversy with a sincere apology, a donation to the We Need Diverse Books campaign, and a pledge to match other donations up to $100K. It’s a shame Woodson’s win was overshadowed by the controversy, but it has helped more people learn about her, about her book and about the diverse books campaign.
  • In memorium: R. A. Montgomery, author, creator and publisher of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” passed away at age 78. The CYOA books were an integral part of many people’s childhoods, including my own. (I always ended up picking the path where I died!). And P.D. James passed away at age 94. She was perhaps best known for her crime novels (including Death Comes to Pemberley), though she was also a member of the House of Lords in the UK and consistently voted against equality measures for gays and lesbians.
  • Between you and me, I’m really beginning to question Oxford Dictionaries’ judgment. Every year, the Dictionaries unveil the “word of the year” and a list of words that will be added to the lexicon. This year, the word of the year for the US is “vape,” a shortened version of vapor or vaporize stemming from the use of electronic cigarettes. This, from the same dictionary that once proclaimed “selfie” the word of the year. God help the English language.
  • So you want to survive the zombie apocalypse? Hide out at the top of the Empire State Building. That’s the advice from Canadian author Margaret Atwood, who wrote a zombie survival guide for Buzzfeed and knows a few things about post-apocalyptic worlds, having written about many of them in her books. Atwood also recommends garden tools as weapons and peanut butter power bars for fuel. Solid advice.
  • Movie news for this week:
    • Universal Pictures has optioned Gayle Forman’s duet (or duology?) Just One Day and Just One Year. The creators of the Gossip Girl television show will serve as producers for the project, though there’s no word if any potential movie would be one complete story drawn from both books or two separate movies.
    • Mockingjay Part One is now in theaters on both sides of the Atlantic, so Entertainment Weekly took a look at seven of the key changes the producers and screenwriter made in translating the book to screen.
    • Disney has unveiled a full-length trailer for its live-action version of Cinderella. The movie features Lily James as Ella, Rob Stark Richard Madden as the Prince and Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother.
    • And lastly, The DUFF is now a film starring Mae Whitman. The first trailer from CBS films was recently released. The DUFF was first a novel by Kody Keplinger, who wrote the book while still in high school.

As always, happy reading.

In Praise of WORD

WORD LogoSo, true story: one of my favorite independent bookstores is a store I’ve never actually been to. Crazy, right? WORD Bookstores in Brooklyn (and Jersey City) is a great store, but it’s the people working there that really make this indie rise above the rest. This is how I fell in love with WORD:

One of my favorite authors is Sarah MacLean, and WORD is her local indie. She’s done signings and events there, and nearly every time she has a book published, she’ll personalize pre-ordered copies from the store. Awhile back, she helped start the WORDS of Love romance of the month club. With a six-month subscription, each month members get to pick from a selection of romances that MacLean has chosen, usually around a particular theme.

I was a member of WORDS of Love for about a year, and every month, I couldn’t wait to see which books would be available. Between WORD staff and MacLean, I was introduced to so many new-to-me authors and got to read so many fabulous books. In fact, WORDS of Love is to blame for my Jill Shalvis addiction. I read one Shalvis book as part of the monthly club, and have since bought pretty much every book Shalvis has published – new releases and backlist books.

But when my subscription ended just before I moved abroad, I didn’t renew, partly because I wasn’t sure about how the whole international shipping thing would work out and partly because I needed to save money. I missed it, though, especially since I knew MacLean had a new book publishing this fall. I had been waiting for Chase’s story since the very beginning and there was no way I was going to wait until late December (when I was back in the US) to get my own copy. Enter WORD.

On a whim, I sent a tweet asking if they shipped internationally. To my surprise, they replied positively! A few emails with incredibly helpful and lovely staff members later, I had an international pre-order: not only would I get my copy of Never Judge A Lady, but it would be signed. And while it may have taken a few extra days to reach me across the Atlantic, I was thrilled WORD was able to help me out.

Could I have ordered the book from Amazon? Sure. I don’t know that it would have been cheaper, given shipping costs from either the US or the UK (Ireland doesn’t have its own Amazon portal). But the book wouldn’t have been signed, I wouldn’t have gotten a special Rules of Scoundrels reporter’s notebook, and I would have been supporting an independent bookstore that goes above and beyond to help readers connect with their favorite authors.

I used to work at a bookstore (a chain, but don’t hold that against me) and I know that, generally, anyone can sell you a book you already know you want to buy. But indies like WORD are making the bookstore and the book buying process an experience, one that goes far beyond an exchange of cash for goods. WORD is doing it right, on just about every level (their Tumblr is regularly filled with awesome things including this post that I loved because puns) and despite not ever living in Brooklyn (or Jersey City), I will continue to support them virtually for as long as I can. They have earned this loyal customer.

So… if you’re near Brooklyn (or, I guess, Jersey City) and you want to buy books for someone – or yourself (no judgment here) – you should really go to WORD. You don’t have to take my word on it (pun intended!), but you probably should.

[This post is entirely my own. WORD did not ask me to write it at all. I just love them that much.]

[Photo Credit: WORD website]