Happy New Year, bookworms! Book News is back and it’s the first book news of 2014. I hope you all had an enjoyable holiday. Book news returns just in time here in Boston, as we had yet another snow storm this week, so I’m happy to stay out of the cold and curl up with a book. (Truth be told, there’s not much else to do during a snow storm, at least not in my opinion.) Check out this week’s book news, then let me know how you survive the winter weather:
- It was a very merry Christmas indeed for retail behemoth Amazon. The online retailer reported record sales during the holiday shopping season, including a reported “millions” (because that’s not vague or anything) sales of Kindles along with thousands of Kindle books. In addition to various self-published books (sold through various deals to drum up interest), the novel Sycamore Row by John Grisham was the best-selling Kindle book (which, I admit, surprises me).
- Meanwhile, libraries aren’t slouching off just because Amazon is raking in the big bucks. Overdrive, the digital book distributor most libraries rely on to lend e-books to readers, reported that six different libraries in North American each exceeded one million digital checkouts in 2013 (though, to be fair, this number also includes audio books as well). Unsurprisingly, the New York Public Library was among the six, with 1.2 million checkouts, an increase from 2012. Other libraries on the list included the Toronto Public Library, the Seattle Public Library and the Hennepin County Library in Minnesota, which I’ve never heard of, but it’s Minnesota, and it’s cold, so it makes sense that people borrowed books digitally.
- If you ever thought that a book saved your life – well, you might be on to something. Doctors in Britain are apparently experimenting with new ways to fight depression by prescribing bibliotherapy – i.e, by reading books. The idea is to help people face their issues through self-help books, which I think sounds rather dubious since I’ve never found a self-help book particularly helpful. However, the idea that customized reading lists could help – I can get behind that. I can think of many books that have helped me along the way.
- It wouldn’t be a proper book news without some kind of Harry Potter news: first up, all praise the genius of HP fan Andy Brown, who took the time to create a website for the Ministry of Magic. (Brown himself claims the title of “Head of Department of the Use of Muggle Technologies.” Love!). While the website itself may lack some of the wizarding razzle dazzle of Pottermore (most articles link to one specific page), it’s still clearly a labor of love, with a clear love of the subject and an impressive first page. Any HP fan who takes this kind of time is my kind of person.
- In other Potter news, more Harry! This time, on stage. JK Rowling will serve as a co-producer for a new Harry Potter play, collaborating with the playwright on a stage story that will explore Harry’s early years (presumably including his miserable time with the Dursleys). The play will premiere in London sometime in 2015 and the good news is that Rowling is on board, having apparently previously turned down other requests. So if she’s in this time, odds are it will be good. Now, I just have to plan my trip to London sometime in 2015…
- Lastly, not every literary character is sometime to love, especially once they come to life on film. While there’s plenty of reason to dislike George Wickham or Gollum on the page, actors can take it to a whole other level. Book Riot has collected a group of ten literary characters readers particularly love to hate when seen on film. The obvious folks are involved (Hannibal Lecter, of course and President Snow), but I was particularly delighted to see Caroline Bingley on the list. After all, her snobbery on page isn’t quite the same as seeing it in person. Best of all? The number one spot went to Lucius Malfoy. Jason Issacs’ portrayal was a thing of beauty and it’s easy to see why Book Riot would grant him and Lucius the top spot.
As always, happy reading.
Book News is back, bookworms! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. I’m always a bit sad once the holidays are over, but there’s plenty to look forward to in the new year. The new season of Downton Abbey starts tomorrow night and I’ve been devouring my copy of The World of Downton Abbey, written specifically for obsessed fans like me. Plus, Santa was good to me and brought me plenty of gift certificates so I can buy ALL OF THE BOOKS! We have a lot of book news to get through today, so this week we’ll have some short descriptions to go with the links. Enjoy!
- English journalist, author and critic Christopher Hitchens died in mid-December. Best known for his essays and staunch atheist positions, Hitchens had been battling cancer for the last year.
- Walter Dean Myers has been named the third National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress. He follows Katherine Paterson and Jon Scieszka.
- Amazon announced that 2011 was the best year ever for Kindle sales. During December alone, more than a million Kindles were sold each week. The recent release of the Kindle Fire tablet no doubt helped fuel the sales.
- George R. R. Martin fans who have already finished A Dance with Dragons were given a nice holiday present: Martin posted a chapter from The Winds of Winter, book six in the series, on his website. More chapter sneak peeks are promised, which should help stem impatience while we wait (yet again) for the next book.
- Best-selling author Lev Grossman is hard at work on the third book in his Magicians series, tentatively titled The Magicians Land. In his holiday newsletter, he talked a bit about some of the books inspiring him, including C. S. Lewis’ Narnia books, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, The Phantom Tollbooth and, unsurprisingly, The Lord of the Rings.
- In other Tolkien news, a new trailer for the first of two upcoming Hobbit movies was recently released. It looks like Peter Jackson may once again make movie magic with several returning LOTR cast members. Best of all, Richard Armitage AND Martin Freeman!
- On the heels of a number of successful book-to-movie adaptations, several young adult authors spoke with Salon to discuss their picks for the best (and worst) YA film adaptations and which movies they thought would be the next big thing. I heartily agree with Lois Lowry that the To Kill a Mockingbird film was excellent.
- Two news items relating to The Hunger Games: first, in December, a new movie poster was revealed that hints more towards the role the media play in the books and the films; and second, a new single from the yet-to-be-released soundtrack by Taylor Swift and the Civil Wars was released. The compilation soundtrack will be available in March.
- More news about the upcoming film adaptation of Ender’s Game: Abigail Breslin and Harrison Ford are apparently set to join the cast. Breslin will play Ender’s kind-hearted older sister Valentine, while Ford will play Col. Graff, commander of the battle school.
- The things we learn from Craig’s List: Book Riot explores what some literary missed connections might look like. How can anyone resist the one entitled “sexy hobbitses”?
- Lastly, a bit of fun of Jane Austen fans: first, the best of Book Riot 2011 included Mr. Darcy’s Guide to Wooing Women (step one: be rich; step four: be aloof and indifferent); and the ladies of Forever Young Adult have finally given us proof of the connection between Pride and Prejudice and Veronica Mars.
As always, happy reading!
Welcome to another weekend, bookworms. I’ll admit it – I’m totally planning to see the new Twilight: Breaking Dawn movie this weekend. You can judge me if you want – Lord knows I judge myself. But I just can’t help it. I don’t even really like the books anymore, but I keep watching the movies and keep giving Stephenie Meyer my money (I’m assuming she gets some sort of cut of the film revenue). Oh well. Here’s this week’s book news:
- Oh. Em. Gee. On Monday, the first trailer for the upcoming The Hunger Games movie was released and I jumped up and down like a giddy schoolgirl. It looks AMAZING! Though I was hoping to see more scenes from the actual games in the arena, the trailer did give us our first glimpses at Katniss and Peeta as they leave District 12 for the first time, the almost recognizable Elizabeth Banks as Effie, an utterly fantastic Cinna, and a Rue destined to break my heart. I’m still a little worried about Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, but otherwise, I’m am so ready for March. (I may have also watched the trailer ten times in a row. MAY have.)
- And lest we forget, the ladies at Forever Young Adult have once more provided the world with their eagle-eyed frame-by-frame commentary. No highly anticipated movie trailer would be complete without their input. Thank the gods for the FYA ladies.
- In movie trailer news, it’s dueling Snow Whites! Kristen Stewart is moving on from Bella Swan with one of the two new adaptations of Snow White. Stewart’s version, Snow White and the Huntsman, is due in theaters next summer and features a spectacularly creepy Charlize Theron as the Wicked Queen. Fairy tale retellings are apparently all the rage these days. This version seems more action-oriented and puts Snow White in the warrior role, which I kind of like (I was always kind of annoyed that she relied on men – albeit short men – to help save her. Save yourself, sister!)
- …Meanwhile the other Snow White movie will feature Julia Roberts and Lily Collins. This movie, called Mirror Mirror (not to be confused with Greogry Maguire’s book of the same name, which is also yet another adaptation of Snow White) seems more romantic comedy and fairy tale than action/thriller. The trailer is quite funny, actually. It’s also visually quite different as well, though it too focuses heavily on the Evil Queen. I guess Hollywood loves its Evil Queens.
- And the Kindle Million Club continues to grow. Along with the aforementioned Stephenie Meyer, Nora Roberts, Stieg Larsson, Suzanne Collins and George R.R. Martin, self-publishing wunderkind Amanda Hocking is now the second self-published author to sell one million Kindle e-books. Hocking used Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing to sell her books without a traditional publishing contract. She’s made over a million dollars, quite a feat considering that wealth came in one dollar at a time. Hocking now has a contract with St. Martin’s Press for a new series of books and her work has even been optioned for film.
- First there was the walk of shame, now the books of shame. Publisher’s Weekly asked readers to ponder which books would belong on their “literary walls of shame” – books that it seems everyone else in the world has read, but you haven’t managed to. I confess that I’ve never read any of Ayn Rand’s books, nor did I succumb to Dan Brown fever and read The Da Vinci Code. But I always figure that there are simply too many books to read them all, so why worry about what I haven’t read?
As always, happy reading.