This week, we were surprised by the news that George Orwell’s Indian birthplace will be developed into a memorial. Why should that be so surprising, you ask? Well, because it’s not being turned into a memorial for George Orwell, but for the entirely deserving but somewhat more random Mahatma Gandhi. Though many authors’ birthplaces have been turned into museums or monuments to their lives, several have met with rather more questionable (and sometimes downright upsetting) fates. We investigate after the jump. … Read More
This week, we read a great article at Slate about Ursula K. Le Guin and the genre distinctions (or lack thereof) in her work. This article portends an even greater event, the publication of Le Guin’s new self-chosen best-of collection, The Unreal and the Real, later this month, so we’ve decided to take a look at Le Guin and other authors who have found themselves neatly boxed and categorized by the collective consciousness — but shouldn’t be. Click through to check out a few great authors we should all really stop pigeonholing, and if we’ve missed one, add to our list in the comments! … Read More
Libraries across the country are celebrating Banned Books Week, which lasts through this Saturday, but Lawrence Public Library in Kansas has taken a rather (forgive us) novel approach to the festivities. The library put out a call for submissions for local artists to create “trading cards” inspired by banned books, the best of which they’re handing out at the library all week. Since we’re pretty covetous of all things collectable (and all things book-related), this seems like a genius idea to us — not to mention the fact that a lot of the resultant artwork is pretty wonderful. Click through to see some of our favorites from the submitted artworks, and then be sure to head here to check out the full collection. … Read More
This time of year, we often find ourselves thinking about the origins of our favorite writers — how they found themselves on the writing path, what they read, how they learned. And we’ve been surprised to realize how many successful and even legendary writers dropped out of school and ended up teaching themselves. Here are ten who went on to achieve great success with independent… Read More
Today is the 73rd birthday of YA staple Gary Paulsen, the author of over 200 novels, including Brian’s Saga (read: Hatchet and its ensuing sequels). Hatchet is one of those books it seems like just about everyone we know has read, and just about everyone we know (ahem, including us) was at least a little bit scarred by it — or at the very least, picked up some important survival skills. So as a tribute to the author of this ubiquitous novel, and for a fun trip down memory lane, we’ve compiled a list of YA books that gave us some serious emotional wounds that we may or may not still be nursing a little bit. Click through to check out our list of YA books that totally scarred us for life, and let us know which ones still keep you up at night in the comments. … Read More
We all have a few: the books we read when we were young that altered everything. These were the world-changers, the reality-definers, the stories you died over, gushed to your friends about, pushed into the hands of boyfriends and girlfriends, urgently, sincerely. They were pivotal, inspirational, important.
And then: you grow up a bit and return to the books that started a revolution in the way you existed in the world, the ones you thought would change you ever-after, and you think, oh, goddammit, that’s what had me so hot-and-bothered? And this is fine, this is natural. You were changed for a time, and changed again. You get older, you learn some things. Which is not to say the books below ought be avoided altogether. No, these are a few of the books that knocked you off the roof when you were a kid, that fall flat to re-read right now (plus a few suggestions on grown-up alternatives). … Read More
Last week’s New Yorker featured beloved biologist E.O. Wilson’s “Trailhead,” a short story about ants in flux in the aftermath of their queen’s death. The conceit provides Wilson ample opportunity for desert-dry ant humor — one ant’s entire existence is summed up thusly: “The only thing he had ever done was accept meals regurgitated to him by his sister” — but, for the most part, “Trailhead” walks a fine line between an over-literal take on dirty realism, and a not-quite literary take on a middle-school biology text. Wilson is certainly a genius, and an ant expert — his 1991 book The Antswon the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction — but maybe the switch to fiction isn’t the best idea. However, he’s by no means the first writer to tackle animal POV in fiction. Here are some other examples, from 8 AD to the present day. … Read More