Friday, August 12, 2011

Book News: London Riot Books, Facebook 'Hates' Reading, The Help in Theaters, and Tons of Fun Tidbits

Bookstore window broken in London riots, via Reuters
Other than the economic crisis plaguing our country, the most newsworthy event from the past week is undoubtedly the riots in London. British bookseller Simon Armstrong posted a list of five books that help explain why these riots occurred. Of course, the news tells us that the rioting happened in the wake of a citizen death at the hands of police officers -- a single event that incited the people.

Armstrong's take on the situation, via carefully chosen books, is that "there have been many warnings in literature by writers and thinkers who have been aware of, and to some extent predicted, the likelihood of the events of the past few days." He goes on to say that "all the ingredients that have coalesced to become an insurrection have clearly been fermenting in policy and society for decades," as evidenced by these books:

This week the reading community was up in arms over a reddit post that showed an image from one of those ubiquitous Facebook pages people create and then 'like' -- by the hundreds of thousands. This particular one was titled "I Hate Reading," and it has been 'liked' by almost half a million people:

Let's hope lots of schoolkids clicked to look cool, and this isn't really an accurate measure of how our country feels about literature. Galleycat discussed other FB pages with similar anti-book themes. As a middle school reading teacher and lifelong book lover, this makes my heart hurt! Surely all those people don't dislike reading that much... do they?

In film adaptation book news, the movie version of Kathryn Stockett's novel The Help debuted in theaters this week -- on Wednesday to be exact. Why Wednesday? Perhaps to beat the weekend crowd and increase this week's box office numbers? I have heard only good things so far. I can't imagine it will be anything less than stellar, although I haven't had a chance to watch it yet. I loved the audio version of this book, and one of the voice actors plays in the film. What do you think? Have you seen it? Will you?

Although The Help has been a commercial success, both the novel and the film have their fair share of critics. A piece in The Atlantic this week denounced the film as "downplay[ing] the ugliness of Jim Crow and fixat[ing] on the goodness of its white protagonist." I must disagree. Although it may be done in a "feel-good" manner (according to the article's author), I think Stockett's novel highlights just how wrong Jim Crow laws were, how pervasive they were in the south, and the fact that not everyone agreed with them. Did you feel the film or book was somehow less than honest, or that it glossed over serious issues?

Chocolate & fruit leather books
If you're looking for something fun to make (and eat) for your next book club meeting, look no further than the Hungry Happenings blog. Books made of fruit leather and chocolate! Be still my heart. These little treats couldn't be cuter. I even pinned them on Pinterest! (I saw this first on Galleycat, and they got it from @HuffPost Books.)

In more fun books news (and who doesn't like fun news?!), YouTube user The Station released a video clip of what Twilight would look like as a video game -- if it had been published in the 1980s. It would have been an 8-bit Nintendo game, a la Zelda, right? Even non-Twilight fans can appreciate the extreme fun-ness that is this video:

In one last piece of (slightly) fluffy book news, Entertainment Weekly's Shelf Life blog announced that Bravo's Andy Cohen will release a memoir next summer. As I'm a sucker for a celebrity memoir, I'm sure I'll be reading it. After all, I am kind of a gigantic Real Housewives fan -- and as I'm sure you are all aware, he's the mastermind behind the series (not to mention the host of each season's cat-fight-fest of a wrap-up show).

#undateableinlit Tweet from @ChiefAaron
Although I'm a week or so behind, I love to share fabulous literary Twitter hashtags when they occur. Last week I brought you news of the #bookswithalettermissing hashtag. This week, a link to @RandomHouse's hashtag of the moment: #undateableinlit, in which Twitter users everywhere listed their favorite undateable literary characters. Fun browsing, and you can add your own! It's even spawned a quiz that tests your literary knowledge, using clues from the Tweets.

I've been busy this week getting ready for school, which starts Monday! My classroom library almost doubled, as I inherited books from a colleague who moved this summer. I've been trying to think of a better system to use for lending books to my students, and Knock Knock's Personal Library Kit (via Galleycat) might be just the thing. Isn't it adorable? I've also been thinking about using the "scan book" option on my Samsung Galaxy tablet to catalogue the books into a "Classroom Books" shelf on Goodreads. What do you think? A true reflection of my over-the-top OCD?

I finished only one book this week, Lisa Gardner's Love You More on audio (and I had been listening to it for almost a month, so I'm not sure that counts). I am still reading Tracy Ann Lord's Good Catch. It's nice, light entertaining reading after working each day on my classroom and then my house (trying to get it in order before next week!). I'm currently listening to Mary Kay Andrews' latest novel Summer Rental on audio, and it is absolutely as delightful as the rest of her books. Have a fabulous weekend, and happy reading!


  1. About the "I Hate Reading" group on facebook......I definitely think that many teens say they hate reading because of the reading that is required in school. Let's face it, most high-school textbooks are very boring! And then teachers pick out literature, so girls end up reading Lord of the Flies and boys have to read Little Women! I have always made it a point to search out books about subjects my kids were interested in. And though they are in high school and college now and usually have time for only required reading, they both do enjoy a good book when they have the time to spare!
    Oh, and I can't wait to see The Help! I loved the book...and I thought it honest. What it showed was that some people are good and some are matter the skin color! I do expect to not like the movie as well as the book...
    My only exception to the "book is always better" rule has been Water for Elephants...I actually liked the movie better because it wasn't as crude as the book. Although I suppose the book was truer to the reality of the filth of a traveling circus in the 1930's, I think seeing some of that stuff on the big screen would have made me feel sick!!

  2. I agree about the required reading -- even I (an English major) hated much of what was required in class. Last year, when we read The Hunger Games, I finally saw my students love a book (both boys & girls).

    I still haven't seen Water for Elephants, but I LOVED the book, so I need to see it asap!



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