Iowa legislators target books and teachers for upcoming session

(Mon, 6 Dec 2021 10:51:35 -0600)

Two Iowa Republican leaders said they want to pursue legislation that makes it a felony offense for school officials, including teachers, to provide "obscene materials" to students.

Prior to November's school board elections, community members in Iowa and across the country were pushing schools to remove certain books from their shelves.

Iowa Senate President Jake Chapman (R-Adel) posted on Facebook last month that he's pursuing legislation that penalizes teachers and librarians for providing what he views as "obscene material" in schools.

The post follows a Johnston school district meeting he attended where a committee reviewed two controversial, award-winning books that deal with race: The Hate U Give, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, the Des Moines Register reports.

Alice Sebold apologizes to exonerated man who spent years in prison for her rape

(Wed, 1 Dec 2021 06:00:00 -0600)

Author Alice Sebold apologized to a man who last week was exonerated of her rape, a crime she wrote about in her memoir Lucky, but the writer also appeared to place as much blame on a "flawed legal system" as she did on the role she played in his conviction...

In Lucky, Sebold wrote that after she failed to identify Broadwater in a police lineup, "a detective and a prosecutor told her after the lineup that she picked out the wrong man and how the prosecutor deliberately coached her into rehabilitating her misidentification," according to the attorneys' affirmation that led to Broadwater's exoneration...

Her publisher Scribner, and its parent company, Simon & Schuster, will stop distributing the book in all formats "while Sebold and Scribner together consider how the work might be revised," said Brian Belfiglio, Scribner vice president of publicity and marketing, in a statement to CNN.

Costa Book Awards shortlists

(Wed, 24 Nov 2021 09:42:58 -0600)

Shortlists in five categories have been announced for the 2021 Costa Book Awards, recognizing some of the most enjoyable books published in the last year by authors living in the U.K. and Ireland. Category winners will be announced January 4, and the overall winner of the Costa Book of the Year will be named February 1.

NFT is Collins Dictionary's word of the year

(Wed, 24 Nov 2021 06:00:00 -0600)

In a year that has seen the musician Grimes sell a collection of digital artworks for almost $6m (£4.4m), and the original photo behind the 2005 Disaster Girl meme go for $473,000 (£354,000), Collins Dictionary has made NFT, the abbreviation for non-fungible token, its word of the year.

Award-winning American poet Robert Bly dies aged 94

(Tue, 23 Nov 2021 06:00:00 -0600)

The poet Robert Bly, who counted the National Book Award and the Poetry Society of America's Frost Medal among his many honours, has died. He was 94.

The Star Tribune newspaper, in his native Minnesota, said Bly died on Sunday. His daughter, Mary Bly, told the Associated Press that he died after suffering from dementia for 14 years.

"Dad had no pain," she said. "His whole family was around him, so how much better can you do?"

NPR books editor Petra Mayer has died

(Mon, 15 Nov 2021 12:03:48 -0600)

Petra Mayer, a beloved books editor on NPR's Culture desk, died on Saturday.

She died suddenly at Holy Cross Hospital in Maryland of what's believed to be a pulmonary embolism, said Nancy Barnes, NPR's senior vice president for news, in an email to staff.

"Petra was NPR through and through," Barnes wrote. "To say that Petra will be missed simply seems inadequate."

Bestselling novelist Wilbur Smith dies aged 88

(Sun, 14 Nov 2021 13:14:36 -0600)

Novelist Wilbur Smith died on November 13 aged 88, according to a statement from the author's official website:
"Global bestselling author Wilbur Smith died unexpectedly this afternoon at his Cape Town home after a morning of reading and writing with his wife Niso by his side," the statement said.

Movement builds on right to target books

(Thu, 11 Nov 2021 12:24:42 -0600)

...It's easy to caricature a particular movement with some of its most extreme promoters. And there is a demonstrated history of efforts to ban books in schools, including by liberals. Such efforts have often involved classics such as "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Of Mice and Men" for their depictions of race and use of racist language more commonly used at the time the books were written. More recently, conservatives have often challenged books teaching kids about LGBTQ issues.

But advocates say what's happening now is more pronounced.

"What has taken us aback this year is the intensity with which school libraries are under attack," said Nora Pelizzari, a spokeswoman at the National Coalition Against Censorship.

She added that the apparent coordination of the effort sets it apart: "Particularly when taken in concert with the legislative attempts to control school curricula, this feels like a more overarching attempt to purge schools of materials that people disagree with. It feels different than what we've seen in recent years." ...

Paul Newman will tell his own story, 14 years after his death

(Sun, 7 Nov 2021 12:24:19 -0600)

Decades ago, the actor and philanthropist Paul Newman, frustrated by all the unauthorized biographies and coverage of his life, recorded his own oral history, leaving behind transcripts that for years were forgotten in the basement laundry room of his house in Connecticut.

Now his family has decided to turn those transcripts into a memoir, which will be published by Knopf next fall.

"What he recorded, and in essence what he wrote, was so honest and revealing," said Peter Gethers, an editor-at-large at Knopf who will edit the book, which does not yet have a title. "It showed this extraordinary arc, a guy who was very, very flawed at the beginning of his life and as a young man, but who, as he got older, turned into the Paul Newman we want him to be."

Is Superman Circumcised? favorite to win Oddest book title of the year

(Fri, 5 Nov 2021 12:13:27 -0600)

Voting for the annual Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year is now open. The six contenders waiting for your vote are:
1. Curves for the Mathematically Curious
2. Handbook of Research on Health and Environmental Benefits of Camel Products
3. Hats: A Very Unnatural History
4. Is Superman Circumcised?
5. The Life Cycle of Russian Things: From Fish Guts to Fabergé
6. Miss, I Don't Give a Shit: Engaging with Challenging Behaviour in Schools

Vote here