Good news for bibliophiles: not only have print books pulled through the digital revolution, traditional books remain the bread and butter of Americans’ reading habits.
Some 28 percent of adults read an e-book in the past year, up 23 percent from 2012, according to the Pew report. But that didn’t cut into print books: 69 percent of adults read a print book in the past year, up four percentage points from 2012.
“Though e-books are rising in popularity, print remains the foundation of Americans’ reading habits,” the report concluded. “Most people who read e-books also read print books, and just 4 percent of readers are ‘e-book only.’”
E-readers are continuing to grow in popularity, however, Some 42 percent of adults now own tablet computers, up from 34 percent in September 2013.
That rise may be contributing to an overall growth in reading. Some 76 percent of adults read a book in some format over the previous year, up slightly from the same period in 2012.
How many books does the average American read or listen to? According to the survey, the “typical American adult” read or listened to five books in the past year, and the average for all adults was 12 books.
And when it comes to format, readers have become less discriminating, reading across multiple formats that include print, e-book, and audiobook, with significant overlap.
Some 87 percent of those who read e-books also read a print book and 29 percent additionally listened to an audiobook. By contrast, some 35 percent of print book readers also read an e-book and 17 percent listened to an audiobook.
Although it’s not likely to get as much attention as the Oscar race or the Golden Globes, the Library of America has just celebrated an awards event of its own that might attract a little applause from readers.
We’re talking about the LOA’s Top 10 List of the most popular “Stories of the Week” from 2013, its recap of the superstars in its regular online feature for the publisher’s fan base.
Founded in 1979, the Library of America is a nonprofit publisher that produces definitive editions of the works of the nation’s classic writers. Its signature product line – elegant, hand-stitched volumes covered in distinctive, black-and-white dust jackets – has become a fixture of literary class.
In its more than three decades of operation, LOA has published landmark anthologies of literary luminaries as varied as Mark Twain, Ring Lardner, and James Baldwin – in short, the pantheon of American literature.
But in recent years, LOA has been making a special effort to broaden its audience of readers with an aggressive online outreach. That effort includes “Story of the Week,” a free feature in which e-mail subscribers sample a story or essay from an LOA author every seven days.
Recently, LOA released its most popular “Story of the Week” features from the past 12 months, and an eclectic list it is.
Among the honorees are Kate Chopin, whose short story “Athenaise” chronicles a newly married woman who seeks her brother’s help in escaping her unhappy union; Eudora Welty’s “Petrified Man,” a darkly comic tale involving a traveling sideshow; and “Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln,” in which Frederick Douglass recalls the Great Emancipator.
The No. 1 “Story of the Week” for 2013 was “John Inglefield’s Thanksgiving,” a curious holiday narrative by Nathaniel Hawthorne in which an unexpected guest brings a few surprises to the household of a village blacksmith.
Readers can check out a complete list of LOA’s Top 10 “Stories of the Week” here.
Readers can subscribe to “Story of the Week” here.
Danny Heitman, a columnist for The Advocate newspaper in Louisiana, is the author of “A Summer of Birds: John James Audubon at Oakley House.”
New actors including “Jurassic Park” actor Jeff Goldblum, "The Big C" actor Oliver Platt, and Aubrey Plaza of the TV series “Parks and Recreation” have been added to the film adaptation of Kyril Bonfiglioli’s “Mortdecai” series, according to Deadline.
The “Mortdecai” books, which were originally released in the 1970s, center on art dealer Charlie Mortdecai and his adventures with his servant, Jock, which include entanglements with the police, art theft, and more. The series consists of the novels “Don’t Point That Thing At Me,” “After You with the Pistol,” and “Something Nasty in the Woodshed.”
It had already been announced that actors Johnny Depp (who is reportedly starring as Charlie), Ewan McGregor, and Gwyneth Paltrow were on board for the project. According to the website IndieWire, actors Olivia Munn of “The Newsroom” and Paul Bettany of “Margin Call” have also signed on for the project.
Besides the original three books, the novel “The Great Mustache Mystery,” which was started by Bonfiglioli, was completed by writer Craig Brown and released in 1999.
McGregor recently appeared in another literary adaptation, this year’s film “August: Osage County,” which was based on the play of the same name by Tracy Letts. Meanwhile, Depp is reportedly starring in the film “Alice in Wonderland 2,” based on author Lewis Carroll’s work, and has long been rumored to be involved with a remake of the “Thin Man” films, which were based on the short stories by Dashiell Hammett and which originally starred actors William Powell and Myrna Loy.
Mantel, who is best known for her series set in Tudor England which includes the novels “Wolf Hall” and “Bring Up the Bodies,” will reportedly release a short story collection titled “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher” in September.
“Where her last two novels explore how modern England was forged, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher shows us the country we have become,” Mantel’s editor Nicholas Pearson told the Guardian. “These stories are Mantel at her observant best.”
According to the Telegraph, the collection will consist of 10 short works set in the modern day and Thatcher is a character in "Assassination."
Mantel is a two-time winner of the Man Booker Prize, the first female and British author to win the award twice. Adaptations of her novels “Wolf” and “Bodies” are currently being performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company.
When she won the Man Booker Prize for "Bodies," Reuters reported the third book in her planned Tudor trilogy, titled "The Mirror and the Light," would most likely be released in 2015. But now the Guardian is reporting "fans must wait" for the new book – no word on whether there's a new release date. Mantel told the Guardian she plans to finish "Mirror" this year.
New releases of old classics have been scheduled for publication in the following months, featuring popular names like Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbø and actor Dan Stevens (“Downton Abbey”).
Jo Nesbø, author of the Harry Hole thrillers, will write a new version of “Macbeth” for Hogarth Shakespeare. The series will feature "prose retellings" of Shakespeare plays for 21st-century readers by writers such as Margaret Atwood (“The Tempest”), Jeanette Winterson (“The Winter’s Tale”), Anne Tyler (“The Taming of the Shrew”), and Howard Jacobson (“The Merchant of Venice”).
“‘Macbeth’ is a story that is close to my heart because it tackles topics I’ve been dealing with since I started writing." Nesbø said. "A main character who has the moral code and the corrupted mind, the personal strength and the emotional weakness, the ambition and the doubts to go either way. A thriller about the struggle for power, set both in a gloomy, stormy crime noir-like setting and in a dark, paranoid human mind. No, it does not feel too far from home.”
Nesbø said of 'Macbeth,' "Yes, it is a great story. And, no, I will not attempt to do justice to William Shakespeare, nor the story. I will simply take what I find of use and write my own story. And, yes, I will have the nerve to call it 'Macbeth.'"
Deputy publishing director at Chatto & Windus/Hogarth Becky Hardie told the Guardian, "from the very start we wanted The Hogarth Shakespeare to surprise and excite readers of all kinds from all over the world. [...] Having an international thriller writer of Jo Nesbø's stature and popularity on board is the perfect realisation of that wish."
“Downton Abbey” star Dan Stevens has also taken part in a project that intends to popularize the classics. He recently narrated new audiobook productions of the 1960s Robert Fitzgerald’s translations of “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” for Macmillan audio, which are set for release in August.
The Hogarth Shakespeare adaptations will be released in 2016, to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
The Oscar nominations for this year included movies that have been frontrunners throughout the season (“12 Years a Slave,” “Gravity”) as well as some films that snuck in despite pundits believing they had less of a chance to make it (“The Wolf of Wall Street,” “August: Osage County”).
And as has been the case in recent years, many of the movies that received the nods are based on literary works of some kind.
In the Best Picture field, one of the leading contenders for the prize, “12 Years a Slave,” is based on the 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup, who is played by Best Actor nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor. Meanwhile, the movie “Philomena” is drawn from the book "The Lost Child of Philomena Lee" by journalist Martin Sixsmith, portrayed by actor Steve Coogan in the film. “The Wolf of Wall Street” used as its source material two memoirs – "The Wolf of Wall Street" and "Catching the Wolf of Wall Street" – both written by Jordan Belfort, the movie’s protagonist. In addition, the movie “Captain Phillips” is based on the book “A Captain’s Duty,” which is a memoir written by the movie’s main character Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks).
“12 Years a Slave” also received nominations for Best Director for Steve McQueen, Best Supporting Actor for Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o for Best Supporting Actress, and for Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Production Design, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
“Philomena” got nods for Best Actress for Judi Dench, Best Original Score, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
“Wolf of Wall Street” snagged nods for Best Director for Martin Scorsese, Best Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio, Best Supporting Actor for Jonah Hill, and Best Adapted Screenplay. “Phillips” received a nomination for Best Supporting Actor for Barkhad Abdi as well as nominations for Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
The film “August: Osage County,” for which Meryl Streep received a Best Actress nomination and actress Julia Roberts received a Best Supporting Actress nod, is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name by Tracy Letts.
Best Animated Feature nominees “Ernest & Celestine,” “Frozen,” and “The Wind Rises” also all have literary roots. “Ernest” takes its source material from various books for children written by author and artist Gabrielle Vincent, while “Frozen” is based on the Hans Christian Andersen legend “The Snow Queen.” The film “Wind” is based on the movie’s director Hayao Miyazaki’s manga, which he was inspired to create after reading the book “The Wind Has Risen” by Tatsuo Hori.
The movie “The Great Gatsby,” based on author F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic of the same name, was nominated for Best Costume Design (and also for Best Production Design), as was the film “The Invisible Woman,” which used the Charles Dickens biography of the same name by Claire Tomalin as its source.
The film “The Book Thief,” which is based on the novel of the same name by Markus Zusak, received a nod for Best Original Score. Meanwhile, the song “Alone Yet Not Alone” from the movie of the same name was nominated for Best Original Song. “Alone” is based on the book of the same title by author Tracy Leininger Craven. “Let It Go” from Frozen received a nomination for Best Original Song as well.
Best Animated Short Film nominee “Room on the Broom” is based on the children’s book of the same name by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler and Best Live Action Short Film nominee “The Voorman Problem” is based on the David Mitchell book “number9dream.”
Best Sound Editing nominees “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” and “Lone Survivor” both have literary roots as well – “Hobbit” is based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien and “Survivor” is based on the book of the same name by Marcus Luttrell.
Best Visual Effects nominee “Iron Man 3” is based on the comic book character created by Stan Lee.
Patrick Carman's 'Half Nelson' proposal: for each Amazon purchase, buy a book at an independent bookstore
Author Patrick Carman knows Amazon can be convenient.
And so Carman, the author of the “39 Clues” series for children, is proposing a compromise between the online behemoth and local indie bookstores.
Carman wrote on his Facebook page that his idea was inspired by the recent closing of Mrs. Nelson’s Toy & Book Shop in California.
“Like most people, there are things I love about Amazon,” he wrote. “It's cheap, it's fast, and it's at my doorstep. But Amazon will never replace the important role my local indie plays in my community.”
So the author has put forward the “Half Nelson” idea. If you buy a book from Amazon, just be sure to purchase one from your nearest indie location, too.
“I will continue to enjoy the cheap, fast, at my doorstep service Amazon provides – a whole 50% of the time!” Carman wrote. “And I will enjoy wandering the [a]isles of my local bookstore and supporting their important work in my community the other 50% of the time.”
Some left supportive comments on Carman’s Facebook page, stating they would give the compromise a try.
“This is a great idea, Patrick, and a good way to raise awareness of what's been going on with independent bookstores,” user Andy Nelson, son of the Mrs. Nelson’s owner, wrote. “Unfortunately, it's too late for Mrs. Nelson's (my mom's store), but other stores still need the help.”
Bestselling author Michael Lewis will release a new book this March that centers on Wall Street.
“Michael is brilliant at finding the perfect narrative line for any subject,” Lewis’s editor Starling Lawrence said in a statement. “That’s what makes his books, no matter the topic, so indelibly memorable.”
The new work will be titled “Flash Boys” and will be published by W.W. Norton & Company.
“The book gives readers a ringside seat as the biggest new story in years prepares to hit Wall Street,” W.W. Norton & Company said in a statement.
“Flash” will hit shelves on March 31.
King’s Landing – the capital city created by author George R.R. Martin as the center point of his "Game of Thrones" series – will briefly become a reality.
To celebrate the release of season three of HBO's adaptation of "Game of Thrones" on DVD, the British town of Kings Langley will change its name to King’s Landing for a week of February, according to the Independent. The two main signs reading “Kings Langley” in the town will both be changed for the week.
The DVD of the latest season of the TV show is being released on Feb. 18. King’s Landing is the capital city of Westeros, the fictional country where “Game of Thrones” is based.
According to RadioTimes, the idea came about after a “Game of Thrones” producer was waiting for a train and heard the name of the town announced as a stop.
“This re-naming is a great opportunity to put Kings Langley and Dacorum on the map,” parish and borough councilor Alan Anderson, who also worked on the idea, told Hemel Today.
The town is urging businesses to create special promotions for the week as well.
The fourth season of HBO's “Game of Thrones” will premiere on April 6.
A very small painting of roughly 9 x 13 inches has been drawing crowds to the Frick Collection in New York. The painting everyone wants to see? Carel Fabritius’s 1654 “The Goldfinch,” the portrait of a little European songbird perched on its feed box. The painting appears on the cover of Donna Tartt’s new novel of the same name. In the book, 13-year-old protagonist Theo Decker steals “The Goldfinch” from the Metropolitan Museum of Art after falling victim to a terrorist bomb attack inside the museum.
The painting is part of the traveling exhibition "Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Painting from the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis" in The Hague. The show opened on October 22, 2013, the same day the novel was released, but neither the author nor the museum knew about the overlap beforehand. The exhibition will close on January 19.
Initially, the museum had predicted that the highlight of the exhibition was going to be Johannes Vermeer’s “The Girl with a Pearl Earring,” which has been made famous by a book of its own. Art critic Deborah Solomon told WNYC that besides inspiring Tartt, Fabritius’s “The Goldfinch” also inspired Vermeer when he was painting his masterpiece. "I love that the novel is drawing so much attention to this most worthy, but unassuming and humble, masterpiece," Solomon said.
Theo Decker says about Fabritius’s “The Goldfinch,” “When I looked at the painting I felt the same convergence on a single point: a glancing sun-struck instance that existed now and forever. Only occasionally did I notice the chain on the finch's ankle, or think what a cruel life for a little living creature – fluttering briefly, forced always to land in the same hopeless place.”
The museum expects the show to have more than 200,000 visitors. It's an impressive turnout at a museum where the annual attendance normally falls somewhere between 275,000 to 300,000.