Readersforum's Blog

May 29, 2014

Maya Angelou Dead at 86

mangelou_1_190x130_normal

By Dan Kedmey.

The celebrated poet, author and civil rights activist passed away on Wednesday in her North Carolina home

Maya Angelou, the acclaimed poet, author and civil rights icon who wrote lyrically of her childhood in the Jim Crow south, died Wednesday morning. She was 86, and her death was confirmed by a family representative and by officials at the Winston-Salem mayor’s office in North Carolina, where she had been living.

Angelou had been honored with more than 50 awards, including the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for her collected works of poetry, fiction and nonfiction, most notably her groundbreaking memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which made history as one of the first nonfiction best-sellers by an African-American woman.

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Masters and Spoon River

Edgar Lee Masters   (1869 - 1950)

Edgar Lee Masters (1869 – 1950)

By Steve King.

On this day in 1914 the first installment of Edgar Lee Masters’s Spoon River Anthology appeared, with the full 244 “epitaphs,” published in book form in 1916. Despite fears of a backlash due to his realistic and unflattering view of life in a Midwest village, the book was an instant hit, and the national praise so outdid the local anger that Masters was eventually able to give up legal practice and become a full time writer.

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April 23, 2014

10 Books for Twentysomethings

BellBy Robin Marantz Henig and Samantha Henig

In the new book Twentysomething: Why Do Young Adults Seem Stuck?, the mother-daughter team of Robin Marantz Henig and Samantha Henig explores the difficulties facing young people in today’s society–including identity exploration, instability, and self-focus. Do yourself a favor and pick up the book, as well as some of these 10 books, selected by the Henigs, which will help get the twentysomething in your life on the right track.

The most uplifting news we’ve read recently about Millennials, the one that counters all the negative stereotypes about them as lazy, entitled, narcissistic, and shallow, is that they love books. In fact, a survey reported last summer noted that Millennials buy more books than Baby Boomers (30% of total sales for Millennials versus 24% for Boomers). The future of civilization is assured.

And in their typically self-obsessed way — one generalization that’s probably true, because it’s developmentally appropriate to spend time thinking about yourself at a stage in life when your main task is figuring yourself out — Millennials are probably buying books about other twentysomethings, the more disaffected the better. If they’re not, they should be, because what better way to get through a period of uncertainty and shifting enthusiasms than to read great literature about characters doing pretty much the same thing? Here are 10 of our favorites.

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Five perfect books for men who never read

RoadJust under a third of the male population don’t read books, says a Reading Agency survey. Here are five man-friendly page-turners they might enjoy anyway.

By

Nearly 30% of men have not read a book since school, according to a survey commissioned for World Book Night, an annual event that hopes to change their ways. The reasons men don’t read are varied, but “not really wanting to” seems to be the main one. However, if you are a man – or know one – who might agree to try just one book for the hell of it, these are my guaranteed-no-regrets recommendations.

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Nadine Gordimer: The Great Post-Mandela Disillusion

No TimeBy Michael Skafidas

Nadine Gordimer, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991, is the leading lady of letters in South Africa. Through her fiction and non-fiction writings she has captured the despair and the triumph of a country that went all the way from the ignominy of apartheid to the heights of Nelson Mandela’s presidency.

In this conversation, Gordimer speaks with Michael Skafidas for the WorldPost about the disillusion of post-Mandela South Africa, her distrust of the digital era and her decision to retire from writing fiction.

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The Underrated, Universal Appeal of Science Fiction

Chris BeckettWhy do so many readers still look down on the genre of Orwell and Atwood?

By Chris Beckett

When I’m introduced to someone as a writer, a now familiar pattern of events often follows.

“Oh, really! How interesting!” the someone—let’s call her Jane—says, sounding quite enthusiastic. “What do you write?”

“Science fiction,” I say.

Jane instantly glazes over. “I’m afraid I never read science fiction.”

In other instances, people who know me have read a book of mine out of curiosity and then told me, in some surprise, that they liked it—“even though I don’t normally like science fiction.” Indeed, when a short story collection of mine won a non-genre prize, it was apparently a surprise to the judges themselves: According to the chair of the judging panel, “none of [them] knew they were science-fiction fans beforehand.”

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Shakespeare, Cervantes & World Book Day

 

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

By Steve King

 

On this day in 1616 both William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes died, and this is also the generally accepted day of Shakespeare’s birth in 1564. This alignment of the literary stars requires some calendar juggling – a mathematical adjustment to bring Spain’s Gregorian calendar in line with Elizabethan England’s Julian calendar – but it has prompted UNESCO to declare today “World Book and Copyright Day.”

 

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April 18, 2014

Gabriel García Márquez, Conjurer of Literary Magic, Dies at 87

Gabriel García Márquez, the Colombian novelist whose “One Hundred Years of Solitude” established him as a giant of 20th-century literature, died on Thursday at his home in Mexico City. He was 87.

Cristóbal Pera, his former editor at Random House, confirmed the death. Mr. García Márquez learned he had lymphatic cancer in 1999, and a brother said in 2012 that he had developed senile dementia.

Mr. García Márquez, who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, wrote fiction rooted in a mythical Latin American landscape of his own creation, but his appeal was universal. His books were translated into dozens of languages. He was among a select roster of canonical writers — Dickens, Tolstoy and Hemingway among them — who were embraced both by critics and by a mass audience.

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Chaucer’s Pilgrims

Filed under: Today in Literature — Tags: , , , — Henry Greeff @ 5:22 am

 

Geoffrey Chaucer    (? - 1400)

Geoffrey Chaucer
(? – 1400)

By Steve King

On this day (or possibly the next) in 1394, Geoffrey Chaucer’s twenty-nine pilgrims met at the Tabard Inn in Southwark to prepare for their departure to Canterbury. Chaucer’s intention was to have his pilgrims arrive on Easter morning, after a fifty-five-mile hike through a pleasant English springtime; the pilgrims never made it, though the poetry endures.

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April 15, 2014

American Library Association releases its 10 most challenged books of 2013

BraveAs a fresh controversy arises in Delaware over whether parents should censor school reading lists, Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series tops the list of books which received the most complaints.

By Alison Flood.

As debate rages in Delaware over whether parents should be able to screen school reading lists for “obscene content”, the latest list of the books most frequently challenged in US libraries shows it is not only classics that are being challenged.

Books from Fifty Shades of Grey to The Hunger Games have all drawn protests over the last year, with librarians reporting over 300 requests to remove books from shelves or exclude them from school curriculums.

According to local press, a board meeting in the Cape Henlopen school district in Delaware grew heated when two board members started speaking out against Aldous Huxley’s dystopian classic, Brave New World, and calling for parents to be warned before children begin studying it.

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