Bookstore Frenzy and More Book Bans, Plus Snazzy Book Awards!

Bookstr News is back with another roundup of all the biggest news this week from the bookish world!

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It’s April already? Well, we’re not fooling around with the news this week. In case you aren’t familiar with Bookstr News, this is where we round up the latest news for you from the book world, and let me tell you, there’s always news to update you on. Let’s dive straight into it! 

Bookstores are really going through it right now…

Berkeley’s Eastwind Books to Close After 41 Years 

From fostering a safe space for the Asian-American community to being at the forefront of civil rights protests to uplifting underdog authors, Eastwind Books of Berkeley has been so much more than your local bookstore. Unfortunately, owners Harvey and Beatrice Dong will be shutting down the store at the end of this month for a variety of reasons

cr. Eastwind Books of Berkeley on YouTube

The couple is getting older, rent shot up steeply, online booksellers have been giving tough competition to local bookstores and no one stepped up in time to take over the bookstore. The decision was not an easy one, Harvey said speaking to Berkeleyside, but he’s glad the couple has fond memories to look back on. 

Both Harvey and Beatrice were active in civil rights protests throughout the 1960s and ‘70s, championing Asian-American and Black inclusivity in academia and beyond. Harvey’s efforts led to the creation of the Asian-American Studies Program at UC Berkeley, where Beatrice later took courses in the program. 

The store will permanently close on April 30 but will continue to sell some books online. 

FBI Spies on Chicago Bookstore for ‘Violent Extremism’

Yes, you read that headline correctly. The FBI has been spying on Pilsen Community Books in Chicago for a few months now, mostly because they think PCB houses “violent extremists.” This was news to the workers and owners at PCB, not only because they don’t harbor “anarchist violin extremists” but also because the FBI didn’t provide any tangible evidence for this claim. 

Image of bookshelves that are completely filled. There is a large Helvetica type A poster in the left hand side of the screen.

Image credit to Pilsen Community Books
cr. Pilsen Community Books

Mandy Medley, owner and worker at PCB, said her best guess for why the store caught the FBI’s attention was a sign-painting event at the store before a public demonstration against the Supreme Court’s Decision on abortion rights. 

Like Eastwind Books and elsewhere, bookstores have always been spaces for community gatherings and organization, which Medley emphasized: “is not illegal and should not be treated as such.” 

Read Bookstr’s full story on this here

Another dead author has her work edited 

Agatha Christie Books Are Latest to Get Sensitivity Edits 

After Roald Dahl and Ian Flemming, Agatha Christie is the latest deceased author whose works have been edited for the modern audience. Christie’s Poirot and Miss Marple mysteries written between 1920 and 1976 have been edited. Entire passages have been removed or reworked to omit discriminatory racial references. Some of the edited work is notably offensive, such as Christie’s depictions of Asian and Black people. 

Image of faded bookshelves with four Agatha Christie books juxtaposed on top. The books are The Mysterious Affair of Style, The Big Four, A Pocket Full of Rye, and Sleeping Murders

Image credit to Canva and Amazon
cr. Canva & Amazon

As with other books that received sensitivity edits, many readers consider these edits an erasure of history and a missed opportunity to educate people on past wrongdoings. On the flip side, Disney and Warner Bros. have added disclaimers to previously produced material that contains racist or offensive depictions instead of editing the material. 

Some of Christie’s work was considered offensive back in the 1940s when she wrote it, with many racial slurs being removed for publication in the U.S. The updated version of her books will be available soon or has already been made available. 

Another round of Book Ban vs Author 

Laurie Halse Anderson Speaks Out Against Book Ban

Trigger Warning: The information below contains mentions of sexual assault.

Author Laurie Halse Anderson has spoken out against a Pennsylvania school district for banning her books from school libraries, calling it an “educational malpractice.”

A newly passed policy at the Central Bucks School District aims to keep library books “age-appropriate” by prohibiting titles with written or visual sexual content, leading to the ban of more than 70 titles. 

“Our children are already hurt,” Laurie Halse Anderson said during a CBSD school board meeting.

“They need us to have the courage to talk about the hard things, to make a safe place for them to say what happened to them.”

Laurie Halse Anderson

Anderson’s book Shout is one of the books banned by CBSD. It is a memoir of her own experience of being sexually assaulted at the age of 13. It is a follow-up to her fictional novel Speak, which covers the same theme in a fictional sense. 

Many praised Anderson for speaking out against the book ban, while some parents in attendance argued that the ban was to protect students from “pornographic books” that may impact children’s mental health and therefore have no place in a library. 

‘This Book is Gay’ Author Speaks Out Against Book Ban

Juno Dawson, author of This Book is Gay, posted a heartfelt video on Instagram in response to being banned in an Iowa school district last month. Her book was also banned in Hillsborough County, Florida, and has been the ninth most banned book in the United States.

The book is a safe space for educating teenagers on LGBTQ+ experiences by answering questions surrounding sexuality, sex, and gender. As a former school teacher, Dawson acknowledged that teenagers had few resources to help answer their questions about the LGBTQ+ experience and that’s why she wrote her book. 

“What we’re seeing now is a very organized attack on books, because the far right is out of ideas,” Dawson said in her Instagram video. “Thank you to all the librarians and educators who are defending [the] freedom of speech.”

And now, the good news! 

‘Book Lovers’ is Being Adapted into a Feature Film

The #1 New York Times Bestseller Book Lovers, by Emily Henry, is being adapted into a feature film by production company Tango. The script will be written by Sarah Heyward. 

book cover of Book Lovers by Emily Henry, a book being adapted for screen by Tango productions.
cr. Amazon

The novel was published in 2022 and has already sold one million copies in the U.S. alone. It was named the Most Anticipated Book of 2022 by Oprah Daily and earned the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance. Henry’s other widely known bestseller is People We Meet on Vacation, which is also being adapted into a feature film. 

Heyward is best known for her work writing and producing HBO’s Emmy–winning Girls, for which she earned a WGA Award.

Upcoming ‘Hunger Games’ Movie Poster Revealed

If you’ve ever wanted a movie poster to frame in your house, this is the one. 

The movie poster for Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes was revealed by cast member Rachel Zegler, and oh my gosh is it stunning!

movie poster Hunger Games adapted from book
Image via Rachel Zegler/Twitter

Viola Davis Wins ‘AudioBook of the Year’ Award

The Audio Publishers Association named its 2023 Audie Award Winners last month. 

Viola Davis won ‘Audiobook of the Year’ for her book Finding Me, which was written and narrated by her and published by HarperAudio. 

Davis’ accolades and accomplishments are astounding. Earlier this year, she achieved EGOT status; she is one of the few performers to have won an Emmy Award, a Grammy Award, an Oscar, and a Tony. Some of her most memorable performances are in The Help, How to Get Away With Murder, and The Woman King

That’s a wrap on the news this week! Be sure to check out our full video on YouTube and you can find our previous episode here