Category: All Books

8 Really Strange Facts About Famous Authors

This may just be me, but when I read books I don’t usually dig deep into who the author is, like finding out their background or upbringing. But it is always fascinating to see who or what inspires great authors to write such profound pieces. So as I started to research some famous authors, I came across some odd facts about them; things I never would have expected to see. Often times, we think we know authors based on the literature they produce, but behind their names on the covers of their books lie some peculiar circumstances. These are some of the most interesting and/or unexpected ones I’ve come across!

 

1. Stephen King has triskaidekaphobia

 

king

Image Via Dread Central

 

The famed horror writer Stephen King has what is known as triskaidekaphobia, which is the irrational fear of number thirteen. In fact, he’s so terrified of it that he wouldn’t pause reading or writing if he’s on page thirteen or it’s multiples until he reaches a number deemed safe for him. Ironic, considering his fiction is known to consist of some horribly disturbing aspects, none of which are a mere number. “The number thirteen never fails to trace that old icy finger up and down my spine.” he said. “When I’m reading, I won’t stop on page 94, 193, or 382, since the sums of these three numbers add up to thirteen”.

 

2. J.R.R Tolkien loved pranks.

 

 

Image Via Time Magazine

The legendary author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy was known to be a ruthless prankster. He actually once dressed as an axe-wielding Anglo-Saxon warrior and chased his neighbor. Quite a disturbing sense of humor.

Also, J.R.R. Tolkien opposed holding Catholic mass in English, to the extent that whenever the priests spoke the liturgy in English, he would loudly respond in Latin.

 

3. Dan Brown was a pop singer. 

 

Image Via ARRP

 

The author known for writing the Da Vinci Code, used to be a pop singer. He had once written a song about phone sex.

 

4. Edgar Allan Poe… where do we even start?

 

Edgar Allan Poe

Image Via Britannica

Edgar Allan Poe, king of the mystery story was also a very disturbed and conspicuous man. As a matter of fact, Poe became assistant editor of The Southern Literary Messenger in August 1835, but he was fired only within a few weeks for being drunk on the job. He returned to his home of Baltimore, where he got a license to marry his first cousin Virginia on September 22nd, 1835. He was twenty-six years old at the time, while she was only thirteen. Also, no one knows how he died, but theories abound, including suicide, murder, cholera, hypoglycemia, rabies, syphilis, and the flu.

 

5. William S. Burroughs shot his wife. 

 

 

Burroughs, the author of Naked Lunch, shot his wife in the head during a drunken attempt at playing William Tell. He had also once chopped the top part of his finger to give to his ex-boyfriend, but he instead presented it to his psychiatrist. He was then admitted to a private clinic.

 

 

6. Charles Dickens spent a lot of time in morgues.

 

Image Via The British Library

Most famous for writing A Christmas CarolOliver Twist, and David Copperfield, among many others, Dickens was so intrigued by dead bodies that he would spend a lot of his time at the Paris Morgue.

 

7. Maya Angelou was the first black woman to work as a cable car conductor in San Francisco.

 

Maya Angelou

 

As a teenager, Maya Angelou won a scholarship to study dance and drama but dropped out for a time when she was sixteen to become a cable car conductor.  She told Oprah Winfrey that she “saw women on the street cars with their little changer belts. They had caps with bibs on them and form-fitting jackets. I loved their uniforms. I said that is the job I want.” She was the first black woman to hold the position. She also spoke six languages.

 

8. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle believed in fairies.

 

 

The legendary author of the Sherlock Holmes books was tricked by two young school girls into believing that fairies actually exist. I don’t think I need to explain how ironic this is. The Cottingley Fairies became famous, after the girls claimed to have taken photographs of themselves with fairies. Conan Doyle used the photos in an article about fairies for .The Strand Magazine. Doyle was very spiritual, and thought the photos to be undeniable evidence of the existence of fairies.

 

 

Featured Image Via The Times

Booze & Books(tr): Toasting the Anniversary of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’

This week, we celebrate the 59th publication anniversary of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, the treasured American classic that tackles racial injustice and intolerance.

 

Image via Amazon

 

The story has many moments to celebrate, many of which include the heroic Atticus Finch, who instantly became an American icon. Whether you’re re-reading the classic novel, checking out the graphic novel edition, or watching the beloved 1962 film adaptation starring Gregory Peck, here are some of Atticus Finch’s best moments to toast with your favorite drink.

 

Toast and drink when Atticus says:

 

 

1. “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

 

2. “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

 

3. “…Before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

 

4. “Are you proud of yourself tonight that you have insulted a total stranger whose circumstances you know nothing about?”

 

5. “This time we aren’t fighting the Yankees, we’re fighting our friends. But remember this, no matter how bitter things get, they’re still our friends and this is still our home.”

 

6. “You just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don’t you let ‘em get your goat. Try fighting with your head for a change.”

 

7. “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”

 

8. “Our courts have their faults as does any human institution, but in this country our courts are the great levelers, and in our courts all men are created equal.” 

 

 

 

Featured Image via Legacy

 

5 Fascinating Fantasy Novels Inspired by the Natural World

Nature has long inspired artists of all kinds, from Wordsworth, to Van Gogh, from O’Keeffe, to Miyazaki. Mother Nature has touched the lives of creatives in every field, so we’ve assembled a list of amazing fantasy novels that are inspired by the natural world.

Prophet of the termite god by Clark Thomas Carlton

 

Clark T. Carlton explores the intricate world of insects in his amazing fantasy series. The Prophet of the Termite God is the sequel to Prophets of the Ghost Ants, celebrated as “exciting, visionary” and “a tour de force” by Lawrence Bender, producer of Inglorious Basterds, Pulp Fiction, Good Willing Hunting and Al Gore’s climate change awareness documentary An Inconvenient Truth.  Carlton’s series is a thrilling look at the possibility of worlds within our world, and what nature is truly capable of, as well as a smashing feat of world building.

According to his FantasticFiction profile, Carlton was “inspired to begin writing the series during a trip to the Yucatan when he witnessed a battle for a Spanish peanut between two different kinds of ants. That night he dreamed of armies of tiny men on the backs of red and black ants. After doing years of research on insects and human social systems, Carlton says that “the plot was revealed to me like a streaming, technicolor prophecy on the sixth night of Burning Man when the effigy goes up in flames.”

Carlton’s latest novel tells the story of Pleckoo, once an outcast, who has risen to Prophet-Commander of the Hulkrish army.  But a million warriors and their ghost ants were not enough to defeat his cousin, Anand the Roach Boy, the tamer of night wasps and founder of Bee-Jor. Now Pleckoo is hunted by the army that once revered him. Yet in all his despair, Pleckoo receives prophecies from his termite god, assuring him he will kill Anand to rule the Sand, and establish the One True Religion. Can Anand, the roach boy who worked in the dung heap, rise above the turmoil, survive his assassins, and prevent the massacre of millions?

Follow Clarke T. Carlton on Twitter, and on his website!

The Prophet of the Termite God is published by Harper Voyager Impulse; Paperback; June 2019; $7.99 & e-book; $2.99).)

Check out more about him here!

Wonderblood by Julia Whicker

 

Images Via Goodreads

 

Julia Whicker’s debut novel imagines a post-apocalyptic America, in which a plague wiped out most of the population and laid waste to the land. The book is a timely warning of what could happen if society fails to acknowledge climate change.

Set five hundred years in the future, Wonderblood is Julia Whicker’s fascinating literary debut, set in a barren United States, an apocalyptic wasteland where warring factions compete for control of the land in strange and dangerous carnivals. A mad cow-like disease called “Bent Head” has killed off millions. Those who remain worship the ruins of NASA’s space shuttles, and Cape Canaveral is their Mecca. Medicine and science have been rejected in favour of magic, prophecy, and blood sacrifice.

When travelling marauders led by the blood-thirsty Mr. Capulatio invade her camp, a young girl named Aurora is taken captive as his bride and forced to join his band on their journey to Cape Canaveral. As war nears, she must decide if she is willing to become her captor’s queen. But then other queens emerge, some grotesque and others aggrieved, and not all are pleased with the girl’s ascent. Politics and survival are at the centre of this ravishing novel that will delight fans of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Jeff VanderMeer’s Acceptance.

 

The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer

 

Image Via Deskgram and Medium

 

Recently made into a blockbuster film starring Natalie Portman, Jeff VanderMeer’s epic trilogy explores a world reclaimed by nature. Dubbed ‘creepy and fascinating’ by none other than Stephen King, VanderMeer’s books are ‘shot through with echoes of Lovecraft, Orwell, and Kafka’ and are ‘compulsively readable’, according to Tina Jordan for Entertainment Weekly and are a brilliant examination of a world over which humans have no control.

 

Annihilation is the first volume in Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, Authority is the second, and Acceptance is the third.

Area X-a remote and lush terrain-has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.
This is the twelfth expedition.

Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.
They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers-they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding-but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything.

After the disastrous twelfth expedition chronicled in Annihilation, the Southern Reach-the secret agency that monitors these expeditions-is in disarray. In Authority, John Rodriguez, aka “Control,” is the team’s newly appointed head. From a series of interrogations, a cache of hidden notes, and hours of profoundly troubling video footage, the secrets of Area X begin to reveal themselves-and what they expose pushes Control to confront disturbing truths about both himself and the agency he’s promised to serve. And the consequences will spread much further than that.
It is winter in Area X in Acceptance. A new team embarks across the border on a mission to find a member of a previous expedition who may have been left behind. As they press deeper into the unknown-navigating new terrain and new challenges-the threat to the outside world becomes more daunting. The mysteries of Area X may have been solved, but their consequences and implications are no less profound-or terrifying.

 

MIDWORLD BY ALAN DEAN FOSTER

 

Image Via Goodreads and Barnes & Noble

 

Brian M. Stableford listed Midworld as a “notable example” of the “elaborate and ingenious” Earth-like worlds of late-20th-century sci-fi, and we agree! This novel explores a world inspired by our Earth’s (rapidly diminishing) jungles and follows its inhabitants as they face a threat greater than any they have ever known… Timely.

 

Born was a child of the rain forest that covered Midworld, part of the primitive society that the peaceful jungle planet had sustained for hundreds of years. He was wise in the ways of his world, and he knew well the precarious natural balance that governed all things.

Then one day the aliens came. Giants.  They knew nothing of the Upper or Lower Hell — and they cared less. Born had risked his life to save them, to guide them through the myriad tangled boughs, past unseen, unsuspected dangers lurking in the underbrush. But worse than their ignorance of how to survive, the aliens had plans for Midworld, plans that could utterly destroy the globe-spanning forest that his people called home.

As the days passed, Born realized his mistake. And as he had once hunted only to live, he knew now that he would be forced to live only to kill…

The Color of Distance by Amy Thomson

 

Images Via Goodreads and Amy Thompson WordPress

 

Another amazing book inspired by the idea of a post-apocalyptic Earth, Thomson’s novel is a classic of its genre, and a definite must-read for any sci-fi fans who love the world of nature too!

Juna is the sole survivor of a team of surveyors marooned in the dense and isolated Tendu rain forest, an uninhabitable world for humans. Her only hope for survival is total transformation–and terrifying assimilation–into the amphibian Tendu species. Juna will learn more about her own human nature than ever before.

5 of the Best Memoirs of the Past 5 Years

Memoirs are all about the personal. They allow writers an outlet to put their perspective — feelings and opinions and all — on the page. And readers are given the chance to personally connect with someone they relate to — or don’t relate to. Here are some of the best memoirs of recent years.

 

1. Heavy: An American Memoir  by Kiese Laymon, 2018

Via Amazon

 

Laymon’s Heavy is about many things. If it had to be placed in a nutshell, it would be: a black man confronts his childhood and coming of age by directly writing to his mother. Written in the second person, Laymon’s relationship with his mother — who raised him on her own — is at the core. But it is also about Laymon’s struggle with race, weight, early sexual abuse and gambling. It covers an expanse of weighty topics that are hard to read, but Laymon’s writing is not. It is poignant, striking and confident — it is impossible to look away from. 

 

2. Sex Object by Jessica Valenti, 2016

 

Via Wikipedia

 

Valenti has written five books on feminist theory, the first of which was published in 2008. But, in Sex Object, she turns the spotlight onto herself and writes about her own personal experiences as woman in society. The chapters chronicle street harassment, treatment from sexual partners and even Valenti’s very personal abortion story. Many of her experiences are easily recognizable by other women, a fact that Valenti is keenly aware of in her writing. She writes sharply and critically, but thoughtfully and carefully. She pushes away the absurdity of this treatment, but pulls the reader in. 

 

3. Boy Erased: A Memoir by Garrand Conley, 2016

 

Boy Erased

 

When Conley’s parents found out he was gay, they sent him to conversion therapy, a program called Love in Action. Grown up in Arkansas in a fundamentalist family meant Conley was already struggling to reconcile his faith with his sexuality. He wrote Boy Erased about his experiences at Love in Action and confronting his family about his faith and identity. Conley’s strong grasp on the trauma he experienced translates to a captivating account written in beautiful prose. It also gives an insider’s look into all angles of conversion therapy: the individuals sent there, the families who force it and the overarching damage it ultimately results in. Boy Erased was adapted into a film in 2018, with Joel Edgerton directing and Lucas Hedges playing Conley. 

 

4. The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae, 2016

 

Via Amazon

 

For a much more lighthearted memoir, look no further than Rae’s 2016 collection of personal essays. The Insecure creator and star writes a charming and compelling tell-all of her awkward coming of age. Rae narrates her experience as an introvert and a black girl and how the two made for a not so great combination. Rae’s voice is witty and wry, while her experiences are relatable and laugh out loud funny. All in all, Rae’s self-awareness and combined charisma make for an un-put-down-able reading experience. 

 

5. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein 

 

Via Amazon

Whether you know Brownstein from Portlandia or as the front woman of rock band Sleater Kinney, she wrote an entire memoir if you want to know her better. Her memoir, named after one of her lyrics, tracks her life centered around music. It chronicles her childhood and tumultuous family life to her eventual life as a woman in the rock music industry. Brownstein writes sharply and with purpose. Brownstein has a clear idea of her own identity and writes poignantly to show readers how she sees herself. Whether you had a perception of Brownstein prior to reading or not, you will have no choice by to see Brownstein — and her world — the way she herself does. 

 

Featured Images Via Amazon