Category: Book Culture

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L.A. Times Book Prize Finalists Include Michelle Obama, Tara Westover

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is the largest literary gathering in the country, attracting over 150,000 people to a massive celebration of culture. Categories include First Fiction, Current Interest, Biography, Fiction, Poetry, Graphic Novel, Thriller, History, Science & Technology, and Young Adult Literature. This year, the nominations are as exciting as they are nerve-wracking—not all of them can win! Here’s the conundrum: they all deserve the prize. Don’t believe it? Let’s take a look at some of our most distinguished nominees.

 

Michelle Obama with book 'Becoming'

Image Via The Chicago Tribune

 

Michelle Obama’s Becoming has already become a staggering success. Penguin Random House paid over $65 million for the rights to Michelle and Barack’s autobiographies, making it one of the most expensive book deals of all time. This figure is also unprecedented among other presidential figures: Bill Clinton earned an advance of $15 million for his own autobiography, which, as you might have noticed, is less than half of that sixty-five. Critics have called Barack Obama “that rare politician who can actually write,” and The New York Times reviewed Dreams From My Father as a literary masterpiece rather than another ghostwritten memoir. But Michelle isn’t doing so bad—Becoming sold a record-breaking two million copies in only fifteen days, and it went on to become the best-selling book of 2018. (And yes, Barack put his wife’s book on his famous reading list.)

Other titles in the category include Michael Lewis’ incisive The Fifth Risk, which critically examines the Trump administration. Given increased visibility regarding issues of immigration, human rights, and the possible border wall, Francisco Cantú’s The Line Becomes a River is also a timely inclusion.

 

Michael Lewis' 'The Fifth Risk'

Image Via The International Anthony Burgess Foundation

 

Though Becoming is a memoir, judges have classified it within the Current Interest category—which means, fortunately, that it isn’t competing against Tara Westover’s Educated, a memoir of triumph, persistence, fanaticism, and violence that earned the world’s attention in 2018. USA Today called it the best memoir in years, and with good reason: it’s been a finalist for just about everything. (Of course, it was also on Barack Obama’s reading list.) The memoir chronicles Tara Westover’s journey from beneath Buck’s Peak, the mountain that looms in her childhood as enormous as the influence of her father’s survivalist views. By the age of seventeen, Westover had never seen a doctor nor set foot in a classroom—in fact, until her teenage years, there was no record of her birth at all. Westover has since received a PhD from Cambridge. While there are other books in this category, this is certainly a contender.

 

Tara Westover with memoir, 'Educated'

Image Via Bustle

 

Other titles in the running for various L.A. Times prizes carry serious weight—Elizabeth Acevedo’s YA novel The Poet X is up for a prize after having won the National Book Award. Acevedo’s diverse novel explores poetry as means for personal freedom in an immigrant community with traditional (read: sexist) values. Particularly interesting nominations in other categories include Science & Technology’s Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy, a notable book in the wake of the opioid epidemic.

 

Elizabeth Acevedo with novel, 'The Poet X'

Image Via Medium

 

Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage: A Novel, a nomination for the Fiction category, was among Oprah’s 2018 book club picks and also featured on Barack Obama’s 2018 reading list. Of course, it has some fierce competition: Rebecca Makkai’s The Great Believers, an evocative depiction of the AIDS crisis, is also in the running. Renowned comedian Amy Poehler is currently optioning the novel for a TV adaptation—if that’s not good enough, it’s also one of the NYT‘s top ten books for 2018.

 

'An American Marriage' by Tayari Jones and 'The Great Believers' by Rebecca Makkai

Image Via Entertainment Weekly

 

There are too many excellent titles to list: with ten categories and five nominees in each, you could finish reading one by the time we described them all. Take a look at the 2019 finalists, and decide which one would be a winner on your bookshelf.

 

Featured Image Via The L.A. Times

Bill Gates Praises This Finance Book as “Thrilling”

When the founder of Microsoft recommends a book, it is likely a good idea to add it to your ever growing wish list.

CNBC reports that billionaire, not-quite-playboy, philanthropist Bill Gates was hosted for a CNN interview and recommended Billion Dollar Whale, by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope.

“It’s a sad story of corruption in international finance, but fascinating. As Bad Blood is to biotech, Billion Dollar Whale is to international finance,” Gates explains.

 

Billion Dollar Whale by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope

Image via Amazon

John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood documents the rise and fall of Theranos, a blood-testing start-up valued at $9-billion before being exposed for fraud. Billion Dollar Whale follows Malaysian businessman Jho Low, the mastermind behind the 1Malaysia Development Berhad Scandal involving a complex web of illegitimate offshore companies, A-list celebrities, the Middle East, and Wall Street. He is now on the run.

“Not as profound as [Steven] Pinker, [Paul] Scharre, [Hans] Rosling,” Gates adds, “But a wonderful read, very quick, thrilling.”

Gates has previously recommended books that are known to be comparably more hopeful and enlightening. His latest book recommendation is something of a cautionary tale worth heeding.

Fun fact: Low used some of the money to finance The Wolf of Wall Street.

 

 

 

Featured Image via CNBC

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Check out the contest here:
Follow Us on IG for a Chance to Win 10 Free Books Plus Beautiful Tote Bag! (Contest on Hive.co)

 

Still need to be convinced? Check out these amazing, unique posts created by the Bookstr team:

 

 

 

 

 

 

'Lord of the Rings' Middle Earth Illustration

There’s a New University Just For Sci-Fi & Fantasy Studies

Students no longer have to travel to a galaxy far, far away to learn all there is to know about science-fiction literature. Instead, they can do it from the comfort of their living room (more specifically, the comfort of their pajamas). Newly-accredited Signum University isn’t just an online college: it’s a university entirely dedicated to the study of genre fiction from a literary, historical, and philosophical perspective. Talk about the ultimate fantasy—which, of course, is also a subject. So, congratulations, genre nerds! (Of course, I say that with the utmost affection.) You can now put “majored in Tolkien” in your Tinder bio and mean it.

 

Signum University

Signum University

Yes, Signum University’s logo looks like it should be adorning the cover of a Hunger Games novel. Signum University’s specializations include Tolkien Studies; Imaginative Literature; Classic, Medieval, and Renaissance Literature; and Germanic Philology (the study of Germanic languages). Each of these programs falls under the M.A. in Language & Literature, an accredited program of graduate study. While the degree takes two to seven years to complete depending on the number of credits per semester—which can vary due to work or financial reasons-students are welcome to audit single classes for drastically reduced costs. You may not be able to major in Star Wars, but you can take an academic course on it.

 

'Star Wars' characters

Image Via Time Magazine

Other courses of note include Sherlock, Science, and Ratiocination; Literary Copernicus: The Cosmic Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft; The Potter Saga; and Tolkien’s World of Middle-earth. Though degree credits are more expensive, individual, twelve-week courses can cost as little as $95—for some, that’s a small price to pay for a world of information (or several, as the case may be). Cory Olsen, the university’s founder, said that the ideal students are working professionals who want to take the courses for “personal enrichment.” That enrichment, it seems, isn’t about getting rich—there probably aren’t a lot of entry-level jobs in Tolkien Studies. But you can study the Harry Potter franchise and make your coursework magical.

 

Signum University course catalogue

Image Via Signum University

 

The university’s New Hampshire accreditation is its first step to national official recognition, which would allow the institution to begin conferring master’s degrees nationwide. Let’s hope this degree program also moves out of this country—that would only make sense when it’s already out of this world!

 

Featured Image Via Financial Times

Two New Books to Accompany Gaiman’s ‘Good Omens’

We already know that Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s novel Good Omens has been adapted into a show for Amazon Prime, but did you know there are two new books in the works as well?

Neil Gaiman is a literary superstar, writing novels like American Gods and The Ocean at the End of the Lane (both of which I can vouch for—they’re GOOD). If you haven’t read his work, you have to check it out! 

Good Omens promo

IMAGE VIA EPSILON THEORY

Gaiman’s fans love him for the colorful, imaginative worlds he creates, an aspect of his writing which adapts exceptionally well to the small screen, as we’ve seen with the likes of American Gods which was adapted into a successful television program on Starz, and Tim Burton’s take on Gaiman’s children’s book Coraline.

While the prospect of a television adaptation of Good Omens is exciting, there is always the concern that some of the magic of Gaiman’s elegant storytelling will be lost in translation. Rest easy, though, because Gaiman himself wrote the show’s programme and will serve as showrunner!

 

Good Omens promo pic

IMAGE VIA COMINGSOON

Good Omens will also provide much needed representation in its diverse cast, according to what Gaiman disclosed in an interview:

What’s interesting is that there are almost no physical descriptions of anybody in the book, but Pepper is described as having red hair and a face that was basically one giant freckle, and so people are like ‘oh my god, that has to be white’, and… no she doesn’t.

But perhaps even better than all of this: the show will also be accompanied by two companion books!

The first book, The Quite Nice and Fairly Accurate Good Omens Script Book, will include the screenplay as well as a foreword from Gaiman and deleted scenes from the show.

 

Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
IMAGE VIA THE GUARDIAN

The second book, The Nice and Accurate Good Omens TV Companion, will give insight into the production of the show. This companion piece will include photos of the set, cast interviews, costume boards, and more!

Good Omens will arrive on Amazon Prime Video on May 31, 2019, and will later air on BBC.

FEATURED IMAGE VIA comingsoon.net