Tag: maya angelou

7 April-Born Authors to Read This Month

April is the month of warmer weather, budding flowers, and April showers. More importantly, it’s also the birth month of numerous influential authors. As readers, we tend to stick to the genres we feel most comfortable reading. But now that many of us are social-distancing at home, we have an abundance of time on our hands, which is all the more reason to check out some of these works–even if you wouldn’t normally pick them off a shelf. Ranging from rich fantasy to 18th century settings, these books will transport you to a different time–and maybe even a different world. 

1. Hans Christen Andersen – April 2, 1805

via fine art america

A Danish writer, Hans Christen Andersen is best known for his 19th century fairy tales, many of which have been adapted to Disney movies modern day. Despite the popularity of his children’s stories today–some of which include “The Little Mermaid,” “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” and “The Ugly Duckling”–many literary critics disapproved of his fairy tales when they were first published in the 19th century, and discouraged him from pursuing the genre. Andersen also published several novels.

Major works to check out: Hans Christensen Andersen’s Complete Fairy Tales

Not into children’s books? Watch these movies based on his works: Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Thumbelina, Fantasia 2000 (inspired by “The Steadfast Tin Soldier”)

 

2. Washington Irving – April 3, 1783

via interesting literature

Washington Irving is most well-known for his short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” but he also published numerous historical works and biographies about figures like George Washington and Christopher Columbus. Irving is accredited with defining the American short story, as well as encouraging other authors, especially as he became one of the first American authors to gain literary success in Europe. 

Major works to check out: “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” “Rip Van Winkle”

Not interested in the short story? (We’re silently judging you. Just kidding–Maybe.) Check out Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow.

3. Maya Angelou – April 4, 1928

via the new york times

A woman of many talents, Maya Angelou is known for her work as a writer, singer, and civil rights activist. Her most influential work is I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, an autobiography about Angelou’s childhood and early teenage years, in which she discusses racism, rape, and what it’s like growing up as a female in a male-centric world. The book has won numerous awards since its release, though was banned from some schools due to its discussions of rape. Since then, it has become a literary classic studied on a multitude of college campuses.

Angelou passed away in 2014, but leaves behind a legacy of influential works and activism.

Major works to check out: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, “On the Pulse of Morning”

 

4. Leigh Bardugo – April 6, 1975

via leigh bardugo

Since her debut in 2012, Leigh Bardugo has become a household name in the YA industry. Her success is mostly attributed to the Grishaverse, which consists of three series and a book of short stories, all set in the same universe. Anyone looking to dip their feet in the genre will appreciate Bardugo’s strong characters, complex world-building, and creative use of YA tropes. Netflix has recently picked up the series in Shadow and Bone, so now is the perfect time to get reading before the release of the show!

But Bardugo’s work isn’t limited to just Young Adult; her most recent publication is Ninth House, an adult novel following a student at Yale University. If you loved any of her previous works, you’ll love this dark fantasy.

Major works to check out: Shadow and Bone, Six of Crows, King of Scars, Ninth House

5. William Wordsworth – April 7, 1770

via the new yorker

William Wordsworth, in collaboration with his colleague Samuel Coleridge, is best known for defining the Romantic Age with Lyrical Ballads. This literary age moved away from neoclassicism, which emphasized reason, and focused instead on human emotion and connection with nature. Wordsworth has published numerous poems, including autobiographical The Prelude, a retrospective poem that delves into his personal life and explores human nature. 

Major works to check out: The Prelude, Lyrical Ballads, “Lines Composed a Few Miles from Tintern Abbey,” “We are Seven”

6. Henry James – April 15, 1843

via the new yorker

A major transatlantic figure, Henry James held both American and British citizenship after leaving the US to settle in London. James is most known for his literary modernism and is often hailed as one of the best novelists of the English language. Many of his novels feature American protagonists transitioning into, or exploring, British life, delving into the ways identity is often tied to nationality. Despite his major success, James was often criticized by Theodore Roosevelt for moving to Europe and, in Roosevelt’s eyes at least, his lack of masculinity. 

Major works to check out: The Portrait of a Lady, What Maisie Knew, Daisy Miller

 

7. William Shakespeare – April 1564 (baptized April 26)

via biography.com

While we don’t know Shakespeare’s exact birthday, we do know that he was baptized April 26, 1564, meaning he was born sometime around then. One of the most well-known playwrights (if you haven’t heard of him, I think I can safely say you must live under a rock), Shakespeare is attributed with writing numerous poems and plays. If his name gives you flashbacks of acting out Macbeth in front of your sophomore class–don’t fret! Shakespeare’s plays may seem daunting to read at first, but the drama, humor, and deft use of iambic pentameter will entice more than just English majors.

Major works to check out: Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard III

If reading Shakespeare is really not your thing, check out these movies: Shakespeare in Love (based on his life), West Side Story (based on Romeo and Juliet), 10 Things I Hate About You (based on The Taming of the Shrew)

featured image via the la times

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5 Books by Black Female Authors

Before 1919, when women were given the right to vote, women weren’t respected as apart of mankind. Black women had it worse as many were assaulted by white slaveowners, and were less than deserving of anything but to bear children. This, however, did not stop the aspiring black authors to write in a time when blacks were forbidden to read or write. Our Nig by Harriet E. Wilson, written in 1859, become the first book to be published by an African American woman. This book gave women the opportunity to have the courage to continue to have a voice and publish their own books. These are five books that have continued to be a highlight in the world today.

 

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

 

Image Via Kobo.com

Published in 1961, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is among the few existing slave narratives written by a woman. This autobiography is an account that follows the life of Harriet Jacobs and how she managed to escape from servitude in North Carolina, to freedom in the North. Jacobs writes about her life as a slave and the trials she endured through her escape.

 

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Image Via Amazon

Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God is a must-read as it deals with the life of Janie Crawford as she sets out to be her own person. Independence was a huge feat for a black woman in the 30s. This leads her through three marriages and, as the blurb states, “into a journey back to her roots.”

 

A Raisin in The Sun

Image Via Chicago Public Library

Lorraine Hansberry’s, A Raisin in the Sun, is an award-winning drama that speaks on the hopes and dreams of a working-class family in the South Side of Chicago. The title originates from Langston Hughes’ poem Harlem, with a line that reads “dry up/like a raisin in the sun.”

 

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Image Via Goodreads

Sent to live with her grandmother in the South, Maya and her brother Bailey are faced to endure prejudice and abandonment from their mother. When she is eight years old, Maya is abused by her mother’s boyfriend, a man who is many years her senior. Many years later, Maya learns to love herself and to be free from the horrors of the past.

 

Song of Solomon

Image Via Amazon

Toni Morrison’s, Song of Solomon, is a coming of age story that follows the life of Milkman Dead, who attempts to fly off a rooftop. Milkman lives the rest of his life trying to fly as he hurdles through his family’s origins.

 

For more books written by Black female authors, check out The Zora Canon.


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Featured image via Free Pik 

Literary Icons We Lost in the Last Decade

The 2010’s have been a notable decade for literature lovers. Starting with big corporate bookstores going out of business and making room for the indie bookstores, we also saw the rise of audio-books, as well as platform being given to strong female protagonists with books like, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl , The Girl on the Train and so on. But in the past ten years we’ve also lost a number of prolific icons from the literary world and here are some of those authors and poets who have touched our lives with their iconic works, which will continue to influence us and the generations to come.

J D Salinger

Image Via Independent

We’ve all read his famous book in high school, The Catcher in the Rye, which is a fantastic piece of work tackling many pressing issues such as identity, loss, and sex. Salinger also exhibits relentless talent in his short stories, such as in A Perfect Day for Banana Fish. The writer lived until the long age of 91, and breathed his last on January 27, 2010.

 

 

Maurice Sendak

Image Via PBS

Even if you can’t immediately recognize this talented author by his name, I’m certain we are all familiar with his famous book, Where The Wild Things Are, which is a celebrated children’s picture book, teaching kids about imagination, independence and overcoming fear. The author/illustrator left us on the 8th of May in 2012.

 

V.s naipaul

Image Via BBC

Nobel Laureate and Booker Prize winner, V. S Naipaul left the world on 11th August, 2018. His book In a Free State won him the Booker Prize and he was also awarded the Trinity Cross in 1990, and was also made a Knight Bachelor in 1990.

 

 

maya angelou

Image Via Read it Forward

It was a tragic day when the world lost literary legend Maya Angelou. Not only was she a prolific, talented poet, singer and memoirist, she was also a famous civil rights activist, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. Her book of poems, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie won the Pulitzer Prize and her autobiographical book, I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing, garnered much critical acclaims and went on to be made into a TV movie with the same name in April 1979. Her departure was a great loss for the entire world, but her legacy will continue to live on within her works.

 

stan lee

Image Via Esquire

On November 12, 2018, we bid farewell to the creator of The Amazing Spider-man, X-Men and all the other Marvel heroes who continue to dominate our lives since we were children. This man’s legacy cannot be put in words, as movies after movies continue to wow us with the foundations Stan Lee had built during his long standing career. When he passed at the ripe age of 95, it was when we thanked our stars for being born during his era, to enjoy the fruits of his creativity.

 

 

william goldman

Image Via Consequence

This remarkable American novelist, playwright and screenwriter left us on November 16, 2018. By the end of his career, William Goldman had received his first Academy Award for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and another for All the President’s Men. He also won two Edgar Awards, and was eventually given the Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement in 1985. But perhaps his most notable work is The Princess Bride, the popular fantasy-romance novel which came out in 1973, and was adapted into a movie of the same name in 1987.

 

 

fred bass

Image Via New York Post

While not everyone recognizes Fred Bass without a quick Google search, but be sure to know that this man has changed the lives of millions with his contribution to the book industry. Bass left us on January 3, 2018, but he made sure to leave the world a little more educated and tons more curious, with his creation of The Strand Bookstore in New York City. As one of the most popular bookstores in the world, with its eighteen miles of books, Strand has not just become a common household name for New Yorkers, but has won hearts of people all from over the world, all thanks to this kind and intelligent soul.

 

anthony bourdain

Image Via Robb Report

Although we mostly know Anthony Bourdain from his popular TV shows and his celebrity chef status, but we can’t forget that he first emerged as a writer in the late 90’s when his column came out in The New Yorker, Don’t Eat Before Reading This. This later resulted in Bourdain’s first book, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, followed by his second, Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook, which was published in 2010. His demise was certainly a tragic one, leaving his fans in utter pain and disbelief, but his perception regarding the exploration of international cuisine, culture and human conditions has taught us all a few great things about not being scared of the unknown.

 

 

harper lee

Image Via ABC

To Kill a Mockingbird is an American Classic, and Harper Lee was a legend for the creation of such an impactful book during a time of turmoil and distress in the Americas. Her revolutionary vision, through the eyes of the young protagonist of her book, is evident and speaks volumes about her life as a child growing up during the Great Depression in the South, exploring topics such as regionalism as well as racism. The book has garnered her several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, as well as awarding her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007, which was very well deserved. The world lost a power-house figure on February 19, 2016.

 

 

ursala k le guin

Image Via Syfy Wire

Ursala K Le Guin had written over twenty novels and one hundred short stories, spanning a literary career for almost sixty years before her passing on January 22, 2018. She had won eight Hugo Awards and six Nebula Awards, making her one of the most influential Science Fiction writers of our time, and that too as a woman, considering that science has always been a supposed male dominated field. Legends like her give us hopes to break barriers and march on.

 

toni morrison

Image Via Newsday

The beloved Toni Morrison, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Beloved, left a gaping hole in the literary world as she left us on August 5, 2019. She gained further recognition as she won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. She was also the first African American female editor at Random House in New York in the 1960’s. During her lifetime, she has inspired many people of all color to break free of stereotypes and to live their truth, whatever that may be. Her writing is so influential that her fan base continues to grow since her departure. Her writing has been critiqued by notable editors and writers alike and to this day, it is praised for its daring narrative. If there should be a legendary writer, Toni Morrison is deserving of that title.

 

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These Four Poets Had the Oddest Jobs and You’ll Never Guess What They Were

Famous poets. We only know them for their enchanting verse. Many late great poets didn’t start out writing in verse, or if they did, they had to do something else to support that habit, as they didn’t come from money or fame. Enter some really odd jobs you wouldn’t otherwise expect of young bards.

 

4-Maya Angelou

 

image via amazon

 

Before Maya Angelou wrote I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings or won the Presidential Medal of Freedom, she found a job as a San Francisco streetcar conductor. In fact, she sat every day for two weeks in the office enduring racial slurs from the secretaries until the hiring manager finally yielded and gave her the position. She became the first black streetcar conductor in San Francisco. What’s more, she was only sixteen-years-old!

 

3-Robert Frost

 

image via amazon

 

Robert Frost, who wrote the infamous poem, The Road Not Taken, had a very dangerous job in his twenties called light trimming where he stood over active machinery on a wobbly ladder undoing arc lamps from the ceiling in order to repair them. Fortunately, he kept writing and his poetry gained so much notoriety he didn’t have to go back to light trimming ever again.

 

2- Langston Hughes

image via amazon

 

Langston Hughes was a very musical poet closely associated with jazz and the Harlem Renaissance. One of his most well-known books is Montage of a Dream Deferred. But before any of his work gained attention he was a student at Columbia University and held jobs such as busboy, cook, launderer, and even a seaman. Being a seaman inspired one of his poems, “Death of an Old Seaman Cecil Cohen.” It proves not all manual labor is meaningless if it leads to great art.

 

1- T.S. Eliot

 

image via amazon

 

Last but not least, T.S. Eliot, famous for his incredibly depressing 20th-century oeuvre, “The Waste Land.” He rocked a bowler hat for his odd job, which was not so odd but actually a nine to five clerk position at a bank called Lloyd’s in London. He even got two-weeks-a-year vacation time just like every other working stiff employed there. Not much to say about this sad man except, cool hat.

 

 

Poets get a reputation for being odd considering a lot of them, well, are. Some of them make their own jam, some are recluses, some are too obscure in their writing, meaning they are purposefully trying to be misunderstood. This group of poets, however, were pretty candid in their work as they wanted to be understood. They received high praise, too. Robert Frost was the 1958 Poet Laureate and won more than several Pulitzer Prizes, Langston Hughes won a Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts, Maya Angelou earned more than 30 honorary degrees, and T.S. Eliot won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948. Consider checking their work out and remember, they’re speaking from experience. Even if it was odd.

 

 

Featured Image Via HollyWood Reporter

 

 


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