Your one-stop shop for the week’s most interesting bookish news and reviews

 

For the Love of Tolkien

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Perhaps the most famous and most revered fantasy author of the twentieth century, JRR Tolkien’s work is renowned and, well, (let’s be honest) fantastic!  And you think you’ve read everything by him?  You’re wrong!  This month sees the release of the first fantasy story he wrote: The Story of Kullervo.  It was written in 1915, is based on an epic Finnish poem, and has never been published before.  ‘Kullervo the hapless’ is an orphan with supernatural powers and is raised by a dark magician.  Do you need to know any more?  I know I don’t!  This book is definitely on my shopping list.  I’ve written it in pen and everything.

 

Teenage Sex, and Jumping on the Threesome Bandwagon

CardThisIsTheLifeSex sells, even in young adult literature.  The number of books aimed at 14-17 year olds that contain sexually explicit scenes, especially with a polyamorous and multi-partner aspect, has sharply risen and with it, so have book sales.  Experts aren’t too worried about the sudden rise in temperature, as studies show that most high school kids have already had intercourse with an average of four partners, so the sex in books is a reflection on real life.  It gives teenagers the opportunity to explore their sexuality.  Moral conservatives like Matt Barber, however, argue that heating it up like this is a signal of moral and cultural decline.  It can encourage sexual predators and desensitise sexuality.  Is this just a sign of the times, is it a way for teenagers to safely explore their feelings, or is it something to be worried about?  For me, I think that there is always something to shock – 40 years ago, it was drug-related in Go Ask Alice, a bit later it was Judy Blume’s frank discussions of puberty.  Perhaps it’s just time for a threesome!

The E-Book Revolution

Do you think that the explosion of e-books is changing the way we read and even the 9468309622_9f7648e12a_bway we write?  Paul Mason at The Guardian does.  He claims that just the fact that we are using technology takes away some of the ‘immersiveness’ of reading.  In just the same way as we skim-read a website, he says, we also skim-read e-books simply because they are read on the same types of devices.  Whilst, with a book, you sit down with the express intention of entering a new world, with an e-book (especially when read on a tablet or telephone rather than a dedicated e-reader), a ding will sound and you’ll swipe to your emails at a moment’s notice, and so you’re no longer fully immersed.  Mason raises some good points and it’s definitely an interesting debate.  I’m not sure where I stand on the issue but I do know that when reading books on my Kindle, I often forget what I’m reading because I’m not seeing the cover every time I pick it up!  What do you think?

Reading is Good for You (As If We Didn’t Know)

7030239035_624c94268aThat’s right, there’s evidence now that reading is good for you.  The Reading Agency this week published a report looking into the benefits of reading for pleasure.  Those benefits include increased empathy, better relationships, reduced depression, lower risk of dementia, and an improved general well-being.  The article in The Independent goes into great detail on just how and why it works but let’s be honest, all the matters really is that we’ve now got that extra little excuse to stay up way past bedtime reading, deep in another world.

When Romance Goes Wrong

Is it okay for a Jewish woman to fall in love with a Nazi SS Officer?  That’s the topic of download (2)the controversial 2014 romance For Such a Time by Kate Breslin.  A young Jewish woman is saved from the firing squad by a Nazi Colonel and she changes her name and converts to Christianity when the two fall in love.  The book has caused quite a stir, with one particular reviewer claiming that it “reframes history and forgives a genocide”.  The author herself claims not to have intended the book in such a way, arguing that she only wanted to write a modern story about a courageous Jewish woman.  I haven’t read the book so can’t really comment but the question is an interesting one: is it okay to play around with such a sore point in history, and can two typically sworn enemies fall in love (Well, it didn’t work out so well for Romeo and Juliet)?  If you’ve read the book, I’d love to know what you thought of it!  Is it really as controversial as this article claims?

The Barber and His Books

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There is nothing like a good-news story to put a smile on everyone’s faces, and the story of Courtney Holmes, a barber in Iowa, is just that type of story!  He will cut a kid’s hair for free if they read to him, in an attempt to support the reading development of the youth in his community.  Talk about restoring your faith in humanity!

It’s All A Bit Meta-Fiction

5369209964_f504dd40af_oEver wondered what that fiction within fiction is like?  I do!  Books and poems that characters write, TV shows and movies that they watch…I want to devour them all!  The Independent published a great list of the top-ten fictional fictions, including ‘The Itchy and Scratchy Show’ and ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’.  Do you have a favourite fictional fiction?

 

And for the fun link of the week: Overdue Library Books!Library_card

My largest ever library book fine was £11.  I felt pretty bad about that but this article, published on For Reading Addicts, proves that I’ve got no reason whatsoever to feel guilty.  It’s a great list of some of the most ridiculous overdue library books in history.  150 years?  Psh, that’s nothing!

4 thoughts on “Sunday Morning Round-Up: Tolkien, Threesomes, and Overdue Library Fines

  1. I don’t know very much about threesomes, but my e-reader does show the cover every time you open up the book. That is nice, but I don’t think it does it if you are just continuing in the same place. I think showing the cover first before you carry on reading is a brilliant idea.

    Oh, and yes, Tolkien did write a few more words. I seem to recall that his son actually completed some of his unfinished works. I speak under gentle correction, of course 🙂

    1. My Kindle doesn’t show me the cover ever, unless I go looking for it. Even the home screen is just a list of titles. I have the old budget Kindle though! lol!

      I don’t actually know that much about Tolkien, other than the books I’ve read of course, but I would quite like to read this new book.

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