Author Joanne Harris Says Boys Need To Be Encouraged To Read Books With Female Stories 

Author Joanne Harris recently spoke at the Hay festival in Wales, and discussed how boys should be encouraged to read books about girls, because “a boy who is afraid to read a book with a girl protagonist will grow up into a man who feels that it’s inappropriate for him to listen to a woman’s voice. 

The ‘Chocolat’ author, who also taught in an all-boys school for 15 years, discussed with the audience that violence against women is a constant threat that “needs to be addressed really early, long before an actual crime happens.”

Embed from Getty Images

“We have to stop girls being apologetic when they have done nothing wrong. We have to stop boys being entitled when they’re actually not entitled to have more than anybody else. We’ve got to stop teaching them differently as teachers, that will help a lot.”

She continued: “Also we’ve got to stop giving them the message that it’s wrong for a boy to read books about girls. Because even schools are giving them this message. And this is where the problem happens, where women’s voices are perceived as less.”

Harris also discussed her newest novel, ‘Broken Light,’ at the Women of a Certain Age literary festival. The novel is described as a “menopause Carrie,” referring to the famous horror novel by Stephen King. 

Harris stated that the protagonist in her new novel, Bernie Ingram, gains supernatural powers when she reaches menopause, as opposed to when she goes through puberty in the original novel.

Embed from Getty Images

Harris believes this distinction is important, especially for the messages of the female experience she wants to emphasize for readers. 

“[Menopause is one of] the things we choose not to talk about because we think people are going to judge us on them. [Issues women are encouraged to keep private] grow and grow unless we externalize some part of it,” she explained

Harris discussed the storyline of her new novel in relation to the recent case of Nicola Bulley, who was found dead after going missing near a Lancashire river this year. During the search, police officers released information that described Bulley as struggling with alcohol use and perimenopause symptoms. 

“The implication is that if you are a young mother and attractive then you are valuable and therefore your death is a tragedy, but if you are a menopausal woman you are high risk and low value.”

“the narrative became less ‘a mother disappears in mysterious circumstances’ and much more ‘a menopausal woman finds her way into the river’,” Harris said.

 George Orwell’s Estate Approves Feminist Retelling Of Nineteen Eighty-Four 

The estate of George Orwell has approved a feminist retelling of Nineteen Eighty-Four. The retelling reimagines the entire story from the perspective of Winston Smith’s lover Julia. 

Orwell’s original novel, which was published in 1949, is set in a dystopian future where Great Britain, referred to as Airstrip One, is a part of the totalitarian state of Oceania. Big Brother runs the state, and the Thought Police stamp out any individual thought within the community. Protagonist Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth and starts a love affair with Julia. 

Julia is known for working in the Fiction Department of the novel-writing machines, both characters are eventually captured for their affair and sent for re-education in Room 101. 

Embed from Getty Images

In Julia by Sandra Newman, all of the incidents that occur throughout the original novel are told through the eyes of Julia, as opposed to Winston. 

“It was the man from Records who began it, him all unknowing in his prim, grim way, his above-it-all oldthink way. He was the one Syme called ‘Old Misery.’ Comrade Smith was his right name, though ‘Comrade’ never suited him somehow. Of course, if you felt foolish calling someone ‘Comrade’, far better not to speak to them at all,” writes Newman. 

Orwell describes Julia in Nineteen Eighty-Four as a “more acute person than Winston, and far less susceptible to Party propaganda … She also stirred a sort of envy in him by telling him that during the Two Minutes Hate her great difficulty was to avoid bursting out laughing. But she only questioned the teachings of the Party when they in some way touched upon her own life. Often she was ready to accept the official mythology, simply because the difference between truth and falsehood did not seem important to her.”

Publisher Granta said that when it comes to Julia, “she has known no other world and, until she meets Winston, never imagined one. She’s opportunistic, believing in nothing and caring not at all about politics. She routinely breaks the rules but also collaborates with the regime whenever necessary. She’s an ideal citizen of Oceania.”

Embed from Getty Images

“One day, finding herself walking toward Winston Smith in a long corridor, she impulsively hands him a note – a potentially suicidal gesture – she comes to realise that she’s losing her grip and can no longer safely navigate her world.”

Orwell’s estate stated that they’ve been looking for an author to tell the story of Smith’s lover, and Newman “proved to be the perfect fit.”

“Two of the unanswered questions in Orwell’s novel are what Julia sees in Winston, and how she has navigated her way through the party hierarchy. Sandra gets under the skin of Big Brother’s world in a completely convincing way which is both true to the original but also gives a dramatically different narrative to stand alongside the original,” said the estate’s literary executor Bill Hamilton. 

“The millions of readers who have been brought up with Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four will find this a provocative and satisfying companion.”

Granata is also gearing up to release Newman’s new novel, The Menian, next June. Julia will be published after that release.

Halloween Book

Underrated Stephen King Novels To Scare You This Halloween 

Stephen King is known as one of the kings of the horror genre. His countless novels and movie adaptations have become iconic for thriller/scary movie/book lovers everywhere. This spooky season, as the weather begins to cool and the coronavirus pandemic continues to force us to remain indoors, curl up next to the fire with one of these iconic novels by King, and make sure to keep a light on so you don’t get too scared. 

Christine: This 1983 novel follows a haunted candy apple red 1958 Plymouth Fury that has a mind of its own. Not only can this car heal itself from damage, but it also has a deep love of doo-wop music and revenge. Christine discusses themes of toxic masculinity and obsession during a time where high school hierarchies ruled the world and is one of King’s most popular novels. 

Embed from Getty Images

11.23.63: This time travel narrative follows school teacher Jake Epping as he attempts to stop the assassination of John F. Kennedy. However, the portal he uses to time travel only will drop him at the same spot in history in 1958; five years before Kennedy was shot. Jake begins to learn about all the intricacies of the time-travel process as he makes his way to the watershed moment in American history. 

Needful Things: This is one of King’s worst reviewed novels, however, his fans view it as a story that was ahead of its time. The 1991 novel takes place in the community of Castle Rock as it slowly and violently begins to turn against itself. As the citizens begin to turn into creatures that exploit their low-grade rivalries and resentments towards one another, residents begin to realize that they really don’t know anything about their neighbors. 

The Long Walk: This 1979 novel takes place in a dystopian future in which society’s Super Bowl has turned into a sadistic race in which 100 men compete in a nonstop walking contest. The first prize winner will never want anything again, and the second prize winner gets killed. Walkers are given three warnings for slowing down and then are executed by the military. The entire walk is a last man standing type competition. 

Embed from Getty Images

Lisey’s Story: This novel is cited to be King’s favorite, which is a little ironic considering it’s one of his lesser known works. This is likely because the type of thrills in this novel are more delicate and subtle as opposed to the in your face horrors he’s more known for. The title character of this story is the widow of a Pulitzer Prize winning author who continues to think of his wife Tabitha in his everyday life. She follows him as he deals with a crazed stalker and the confusing elements of alternate dimensions.

The Dead Zone: Johnny Smith is a young man who wakes up from a coma one day with the ability to read people’s past, present and futures through touch. He deals with a serial killer, devastating accident and the heartbreak of a lost love who moved on without him easily. Eventually, Smith finds that his powers are necessary for saving the world after he shakes a powerful politician’s hand and sees a devastating nuclear war in the future. 

The Stand: This novel is not for the faint of heart especially in 2020. Originally published in 1978, this story explores what rises within the survivors of a world-killing pandemic. After all of society vanishes, a select few are left surviving in a world with no laws, order, or authority. 

Woman Reading a Book

Cozy Reads To Enjoy While On Lockdown This Fall 

Now that October has officially begun, the weather is finally starting to cool and people are gearing up for fall and all of its cozy glory. Reading is always a popular indoor activity to do by the fire on a cool autumn day, and now that we’re all enduring a global health crisis that forces everyone to stay indoors, it’s the perfect time to stock up on some new reads to welcome in the cooler season. Here’s a few options of good reads to get cozy with:

“Whale Day” By Billy Collins: Collins’ has a very distinguished style of writing that is often regarded as funny and light, which makes it easy to get into and keep reading. This book is his most recent collection of poems that is meant to take readers on a journey that will force them to use their imagination. The themes of life and mortality are threaded throughout the novel, and Collins hopes readers can enjoy the whimsical nature of the poems. 

Embed from Getty Images

“The Book of Two Ways” By Jodi Picoult: Picoult is a New York Times bestselling author, and her most recent novel has been reviewed as the perfect read to enjoy while sipping on your morning coffee. The story follows Dawn Edelstein who’s in the middle of a flight when she has to prepare for a crash landing. She ends up surviving the crash only to realize that when her life flashed before her eyes she wasn’t nearly as satisfied with what she’s done so far, so she makes some major changes and aims to find the man she fell in love with 15 years prior. 

“The Thursday Murder Club” By Richard Osman: Now that it’s October and spooky season is officially here, it’s time to break out some scary stories. This novel is the first by author Richard Osmand and tells the story of four friends in a retirement village that meet up weekly to talk about unsolved crimes. As the story develops the group of friends notice more local murders are taking place, and it’s up to the Thursday Murder Club to solve the cases. 

Embed from Getty Images

“The End of Her” By Shari Lapena: Keeping up with the Halloween theme, this novel is a great new suspense story that centers around an average couple, Stephanie and Patrick, as they raise their twin daughters. They’re family is relatively nuclear, until a woman from Patrick’s past appears one day and accuses him of murder. The accusation is just the beginning of a whole slew of lies that Stephanie finds out about her husband, leaving her confused and in need of the truth. 

“No Time Like The Future” By Michael J. Fox: This is a memoir collection of stories from Fox, as he discusses illness, health, family, friends, and life in general. The book won’t be available to purchase until November 17th, however, the timing makes it the perfect gift for any memoir lover in your family. Fox openly discusses his ongoing experience with Parkinson’s disease while threading in his classic humor throughout. 

“The Little Ghost Who Was A Quilt” By Riel Nason: This book is perfect for younger children who love Halloween, but want to keep the holiday light and innocent. This novel follows a little ghost who stands out when compared to his ghost friends. All of his other friends have classic white sheets to disguise themselves while the little ghost is left with a quilt, making it hard to fly as fast as the others. However, on Halloween he learns a very valuable lesson about what it is to be an individual, and that it’s okay to be special or different from what everyone else considers “normal.”

Reading Book

Rhianna Pratchett Thrilled To Continue Father’s Legacy As Fantasy Fiction Author

Rhianna Pratchett grew up watching her father create a mythical world that fans fell in love with through his iconic Discworld comic book series. Now, five years after Terry Pratchett’s death, Rhianna decided to try her hand at fantasy fiction writing.

Reading Book

JK Rowling’s New Book Faces Accusations Of Transphobia 

JK Rowling’s under fire this week after it was revealed that the main character in her new novel, Troubled Blood, is a male serial killer named Dennis Creed who dresses up in a woman’s coat and wig to get away with entering “female spaces” so he can murder them. The characterization has faced accusations of transphobia due to the fact that Rowling herself has made questionable comments in the past regarding transgender people’s right to enter certain gendered spaces based on how they personally identify. 

Rowling defended her novel’s plot by claiming that the story line is based on two real-life murders. The novel was released this week and after a review from Telegraph, the internet exploded with accusations of transphobia, ignorance, and general disregard for the community Rowling has been adamantly debating with for months. 

In the book, Creed lures his victims into his van by wearing women’s clothing, however, the novel never describes him as trans or as a cross-dresser, so the lines have been blurred for some reviewers. As previously mentioned Rowling also revealed this week that Creed was “loosely based on real-life killers Jerry Brudos and Russell Williams.” 

Embed from Getty Images

Brudos killed four women in Oregon in the 1960’s and was known for stealing female underwear from his neighbours as a child; a characteristic Rowling also gave to Creed. According to past reports from Brudos’ killings, there was evidence of a “large man dressed in women’s clothing in a garage” where Brudos would later kidnap one of his victims. Williams murdered two women and was sentenced to life in prison ten years ago. He also was known for stealing female undergarments.  

According to Rowling, trans issues aren’t even part of the books plotline, and instead the main themes regard personal journeys and struggles with feminist ideals. 

“Change, loss and absence are the biggest themes of the book, but it also explores the changing face of feminism and ideals and stereotypes of femininity … through the cast of characters.”

The novel follows private detectives Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott as they investigate the case of Margot Bamborough, who vanished 10 years prior. Bamborough is described as a feminist who was approaching her 30s, in the midst of a divorce and navigating motherhood. 

“It’s my favorite of the series by far and I think the length is necessary to do the story justice.”

This is the fifth installment in the Strike series and runs just over 900 pages long. According to Rowling, she always knew the book would be lengthy and because the investigation is meant to take place over the course of one year, she wanted to make sure the story was developed enough to read as such. 

Woman Reading Book on Couch

Books To Motivate And Inspire You During Quarantine 

2020 has definitely been one of the most difficult and unpredictable years for all of us. Now that we’re all used to being home and are continuing to wait out the rest of this pandemic until some sort of vaccine is released, many are continuing to figure out ways of occupying their time. Many have taken up reading more now that they actually have the time to do so. Here’s a list of leadership/motivational novels that are regarded as being extremely effective in helping readers remain more positive during these uncertain times:

Friday Forward By Robert Glazer: Bestselling author Robert Glazer wrote this book for industry and company leaders who need the motivation to keep not only their team, but themselves, going during difficult times. The book is a curated collection of over 50 stories that Glazer has experienced or witnessed himself. These stories are meant to inspire readers and help them get through specific situations that can arise in any company culture. 

Embed from Getty Images

Daring Greatly By Brene Brown: This novel focuses on the art of vulnerability in the workplace. Throughout 2020, we’ve all had to make occupational adjustments, and have discovered newfound skills and techniques for getting through our day-to-day responsibilities. Brown wanted to take all of those new techniques, and share them with readers so they can learn from others and improve their own personal work habits. 

Girl Decoded By Rana el-Kaliouby: el-Kaliouby is a technology entrepreneur by day, and in this memoir she shares her transformative experience of going from shy, soft-spoken child growing up in Egypt, to one of the world’s biggest authorities on human interaction with artificial intelligence. Her book is meant to present a positive future for human beings and technology, and show that you can start from anywhere and make it as big in the world as you want. 

The Garden By Jon Gordon: Gordon is a bestselling author, and in his most recent book he drew inspiration from his experiences working with top CEOs, athletes, and organizations throughout the world, and shared those experiences so that readers can see how normal all of these major figureheads actually are. The purpose of this novel is much like Girl Decoded in the sense that it’s meant to leave the reader with an overall feeling of inspiration and positivity in terms of their future. 

Embed from Getty Images

Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life and Maybe The World By William McRaven: This novel outlines lessons that were in a speech given by Admiral William McRaven. In this specific speech, McRaven shared the 10 principles he learned during his Navy Seal training that helped him overcome various challenges not just in his career, but in his own personal life. The speech itself went viral and gained over 10 million views shortly after being posted online. 

The Four Agreements By Don Miguel Ruiz: This novel is subtitled “a practical guide to personal freedom,” and it’s meant to do exactly that. In this book Ruiz attempts to discuss the many common “mental roadblocks” that all humans experience that prevent us from living in the moment and being happy. The novel gives advice on how to properly self-reflect on your actions without punishing ourselves for past mistakes or wrongdoings. 

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance By Angela Duckworth: Angela Duckworth is a psychologist who wrote this novel as a means of telling her readers that if they want to be successful, they need to embrace their individual grit. This “grit” is made up of a “unique blend of passion and persistence,” and when used right, it can lead us to amazing things in our lives and career.

Man Reading E-Book

Great Quarantine Reads You Likely Haven’t Heard Of Before

Since we all have an indefinite amount of time left in our homes, it’s important to find ways to keep our mind, bodies, and spirits active. Reading is one of the best leisure activities one could do in the middle of a pandemic as it helps us use our brain muscles, stimulates the imagination, and emotionally separates us from the harsh reality that is 2020. So here are some book titles that you may have never heard of before that you can pick up to enjoy for yourself:

Embed from Getty Images

Such A Fun Age By Kiley Reid: In this debut novel from Reid, the reader is forced to face the realities of racism in America, both subtle and overt. After a family crisis, white blogger Alix Chamberlain calls her black babysitter, Emira Tucker, to take her toddler to the local market as a distraction. When at the market, Tucker is accused of kidnapping the child she’s been hired numerous times to babysit, the situation that continues to unfold after exposes the selfish realities of what it actually means to be an ally for the black community. 

Untamed By Glennon Doyle: If you’re more of a memoir reader, you’ll love Doyle’s third novel Untamed where she recounts what it was like to reflect on her metamorphosis as a full-grown woman. Throughout the novel she details how she was able to discover herself through independence after being married and a mother for so many years. She discusses ending her marriage, falling in love with a woman unexpectedly, and then going on to marry that woman and build a whole new life with her.

We Ride Upon Sticks By Quan Barry: This fiction novel is an amazing and easy read for those who love adventure with a hefty mix of young adult drama. The book follows a girls field hockey team in Danvers, Massachusetts; the site of the original Salem Witch Trials. Taking place in 1989 the girls are on a major winning streak which they soon discover may be a result of their town’s spooky history. The book is filled with classic 80’s pop culture references and witchcraft, how could you go wrong? 

Embed from Getty Images

The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires By Grady Hendrix: In this feminist horror novel Patricia Campbell joins a neighborhood book club to keep herself entertained and away from her mundane nuclear life at home. This 90’s-set thriller isn’t your average tale of mom best friends reading a book and drinking wine while discovering something much deeper about themselves…it also has vampires and a bunch of cool fight scenes. 

All Adults Here By Emma Straub: If your family has been driving you a little crazy after 4+ months of quarantining together this book may be the one for you. Straub writes a layered love story that also celebrates what it is to live in a modern multigenerational family. The Strick family in the novel has a lot of expectations brought on by matriarch Astrid, who will need to reexamine past traditional values and new modern ways of thinking to keep her family together. 

The Island of Sea Women: By Lisa See: Best friends Mi-ja and Young-sook are best friends who are about to begin their long careers on an all-female diving collective in an island off Korea. The book not only follows the two on their journey, but discusses decades of Korean history in relation to female sports and diving, while also following the personal coming of age stories of the two.

Two Women Reading

Great Books That Will Keep You Entertained In Quarantine

It’s clear that all of us are trying to come up with new ways  to keep ourselves entertained while we sit in quarantine and wait for the world to return to normalcy. There’s only so many movies and shows we can watch in a day, and now that the weather is getting nicer, a lot of us are going to want to spend time outdoors when the reality is we can’t leave the confines of our property. So what’s one of the best activities you can do while standing still outside? Reading! Here are a few options of great summer reads to get you through the next few months:

A Thousand Acres, By Jane Smiley: This novel follows a small town farmer as he tries to decide which of his three daughters will get his land once he dies. The novel itself is a written adaptation of the play King Lear, and like in the original production, the conflict of the novel is heavily based around the unraveling of a small town family. The novel explores themes of cultural and political tensions in America in the 60’s and 70’s while also bringing up issues of climate change impacts on farmland and inequality. 

Embed from Getty Images

Riddley Walker, By Russel Hoban: If you have the mental ability to stomach a novel that takes place in a post-apocalyptic nuclear war zone, this will definitely be the novel for you. The book has been reviewed as a real page turner and according to its author, “it’s a work of complete fiction—an entirely made-up world with its own gravitational integrity, its own language, its own codes, its own myths, its own poetry, almost its own sense of humor—that breaks upon our world like the truth.”

Too Much and Not The Mood, By Durga Chew-Bose: This novel of personal essays explores the idea of being an introverted individual who isolates themselves from the regular world to observe their own; an experience we all can relate to at the moment. The book is known for intensely descriptive imagery of everyday mundane things we’d all find around our homes, and Chew-Bose’s ability to reflect broadly on the idea of coming-of-age in modern society. 

Untamed, By Glennon Doyle: This novel is a first person account of Doyle’s journey to finding her inner voice and inner peace in a world that has been so cruel to so many of us. This novel entered the mainstream after celebrities like Reese Witherspoon promoted it on her book club list, and is known as a great source of unmatched positivity during a time where everything feels saturated in negativity. 

Embed from Getty Images

Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, and Advice for Living Your Best Life, By Ali Wong: In the comedian and actress’ first book to hit the market, Wong lets her fans into her life growing up with that raunchy, real, and most importantly, funny personality most expect from her at this point in her career. While the novel does discuss some more serious aspects of Wong’s life, the novel itself is a light and uplifting biography read. 

The House In The Cerulean Sea, By TJ Klune: This fictional novel follows main character Linus Baker, as he attempts to determine whether or not six magical children living nearby could cause the end of the world as he knows it if they wanted to. The novel has a ton of fun twists and turns, and plenty of fantastical elements to transport you to a more magical place. 

Oona Out Of Order, By Margarita Montimore: This is another fictional novel with some Sci-Fi elements woven throughout it. The novel begins on New Years Eve in 1982, and when the clock strikes midnight, not only is it 1983, but our main character’s birthday. Oona Lockhart turns 19 at the stroke of midnight but faints before she’s even able to hear someone wish her a ‘happy birthday.’ When she wakes up, it’s 32 years in the future and she’s 51.