This week! Books!
I saved up quite a few links while I was away on vacation, so let’s get to them!
Book banning is spreading like wildfire as groups take advantage of new digital tools and strategies to try to enact a wave of challenges and lawsuits. Elizabeth A. Harris and Alexandra Alter surveyed the books most likely to be challenged/banned in 2021, which you may be less than surprised to learn are mostly about/by Black and L.G.B.T.Q. people.
In an ominous new lawsuit, Virginia lawyer and politician Tim Anderson sued the Barnes & Noble in Virginia Beach for selling Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe and A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas, and the Virginia Beach Circuit Court issued a preliminary orders finding probable cause that the books are “obscene to unrestricted viewing by minors” according to state law. According to Anderson: “We are in a major fight. Suits like this can be filed all over Virginia. There are dozens of books. Hundreds of schools.”
And trying to fight back against the tide, 1,300 children’s book authors signed a letter to the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties condemning the wave of book suppression, particularly amid a rise of hate crimes in the United States. And JoAnn Yao posted on the We Need Diverse Books blog about how to support diverse books amid book banning.
Meanwhile, several new books examine how social and political shifts happen, and spoiler, it has less to do with charismatic leaders and more with sustained and often unseen hard work to lay the groundwork.
Grace Lapointe looks back at the promise and peril of the #OwnVoices label, which is now falling by the wayside. On the one hand #OwnVoices offered a shorthand to promote diversity and authenticity for previously marginalized voices, but on the other hand it risked outing authors who hadn’t previously publicly identified with the narratives in their fiction and some marginalized authors felt boxed in.
Some big publishing industry news as the Association of Author Representatives (AAR) has relaunched as the Association of American Literary Agents (AALA). The member agents of the AAR/AALA agree to abide by a canon of ethics, which has also recently been updated to clarify policies around agents offering paid edits as a side gig. Importantly, as Victoria Strauss at Writer Beware notes, agents “must inform editing clients that the editing services won’t necessarily lead to representation; cannot make editing a condition of representation; must reimburse all fees if the editing client then becomes an agency client; and can ONLY offer paid editing to writers who approach them for that specific purpose.”
Writing for Jane Friedman’s blog, Brooke Warner, founder of hybrid publisher She Writes Press, writes that the “hybrid” label has been coopted by both unscrupulous and well-intentioned actors who don’t offer authors a good deal, and argues that more strategies are needed to combat predatory publishing practices.
The LA Times published a really awesome guide to literary Los Angeles, including history, bookstores, writer haunts, and much more.
I really enjoyed this essay by Frederick Kaufman that one reason we really struggle to make sense of the last several years of covid and don’t have a cohesive story about it is that pandemics unfold in a way that doesn’t conform to our usual narratives.
In writing advice news, Becca Puglisi encourages you to ask yourself what your character might be hiding, and agent Jessica Faust reminds that rejection is a fact of life in publishing, so you may as well get used to it.
And industry magazine Publishers Weekly turns 150 years old this year. John Maher has a fascinating look back at its history.
This week in bestsellers
Here are the top five NY Times bestsellers in a few key categories. (All links are affiliate links):
Adult print and e-book fiction:
- Book Lovers by Emily Henry
- It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
- 22 Seconds by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
- The Summer Place by Jennifer Weiner
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- Killing the Killers by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
- Finding Me by Viola Davis
- A Sacred Oath by Mark T. Esper
- Lily’s Promise by Lily Ebert and Dov Forman
- The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
Young adult hardcover:
- Family of Liars by E. Lockhart
- Welcome to the Universe in 3D by Neil deGrasse Tyson
- I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston
- One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
- You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao
Middle grade hardcover:
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- Skandar and the Unicorn Thief by A.F. Steadman
- Refugee by Alan Gratz
- Zachary Ying and the Dragon Empire by Xiran Jay Zhao
- Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan
This week on the blog
In case you missed them, here are this week’s posts:
Don’t forget that you can nominate your first page and query for a free critique on the blog:
And keep up with the discussion in all the places!
And finally, what would it be like to speak twenty-four languages? Jessica Contrera has a really fascinating look at a carpet cleaner in Virginia who may be the world’s most gifted hyperpolyglot.
Have a great weekend!
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