A couple more highly anticipated fall books now have cover art. J.K. Rowling’s post-Harry Potter effort The Casual Vacancy features a simple, bold design. And the cover of Ian McEwan’s Sweet Tooth is a throwback to the design motifs of several decades ago.
Year in Reading alumnus Alexander Chee writes about the impulse to write fiction, his first novel, and unpublished manuscripts in an essay for the Center For Fiction’s Why Fiction Matters series. “The first story I ever invented for public consumption was in a book report back in grade school. I had made a vow to read every book in my grade school library, and at some point, as I made my way through them, I remember very clearly understanding that there was simply no way my teacher would know about every book ever published—this was before the Internet—and so I decided I would make one up and see if she noticed.” Pair with this Millions piece, featuring six writers looking back on their first novels.
This one is for all you antiquarians out there. The oldest known draft of the most widely read work in all of English literature, the King James Bible, has been discovered in the archives at Sidney Sussex College in Cambridge. William Shakespeare’s books have also sold a ton of copies, and here’s an essay from The Millions that imagines him as a kind of God, Himself.
If you were never satisfied with Hamlet’s answer to the famous “to be or not to be?” question, now is your chance to change it. Ryan North rewrote Hamlet as a choose-your-own-adventure book, To Be or Not To Be. You can play as Ophelia, Hamlet, or King Hamlet and choose from more than 110 alternate deaths. Brain Pickings got a first look at some of the book’s excellent illustrations.