Recommended reading: Year in Reading alum Leslie Jamison writes about the pleasures and “democratic awe” of Whitman‘s Specimen Days. Pair with our own Michael Bourne‘s “Embracing the Other I Am: or, How Walt Whitman Saved My Life.”
Jaden Smith is going from an action movie career to starring in an adaptation of James McBride’s National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird. Liev Schreiber will play John Brown. If you’re unsure about casting a rapper to play the protagonist, take it up with McBride, who is also producing the film.
The book cover is in decline, Tim Kreider writes. “It seems as if sixty-five per cent of all novels’ jackets feature an item of female apparel and/or part of the female anatomy and the name of some foodstuff in the title—the book-cover equivalent of the generic tough-guy-with-gun movie poster with title like ‘2 HARD & 2 FAST.'” We judge books by their covers, too.
Peek inside a part of the DIY publishing world: zines. “Before the Internet democratized media, self-publishing was one of few ways for ordinary people to record and share with a wider audience. Zines on old taboos like sexual orientation could provide a staticky connection to a community of others with nonstandard identities in an age before chat rooms and message boards and — perhaps most importantly — simple ways to anonymize yourself.”