“Many of the most powerful characters in our best-loved stories are orphaned, adopted, fostered, or found. At the same time, many of the most powerless citizens in our society are orphaned, adopted, or fostered children, and the marginalized adults that so many become. Why have so few of us even noticed this centuries-old disparity?” On literature’s most celebrated protagonists, from Oliver Twist to Anne of Green Gables.
"[L]overs of more experimental books showed the ability to see things from different perspectives but it was comedy fans who scored the highest for relating to others." A new study suggests that people who read books are nicer, reports The Independent. In our recent interview with author John Vaillant he wholly agreed. "Empathy is what gives you the access," he told us. "I see the writer (fiction or nonfiction) as a kind of permeable membrane through which the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of others can pass and manifest."
In case you were wondering why "old media" companies continue to cling to print: Based on ad revenue, a print reader is worth $709, while an online reader is worth just $46. (via)
Trevor Berrett, the man behind The Mookse and the Gripes, and now The Worlds and Works of Shakespeare, is conducting a giveaway for the NYRB Classics edition of Mark Van Doren’s Shakespeare. Conditions to enter are enumerated on his blog, which you should certainly bookmark if you’re a fan of the Bard.
Meanwhile, in the commonwealth of Virginia, HB 516 is currently sailing through state legislature. What began as one mother's outraged response to her 17-year-old son's AP English assignment–reading Beloved by Toni Morrison–has morphed into a bill which would require school districts to do three things: flag any "sexually explicit" assigned material, allow parents to review all assigned readings to assess perceived levels of sexual explicitness, and finally, require teachers to provide alternate readings/avenues of study for any students whose parents deem particular content too inappropriate.
Out today are Zsuzsi Gartner's Better Living Through Plastic Explosives, which was shortlisted for Canada's top literary prize, and Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder bestselling expert on chaos Nassim Talib. Out in paperback: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain and How It All Began by Penelope Lively.