The Ripped Bodice (the only bookstore in the United States dedicated solely to romance books) released a report looking at the state of diversity in 2016 romance novels. Last year there were only 7.8 published romance novels by writers of color for every 100 books from 20 major romance publishing companies. “Of particular concern is the suggestion, as revealed by the study, that publishers are not reflecting their readership base with any kind of parity. According to Pew Research, black women with college degrees are more likely to read a book than any other group. Since romance readers are approximately 84 percent female, this suggests there is a large swath of the population who don’t see themselves represented in authors or protagonists.” Entertainment Weekly highlights some major takeaways from the survey, read the rest of the appalling stats and then go support romance writers of color.
Poet turned playwright Sarah Ruhl’s latest stage production, Dear Elizabeth, is based on the correspondence between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. She recently spoke to Ruth Graham about her inspiration, and whether other writers’ letters could be adapted for the stage as well. (As an aside: you really should read The Clean House if you haven’t already.)
There are plenty of reading apps out there, but a company called Rooster has released another, this one designed to “allow users to consume bite-sized pieces of highly curated fiction” whenever they have a few spare moments. In an interview with BookBusiness, Yael Goldstein Love, the editorial director of the project, described Rooster as aiming “to bring immersive reading, particularly fiction reading, back into busy peoples’ lives.” It’s difficult to know how to feel about this. Of course we think busy people should read good fiction, but is this just a precursor to the inevitable change of literature in the face of growing technology and shortened attention spans?
If last year’s The Marriage Plot was too brief a taste of semiotics for you, here’s an interesting essay on Jacques Derrida, “the Samson to tear down the temple of structuralism,” and his seminal 1966 American presentation on “Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of Human Sciences.”