Today In Books

How Writing Has Spread Across the World, from 3000 BCE to This Year: Today in Books

National Literacy Trust and Enterprise Give 25,000 Copies of Henry’s First Novel to Children 

As part of Enterprise’s Road Forward, a $55 million fund from the philanthropic Enterprise Holdings Foundation to support social and racial equity projects across the world, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and the National Literacy Trust are giving away 25,000 copies of Sir Lenny Henry’s first novel, The Boy With Wings, to 5th and 6th graders across the UK. The books will arrive at the beginning of UK’s Black History Month in October, and the partnership hopes this effort boosts rates of reading for pleasure as well as offer representation for Black kids with important messages about race, inclusion, and diversity.

How Writing Has Spread Across the World, from 3000 BCE to This Year: An Animated Map

Historical map animator Ollie Bye, created a map which shows the spread of writing across the world from the oldest known writing systems in Mesopotamia, between 3400 and 3100 BCE, and Egypt, around 3250 BCE through today. The map illustrates all known writing systems over the whole of the past five millennia, not just those used today.

Andrews McMeel Publishing Teams up With the Academy of American Poets to Release 100 Poems That Matter

In partnership with the Academy of American Poets, Andrews McMeel Publishing will release 100 Poems That Matter on December 6, 2022. The anthology will examine universal themes of love, loss, and the experiences that define us. 100 Poems That Matter aims to encourages us to bring a deeper sense of honesty into our lives, invite readers into poetry, and prompt reflection. 

Who “Parental Rights” Groups Leave Out

Although groups like “Moms for Liberty” say that they are fighting for “parents’ rights” by trying to remove books from schools and claim to speak for all parents, less than 1% of Florida parents chose to opt their children out of access to their choice of school library books.

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Amazon to Change Ebook Return Policy, End Refunds for Quick Readers: Today in Books

Amazon to Change Ebook Return Policy, End Refunds for Quick Readers

The Authors Guild announced on Thursday that after discussions with Amazon’s senior executive team concerning its policy of refunding all all ebook purchases up to seven days after purchase, regardless of the amount read, Amazon is changing its ebook policy to restrict automatic returns to purchases where no more than 10% of the book has been read. Customers who have read more than 10% of a purchased ebook will now have to go through a more lengthy review process to return the book. This policy chance will go into effect at the end of the year.

Michelle Obama Announces a New Book and She Could Be Coming to a City Near You

Michelle Obama announced the the dates and cities for her six-city tour promoting her upcoming book The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times, which will be released on November 15. The tour will be produced by Live Nation beginning in Washington, D.C. on November 15 with stops in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

Chairman Raskin, Senator Schatz Introduce Bicameral Resolution Recognizing Banned Books Week

This week, Rep. Jamie Raskin and Sen. Brian Schatz introduced a resolution in the House recognizing Banned Books Week, condemning the book bans across the country as a a direct attack on First Amendment rights. The Banned Books Week Congressional Resolution urges Congress to denounce the illegitimate processes being used to ban books in schools, prisons, and libraries, and urges local governments and educational institutions to respond to book bans in kind.

Wolf Hall Author Hilary Mantel Dies at 70

Prolific British author and two-time winner of the Booker Prize, Hilary Mantel, died from a stroke on Thursday at the age of 70.

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How A High School Student Won A School Board Seat By Standing Up To Extremists: Today in Books

Announcing the Winners of the 2022 Ignyte Awards!

The third annual Ignyte Awards, which seek to celebrate the vibrancy and diversity of the current and future landscapes of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, were presented on Saturday, September 17th, 2022. Among the winners from the 1205 submitted ballots are A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark for Best Novel: Adult, A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger for Best Novel: Young Adult, and Root Magic by Eden Royce for Best in Middle Grade.

How A High School Student Won A School Board Seat By Standing Up To Extremists

Eighteen-year-old Shiva Rajbhandari defeated 47-year-old incumbent Steve Schmidt who was endorsed by local far-right extremist groups in the race for a seat on the Boise School District Board of Trustees with 56% of the vote. For Rajbhandari, this result demonstrated part of the reason he ran for board election in the first place, to demonstrate that the majority of Boise School District patrons do not support the book-banning, anti-mask, and anti-LGBTQ sentiments of the extremists who backed his opponent. Rajbhandari hopes to establish a permanent student position on the school board so that he is replaced by another student when he graduates.

Canada’s Indigo Books & Music Names New CEO

Former company president of Canada’s Indigo Books & Music, Peter Ruis has been named CEO in place of Heather Reisman who will now assume the role of executive chairman. Ruis is a former retail executive with 30 years of experience at Levis, Ted Baker, Anthropologie, and John Lewis. Ruis’s succession to CEO was part of a planned hire by Indigo Books & Music to help cope with pandemic lockdowns. As Canada’s dominant bookstore chain, Ruis plans to keep the focus on brick-and-mortar retail, making things bigger and bolder.

Longlists Announced for 2022 National Book Awards

The longlists for the 2022 National Book Awards were announced on September 14–16. Read on to see the titles longlisted for Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature.

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The Booker Prize 2022 Shortlist Announced: Today in Books

‘Paper Girls’ Canceled at Amazon Prime Video After One Season

Based on the graphic novel series of the same name, written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Cliff Chiang, Paper Girls the series, produced by Amazon Studios for Amazon Prime Video, has been canceled after one season despite debuting to positive reviews.

The Booker Prize 2022 Shortlist Announced

The Booker Prize shortlist was announced live from an event at the Serpentine Pavilion in London on Tuesday evening and streamed via the Booker Prizes website and social media channels. The six books on the shortlist are all set in different places at different times, but are about events that in some measure happen everywhere and concern everyone. They are Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo, The Trees by Percival Everett, Treacle Walker by Alan Garner, The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka, Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan, and Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout.

Resurgence in Independent Bookstores: New Book Shop Opens in Hintonburg

The Spaniel’s Tale, a new bookstore, opened Labor Day Weekend in Ottawa’s Hintonburg neighborhood. Owners Cole Davidson and Stephen Crocker named the store after their English Springer Spaniel named Skype. They stock the shop with various genres and topics, including sections for children, Canadian authors, Indigenous books, LGBTQ2S+ books, and a space dedicated to local authors.

How to Run for School Board

School board elections right now are crucial to get representation for an entire community and not just those interested in infuse the board with specific conservative agendas.

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Timothée Chalamet’s Sexy Bisexual Cannibal Stuns Venice: Today in Books

Timothée Chalamet’s Sexy Bisexual Cannibal Stuns Venice

The world premiere of Bones and All, a Luca Guadagnino adaptation of Camille DeAngelis’s Bones and All, received an 8.5-minute standing ovation at its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on Friday — the longest of the festival so far. “Bones and All” is Guadagnino’s first movie shot in the United States and stars Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell. It is set to release in theaters on November 23.

Northern Library Bursting at the Seams

Lakes Country Public Library in northern Oconto County, Wisconsin is looking to raise $1.2 million to expand to nearly double its size. The Oconto County Board of Supervisors voted to provide $300,000 in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act in July, and thanks to the Bond Foundation, Wisconsin Public Services, and other organizations, the library has raised over half of the $1.2 million so far. Community resources are few and far between in this area that serves Lakewood, Townsend, Doty, and Riverview, and the current library facility is not big enough to serve the growing demand. The library is expected to break ground in May 2023, if it gets all the funding by then.

Special Nick Cave Audiobook Coming This Month

Macmillan Audio will release a special audio version of rock musician Nick Cave’s latest book, Faith, Hope and Carnage, which centers on grief and the creative process after the death of Cave’s 15-year-old son in 2015. The audiobook will feature 16 musical codas and elements from Cave’s Carnage, Skeleton Tree, and Ghosteen albums as well as an exclusive, additional 12-minute conversation between Cave and U.K. arts journalist co-writer Seán O’Hagan about the production of the recording. The audiobook is scheduled for release on September 20.

Barbara Ehrenreich, Author of Nickel and Dimed, Has Passed Away at 81

Journalist, activist, and author of more than 20 books, Barbara Ehrenreich passed away September 1st at a hospice in Alexandria, Virginia.

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Australian Kids Take Over Prestigious Book Awards: Today in Books

‘Why Should Adults Judge Children’s Books?’ Australian Kids Take Over Prestigious Book Awards

This year, the winners of the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) inaugural shadowers’ choice awards were decided by 155 panels made of around 2,000 primary and high school-aged readers from all states and territories. These children used the same judgment criteria as the adult-appraised CBCA book of the year awards, resulting in a completely different set of winners from the result judges. Children’s book author Victoria Mackinlay, who acted as a judging group facilitator, said it was been empowering for young readers to not just air their opinions but see them count.

Michigan Town Defunds Library So Kids Can’t Read LBGTQ Books

Jamestown Township in Michigan voted to defund their only local library due to complaints that the books were “pornographic” (such as Gender Queer: A Memoir, Kiss Number 8, and Spinning) and that the library staff was indoctrinating children. The vote left Patmos Public Library with enough funding to remain open until next year, and a resident-led GoFundMe campaign to save the library has already raised over $180,000.

Good News for Books: The Washington Post’s Book Section is Back!

In the face of declining readership, budget cuts, and mergers in 2006, The Washington Post cut its book review section, but Washington Post book critic Ron Charles announced in his newsletter that the paper’s standalone print book section is coming back on September 25. This broadsheet section is devoted entirely to book reviews and literary features, including reviews, Q&As, publishing stories, author profiles, and more.

Get Out Your Brooms for These New Witchy YA Books

Spooky season is right around the corner, and luckily YA continues to offer more and more witchy books that are representative of the world at large. Check out some outstanding new witchy books that have hit shelves this year.

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Schools Block Donated Dictionaries Amid Ron DeSantis’s Book Crackdown: Today in Books

Schools Block Donated Dictionaries Amid Ron DeSantis’s Book Crackdown

All book donations and purchases in the Sarasota County School District are at a standstill until at least January due to the new law, HB 1467, which requires books to be approved by state-certified media specialists. However, this state-certified media specialist job has not been created yet for the district, so no books can be approved. As the new school year approaches, this means that regular new donations to Sarasota elementary schools of even dictionaries from a local rotary club are currently barred. Tallahassee U.S. District Judge Mark Walker says the act violates the First Amendment and is impermissibly vague.

New Fantastic Four Comic Writer Previews His Plans for Marvel’s First Family

Marvel’s current Fantastic Four comic, as written by Dan Slott since 2018, is coming to an end with issue #46 later this month as writer Ryan North and artist Iban Coello take over the comic. The duo plan to focus on smaller, more intimate, self-contained stories rather than big epics. Alex Ross is also joining the team to create the photorealistic cover art.

An Online Petition Fighting North East ISD’s Book Ban is Just Shy of Its Goal

A petition started eight months ago urging North East Independent School District to reinstate banned books from State Rep. Matt Krause’s list of 850 titles that could cause students “psychological distress” is about 500 signatures short of reaching its 15,000 signature goal. The petition emphasizes that the district is under no obligation to comply with the Krause List and argues that because the books on the list explore topics on race, sexuality, LGBTQ+ issues, and more, the removals are an attack marginalized students.

Salman Rushdie and the Power of Stories

Novelist Salman Rushdie was attacked onstage on Friday, August 12, 2022, in Chautauqua, New York, suffering at least 10 stab wounds to his neck and abdomen. The attack has been linked to the fatwā — a legal ruling on a point of Islamic law, calling for Rushdie’s death as well as the death of his publishers — that has been following Rushdie for much of his career due to the religiously controversial nature of his writing. It’s a demonstration of the power of defending the freedom of speech to challenge and examine the ways we look at ourselves and each other.

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Meet the Teens Fighting Book Bans with Banned Book Clubs: Today in Books

Meet the Teens Fighting Book Bans with Banned Book Clubs

In response to the Leander Independent School District’s Community Curriculum Advisory Committee in in Austin, Texas banning over 15 books, two students at Vandegrift High School, Ella Scott and Alyssa Hoy, have founded the Vandegrift Banned Book Club. Arguing that although the committee claims these books contain material that can be harmful, students actually actually need to be able to read and discuss the themes in these books in order to prepare to address these issues in adulthood, the book club meets in the school library once per month to choose books from the district’s list of currently banned books and discuss how the themes from each book connect to students’ lives, why the book was banned, and how that ban affects students. Book club members then prepare a statement together arguing for the book’s reinstatement.

School Librarians in Missouri Pull Books as New Law Allows Charges for ‘Explicit’ Material

School librarians are now facing the potential of criminal charges for not pulling books from shelves under a new state law going into effect on August 28 which bans “explicit sexual material,” defining explicit sexual material as any visual (not written word) depiction of sex acts or genitalia, with exceptions for artistic or scientific significance. Defying this law is considered a class A misdemeanor, carrying a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a fine of $2,000.

San Antonio’s North East ISD Banned More Books Than Any Other Texas School District

San Antonio’s North East ISD lead the state in reviewing whether or not books are appropriate for students, reviewed 431 books and removing 119 of those. 1,057 of these book reviews took place during the 2021-2022 school year after conservative Texas Rep. Matt Krause demanded that districts review the books on a list of 850 titles he circulated, claiming the reading material “might make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish.”

Back to School 2022: 10 of the Best Picture Books to Read on the First Day of School

Whether you are a caregiver preparing a child or an educator preparing a learning environment, here are some back-to-school picture books to transition from summer to school and ease some nerves about the school year.


Epic Update: August 8, 2022

Hello Epic Insiders and Happy Monday! No special announcements today, so let’s get into books:

What are you reading?

It’s Amanda again, back for more chats about what I’m reading this week! Things have cooled down a little in the last few days which has been great, especially since I’m moving this week and packing in the heat is not my favorite activity in the world. I haven’t had a ton of time to sit down and read this week, which definitely IS one of my favorite activities. But that’s okay! My books aren’t going anywhere (except across town to my new apartment of course).

I did manage to finish up I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick before I got too busy with packing. I won’t spoil the ending, but I can say it was a solid summer read with fun twists!

paper girls cover

And since I find reading graphic novels is great when you’re strapped for time and attention span, I also reread the first volume of Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang. It’s one of my favorite series and it’s been on my mind recently since the TV show adaptation is being released on Amazon Prime soon. I’m normally wary of TV or movie adaptations of books I love since they tend to fall short of the book in my opinion. But the casting for this adaptation seems so spot on that I’m willing to give it a shot. Fingers very crossed!

Once I’m more settled into my new place, I’m planning on starting either Do You Dream of Terra-Two? byTemi Oh or Persephone Station by Stina Leicht. I’m clearly in the mood for some sci-fi spacey adventures!

What are you reading this week? Let us know in the comments!


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Judge Backs Dismissal of ‘Implausible’ Amazon, Big Five Price-Fixing Suit: Today in Books

Judge Backs Dismissal of ‘Implausible’ Amazon, Big Five Price-Fixing Suit

A federal judge has recommended that a potential consumer class action lawsuit accusing Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, and Penguin Random House of co-conspiring with Amazon to fix ebook prices through the use of various forms of a Most Favored Nations clause be dismissed, agreeing with the lawyers for Amazon and the publishers who insisted the alleged conspiracy was irrational and implausible with no direct evidence to suggest collusion.

Federal Judge Keeps Wentzville Book Review Policy in Place

A federal judge in St. Louis, Missouri has declined to temporarily halt the Wentzville School District’s book review policy after the ACLU of Missouri sued the district on behalf of two Wentzville students in February, arguing books had been removed solely because the main characters were people of color and members of the LGBTQ community. A trial on whether to permanently ban the district from enforcing its policy is currently set for October 2023.

Alabama Poet Laureate Ashley M. Jones Awarded $50,000 Grant from the Academy of American Poets

Alabama poet laureate Ashley Jones has been awarded $50,000 by the Academy of American Poets to support her civic poetry program in the upcoming year. Jones will use the funds to help implement the Alabama Poetry Delegation, her project which seeks to engage and support poetry projects and poets across the state. Jones will identify five regions and five regional delegates to shepherd poetry projects over three years.

A Michigan Public Library May Close Due to Conservative Propaganda

After a year-long battle with the Jamestown Conservatives over refusing to censor its LGBTQ+ content, the Patmos Library did not win its primary ballot measure to renew its millage rate past the spring of 2023.