There are some wonderful things happening in the world of books this week, dear readers. First, as I'm sure many of you have heard, (and if not, get with the times!): Harper Lee, author of "To Kill a Mockingbird," is publishing a second novel, "Go Set a Watchman." There was much rejoicing and singing of praises among my English major friends when the news came out on Feb. 3.
If you haven't read "To Kill a Mockingbird," or were forced to and therefore have unpleasant memories associated with it, I strongly encourage you to reread it. It is a brilliant book, portraying a time in America in some ways very different from our own but in some ways very similar. (Watching the movie version with Gregory Peck wouldn't hurt, either: he won a much-deserved Oscar for his portrayal of Atticus Finch).
In the days following the initial hype of the announcement of the second book, which will be a sequel to "TKAM," some mild controversy has surfaced as several people have pointed out that Harper Lee is so old now that the book release seems more like her handlers' decision than her own. Also, "Go Set a Watchman" was written before "TKAM," so it's possible that it won't be as well-written. In my opinion, if Ms. Lee is happy about the decision and the news causes more people to at least read "TKAM," then good things have been done.
The lists of winners awarded for children's and young adult literature, including the Caldecott and Newbery, were recently announced. If these books might be something you're interested in, check out the list here.
More good news: average sales for independent bookstores were up 9 percent in Dec. 2014 as compared to 2013. 'Small Business Saturday,' as well as buy local campaigns, are credited with a large part of the success. I know the financial struggles of college students are real. But whenever you can, dear readers, try to support independent businesspeople doing their best to sell things they're passionate about.
Last but not least: Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, has set up a book club called 'A Year of Books,' that invites group members to read a new book every two weeks and comment on forums. Since he's a billionaire and all, I have also seen posts about interviewing authors and having live Q&A forums. If you're looking for interesting books, and what some lit-conscious Facebook users think of them, 'A Year of Books' might be a good place to start.
A parting piece of advice: when you're reading, no matter what it is, think about the intent of the author. If it's a textbook, think about the authors. If it's a novel, think about the author. If it's a news story, think about the author. What is their 'angle'? How are they profiting from you reading this? Do they have a good reason to withhold certain information from you? I certainly don't advocate paranoia or cynicism, but in this day and age, critical consideration of literature (of all kinds) is an important part of being a thinking, well-informed individual.
As always, I hope that something you read comes alive to you this week, dear readers'and that you take time to think about why.