Sunday Morning Round-Up: Happy Apps, Hemingway, and Drunkards

Your one-stop shop for the week’s most interesting bookish news and reviews

Appy Reading

Photograph credit: Worldreader
Photograph credit: Worldreader

The Obama administration this week has announced a project that is set to turn America’s poor children into avid readers and like everything these days, it’ll be through the use of an app.  The app, designed by the New York Public Library, will hold around $250m worth of popular and award-winning ebooks donated by publishers, which can be accessed by children ages four to eighteen from poor backgrounds.  This scheme is already active in developing countries with the help of charity Worldreader and they have managed to reach an impressive 2.2 million readers in their first five years.

Whilst the scheme is undoubtedly admirable, my questions are: if these kids are genuinely living in poverty, what are they going to read the ebooks on (the article fails to mention this, but perhaps giving out ereaders is part of the scheme)?  And if it works, when are we going to introduce a similar scheme in the UK?

Masterpiece Shmasterpiece

a_clockwork_orange.large_Writers love their work.  Their books are their babies, right?  Apparently not always.  This great list, published by The Independent this week, shows ten books that have been effectively disowned by their authors.  Some of these books, I’ve never heard of.  Some of them, though, are old favourites.  George Orwell apparently only wrote Keep the Aspidistra Flying because he was “desperate for money” (and boy, I’m glad he was desperate – it’s a great novel!).  Perhaps, though, the fact that Anthony Burgess was prepared to “repudiate” A Clockwork Orange adds to the book’s naughty charm!

Whilst we’re on the topic of A Clockwork Orange, how well do you understand its slang?  Take this Buzzfeed quiz to find out.  I got a meagre seven out of 15 – let us know how you scored!

Happy Birthday Hemingway!

Hemingway (not at age 116.  We wouldn't want to see that).
Hemingway (not at age 116. We wouldn’t want to see that).

Hemingway turned 116 years old this week!  Or at least he would have, if he were still alive.  He was born on the 21st July 1899 and has over 40 published works, including A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Sun Also Rises.  In celebration of his birthday, here are some great photos and quotes to remember him by.  Or how about these five inspiring quotes?  My favourite has got to be “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”  Or why not read about the massive five times that he cheated death?  Or my favourite way to celebrate…a quiz!  I scored a pathetic 30% but I’m the first to admit, my Hemingway knowledge is poor!

The House by the Faraway Tree

Photograph credit: Handout
Photograph credit: Handout

Like most people my age (and a great many people of other ages), I was brought up on a healthy dose of Enid Blyton.  The tales of The Magic Faraway Tree blew me away with their excitement and enchantment and now, you can buy the home in which they were written.  Yes, that’s right, Blyton’s 17th-century cottage is up for sale for a cool £1.85m.  It was here that she wrote some of her most famous books and it would later become the setting of her Mystery series.  Now, from where can I get £1.85m?

Illustrating Illustrators

Illustrations often feature largely in books and sometimes, especially in children’s books, are more present than the actual writing.  Why is it, then, that illustrators are not given the same amount of credit as the author?  A new campaign, Pictures Mean Business, aims to highlight this issue.  Looking at some of the most famous modern children’s books, it’s easy to see this issue in action.  We’re Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen is well known, but have you heard of the illustrator, Helen OxenburyThe Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson is another good example as Axel Scheffler’s name is rarely mentioned.  The campaign is being backed by authors Joanna Harris and Malorie Blackman, and you can follow the latest happenings with the Twitter tag #picturesmeanbusiness.

And for the fun link of the week: Drunkards, and Their Literary Personas

A study published in Addiction Research & Theory last week has shown that there are four types of drunk people – and they are all based on literary figures or characters!  I like to think of myself as a Hemingway when drunk, but I suspect I may be a Nutty Professor!  Which one are you?

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