Your one-stop shop for the week’s most interesting bookish news and reviews
Perhaps we should rename 2015 The Year of Publishing Lost Books as the second famously found manuscript of the year, Dr. Seuss’ What Pet Should I Get? is released this week. It’s been almost 25 years since Dr. Seuss, whose real name was Theodor Geisel, died. The manuscript was found in his home back in 2013 but it’s only now that publisher Random House are releasing it. It’s likely that the book was written between 1958 and 1962, and it features the same brother and sister as seen in Seuss’ classic One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.
Huxley’s Happy Birthday Hurrahs!
There is another famous birthday this week – or at least there would have been, if Aldous Huxley was still alive. Huxley, who would have turned 118 years old this week, is most famous for his dystopian novel Brave New World. David Hofmeyr, author of Stone Rider, explains how he was influenced by Brave New World and how the novel set the way for much of the dystopian visions we know and (sort of) love today. Huxley lived a rather interesting life too, as demonstrated in this excellent collection of random facts. Did you know, for example, that his wife administered him LSD a few hours before he died? Let’s hope he had a good trip, because that would be a rubbish way to go otherwise!
Boris Johnson, London Mayor, MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, and the general butt of many a joke, has this week signed a £500,000 book deal to write a biography of bard William Shakespeare, in time for the 400th anniversary of his death next year (the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, of course. I’m not sure how old Boris Johnson is, but I’m pretty sure he hasn’t reached 400 yet. Or died, for that matter. I bet there’s a conspiracy theorist out there somewhere who would disagree with me though).
Writing biographies is actually a bit ‘old hat’ for old Boris now, as this will be the 12th biography he has written. His most famous, The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History (about, yep – you’ve got it, Winston Churchill) was received with critical acclaim and it’s indubitable that his Shakespearean biography will be equally well enjoyed. Boris Johnson may be a Tory, and he may even seem a bit daft, but you’ve got to admit – he’s funny, in an endearing (and sometimes worrying) sort of way, and he must be pretty switched on to do as well as he has. Good work Boris!
This week saw the announcement of two book prize long lists: The Man Booker Prize and the Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize. With thirteen books on the former list and a joyfully massive seventy books on the latter list, I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t read a single one of them! I’d best get reading if I’ve got any hope of reading them before the winners are announced. The Man Booker Prize winner will be announced on 13th October. As for Not the Booker Prize, you can vote now to help whittle the list down to a shorter six options.
There was another birthday this week as Harry Potter (character, not book) turned 35. He was born 31st July 1980, meaning that the books were set in the 1990s – which may have caused some confusion for some who thought Potter actually turned 26 this year. And what better way to celebrate his birthday with the European Quidditch Finals? Yes, that’s right, the fictional sport that JK Rowling invented for the Harry Potter books has spawned a real sport and this week, players from 12 different countries fought for the win in Tuscany. There are broomsticks and snitches and rough-and-ready play, and the UK has one of the strongest teams worldwide. Isn’t it great that we can live in a world where we can turn something so seemingly fantastical into something genuine and real? Now all we need to do is learn to fly…
And for the fun link of the week: Birthday Snitch!
Sticking with the Harry Potter theme (because…why not?), the best way that you could possibly celebrate his birthday is by making Golden Snitch cake pops – and luckily for us, Buzzfeed is here to show us how! Making cake, crumbling cake, eating cake, thinking about books…what else could you possibly want to do on a Sunday afternoon?