Better World Books Good Reading
 

6 Books That Help You Talk About Death and End-of-Life Care

Healthcare is a global hot-button issue and recent political discussions in the United States have brought the topic front and center in the national dialog. A whole slew of books have looked at the complex issues surrounding mortality and care: when to intervene, when to not, what does quality of life mean, and the importance of a life well lived without prolonging suffering. The ones we feature in this blog will give you plenty of food for thought, and angles to discuss if you're part of a book club. The topic of health might often be weighty but how better to address it than with your friends and family as part of a broader life discussion and through the accessible avenue of books! [More]


A Van Gogh Reading List

Vincent and Theo Deborah Heiligman's young adult biography Vincent and Theo draws on the hundreds of letters that passed between the Van Gogh brothers. There are various editions of Vincent's letters, including a 2009 version endorsed by the Van Gogh Museum that contains all Van Gogh's letters to his brother Theo. The letters between Theo and his wife, Johanna, are also available in translation as Brief Happiness (1999), and Jo left a short memoir of Vincent.

Here are four more books, not limited to the young adult genre, that allow for further reflection and/or speculation about Vincent van Gogh's career and character. [More]


Shakespeare in Books and Film

According to Guinness World Records, William Shakespeare is the world's best-selling playwright, with in excess of four billion copies of his plays and poetry making it to press over the centuries. He is also history's most filmed author; his works have been adapted into 420 feature film and TV-movie versions (Hamlet alone has been performed on screen 79 times). While his plays are timeless works of art, some people find them challenging due to the Elizabethan prose. Over the years many attempts have been made to adapt the plays into a format that contemporary audiences might find more accessible (some resulting in a more faithful interpretation than others). [More]


Beyond the Book: Traditional Cambodian Music

Traditional Cambodian music plays a key role in Music of the Ghosts. Hearing it triggers memories for both of the story's main characters, and three hand-made instruments—a single-stringed lute, an oboe, and a drum—set the plot in motion.

Music and Buddhism have a strong connection; music is sometimes seen as a ceremonial offering to the Buddha. An estimated 95% of Cambodians are Buddhist today, and the roots of Buddhism date back to the 5th century. Over that long history, Buddhist songs have been adapted for use in ceremonies such as weddings and funerals, playing an integral role in common cultural practices.
[More]


7 Books on The Civil War for Book Clubs

Historical fiction lovers have it good: they can travel to distant places and times, and learn by immersion. The American Civil War is one piece of history that is filled with treats for fans of the form -- high drama, hazy battle lines between good and bad, black and white; and the sights and sounds of a nascent America still struggling to forge its identity. There are plenty of good books in this category, March by Geraldine Brooks and Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier being two classics. Here are some others worth checking out. Please fee free to add your own suggestions at the bottom.
[More]

 

The world's coolest bookstores

CNN reports on "the world's coolest bookstores from London to Los Angeles."


Banned Books Week

Bookstores, libraries and other organizations across the USA are preparing for Banned Books Week 2017, which runs next week, September 24-30. Shelf Awareness takes a look at what some stores are planning...


David Lagercrantz will write one final book in the Millennium series - to be released in 2019

David Lagercrantz, who continued Stieg Larsson's Milllennium series after the latter's death in 2004, has stated that he will write just one more book in the series, to be released in 2019. This would bring the series to six books - three by Larsson and three by Lagercrantz.


Libraries find new relevance and needed funds by partnering with office and affordable housing developments

In an op ed for the New York Times, Matt A.V. Chaban, policy director for the Center for an Urban Future, discusses how libraries in New York City, and potentially, in cities across the country, could find much needed funds to modernize and stay relevant for the long term through partnerships with housing and office developments:

"In 2014, the city selected the Fifth Avenue Committee to undertake the novel task of redeveloping the Sunset Park branch. There, an eight-story building will rise, with the first two floors dedicated to a library 75 percent larger than the one there now. The floors above will have 49 apartments, all of which will be rented to low- and middle-income families in perpetuity.

Imagine if the city did the same at the branch in Corona, Queens, where cramped quarters force study groups to huddle on the floor; or Red Hook, Brooklyn, where families from the nearby housing projects are eager for more job training; or Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, where rising sea levels and storms like Sandy threaten its very operations."


"The Handmaid's Tale" and "Big Little Lies" get top honors at Emmy Awards

Two TV series based on books scooped the top honors at last night's Emmy Awards:

The Handmaid's Tale won five awards including best drama series, best actress for Elisabeth Moss and best supporting actress for Ann Dowd.

Big Little Lies took five prizes in the limited series categories, including wins for Nicole Kidman and Laura Dern.


Hillary Clinton's post-election reading list

James Hohmann, national political correspondent for The Washington Post and author of The Daily 202, leads Monday's issue with a look at the many books Hillary Clinton turned to after her election loss:

"What Happened was quickly strip-mined for political nuggets after its publication last Tuesday. As I went through it over the weekend, though, what struck me most was how the wounded Democrat coped after her crushing defeat last November.

In short, Clinton has read voraciously and eclectically — for escape, for solace and for answers.

The collection of works that she cites across 494 pages showcases a top-flight intellect and would make for a compelling graduate school seminar..."


Roald Dahl?s widow says Charlie Bucket was supposed to be black until editor intervened

The widow and the biographer of the beloved British children's writer Roald Dahl told the BBC in an interview this week that Charlie Bucket, the young boy whose life is changed by a golden ticket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, was originally supposed to be black.

Mrs. Dahl made the remark during a conversation with Donald Sturrock, her husband's biographer, on BBC Radio 4's "Today" program. "It was his agent who thought it was a bad idea when the book was first published to have a black hero," Mr. Sturrock said. "She said people would ask why."


Court rules that theatrical parody of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" does not violate copyright.

After a nine month dispute, Manhattan's Federal District Court has ruled that Matthew Lombardo's theatrical parody, Who's Holiday! — a dark and decidedly adult sequel of sorts to Dr Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas — does not violate the copyright of the original story.


English teachers adapt reading lists in the age of Trump

Politico reports on how America's high school English teachers are adapting curriculum to the current political climate:

After watching the tumult of the 2016 presidential election play out inside their classrooms last year, and after a summer of hate-filled violence, many are retooling the reading lists and assignments they typically give their students. They worry that the classic high school canon doesn't sufficiently cover today's most pressing themes—questions about alienation and empathy and power—and that the usual writing prompts aren't enough to get students thinking deeper than an average cable news segment...


Clowns already feeling impact of Stephen King's "It"

Stephen King's record-breaking horror film "It" may already be a hit with audiences, but one group is not celebrating the success of the latest adaptation of Stephen King's novel: clowns.

For a community already struggling to combat perceptions of clowns as scary rather than fun, the emergence of Pennywise, the movie's child-killing clown villain, played by Swedish actor Bill Skarsgard is truly the stuff of nightmares. Even before the film's release the World Clown Association was warning that the film could cause its members to lose work, even going as far as publishing a press kit to prepare clowns for the damaging effects It might have on their reputations.