John Barton, Director and Co-Founder the Royal Shakespeare Company, Dies at Age Eighty-Nine

Written by Nicole Cappabianca

John Barton, director and co-founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), died at age eighty-nine, according to MobyLives. Barton is said to have died at a care home in west London on January 18th.

Barton founded the RSC with Peter Hall in 1960. Barton’s wife, Anne, passed away in 2013 at the age of 80. He is survived by his sister Jennifer.

Barton is remembered as a visionary who changed the way Shakespeare was interpreted and performed. He approached the text in new ways, even writing his own scenes to insert into the original text of well known plays.

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Publishers Weekly Calls on the Association of American Publishers to Stand Against the Repeal of Net Neutrality

Written by Sydney Stewart

The repeal of net neutrality this past December signaled to many the end of the internet as we know it. Critics have declared it a strike against free speech and a point given to private industries looking to gain a profit from the internet that was once free and equal for all to use. The repeal elicited protests and indignation; and yet, from all the voices calling against the repeal, one group has remained shockingly silent—at least according to Publishers Weekly. The magazine recently wrote an editorial calling on the Association of American Publishers (AAP) to issue a statement disapproving of the action to repeal net neutrality, because it puts their industry, and the internet as we know it, at risk.

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A Little Background on the National Book Critic’s Circle

Written by Madalyn Campbell

Last week, Publishers Weekly wrote about the finalists that were announced by the National Book Critic’s Circle (NBCC). The list includes thirty names for its 2017 awards and three additional recipients of other prizes. So, what is the NBCC?

The National Book Critic’s Circle is the professional association of American literary critics. The NBCC was formed in 1974, at the Algonquin Hotel in New York. The hotel previously housed the Algonquin Round Table, an infamous group of writers, critics, and actors who dubbed themselves the “Vicious Circle.” The NBCC was founded with the intent of creating a national conversation about reading, criticism and literature. Their awards were first created in 1976, and  they consist of six categories: autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. For a book to qualify, it must have been published in the previous calendar year, in English. Reprints and new editions are not considered; translations, however, are. The twenty-four judges are members of the NBCC who serve three-year terms on the voting board.

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Shelving Your Books Backwards and Other Acceptable Practices

Written by Annie Diamond

Look, if your book covers don’t match your décor, what are you to do?

“Shelve your books backwards” is an answer some internet home decorators would propose. A new design trend popping up on social media is displaying the page side of books. As far as I can tell, the discussion revolves around 40% people actually doing it and 60% of people hating the people who do this.

The argument for this practice is primarily based in aesthetics. The original backward-bookers posts usually reference the idea of calming down a room’s color scheme. If the theme of the room is a minimalist neutral, this is a way to display your favorite books without showing that neon orange cover. It also doesn’t hurt anyone. Backward-bookers say they can recognize their favorites from the size, color, and marks on a books front. Some speculate this practice might actually be helpful because it could prevent the discoloration of the book covers.

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How Fiction Does Not Exist In A Vacuum

By Morgan Southworth

A couple of weeks ago, a LitHub article discussed the pros and cons of “Why It’s Ok to Reuse, Repurpose, and Recycle Fiction.” The article specifically focused on Sadia Shepard’s recently published short story “Foreign-Returned,” which plucks clear elements from Mavis Gallant’s 1963 short story “The Ice Wagon Going down the Street.” In an interview, Shepard said she owed a “great debt” to Gallant’s story, and that while Gallant’s story is about a family formerly from Geneva currently living in Canada who face financial struggles, she thought it felt “so Pakistani.” This was a clear inspiration for Shepard’s retelling of Gallant’s story.

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Laying All the Cards on the Table: Orson Scott Card’s Homophobia

Written by Jeff Rose

In this installment of our Problematic Literary Faves column, I’d like to discuss Orson Scott Card, an author most famous for a little novel called Ender’s Game. He also happens to be very outspoken about his opposition to homosexuality and same-sex marriage. From 2009 to 2013, Card was a board director of the National Organization for Marriage, a group that campaigns against same-sex marriage, along with other LGBTQ rights.

As someone who read his iconic science-fiction novel in middle school, I tremendously enjoyed Ender’s story. The ideas Card presented over a fictional war that ranges in space through games seemed so wild, yet possible. As I was Ender’s age (ten) at the time, I really connected to his character even more so. Yet it was a shocking revelation to find out years later—after I solidified my identity as a member of the LGBTQ community—that Card vehemently protests against same-sex marriage.

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Turtles All the Way Down: Let’s Talk About Mental Illness   

Written by Kendall Talbot

Six years ago, John Green brought millions of readers to tears with his tragic, yet oddly comical story of two teenage cancer patients who, in spite of their ailments, were determined to experience love and life and everything in between. While The Fault in Our Stars dealt with the horrible effects of physical illness, Green’s new novel, Turtles All the Way Down, addresses a different category of illness: mental. The story’s sixteen-year-old protagonist, Aza “Holmsey” Holmes, suffers from severe anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, living in constant fear of the multitude of tiny microbes alive inside her body and the bodies of others. Her mental illness keeps Aza consistently and irrevocably stuck inside her own head, and for 286 beautifully written and heartbreakingly raw pages, we get to be stuck inside there with her.  

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How Literature Survives in a World Addicted to Instant Gratification

Written by Grace Mappes

Thanks to technology’s swift evolution and increasing availability, many of us today literally have the world at our fingertips. With just one tap on my phone I can order a textbook, send a transatlantic text, and even tweet the President of the United States directly—all instantaneously. Corporations have fought to keep up with the demand as well; Amazon Prime’s two-day shipping has long been a hallmark of its appeal and they’ve ramped up their efforts even more with select free one-day shipping, same day shipping, and even Prime Now for two-hour delivery. Several other large retailers, such as Wal-Mart and Target, have competitively followed suit. It’s safe to say that when one of these orders gets delayed for whatever reason—perhaps a long weekend or inclement weather—our patience can wear thin rather quickly. This form of instant gratification even extends to interacting with others through social media: Twitter has a 280-character limit and one doesn’t need more than a few seconds to view a Snapchat, for example.

So, what does this have to do with literature?

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