Book Beat: TPL’s Public Book, William Blake, and YA Dick Soap

Hello everyone, it’s Emily here! I hope your August is going well. I’ve just come back from a book-filled, internet-free vacation, so now I’m ready to jump back into our online literary discussions and share the latest book news with you. Let’s get started!

Toronto Public Library Is Writing a Book Via Twitter

Toronto Public Library recently started a unique Twitter endeavor: writing a novel on Twitter. City librarian Vickery Bowles tweeted out the opening line to a novel on August 7th and invited followers to continue the story with their own lines. Each day, library staff selects two lines to compete in a poll; the one with the most votes will continue the story.

Anyone can participate, and the library says some special guests like author Catherine Hernandez will be joining in the fun.

This initiative is scheduled to continue until the end of the month, but the library may extend the event if it goes well. The finished story will be published on the Toronto Public Library website, and the library may release it as a print edition as well.

George R.R. Martin on J.R.R. Tolkien

It’s no secret that J.R.R. Tolkien influenced author G.R.R. Martin’s The Song of Ice and Fire series. In a recent interview for PBS’s “The Great American Read,” Martin discusses Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. He notes, in particular, the impact of the death of Gandalf on himself and readers: “The minute you kill Gandalf, the suspense of everything that follows is a thousand times greater, because now anybody could die. Of course, that’s had a profound effect on my own willingness to kill characters off at the drop of a hat.”

So there you have it, if it weren’t for Tolkien, maybe Ned Stark would still be alive! If that were the case, the Game of Thrones we know would be very different.

William Blake Gets a New Gravestone

The final resting place of poet and painter William Blake is somewhere in Bunhill Fields, London; but until recently, the exact location was unknown. There was only a marker saying that his and his wife’s remains were nearby. As of Sunday, this is no longer the case! William Blake has been found; and to honor him, a headstone has been made to finally mark his grave.

William Blake
By Thomas Phillips, oil on canvas, 1807

Two of his admirers, Carol and Luis Garrido, began searching for Blake’s grave after a visit to Bunhill Fields in 2004. They were able to discover the exact location of his grave based on the burial site’s vague grid coordinates, the clearly marked remnants of two other persons buried in the site, and Carol’s expert skills in landscape architecture. After years of further research and fundraising, following the Garridos revelation of Blake’s true burial location, the Blake Society has now marked the spot with an official memorial.

The Blake Society revealed the memorial on the 191st anniversary of Blake’s death—August 11, 2018. The inauguration featured addresses by Blake Society president Philip Pullman (yes … the same Philip Pullman who wrote His Dark Materials) and other prominent Blake fans.

YA Book Box Drama

Subscription boxes seem to be all the rage these days in the book world, but a recent YA book box from the subscription company Book Boyfriend Box is receiving a good deal of attention for a few… unusual items. To celebrate A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, this particular box included items such as highly realistic penis-shaped soap, sensual drawings, and what appears to be a fan novella about, as the title says, smut set in the world of this series.

The immediate reaction to the controversy was wonderment that this box and its items were approved at all, since Bloomsbury Publishing has nothing to do with these kinds of subscription boxes. But the larger conversation on YA Twitter now is a lively debate about sexuality and sexual representation in literature aimed at teens and young adults.

And on the more practical side, there have also been warnings on social media against internal use for those looking to buy this box. Book Twitter is wild, y’all…

Out This Week:

How to Breath Underwater by Vicky Skinner
The Looking Glass by Janet McNally
A River of Stars by Vanessa Hua
Flights by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft

Flights by Olga Tokarczuk