It’s William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday! (Well, OK, no one knows the exact day he was born, but devotees have adopted April 23 as the day to celebrate, so we will too.)
To mark the occasion, here are three random things you may not have known about the Bard:
What Do Jay Z And Shakespeare Have In Common? Swagger: As with so many other famous words and phrases, Shakespeare was the first to use “swagger.”
Shakespeare Was A Tax Evader And Food Hoarder: Research suggests that he was prosecuted for evading taxes and for hoarding grain during a famine and then reselling it at inflated prices. 
Shakespeare’s Accent: How Did The Bard Really Sound?: A little more Edinburgh — and sometimes even more Appalachia — than you might expect. 
HBD, Will!
-Nicole
gif via giphy

It’s William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday! (Well, OK, no one knows the exact day he was born, but devotees have adopted April 23 as the day to celebrate, so we will too.)

To mark the occasion, here are three random things you may not have known about the Bard:

HBD, Will!

-Nicole

gif via giphy

On Nov. 30, 1954, a character named Charlotte Braun debuted in the much-loved, 4-year-old comic strip Peanuts – and people immediately hated her. Above is Charles Schulz’s reply to one reader complaint, and the picture he drew to really drive the point home. It reads:

Dear Miss Swaim,
I am taking your suggestions regarding Charlotte Braun, and will eventually discard her. If she appears anymore it will be in strips that were already completed before I got your letter or because someone writes in saying that they like her. Remember, however, that you and your friends will have the death of an innocent child on your conscience. Are you prepared to accept such responsibility?
Thanks for writing and I hope that future releases will please you.
Sincerely.
Charles M. Schulz

DARK.
-Nicole
(via Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience, compiled by Shaun Usher)

On Nov. 30, 1954, a character named Charlotte Braun debuted in the much-loved, 4-year-old comic strip Peanuts – and people immediately hated her. Above is Charles Schulz’s reply to one reader complaint, and the picture he drew to really drive the point home. It reads:

Dear Miss Swaim,

I am taking your suggestions regarding Charlotte Braun, and will eventually discard her. If she appears anymore it will be in strips that were already completed before I got your letter or because someone writes in saying that they like her. Remember, however, that you and your friends will have the death of an innocent child on your conscience. Are you prepared to accept such responsibility?

Thanks for writing and I hope that future releases will please you.

Sincerely.

Charles M. Schulz

DARK.

-Nicole

(via Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience, compiled by Shaun Usher)

Image: Writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Paco Junquera/Getty Images)
Today’s top book news item:
Gabriel García Márquez left behind an unpublished manuscript when he died last week at age 87, Cristobal Pera, editorial director of Penguin Random House Mexico, told The Associated Press. Pera added that Marquez’s family has not yet decided whether to publish it.
Meanwhile, the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia published an extract of the work, tentatively titled We’ll See Each Other in August (En agosto nos vemos). In the excerpt, a middle-aged woman named Ana Magdalena Bach has a fling during her annual trip to a tropical island to put flowers on her mother’s grave. She stays at a hotel overlooking a lagoon full of herons. Ana, though she’s married, meets a man at the hotel and begins an affair with him. The excerpt has a strong sense of place — García Márquez’s descriptions are lush with flowers and tropical life – and a ripple of eroticism travels through it, from the touch of perfume Ana puts behind her ear at the beginning of the chapter to the thunderstorm during her encounter with the man from the hotel.

Image: Writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Paco Junquera/Getty Images)

Today’s top book news item:

Gabriel García Márquez left behind an unpublished manuscript when he died last week at age 87, Cristobal Pera, editorial director of Penguin Random House Mexico, told The Associated Press. Pera added that Marquez’s family has not yet decided whether to publish it.

Meanwhile, the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia published an extract of the work, tentatively titled We’ll See Each Other in August (En agosto nos vemos). In the excerpt, a middle-aged woman named Ana Magdalena Bach has a fling during her annual trip to a tropical island to put flowers on her mother’s grave. She stays at a hotel overlooking a lagoon full of herons. Ana, though she’s married, meets a man at the hotel and begins an affair with him. The excerpt has a strong sense of place — García Márquez’s descriptions are lush with flowers and tropical life – and a ripple of eroticism travels through it, from the touch of perfume Ana puts behind her ear at the beginning of the chapter to the thunderstorm during her encounter with the man from the hotel.

This week in paperback fiction …

  • Dave Eggers’ The Circle follows a new employee at the world’s most powerful Internet company. (Recommended by NPR host Audie Cornish.)
  • In Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn weaves a darkly funny tale of missing persons and marriage. (Here’s our interview with Flynn and the exclusive first read we posted when the book first came out.)
  • Jenni Fagan’s Panopticon delivers a portrait of a girl lost in the system,  a plot loosely based on Fagan’s own experience growing up in foster care. (Recommended by NPR editor Barrie Hardymon.)

And in paperback nonfiction …

  • Comedian and actor Jim Gaffigan’s Dad is Fat chronicles life in a two-bedroom Manhattan apartment with five little kids. (Here’s his Weekend Edition interview.)
  • In Shocked, Patricia Volk  examines two women who had a lasting impact on her: her beautiful, critical mother and haute couture designer Elsa Schiaparelli. (Here’s Susan Stamberg’s profile.)
For the grumpy prescriptivists of the world, there is now an extension for Google Chrome that replaces the word “literally” with the word “figuratively” on the webpages you visit. (Though you’re fighting a losing battle, dear purists: The word’s more colloquial, emphatic sense — as in, “I’m literally going to kill the next person who comments on my use of the word ‘literally’ ” — was recently added to the Oxford English Dictionary.)

For the grumpy prescriptivists of the world, there is now an extension for Google Chrome that replaces the word “literally” with the word “figuratively” on the webpages you visit. (Though you’re fighting a losing battle, dear purists: The word’s more colloquial, emphatic sense — as in, “I’m literally going to kill the next person who comments on my use of the word ‘literally’ ” — was recently added to the Oxford English Dictionary.)

In the annals of great first lines, The Noble Hustle ranks near the top: “I have a good poker face,” Colson Whitehead writes, “because I am half dead inside.” Hustle is a gritty, grimly funny — and seriously self-deprecating — account of Whitehead’s adventures in poker, from home games to seedy $2 tables in Atlantic City and finally a trip to Las Vegas to play in the World Series of Poker — with a few detours for beef jerky, and a discourse on Anhedonia, his gloomy spiritual homeland. Spoiler alert: He didn’t win the millions or the diamond-encrusted champion’s bracelet. But he did produce a royal flush of a story (for you non-players, a royal flush is a pretty great thing). 
Here’s our exclusive First Read of The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky and Death, which publishes May 6. We’re also hosting a Twitter chat with Colson Whitehead  today starting at 12:30 pm ET. Hashtag #NPRHustle.

In the annals of great first lines, The Noble Hustle ranks near the top: “I have a good poker face,” Colson Whitehead writes, “because I am half dead inside.” Hustle is a gritty, grimly funny — and seriously self-deprecating — account of Whitehead’s adventures in poker, from home games to seedy $2 tables in Atlantic City and finally a trip to Las Vegas to play in the World Series of Poker — with a few detours for beef jerky, and a discourse on Anhedonia, his gloomy spiritual homeland. Spoiler alert: He didn’t win the millions or the diamond-encrusted champion’s bracelet. But he did produce a royal flush of a story (for you non-players, a royal flush is a pretty great thing). 

Here’s our exclusive First Read of The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky and Death, which publishes May 6. We’re also hosting a Twitter chat with Colson Whitehead  today starting at 12:30 pm ET. Hashtag #NPRHustle.

Image: Former Supreme Court Associate Justice John Paul Stevens (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Today’s top book news item:
In a book out Tuesday, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens proposes six amendments to the U.S. Constitution, including measures aimed at preventing gerrymandering (that is, redrawing district lines for political advantage), abolishing the death penalty and allowing limits on the amount of money that political candidates and their supporters can spend on campaigns. Other amendments would promote stricter gun control and abolish states’ sovereign immunity.
The 94-year-old Stevens writes in the preface to his book, Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution, that of his proposals, “the first four would nullify judge-made rules, the fifth would expedite the demise of the death penalty, and the sixth would confine the coverage of the Second Amendment to the area intended by its authors.” He added that he is confident “ultimately each will be adopted.”

Image: Former Supreme Court Associate Justice John Paul Stevens (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Today’s top book news item:

In a book out Tuesday, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens proposes six amendments to the U.S. Constitution, including measures aimed at preventing gerrymandering (that is, redrawing district lines for political advantage), abolishing the death penalty and allowing limits on the amount of money that political candidates and their supporters can spend on campaigns. Other amendments would promote stricter gun control and abolish states’ sovereign immunity.

The 94-year-old Stevens writes in the preface to his book, Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution, that of his proposals, “the first four would nullify judge-made rules, the fifth would expedite the demise of the death penalty, and the sixth would confine the coverage of the Second Amendment to the area intended by its authors.” He added that he is confident “ultimately each will be adopted.”

YA superstar Ann Brashares has a new book out that ventures into some unfamiliar territory: The Here and Now takes a young girl from a terrible future of “blood plagues” and transplants her to present-day upstate New York, via time travel. Fellow NPR Books tumblr-ess Petra Mayer profiled Brashares – of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants fame – for Weekend Edition Sunday. She writes,

“Such a complex storyline poses a problem for a writer who’s never stepped into a time machine before. ‘You have to figure out your own rules, I guess, for time travel. You have to decide how you’re going to handle the paradoxes, how you’re going to handle the changes that people make, whether time will even allow it,’ [Brashares] says. ‘And I spent a lot of time with this book with my head in my hands, sitting at my desk, trying to keep things straight.’”

Check out the rest of Petra’s profile here.

YA superstar Ann Brashares has a new book out that ventures into some unfamiliar territory: The Here and Now takes a young girl from a terrible future of “blood plagues” and transplants her to present-day upstate New York, via time travel. Fellow NPR Books tumblr-ess Petra Mayer profiled Brashares – of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants fame – for Weekend Edition Sunday. She writes,

“Such a complex storyline poses a problem for a writer who’s never stepped into a time machine before. ‘You have to figure out your own rules, I guess, for time travel. You have to decide how you’re going to handle the paradoxes, how you’re going to handle the changes that people make, whether time will even allow it,’ [Brashares] says. ‘And I spent a lot of time with this book with my head in my hands, sitting at my desk, trying to keep things straight.’”

Check out the rest of Petra’s profile here.

Image: Lisa Robinson interviews a young Michael Jackson at his family’s house in Encino, Calif., in October 1972. (Andrew Kent/Courtesy of Riverhead Books)
Lisa Robinson has done just about every kind of music writing there is. She’s followed Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones on tour, covered the scene around CBGB in the 1970s, been a syndicated newspaper columnist, written live reviews for The New York Post and cover stories for Vanity Fair. In that time — four decades plus — she got to know everybody, and held her own as a woman in the quintessential boys’ club of rock and rock journalism.
Robinson’s new memoir, There Goes Gravity: A Life in Rock and Roll, is an insider’s look at some of the biggest personalities in music. Here’s her interview with NPR’s Wade Goodwyn.

Image: Lisa Robinson interviews a young Michael Jackson at his family’s house in Encino, Calif., in October 1972. (Andrew Kent/Courtesy of Riverhead Books)

Lisa Robinson has done just about every kind of music writing there is. She’s followed Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones on tour, covered the scene around CBGB in the 1970s, been a syndicated newspaper columnist, written live reviews for The New York Post and cover stories for Vanity Fair. In that time — four decades plus — she got to know everybody, and held her own as a woman in the quintessential boys’ club of rock and rock journalism.

Robinson’s new memoir, There Goes Gravity: A Life in Rock and Roll, is an insider’s look at some of the biggest personalities in music. Here’s her interview with NPR’s Wade Goodwyn.