If you were a preteen girl at any point during the last 67 years, you probably know Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague. And if you were anything like me, reading it brought on a brief but fierce obsession with ponies – specifically, the wild ones that roam nearby Assateague Island. Well, last weekend, I channeled my 9-year-old self and did some literary tourism on Chincoteague Island, Va., the birthplace and setting of Henry’s book. Here’s what I learned (or more likely re-learned, given the extent of my obsession):

  • The real Misty was born in 1946 on the (real) Beebe Ranch in Chincoteague and the (real) Clarence Beebe only agreed to sell her to Marguerite Henry if she promised to include his grandchildren, Maureen and Paul, in the book.
  • The real Misty’s hoof prints can be found in the sidewalk in front of Chincoteague’s Island Theater, which also has screenings of the book’s 1961 film adaptation.
  • Misty still has descendents on the island.
  • One wacky theory as to how Misty’s  ancestors got to Assateague Island stipulates that they were survivors of a Spanish galleon shipwreck offshore.

-Nicole

“The aggressive vibrato of the bandoneon hung in the air. While the tango singer spoke of romantic spats, hopeless drunkards and lonely whores, an elderly Argentine couple clasped hands.”

But that scene didn’t take place in a steamy Latin club on the Lower East Side … no, it was a library in Jackson Heights, Queens. 

New York’s Queens borough is among the most ethnically diverse counties in the nation, its immigrant-filled neighborhoods teeming with taco joints, Dominican beauty salons and women in headscarves,” writes Code Switch's Cristina Silva. “It's no surprise, then, that the borough's library system has also strived for unparalleled diversity.”

The library system’s 62 locations boast more than 800,000 foreign language books, thousands of foreign language DVDs and CDs, and six language specialists tasked with finding the most popular materials in Urdu, Polish, Arabic, Portuguese, Bengali, Russian, French and Spanish, among other languages. It also regularly hosts cultural events, such as the tango performance in Jackson Heights, to draw in immigrants unaware of how libraries or library cards work — or at least how they work in Queens.

Chinese romance novels are always popular, as is the Korean version of Twilight. The library system also caters to Albanians, Croatians and Serbians in Ridgewood, Tagalog speakers in Elmhurst, Woodside and Broadway, Farsi in Kew Garden Hills and Pashto and Dari in Flushing.

Read the rest of the story here.

— Petra

Today in Book News: The winners of the 2014 PEN Literary Awards – more than a dozen prizes honoring writers of various genres — were announced on Wednesday morning, and include Frank Bidart (“a poet of roiling intensity, a poet singularly unafraid of excess”) and James Wolcott (a critic of “panoramic and encyclopedic variety”). Other winners include Ron Childress’ And West Is West, which won the $25,000 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, and Linda Leavell’s Holding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore, which won the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography. The winner of the biggest prize, the $25,000 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, will be announced at the awards ceremony in September; the finalists are Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Ian Stansel’s Everybody’s Irish, Shawn Vestal’s Godforsaken Idaho, Saïd Sayrafiezadeh’s Brief Encounters With the Enemy and Hanya Yanagihara’s The People in the Trees.
Also today, Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura was awarded almost $2 million in a defamation suit against the estate of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who wrote the 2012 book American Sniper and who died last year. Kyle had written about punching Ventura after Ventura claimed he “hated America.” Ventura denies saying it, and says the accusations hurt his career.
And Rand Paul will release a book in 2015, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, about his unique approach to policy. Paul says the pre-election timing of the book is "just coincidence, probably just coincidence, yeah."
Read more here.

Today in Book NewsThe winners of the 2014 PEN Literary Awards – more than a dozen prizes honoring writers of various genres — were announced on Wednesday morning, and include Frank Bidart (“a poet of roiling intensity, a poet singularly unafraid of excess”) and James Wolcott (a critic of “panoramic and encyclopedic variety”). Other winners include Ron Childress’ And West Is West, which won the $25,000 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, and Linda Leavell’s Holding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore, which won the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography. The winner of the biggest prize, the $25,000 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, will be announced at the awards ceremony in September; the finalists are Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Ian Stansel’s Everybody’s Irish, Shawn Vestal’s Godforsaken Idaho, Saïd Sayrafiezadeh’s Brief Encounters With the Enemy and Hanya Yanagihara’s The People in the Trees.

Also today, Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura was awarded almost $2 million in a defamation suit against the estate of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who wrote the 2012 book American Sniper and who died last year. Kyle had written about punching Ventura after Ventura claimed he “hated America.” Ventura denies saying it, and says the accusations hurt his career.

And Rand Paul will release a book in 2015, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, about his unique approach to policy. Paul says the pre-election timing of the book is "just coincidence, probably just coincidence, yeah."

Read more here.

In fiction…

  • Walking “the line between literary lyricism and good old-fashioned science fiction storytelling,” The Summer Prince follows two young girls who seek out their own answers to questions about love, art, technology, tradition and sex while living in a futuristic Brazilian city run by women. 
  • When a photographer’s assistant learns her long lost lover who she believes is dead is actually alive and married, her life is changed forever. Jessica Lott’s debut novel, The Rest of Us, "demonstrates a wicked gift for mimicking the meaningless pronouncements of hoity-toity culture criticism."

And in non-fiction…

  • Bestselling author and environmental activist Bill McKibben recounts the personal and global story of the fight to build and preserve a sustainable planet in Oil and Honey.
  • Charles Graeber spent six years investigating the case of Charlie Cullen — the nurse who was suspected of killing patients with lethal injections of a variety of medications. He pieces together the elements of the serial killer’s story in The Good Nurse.
  • What’s the best way to learn how to write well? Study the work of good writers, which is the approach Robert Pinsky takes in his poetry-writing guidebook, Singing School.
  • In Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand, the author of Seabiscut, tells the story of Louis Zamperini, a former Olympian track runner and World War II lieutenant who fought to preserve his dignity in the most extreme circumstances.
  • Author Amanda Ripley asks ‘What Makes the Smartest Kids in the World?’ in The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way
  • Does society tell parents different things about raising boys compared to girls? Are teenage boys simply misunderstood? In Masterminds and Wingmenby Rosalind Wiseman,author of Queen Bees and Wannabes tackles the sociology behind teenage boys. 

americanlibraryassoc:

"I felt as if I would soon be transported to a magical land, able to read books that would carry me to places I was never able to go. It was a thrill. And that was the beginning of a lifelong experience of not only loving libraries, but living in libraries." - Doris Kearns Goodwin on her love of libraries

It’s funny, even though we’re drowning in books here at the office, I just recently got a library card for the first time in ages. And there is nothing like that thrill, that, sense of possibility: any place you want to go is contained in this quiet, brown-papery-smelling building, and it’s all absolutely free. Hooray for libraries!

— Petra

If you haven’t read Emily Carroll’s shiveringly glorious Through the Woods, our reviewer Amal El-Mohtar recommends you do so immediately:’

In these five graphic tales (meaning comics, not stories told in Grand Guignol fashion — although that linguistic line is definitely blurred here),Carroll’s sinuous prose and emphatic art blend seamlessly into a path through the stories she tells. If there is a key to this collection, it is the phrase “It came from the woods. (Most strange things do),” which recurs in “His Face All Red,” the story of a man who murders his brother only to see him emerge from the woods whole, happy, and unscathed. These are tales of strange things that come from or go into the woods — and what they did to people, or had done to them, along the way.

"His Face All Red" is actually available online — but if you want to see what exactly this lady is running from, you’ll have to get the book:


Through the Woods is complex without being opaque; these are all still clear, deceptively simple stories that are kissing-close to beginning with “once upon a time.” They’re stories about girls who lose a father to the winter, a mother to sickness, a friend to a ghost; they’re stories told as straightforwardly as fairy tale while containing all the rich density of poetry.
I am still not a reader of horror. But I am a reader of poetry, of folk and fairy tales, of dark fantasy, and a frequent wanderer of woods — and as such, I am most certainly a reader of Carroll. 

If you haven’t read Emily Carroll’s shiveringly glorious Through the Woods, our reviewer Amal El-Mohtar recommends you do so immediately:’

In these five graphic tales (meaning comics, not stories told in Grand Guignol fashion — although that linguistic line is definitely blurred here),Carroll’s sinuous prose and emphatic art blend seamlessly into a path through the stories she tells. If there is a key to this collection, it is the phrase “It came from the woods. (Most strange things do),” which recurs in “His Face All Red,” the story of a man who murders his brother only to see him emerge from the woods whole, happy, and unscathed. These are tales of strange things that come from or go into the woods — and what they did to people, or had done to them, along the way.

"His Face All Red" is actually available online — but if you want to see what exactly this lady is running from, you’ll have to get the book:

Through the Woods is complex without being opaque; these are all still clear, deceptively simple stories that are kissing-close to beginning with “once upon a time.” They’re stories about girls who lose a father to the winter, a mother to sickness, a friend to a ghost; they’re stories told as straightforwardly as fairy tale while containing all the rich density of poetry.

I am still not a reader of horror. But I am a reader of poetry, of folk and fairy tales, of dark fantasy, and a frequent wanderer of woods — and as such, I am most certainly a reader of Carroll. 

It’s time for #FridayReads! Here’s what we’re working on:
Code Switch Reporter Shereen Meraji is reading On Writing:  A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. She says, “This is a 14 year old book with advice from Mr. King about how to be a successful writer. Advice includes, wait for it… WRITE EVERY SINGLE DAY and read a lot. (I know, rocket science) Oh, and don’t ask for critique from friends, colleagues etc until you’re TOTALLY DONE with your first draft because it can easily throw you off your game. And, my personal favorite: ADVERBS ARE EVIL. Sometimes I need to be reminded of these basic things.”
Code Switch Correspondent Karen Grigsby Bates says, “Deborah Harkness’ The Book of Life. Never thought I’d find a book about the uneasy coexistence of vampires, witches and warmbloods (that would be humans)  compelling enough to read one of, let alone three.  But Harkness skillfully weaves time travel into a lot of historical pulse points.  Think Mr. Peabody’s Wayback Machine (without the puns)  for a leisurely page-tuner.  Joggers and long-distance drivers should check out the audio version, which is performed very well.”
Colin says,”Jorge Luis Borges’ Collected Fictions. In no particular order, just opening to a random story and reading. I’d meant it to be a brief dabble before moving on to my next book – one or two stories to clean my slate and take a breath – but now I’m head over heels. A rebound fling has turned into a reckless love.”
Code Switch Correspondent Gene Demby is halfway through Zealot by Reza Aslan, producer Sam Sanders is reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, producer Erin Killian is working on The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani and producer Rose Friedman is reading Tigerman by Nick Harkaway because reviewer Jason Sheehan said it was “shake-a-granny-good.”
How bout you?
gif via youngadultatbooktopia.tumblr.com

 

It’s time for #FridayReads! Here’s what we’re working on:

Code Switch Reporter Shereen Meraji is reading On Writing:  A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. She says, “This is a 14 year old book with advice from Mr. King about how to be a successful writer. Advice includes, wait for it… WRITE EVERY SINGLE DAY and read a lot. (I know, rocket science) Oh, and don’t ask for critique from friends, colleagues etc until you’re TOTALLY DONE with your first draft because it can easily throw you off your game. And, my personal favorite: ADVERBS ARE EVIL. Sometimes I need to be reminded of these basic things.”

Code Switch Correspondent Karen Grigsby Bates says, “Deborah Harkness’ The Book of Life. Never thought I’d find a book about the uneasy coexistence of vampires, witches and warmbloods (that would be humans)  compelling enough to read one of, let alone three.  But Harkness skillfully weaves time travel into a lot of historical pulse points.  Think Mr. Peabody’s Wayback Machine (without the puns)  for a leisurely page-tuner.  Joggers and long-distance drivers should check out the audio version, which is performed very well.”

Colin says,”Jorge Luis Borges’ Collected Fictions. In no particular order, just opening to a random story and reading. I’d meant it to be a brief dabble before moving on to my next book – one or two stories to clean my slate and take a breath – but now I’m head over heels. A rebound fling has turned into a reckless love.”

Code Switch Correspondent Gene Demby is halfway through Zealot by Reza Aslan, producer Sam Sanders is reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, producer Erin Killian is working on The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani and producer Rose Friedman is reading Tigerman by Nick Harkaway because reviewer Jason Sheehan said it was shake-a-granny-good.”

How bout you?

gif via youngadultatbooktopia.tumblr.com

 

“The best horror writer of the 20th century you’ve probably never heard of was a British woman who looked like a benign but mildly dotty Hogwarts teacher. But do not miss the occult mischief behind those 1980s mom-glasses; in a fairly standard Angela Carter story, Harry Potter would be mauled to death by a werewolf before a pan-species initiation of Hermione’s pubescent sexual power. She made things weird like that, which is why she was great.”

Hemlock Grove author Brian McGreevy delivers a tribute to feminist horror writer Angela Carter over on Vulture.

More book news here.