This Week In Books

A Rotten Tomatoes for Books?: This Week in Books

Here are the three big stories in books and reading that broke last week:

Book Marks: A Rotten Tomatoes for Books

LitHub launched Book Marks, which takes the idea of Rotten Tomatoes and applies it to books. Book Marks aggregates and assigns a grade to reviews of books and then averages those grades into a final grade. As you can see in our own deep dive, there are many questions about this strategy, from implementation to reader demand. Is this a service that a meaningful number of readers want? We’ll find out.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Opens

On Wednesday night, the first preview of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was performed in London. Anticipation for the play is intense and perhaps even more so for the script being published on July 31. Reactions seem to be excited with an underlying strain of wariness, though the sample size is too small to have a sense of what the emerging consensus might be. For those of us who have no shot at tickets for the London production (and that is literally almost everyone), take heart. Rowling said that touring productions will be coming sooner than you might expect.

A New Face of Censorship

As distressing as book banning in schools and public libraries is, it tends at least to be public, discussed, and oftentimes overturned. Last week, a new form of book censorship, or at least new to me, bubbled up into the literary world. Kate Messner had been invited to talk about her book, The Seventh Wish, to fourth and fifth graders at a Vermont school. The day before she was scheduled to appear, she was disinvited, because the school’s principal thought her visit would bring up questions and conversations that the school wasn’t prepared to discuss. The Seventh Wish, as Messner says, “uses magic to explore something many families are afraid to talk about with kids – addiction.”

And not only was Messner disinvited, but the school said that it would return the books it had already ordered. But, thanks to the heroic efforts of local librarians and advocates, The Seventh Wish will be available for students to read, consider, and inconvenience their teachers and administrators with. This specific case is distressing in its own right, but the larger lesson here is that books and ideas are censored, erased, and generally trod upon in a variety of ways that don’t quite rise to the level of “banning,” but are nevertheless hugely damaging. There are tens of thousands of kids out there whose lives are affected by addiction. I don’t think it is too much to ask our schools and libraries to let them see their stories and ask their questions.

My thanks this week to Book of the Month for sponsoring This Week in Books. Use offer code “JUNERIOT” to get 30% off a three-month subscription.



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