“You guys know about vampires? … You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all.” — Junot Díaz
As a kid, I never tried to sneak out of the house. It’s not that I was a stickler for the rules (sorry, Mom) — it’s just that all the wonders I could ever want to explore didn’t exist outside the confines of my home. They were waiting for me when I woke up each morning, tucked neatly into the hallway bookshelves whose ever-expanding ranks housed J.K. Rowling, Leo Tolstoy, Judy Blume, and Sarah Dessen. Keep reading »
YA novels — that’s “young adult” novels, for the uninitiated — have had a rough go of things lately. Slate.com came out swinging against the popular genre, claiming grownups should only read grownup books or else we’re all repressed babies. Or some such nonsense. Books are just books — they’re for people. Typically YA novels have more characters who are teens/children, but that’s about the only difference. There is still sex, drugs, violence, and everything! Ultimately, the YA genre or the “New Adult” genre are phrases used by publishers’ marketing departments.
I’m a passionate and voracious reader and genuinely saddens me that anyone would discourage people from reading anything. So, I thought I would ease some of the YA-averse into checking out some novels that are similar to popular “grownup” books — recommendations I’m making based on similar themes and tone. If you read and enjoyed the “grownup” novel, you’ll probably really enjoy the YA novel. And vice versa.
A Brooklyn-based author is having a pretty solid week, thanks to Stephen King. Yes, we’re talking about THE Stephen King. Emily Schultz published her debut novel, Joyland, eight years ago, but hasn’t seen much success from it until recently, when literary heavyweight King released a novel with the same name. Now, thanks to all of the nincompoops online who are accidentally purchasing her book instead of his, Schultz has been enjoying the fruits of Mr.King’s labor … and other peoples’ stupidity.
At first, Emily was annoyed that all of the
idiots thirsty readers who accidentally bought her book were leaving unkind reviews of her novel on her Amazon reviews page, but she started caring a little bit less once her royalty checks started coming in, which she described as “for me, big.” Because Emily felt guilty about essentially cashing in on someone else’s book, she decided to start a blog documenting how she was spending all of her new money, and whether or not Stephen King would approve of her purchases. GENIUS, I tell you. Keep reading »
Buying your first piece of IKEA furniture. Backpacking around Europe. One-night stands. Splurging on dinner Friday night and spending the rest of the week eating ramen. These are just a few of the things most of us expect of our 20s.
Something that isn’t on anyone’s list? Slowing going blind from a degenerative eye disease.
It wasn’t on Nicole Kear’s list, either. And the Yale and Columbia graduate intended to live her life like it wasn’t. She moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, fell in love, got married and even attended clown school. Yet through it all, Kear knew a degenerative eye disease she had been diagnosed with at 19 was slowing taking her vision away. She was told she had one good decade before she would be entirely blind. Her family and husband knew about the disease (retinitis pigmentosa), but Kear was embarrassed and hardly told any friends — she had lots of excuses for why her eye makeup looked messy or she wouldn’t drive at night. However, Kear and her husband settled into new parenthood, and she had to come to terms with the realities of her disabilities, including learning how to walk with a cane.
I read Nicole Kear’s funny, fascinating memoir Now I See You in almost one sitting and came away from it thinking, I could be friends with this person. She’s smart, spunky, and makes it easy to put yourself in her (unfortunately, no longer high-heeled) shoes. I gave her a call at home in Brooklyn to chat about blindness, how she managed to write a book with three young kids, and giving strangers the benefit of the doubt.
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Michelle Obama spoke this weekend at the memorial service for beloved author Maya Angelou, who died on May 28 at age 86. Her tearful and touching speech remembers Angelou for celebrating Black women’s beauty. “Oh, how desperately black girls needed that message,” the First Lady said. “As a young woman, I needed that message.”
Read Mrs. Obama’s full speech after the jump:
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