We’ve got book news galore! 2017 has proven to be pretty eventful in the world of books so far. There have been a number of controversial stories (and heartfelt ones!) shaking up the publishing industry, including authors taking a stand, or beloved series getting some new and well-deserved love.
Here’s a roundup of the biggest book news from the past month (or so!) that you definitely need on your radar:
Philip Pullman Returns with New Fantasy Series Set in the World of His Dark Materials
Yes, yes, yes! Pullman, author of the beloved children’s fantasy series, His Dark Materials, announced on February 15 that he has a new book coming out in October. The start of a trilogy, The Book of Dust will follow HDM heroine Lyra Belacqua as she tries to discover the source of the mysterious cosmic dust that plays a key role in the first books. Described by Pullman as an “equel,” the new series will span 10 years before HDM and end 10 years after, giving us a side-by-side narrative that is sure to delight fans of the originals.
$2.5 Million in Rare Books Stolen in Literary Heist
On February 14, the London police revealed that in late January, three thieves snuck into a London warehouse in order to steal antique books worth $2.5 million. The thieves used glass cutters to get through the skylights, avoided the motion sensors, and then rappelled, Mission-Impossible style, into the building. They took 160 rare books in total, including titles by Dante, Leonardo da Vinci and Sir Isaac Newton. The most valuable was a 1566 copy of De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium, by Nicolaus Copernicus, worth $268,000. Some experts suspect that a book collector could be behind the threat, while others think the thieves may cut up the books in order to sell different pages to art dealers. Either way, there are currently no suspects.
Author Roxane Gay Pulls Her Book from Simon & Schuster over Yiannopoulos Controversy
After her publisher acquired Milo Yiannopoulos‘ controversial new book for six figures, Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist, refused to stand for it. Yiannopoulos’ hate speech has been widely criticized, with many vocally protesting Simon & Schuster for giving the far-right journalist an even wider platform to spread his messages promoting racism, decrying feminism and taking a stand against political correctness. Gay’s book, How to Be Heard, was slated to be published by TED Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. But she felt she could no longer support a publisher who would promote an author who built his career on hate speech. “I’m putting my money where my mouth is,” she said in an interview with Buzzfeed News. Thankfully, Gay’s stand wasn’t for nothing, and just recently, Simon & Schuster decided to pull Milo’s book for good after the press uncovered statements where the controversial writer defended pedophilia.
After Teens Vandalize a Schoolhouse, They’re Sentenced to Read!
When five boys vandalized the historic Ashburn Colored School in Ashburn, Virginia, the prosecutor, Alex Rueda, decided to give them an unusual punishment. Instead of community service and probation, the boys were ordered to read 35 books, as well as write book reports, a research paper and visit the Holocaust museum and the American history museum. Driven by a falling out with the current owners of the school, the boys had drawn swastikas, sexual images and wrote “white power” and “brown power” on the building. Since none of the offenders had a previous record, Rueda (the daughter of a librarian) thought the punishment would help open the boys’ minds and appease a community angered over the vandalism. On the list includes books like Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Elie Wisel’s Night, and many other classic tales that deal directly with the consequences of racism, sexism, etc.
Penguin Random House Scores the Coveted Obama Book
After a very intense bidding war, Penguin Random House won the world rights to two new books by our favorite couple — one penned by former First Lady Michelle Obama, and the other by former President Barack Obama. Apparently, both books are nonfiction, though Barack’s will cover his years in the White House, while Michelle’s book will be an inspirational work inspired by her own life story. The publisher hasn’t confirmed how much the two books went for, but speculation says that this is the largest amount any former presidential couple has ever received for a publication. Some are even claiming upwards of $65 million. Regardless, the Obamas plan to donate a sizable portion of their advances to charity.