What You’re Getting Wrong About Book Bans

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Welcome to Today in Books, where we report on literary headlines at the intersection of politics, culture, media, and more.

It’s Friday. The sun is out. Baseball is back. March Madness has begun. And I’ve got a case of the wiggles. Let’s keep it lighter today.

Worth a Thousand Words

T, the New York Times’s style magazine, does all kinds of cool shit (oh, to have the budget of a traditional media outlet!), and it’s always a treat when they go bookish. This week, artist Marcus Jahmal offers an illustrated guide to the new books of the season. It’s fun and interesting, and it’s not your usual “here’s a picture that sums up the themes of the book” approach. For reasons that go unexplained, Jahmal instead decided to open each novel to page 76 and capture the action from a selected quote. My kingdom for a companion interview with the artist about how and why he shaped the project this way. 

Your Daily Dose of Inspiration 

Five years ago when he began classes at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Ajibola Tolase was sure he’d never realize his dream of being a poet. Tolase, originally from Ibadan, Nigeria, struggled through school and then struggled to find work. After a long string of failures, he took a flyer and applied to poetry programs at two U.S. schools. It was a smart gamble. His debut collection, 2,000 Blacks, will be published in the fall, and he was just awarded the prestigious Cave Canem Prize, putting him in the company of numerous Pulitzer- and National Book Award-winners and two U.S. Poet Laureates. May his efforts succeed!

The Book is Not Always Better

For my money, Nicholas Sparks should retire from writing books and set up a James Patteson-esque idea factory for romantic tearjerkers. Dude came out of the gate with The Notebook, and that story still has legs! The new Broadway musical adaptation opened last week, and it sounds like a smash. Sparks’s flavor of romance—though he claims he writes “love stories,” not “romance novels” (he’s wrong)—has never been my jam, but hear me out. Ryan Gosling’s live “I’m Just Ken” at the Oscars was stellar, and if the producers want to talk him into taking a spin on Broadway, I will certainly be open to giving them my dollars. They have to be thinking about this, right?!

What You’re Getting Wrong About Book Bans

The details matter, and how we talk about book banning matters even more. Time to correct a few misconceptions.

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