Tuesday News: book covers, Judy Blume’s new adult novel, trigger warnings, and a 6-year-old self-published author
The Best Book Covers of 2014 – What goes into a great book cover? While the New York Times isn’t picking among a wide variety of genre books, they’ve chosen some very interesting images that can definitely be compared to the best covers within specific genres. Any of these covers stick out to you as exceptional, and why? What Romance cover would you nominate for best cover of the year?
What is the value of a book cover if fewer and fewer people shop at bookstores? I used to browse St. Mark’s Bookshop looking for covers that caught my eye. It was an exciting way to discover new authors, and design played a huge role. Now, one increasingly encounters books through social media or online recommendations, and the role of the designer might, at first glance, seem diminished.
As I look at the inspired creativity on display among the books published in 2014, however, design feels as relevant as ever. –New York Times
Judy Blume book for adults coming in June – At 76, Judy Blume, author of such classic YA novels as “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret” and “Forever,” is publishing another adult fiction novel. This is not her first, but I have to say I’m particularly intrigued by the description of this one, because it seems like it might be a departure away from the women’s fiction niche she’s carved out in recent years, and to an intergenerational family saga, according to the blurb on Amazon.
The author’s first adult novel since 1998 is coming out in June. Publisher Alfred A. Knopf announced Monday that the novel “In the Unlikely Event” will be set in the early 1950s in Blume’s native New Jersey and will tell of a series of mysterious plane crashes. –CBS News
The Trouble with Teaching Rape Law – Harvard Law School’s Jeannie Suk has written an article on the importance of teaching rape law in law school, despite the disturbing nature of the material, that I am very much in sympathy with. When I think back on my own law school experience, a course of domestic violence, the unit on sexual violence, and a course on terrorism and the law had the most impact on me by far. And by “impact” I mean, ‘made me understand how important the law is in protecting the rights of everyone who isn’t a white, economically sound, able-bodied male. We talk a lot about trigger warnings in our genre fiction communities, and when I posted that article a while ago on how some colleges and universities are contemplating mandatory warnings, I think Suk’s piece is a powerful counterpoint.
But my experience at Harvard over the past couple of years tells me that the environment for teaching rape law and other subjects involving gender and violence is changing. Students seem more anxious about classroom discussion, and about approaching the law of sexual violence in particular, than they have ever been in my eight years as a law professor. Student organizations representing women’s interests now routinely advise students that they should not feel pressured to attend or participate in class sessions that focus on the law of sexual violence, and which might therefore be traumatic. These organizations also ask criminal-law teachers to warn their classes that the rape-law unit might “trigger” traumatic memories. Individual students often ask teachers not to include the law of rape on exams for fear that the material would cause them to perform less well. One teacher I know was recently asked by a student not to use the word “violate” in class—as in “Does this conduct violate the law?”—because the word was triggering. Some students have even suggested that rape law should not be taught because of its potential to cause distress. –The New Yorker
Chocolate Bar: A Sweet Book That’s Changing The World – We talk a lot about self-publishing and the state of the playing field for self-published authors, but here’s a twist on that narrative – a 6-year-old boy who hand wrote a book in honor of his friend with a liver disorder that currently has no cure, and then went on to hand sell the books, ultimately turning the book into a phenomenon and reaching $1million in sales in two years (the author is now 8). Watch the video and I dare you not to shed a tear or two.
Beginning at a school event in November 2012, Dylan sold 200 copies of his book plus 100 custom wrapped chocolate bars (donated by Whole Foods Market), making over $5,000 in just hours. Then, Dylan and best friend Jonah held a book reading and signing at a Barnes & Noble bookstore, attracting attention from local media and landing them appearances on CBS’ The Doctors, Headline News’ Raising America, Fox News’ Fox & Friends, The Today Show in Australia, an interview with Chelsea Clinton for NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, and ABC World News with Diane Sawyer. The boys have also appeared in print on numerous websites, in newspapers and magazines. To date, nearly 25,000 copies of Dylan’s book have sold in over 60 countries worldwide, helping Dylan reach his $1 million goal in just two years. But Dylan says won’t stop until Jonah is cured. –Chocolate Bar Book
This may also be of interest: Fewer than half of readers finished bestselling novels according to a UK study
Btw: thanks for the news roundup every day!
The Judy Blume headline took my mind straight to NA instead of new adult and my first thought was, “Wow, really?! Everyone’s jumping on the NA bandwagon.” The article made much more sense. Time for coffee.
I feel so conflicted about the rape law teaching situation.
On the one hand, I understand the desire to protect survivors of rape from further attacks on the psyche.
On the other, how on earth would lawyers be able to effectively deal with cases involving sexual violence if the subject cannot be longer taught and discussed in a safe (college classroom) environment? I cannot think that wrapping everyone in cotton will help them deal with life outside the artificial protection of a college campus.
That’s so chocolate. Invisible ninjas are chopping onions in my office again. http://www.snarksquad.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/myemotions.gif
I am not a survivor of any form of sexual assault (unless you count sexual harassment) and I found “Rape Day” (as we called it) to be one of my worst classroom experiences in law school. I felt so much impotent rage- at the legal system, at the majority of my male classmates and their ignorant and hurtful comments, at the way the women who tried to speak got talked over… I walked out of there practically shaking.
I have loved all of Ms. Blume’s books, but at $13.99 for 432 pages in the Kindle version, I might have to wait a while on this one. Yikes!
@azteclady: “On the other, how on earth would lawyers be able to effectively deal with cases involving sexual violence if the subject cannot be longer taught and discussed in a safe (college classroom) environment? I cannot think that wrapping everyone in cotton will help them deal with life outside the artificial protection of a college campus.”
This. If there is any justice to be found out there for these victims, someone has to know how to get it for them or help them get it.
I am going to go to the extreme about teaching law students about prosecuting rape, domestic violence and any and all types of violence against another human being. That also goes to any and all in the medical field. We should not shy away from teaching what has continued to be a systemic problem in our society. Victims are still shamed, ignored, blamed and marginalized if or when they report the violence. By avoiding the subject or words that might “trigger” prior trauma, then the issues will continue to be downplayed or dismissed. We should loudly proclaim the word “rape” from the rooftops and for every victim, there should be ten or a hundred standing behind her/him and giving and showing support. We need to be able to successfully charge and prosecute those who inflict violence.
Women need to claim the value of our lives and of our worth. Yes, we have made strides, but there is no reason why we can’t take control and own the subject of violence against women, men and children. It is the only way we are going to recognize it and stop it.
Because of prior experience, my jaw is clenched. However, that is all the more reason we should fight for our worth and value.
However, warning readers about a book that has
@Jan: “We should not shy away from teaching what has continued to be a systemic problem in our society. ”
Exactly. And honestly, if you’re a criminal lawyer – or any kind of lawyer – you’re going to see the very worst humanity can display, and repeatedly. If just learning about it triggers you, then you’re probably not going to cope well with the reality of practice.
In the case of Crim Law, it’s required of all first year law students, so I can understand why some students find it troubling. However, I was thinking about this in the context of some of the Ferguson protests, especially the protest art installation in Oakland and Berkeley (life-size cut-outs of lynching victims hung at various locations). One of the African American Studies faculty at UC Berkeley (Leigh Raiford) was discussing her belief that students should be made to see those images, and I think her argument is similar to Suk’s: https://twitter.com/LilBillHaywood/status/543886462542835712
I do think we need to distinguish educational environments from those contexts where we are reading for pleasure, though, because everything about our reading communities is volunteer and largely for entertainment or leisure.
And even in the educational context, nothing precludes faculty in educational environments from providing warnings for their students, either on the syllabus or verbally during a course. It’s just that this question of teaching sexual assault in criminal law is one step past trigger warnings, to a bigger question of whether things should be taught at all, or whether students should be exposed to them, even though they may be offensive, uncomfortable, and even triggering.
With a couple of caveats, my answer is: Yes, they should.
We should all be exposed, while we are still young and capable of learning, that the world at large doesn’t conform to our narrow and (for college students in the US particularly) largely privileged reality.
The caveats would be that indeed people who have survived violence, sexual or otherwise, should be given the opportunity (by way of warnings) to decide whether or not they are willing to risk exposure to triggers in the pursuit of their professional goals.
There are plenty of survivors of sexual assault who have chosen to work in the field, and who cope with their own triggers while helping other people. These individuals shouldn’t be penalized either by making these topics disappear.
@Robin/Janet: I have practiced law for over 20 years and it distresses me that any law school is contemplating not teaching issues of sexual and domestic violence. These are issues that are relevant to many areas of law, including, employment law, family law, education law, personal injury etc. etc. If students can’t handle learning about these issues in the relative safety of law school (including how to respond to the jerks), how on earth are they going to deal with it when a client comes into the office and the issues and consequences are very, very real.
Hell yes we need to teach it. And teach it hard.
Two nights ago at a party, I talked with someone whose day job involved long-term involuntary commitments of sexual predators – we got off nice party topics b/c when the person found out I was a published author, s/he wanted to discuss what the market was for memoirs of that type of work life. We ended up with a brief discussion of child sex abuse, and the things we had each seen (it was not a party topic) but both of us were shaking and we mutually agreed to go back to discussing happy thriller writers like Bob Dugoni.
It’s been 11 years since I had my one horrible exposure to working in the field of child sex abuse – and still I shake when it comes up and I have to remember what I saw as a lawyer.
And yet a lawyer John Grisham can make his comments about it’s over prosecuted? That comes from IGNORANCE.
Every single lawyer needs to be taught about sexual assault law, and taught it hard, and taught to narrow in and drill down and never let go of those bastards. And there are things survivors can learn about the case law too. I don’t mean to put words in survivors’ mouths – but it must be taught, and taught to everyone, it must be the norm to teach it and explain it. And in a good and just world, the person next to the guy who is goofing around on his phone during that lesson would stand up and say “I was assaulted. It was me too. And this is my story …” and then the guy would have a face and a story to put on a survivor and maybe, just maybe, prosecutors would change.
The system — both the actual legal system and the schools that teach those who run the system — must change. There is much to learn and much to be taught, but I think personally it should just be a part of many different days, not one overwhelming day with a name. Calling it the rape law day sort of means it’s only that one thing, and thus it’s avoidable both in class in in life, when I think we all know it’s actually pervasive. It should be taught in evidence class. It should be taught when discussing Daubert progeny about expert testimony, when discussing civil cases, when discussing burden of proof – it shouldn’t be this one day deal when the topic of sexual violence is trotted out.
We shouldn’t give more airtime to the doctrine of laches than to sexual violence.
IMO we should demand more.
I’m just one person, and not a law student. I appreciate trigger warnings like people would not believe — I have PTSD, it’s sexual assault related (as a child and again as a teen), and things that bring those flashbacks or panic attacks are hellish. I still don’t think they should stop being taught (or written about, or have films made about, etc). Trigger warnings are just content warnings so folks can make an educated decision and/or prepare accordingly — I can’t watch a film involving it, but if I know ahead of time I can medicate and read the same material. I don’t like that asking for content warnings for extremely common trauma is lumped in with people insisting something not be written/taught at all — they’re two very different arguments, and I am really firmly on the side of “Very glad for notice, but keep on doing it and I’ll make the choice to engage or not”.
Also, aversion therapy is not a public service, it should only be undertaken by trained therapists, because done wrong it causes tremendous amounts of harm — and surprise!trigger is doing it wrong! I should know, I’m doing aversion therapy, but as my therapist said, “Sometimes aversion is just common sense!”. I don’t pet dogs that growl and I don’t swim with sharks, and neither are indicative of a need to “toughen me up”.
“This. If there is any justice to be found out there for these victims, someone has to know how to get it for them or help them get it.”
Yes, exactly. We’re not all suited for all jobs. I’d make a horrible surgeon – I shake a lot. But knowing that, I wouldn’t try and be one because to do so would harm people.