Welcome to the weekly Vox book link roundup, a curated selection of the best online writing about books and related topics. Here’s the best the internet has to offer for the week of June 25, 2017.
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone turned 20 this week! (Well, technically it’s Philosopher’s Stone that had the birthday, since we’re talking about the story’s publication in the UK.) We were all over it here at Vox: rereading that first book, looking at how the Harry Potter series transformed YA publishing, and examining how it changed the world in general.
- Meanwhile, Time celebrated by working with social scientists to build a science-based Sorting quiz. (I will note that this quiz caused some controversy at Vox Culture when certain longtime Slytherins found themselves sorted into other houses, but I think that my result of 45 percent Ravenclaw, 43 percent Hufflepuff, 10 percent Gryffindor, and just a smidgen of Slytherin is so accurate that I am willing to pass the test along to you with no caveats.)
- At the New York Times, David Busis remembers falling in love with the Harry Potter books:
This feeling of consuming a book while simultaneously being consumed was not itself new. I grew up as an under-the-covers, flashlight-holding binge-reader. What was new was the intensity of my obsession, and the feeling of pining for a book that hadn’t been written yet.
- And Penguin Random House made this adorable stop-motion tribute to Hermione Granger, the books’ true heroine.
- In non-Harry Potter news, a new study in the UK confirms what any woman working in publishing can tell you: The vast majority of people in publishing are women, but they’re all stuck at the entry level or in lower-level management. The top managers are almost all men.
- This week contained June 27, the day Shirley Jackson’s “Lottery” takes place. At LitHub, Emily Temple reads the story in the age of Trump:
On reread, one thing I find striking in the story is the good humor of the townspeople as they assemble to ritually murder one of their own. How can they be joking and chatting with one another, I wonder? Well, of course it’s simple: they don’t really think it’s going to be them who will be stoned to death. (After all, what are the chances?) It’s so easy to participate in systemic cruelty when you think it doesn’t actually touch you.
- On the 200th anniversary of Branwell Brontë’s birth, the Brontë parsonage is inviting us all to become #TeamBranwell:
Although his influence was not always positive, Branwell remained a primary muse for his sisters, and we should remember him as a major cog in the Brontë writing machine – even if his own work was always “minor”. And the story of a young, talented fantasist failing to make his way in the world resonates with our experiences of hardship and lost dreams.
Personally, I remain skeptical, but you must do as you see fit, best beloveds.
- At the Guardian, Vanessa Thorpe examines the thriving genre of the feminist dystopia:
Women’s speculative futures have been seen as a mere division of male dystopian fiction, a long and worthy tradition started by Thomas More’s 1516 work, Utopia (a kind of philosophical treatise meets spoof travelogue), and then punctuated by influential works such as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World in 1932, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1949 and Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange in 1962.
Palmer suggests that today’s male dystopias retain characteristic differences to those from female authors.
“Perhaps the ones by women have less often featured an isolated hero, while a woman author might tend to write more about a network of people, often with more complex roles,” she said. And a political context is unavoidable for a woman writer, she believes.
- At LitHub, Caite Dolan-Leach examines why we’re so fascinated by stories of missing girls:
It seems glaringly obvious to me that women are missing, in the real world and in fictional ones, in the ways that truly count. As I fretfully consider our current political and cultural climate, and as I think about books that re-inscribe and circle around a female absence, I wonder if we—as readers, writers, consumers and publishers—are scrambling for narratives that mark this voiceless-ness, narratives that make visible, by focusing on her absence, the woman we need to see.