Lynn Neary

If you grew up loving Little Women, as I did, there was one pretty much inviolable truth you lived with: Jo, the second oldest sister was the character everyone wanted to be. She's fun and smart and so determined to be independent and become a writer that she rejects a marriage offer from her best friend, Laurie, the rich boy from next door.

Libraries across the U.S. are furious with one of the country's big five publishing houses. As of Friday, Macmillan Publishers Ltd. is drastically restricting the sales of its e-books to libraries.

For the first eight weeks after an e-book goes on the market, a library system can buy only one copy. So if you are used to getting your books from a library and you are an e-book fan who has been eagerly awaiting Hillary Mantel's next book, The Mirror and the Light, for example, you may have a long wait when it comes out in March 2020.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

A young Jewish girl begins a diary just as World War II is about to break out in Europe. She records the details of her daily life, but more and more, the war takes over. Eventually, the diary comes to a heartbreaking end.

In this case, it is not the story of Anne Frank. This is Renia's Diary, a journal that spent decades stored away in a safe deposit box. Now it's being published with help from Renia's niece and sister.

Lara Prescott can trace her interest in Dr. Zhivago back to the beginning — the very beginning — of her life. She's named after one of the main characters in Boris Pasternak's novel about a doomed love affair at the time of the Russian revolution. (Prescott's mother was a huge fan of the film adaptation.)

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

In newspapers she was described as the "unconscious intoxicated woman." In the courtroom she was called Emily Doe. On Tuesday, she let the world know that her real name is Chanel Miller.

In 2015, Miller was attacked while unconscious after drinking too much at a fraternity party at Stanford University. Two young men on bicycles rescued her. Her attacker tried to run away but they chased him and held him down until the police arrived. Brock Turner, her attacker, was a student at Stanford and a swimming champion.

Discoverability. It's a word that people who market and sell books use when talking about one of their biggest challenges: With hundreds of thousands of titles released each year, how do readers find the books that publishers want them to buy?

Word of mouth is the old standby. Media interviews are a big help. Book clubs can go a long way to boosting sales. Put those all together and you get celebrity book clubs, which are increasingly seen as a ticket to success.

When writer Téa Obreht's first book came out in 2011, it got the kind of reaction that most debut novelists only dream of: The Tiger's Wife was both critically acclaimed and a best seller. It was nominated for the National Book Award and won the Orange Prize.

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.

Poet, writer and musician Joy Harjo — a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation — often draws on Native American stories, languages and myths. But she says that she's not self-consciously trying to bring that material into her work. If anything, it's the other way around.

Cathy Guisewite, the creator of the "Cathy" comic strip, didn't really want the character to be named after her. People would think that "Cathy" was based on her own life, she reasoned, and ... they would be right. Or, at least, they wouldn't be wrong.

"Cathy was kind of my heart," Guisewite says. "Other stronger characters in the strip like Andrea were more my brain. But Cathy was kind of my heart, that was me."

Every year, when it's time to give out the Nobel Prize for Literature, British bookies lay odds on who might win. Every year, Kenyan writer Ngugi Wa Thiong'o is viewed as a contender.

His body of works includes novels, plays and essays. But the first thing he ever wrote was a short story, which is included in a new collection of stories that range from the 1960s to the present. It's called Minutes of Glory, and he thinks of it as a kind of "literary autobiography."

Imagine a world where lying is against the law. You might expect that any place that values truth so highly would be a utopia — but the world writer Ben Winters has created in Golden State is far from idyllic. And though it's set in the future, it's very much based on our current political moment.

Winters says he knows exactly when he started writing Golden State: The day following President Trump's inauguration. Specifically, it was after "the infamous incident of the inauguration crowd-size debate."

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

This morning, at its annual conference in Seattle, the American Library Association gave out its prizes for children's and young adult literature. Its awards include the prestigious Caldecott and Newbery medals. NPR's Lynn Neary reports.

Some of the best stories begin at home — and in fact, that's where Tony DiTerlizzi got the idea for his latest book. The Caldecott Award-winning author and illustrator, perhaps best known for The Spiderwick Chronicles, is taking a big leap into the unknown with his first Christmas book, The Broken Ornament.

Madame Tussaud is a familiar name — you may have visited one of her wax museums. But chances are, you don't know a thing about the life of the real Marie Tussaud. For example, she was tiny, which is why writer and artist Edward Carey has called his new novel about her Little.

I met him at the Madame Tussaud's location in New York's Times Square (the biggest one in the U.S.) to find out more about what inspired the book. The massive video billboards and the cacophony of 42nd Street feel like the right setting for a museum filled with famous figures built from wax.

Eight-year-old Lucy Gray is wide-eyed and quivering with anticipation when I arrive at her house in suburban Maryland. I am sorry to report that I am not the object of her excitement. She is thrilled because she will soon be cooking with my companion, Molly Birnbaum, editor in chief of America's Test Kitchen Kids.

For the first time, a writer from Northern Ireland has won the prestigious Man Booker Award. The prize, given to works of fiction written in English and published in the U.K., was announced at a ceremony Tuesday evening in London.

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.

Writers often have ambivalent feelings when their book are adapted for film.

They may enjoy the fame and fortune a movie can bring, but remain loathe to give up control over their creation. Some have famously hated the final adaptation.

But Justin Torres loves the film based on his debut novel We the Animals. That's because Torres worked closely with director Jeremiah Zagar.

Zagar is a documentary filmmaker, but he always wanted to direct a narrative feature film. For a long time, he just couldn't find the right story.

Perhaps best known for his novel A Bend in the River, V.S. Naipaul was a controversial figure in the literary world. The Nobel Prize-winning writer died on Saturday at his London home, the author's agent confirms to NPR. He was 85.

His wife Nadira Naipaul, who was at his side when he passed, said he was "a giant in all that he achieved and he died surrounded by those he loved having lived a life which was full of wonderful creativity and endeavor," The Associated Press reports.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Tom Wolfe created unforgettable stories about test pilots and hippies, bikers and the lost denizens of Wall Street. He wrote best sellers like "The Right Stuff" and "Bonfire Of The Vanities." We have learned this morning that Tom Wolfe died yesterday in New York City. He was 88 years old. Joining us now NPR books correspondent Lynn Neary. Good morning, Lynn.

LYNN NEARY, BYLINE: Good morning.

MARTIN: So it's hard to overstate Wolfe's presence in the literary world, wasn't it?

Zora Neale Hurston, one of the best known writers of the Harlem Renaissance — and the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God — has a new book. Well, that's not quite right; it's actually an old book that is only now being published. It's called Barracoon, and it's based on a series of conversations Hurston had with Cudjo Lewis, who was brought to this country aboard the last ship that carried slaves across the Atlantic

The publisher of Sherman Alexie is postponing the release of the paperback edition of the author's memoir about his mother, You Don't Have to Say You Love Me.

Hachette Book Group says it took that step at the writer's request. The decision comes after a number of allegations of sexual harassment have been leveled against the writer, who is perhaps best known for his novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Among the many movies opening for the holidays is one with a new take on an old story. The Man Who Invented Christmas, starring Dan Stevens and Christopher Plummer, is about Charles Dickens and the creation of A Christmas Carol. It's a distinctly literary tale — which isn't surprising, since one of the film's producers is a well known bookseller taking his first dip in the world of film.

Pages