A blog about writing and self publishing

Black Literacy Day, Book Club Vaccines, and Super Bowl Poetry: This Week in Book News

Photo by Charlotte on Unsplash

Happy last Friday of January 2021! It’s hard to believe it’s only been 2021 for a month when so much has happened, but if 2020 taught us anything it’s that time isn’t real when you wear sweatpants every day. Speaking of 2020, we’re putting together a series about writing during times of crisis and we would love to hear from you! And if you want to hear from us, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for the latest KWL news and updates, including the first sneak peak at what our dev team has been working tirelessly on! Now onto the publishing news:


The Authors Guild has asked the Department of Justice to block Penguin Random House’s acquisition of Simon and Schuster.

Authors Guild Asks DoJ to Stop PRH Purchase of S&S

The Authors Guild, along with five other writers’ groups and the nonprofit Open Markets Institute, has sent a letter to the Department of Justice asking the government to block Penguin Random House’s pending acquisition of Simon & Schuster.

A bookstore in Chicago is launching National Black Literacy Day this February.

Chicago Bookstore Launches National Black Literacy Day

DL Mullen, owner of Chicago’s Semicolon Bookstore, has dedicated the last year to implementing innovative ideas that support readers in her community. Now, Mullen is adding a national holiday to that effort, and hoping others will join the celebration.


The American Library Association has announced that their 2021 conference will be held virtually.

ALA Announces 2021 Annual Conference Will Be Virtual Only

The American Library Association has announced that its 2021 Annual Conference & Exhibition, scheduled for June 23-29 in Chicago, will now take place online only. It will be the second consecutive ALA Annual Conference to be held virtually in the wake of the pandemic, and comes just days after ALA concluded its annual Midwinter meeting, which was also held virtually.

Disney Publishing Worldwide has named Sarah Weisinger Head of Global Publishing.

Disney Names Sarah Weisinger Head of Global Publishing

Disney has named Sarah Weisinger as senior v-p, group publisher for Disney Publishing Worldwide. Weisinger has worked at Disney since 2000 and was most recently senior v-p, operations, Consumer Products, Games and Publishing division. She will report to Stephanie Young, president of Consumer Products, Games and Publishing.

Mary-Kay Wilmers, longtime editor of the London Review of Books, has stepped down.

London Review of Books editor Mary-Kay Wilmers steps down after 30 years

Mary-Kay Wilmers is stepping down from her role as editor of the London Review of Books, a position she has held for almost 30 years. Wilmers was one of the founders of the literary magazine in 1979, along with Karl Miller and Susannah Clapp, became co-editor in 1988, and has been its sole editor since 1992.

Small Press Distribution has started an internal audit following employee allegations of wage issues and discrimination.

Small Press Distribution Begins Internal Audit Following Employee Allegations

Small Press Distribution has hired a workplace investigation and mediation firm following allegations of wage and discrimination issues by current and former employees. The move is the first in a series of steps that were promised earlier this month by the board of the Berkeley-based non-profit book distributor.


This book club is helping get vaccines into the arms of folks in their small town.

Meet the book club that’s helping to quickly vaccinate its town

The Fabulous Ladies Book Club likes to meet at a restaurant named Ranchers, a chophouse beside a hardware store in Ruidoso, N.M. Its 10 members, mostly 40-something working mothers, prefer to sit at what they call the “queen’s table,” order appetizers and drinks, and chat – sometimes even about what they’ve read.

Amanda Gorman, the inaugural poet that blew us all away with her performance at President Biden’s inauguration, will be performing at the Superbowl.

Amanda Gorman to Perform at Super Bowl 55 Pregame Show

Twenty-two-year-old Amanda Gorman captivated the nation on Jan. 20 when she recited an original poem during the presidential inauguration. Gorman will reportedly be back in the spotlight on Super Bowl Sunday. Gorman is slated to recite another poem during the Super Bowl LV pregame show on Feb. 7, according to Good Morning America.

The finalists for the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Awards have been announced.

Announcing the Finalists for the 2020 NBCC Awards – National Book Critics Circle

We’re proud to announce the finalists for the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Awards, along with the winners of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing and the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award!


A lot of new celebrity-authored books were announced this week. Comedian (and host of Canada Reads) Ali Hassan is publishing a memoir this fall.

Ali Hassan, comedian and Canada Reads host, publishing memoir in fall 2021 | CBC Books

Ali Hassan, an actor, comedian, CBC host and professional chef, is writing a memoir. Is There Bacon in Heaven?: And Other Pressing Questions From a Muslim will be available on Oct. 5, 2021. It is being published by Simon & Schuster Canada.

Seth Rogan is publishing an essay collection, set to come out this spring. I personally can’t wait for the audiobook for this one.

Seth Rogen publishing personal essay collection, coming out in May 2021 | CBC Books

Books Yearbook is a collection of funny and insightful personal essays. It will be published by Crown, an imprint of Penguin Random House and will be available on May 11, 2021. Canadian actor, filmmaker and comedian Seth Rogen is writing a book. Yearbook is a collection of funny and insightful personal essays.

SNL star (and one of my favourite cast members) Cecily Strong will be publishing a memoir this year.

Cecily Strong Promises You This Will All Be Over Soon With New Memoir

Last April, Vulture published “I Don’t Know How to Tell This Story,” an essay by Cecily Strong about grieving the death of her cousin Owen during quarantine. On Friday, the Saturday Night Live actress announced she’ll be continuing the story in a new book, This Will All Be Over Soon, headed to bookstores on August 10.

Canadian Olympian Andre De Grasse is writing a children’s book.

Olympian Andre De Grasse writing motivational picture book for kids | CBC Books

Books Race With Me! will be published by Scholastic Canada in both English and French. It will be released on July 6, 2021. Canadian Olympian Andre De Grasse is writing a motivational picture book for kids. Race With Me! will be published by Scholastic Canada in both English and French.


The Great Gatsby is getting adapted for the small screen in what’s being called a “More Diverse and  Inclusive” television adaptation.

The Great Gatsby Is Getting a ‘More Diverse, Inclusive’ Television Adaptation

We guess we’ll cheer this idea with a Champagne flute under some fireworks? Nearly 100 years after F. Scott Fitzgerald released his magnum opus, The Great Gatsby is being adapted into a big-budget television miniseries. THR reports that Vikings creator Michael Hirst is leading the series as an international production, with a premium cable outlet expected to pick up the rights in the United States.

A live-action Harry Potter TV series is rumoured to be in the works at HBO Max.

‘Harry Potter’ TV Series in the works at HBO Max: Report

Because of course there is. The project is described as in “extremely early stages,” with the streamer merely having conversations with writers looking into various ideas. The studio and HBO Max are both outright denying having a project officially in development as of yet.

There has been some controversy surrounding the casting of Alyssa Milano in the latest Nora Roberts adaptation, but the author isn’t having it.

Nora Roberts speaks out after attacks on casting of Alyssa Milano in adaptation

Bestselling novelist Nora Roberts has said she is “simply and sincerely appalled” after hundreds of her fans posted threats and abuse online in response to the casting of actor Alyssa Milano in an adaptation of one of her novels.


And finally, my favourite pieces of the week: a fun insider’s look at what it was like to record Barack Obama’s latest audiobook (which sits at a causal 29 hours in length).

Recording A Promised Land with Barack Obama

What’s it like to record a 29-hour audiobook with a former President of the United States? AudioFile Magazine spoke with Dan Zitt, SVP Content Production at Penguin Random House Audio and producer and director of A Promised Land . AudioFile: President Obama has been in the recording booth before to narrate his previous audiobooks.

As a lover of thrillers (so long as their not too scary), I’ve always been fascinated by plot twists and this piece dives deep into what makes them work (warning: contains spoilers for Dioboliques, Psycho, The Sixth Sense, Scream, and Game of Thrones).

On the Art of the Plot Twist

This past year marks both the 60-year anniversary of Psycho and the 65-year anniversary of Les Diaboliques. Psycho, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, has become one of the most famous movies of all time. Its brutal murder in a shower and its jolting all-strings score by Bernard Herrmann have acquired the status of memes.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!


Staff Pick

Laura, Author Engagement Specialist

“I don’t often read short stories, but I’m glad that this collection was selected as a pick for my book club. Danielle Evans is a beautiful writer, and each story brought forth complex characters and a new, thought provoking conversation around difficult topics such as race, culture, and privilege. My personal favorites were Why Won’t Women Just Say What They Want and Anything Could Disappear.”

The Office of Historical Corrections ebook by Danielle Evans – Rakuten Kobo

Read “The Office of Historical Corrections A Novella and Stories” by Danielle Evans available from Rakuten Kobo. A WASHINGTON POST NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR An O, THE OPRAH MAGAZINE BEST BOOKOF 2020 FINALIST FOR THE STORY PRIZE **LONG…

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