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10 Little Known Facts About Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on May 22, 2015


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born 156 years ago today! To celebrate the beloved author's birthday, we've gathered a few surprising, but true* facts about the Sherlock Holmes creator.

1. He compared Sherlock Holmes—arguably his greatest creation—to pâté de foie gras.
...And Doyle really hated pâté de foie gras. He told a friend, "I have had such an overdose of [Holmes] that I feel towards him as I do towards pâté de foie gras, of which I once ate too much, so that the name of it gives me a sickly feeling to this day."

2. We live in a world with Doyle's fiction because no one wanted him as their doctor.
If at first you don't succeed at being a doctor, become a world-famous novelist! After getting his medical degree from the University of Edinburgh Medical School and serving as a ship's surgeon, Doyle opened his own practice in Southsea. Hardly any patients came, so he began writing fiction in his free time.

3. Doyle and Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie were on the same cricket team.
The team was called the Allah-Akabarries, a combination of Barrie's name and an Arabic phrase meaning, "May the Lord help us." The two men met at university and remained lifelong friends.

4. He once bought a car without ever having driven one.
Best way to learn, right? Doyle was one of Britain's early prominent motorists, and he quickly took to the emerging form of transport, entering an international road competition in 1911.

5. He spent a million dollars trying to convince the world that fairies were real.
Not only did Doyle believe fairies existed, he worked pretty tirelessly to make other people believe too. His million went to promoting the authenticity of the infamous Cottingley Fairy photographs—a hoax, if you're a skeptic, and not a true believer like Doyle—and he later wrote a book called The Coming of the Fairies.

6. His knighthood was not for his fiction.
King Edward VII knighted him in recognition of his nonfiction pamphlet defending British actions in South Africa during the Boer War.

7. He was an amateur detective.
When he wasn't writing about Sherlock Holmes (or fairies), Doyle tried his hand at solving crime using what he called the "Holmes method." In The Curious Case of Oscar Slater, an actual case that occurred in the real world, he uncovered new evidence and recalled witnesses—though Scottish authorities were not especially keen on any of his theories.

8. Doyle and Harry Houdini had a falling out over mediums.
Their friendship showed cracks early on, when Doyle, ever the believer in all things mystical and other-worldly, insisted his illusionist pal had the "divine" gift of dematerialization. By the time the skeptical Houdini began debunking mediums on stage, their kinship had vanished—or dematerialized.

9. If you want to do as Doyle wished, remember him for his psychic work—not that detective guy.
Ten of his sixty books were about spiritualism, and as he got older, Doyle repeatedly expressed that his psychic work should be his greatest legacy. (Why? See earlier pâté de foie gras story.)

10. His last words were whispered to his wife: "You are wonderful."
Doyle died peacefully at his home at Windlesham Manor on July 7, 1930. His wife of 23 years, Jean Elizabeth Leckie, was by his side.


*Rest assured, we eliminated the impossible and took what remained, so no matter how improbable, we know this must be the truth.
16 Books That Inspired J.K. Rowling to Write Harry Potter
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on May 20, 2015

J.K. Rowling may be a Muggle (as far as we know), but she creates magic with the written word. Instead of a wand, she wields a pen, and in place of a Hogwarts education, she has years of voracious reading under her belt.

We've collected a list of books the beloved Harry Potter author has said inspired her as a child and as an adult. How many have you read?

I Capture the Castle
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I Manxmouse
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The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
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The Iliad
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Emma
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The Wind in the Willows
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The Sword in the Stone
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The Enchanted Castle
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Do you and Rowling have similar reading tastes? Let us know in the comments! And discover more magical adventures on Listopia: What to Read After Harry Potter.
20 Favorite First Lines from Books
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on May 18, 2015

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single book in possession of a fantastic plot, must be in want of a good first sentence. Otherwise, who would want to keep reading?

Last week we asked on Facebook and on Twitter: What's your favorite first line from a book? Today we've got your top answers. Did yours make the list?

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"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again."
Rebecca
by Daphne du Maurier


"The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."
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The Gunslinger
by Stephen King


"Sometime during your life—in fact, very soon—you may find yourself reading a book, and you may notice that a book's first sentence can often tell you what sort of story your book contains."
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The Miserable Mill
by Lemony Snicket


"I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice."
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A Prayer for Owen Meany
by John Irving


"When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow."
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To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee


"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth."
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The Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger


"Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive were proud to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much."
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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
by J.K. Rowling


"Marley was dead, to begin with—there's no doubt about that."
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A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens


"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."
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Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
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A Tale of Two Cities
by Charles Dickens


"I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster."
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The Glass Castle
by Jeannette Walls


"Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were."
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Gone with the Wind
by Margaret Mitchell


"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit."
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The Hobbit
by J.R.R. Tolkien


"Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun."
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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
by Douglas Adams


"It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York."
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The Bell Jar
by Sylvia Plath



"Once there was a tree...and she loved a little boy."
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The Giving Tree
by Shel Silverstein


"'Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents,' grumbled Jo lying on the rug."
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Little Women
by Louisa May Alcott


"There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it."
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The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
by C.S. Lewis


"It was a pleasure to burn."
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Fahrenheit 451
by Ray Bradbury


"It was a cold, bright day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."
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1984
by George Orwell


Don't see your favorite first line? Then share it with us in the comments! And discover more unforgettable lines with this book list: 100 Novels with the Best First Lines.
15 Fictional Places You Wish You Could Visit
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on May 14, 2015

What if books came with magical passports that could transport you to the worlds they described? You could relax for days in Rivendell—the rest of the Fellowship can destroy the One Ring without you, right?—or spend a fun afternoon hiding from Jane Eyre in the Thornfield Hall attic (just watch out for Bertha).

Last week we asked on Facebook and on Twitter: Which fictional place would you visit? Today we've got your top answers. Did your literary vacation destination make the list?

PEMBERLEY
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Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen
Tour guide: Mr. Darcy
Suggested activities: A swim in the lake, a fencing class, an unexpected reunion with a suitor you just rejected


ANKH MORPORK
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Discworld series
by Terry Pratchett
Tour Guide: Samuel Vimes or Rincewind
Suggest activities: Drinks at the Mended Drum, a lecture at the Unseen University (if you can find it), a visit to the Dwarf Bread Museum


THE SHIRE
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The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings
by J.R.R. Tolkien
Tour guide: Frodo Baggins or Samwise Gamgee
Suggested activities: Boat rides down the Brandywine River, singing on tables at the Green Dragon Inn, a Gandalf firework show


THORNFIELD HALL
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Jane Eyre
by Charlotte Brontë
Tour guide: Edward Rochester
Suggested activities: A walk around the grounds, reading in the library, a hunt for violently insane ex-wives locked in the attic


NARNIA
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The Chronicles of Narnia
by C.S. Lewis
Tour guide: Aslan or Reepicheep
Suggested activities: Afternoon tea with Mr. Tumnus, a ride on the Dawn Treader, dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Beaver


AVONLEA
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Anne of Green Gables
by L.M. Montgomery
Tour Guide: Anne Shirley
Suggested activities: A poem reenactment by the river, hair makeovers (black or green?), drinks with Diana


BRAKEBILLS
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The Magicians
by Lev Grossman
Tour guide: Quentin Coldwater or Dean Fogg
Suggested activities: A game of Welters, simple charm lessons with Professor March, lunch at the Physical Kids' bungalow


WONDERLAND
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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
by Lewis Carroll
Tour guide: The Mad Hatter
Suggested activities: A chat with the Caterpillar, a Mad Tea Party, croquet with the Queen of Hearts


PERN
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The Dragonriders of Pern
by Anne McCaffrey
Tour guide: Lessa
Suggested activities: Impression of a dragon, destroying deadly Thread, traveling backwards and forwards through time


WINTERFELL
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A Song of Ice and Fire
by George R.R. Martin
Tour guide: Tyrion Lannister or Arya Stark
Suggested activities: Construction, scaling the walls of the Broken Tower, paying your respects at the crypt of Winterfell


PANEM
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The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins
Tour guide: Katniss Everdeen
Suggested activities: Volunteering as tribute, joining a rebellion, re-thinking your decision to go to Panem


REDWALL
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Redwall
by Brian Jacques
Tour guide: Matthias
Suggested activities: A delicious feast in the Great Hall, fishing at the Redwall Abbey Pond, fighting off an evil army of anthropomorphic rats


NEVERLAND
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Peter Pan
by J.M. Barrie
Tour guide: Peter Pan or Tinker Bell
Suggested activities: A dip in Mermaids' Lagoon, campfire parties with the Lost Boys, pirate treasure hunts at Skull Rock


HOGWARTS
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Harry Potter series
by J.K. Rowling
Tour guide: Hagrid
Suggested activities: Playing Quidditch, taking a few classes, using a Time-Turner to relive your visit over and over again


OZ
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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
by L. Frank Baum
Tour guide: Glinda the Good Witch
Suggested activities: Following the Yellow Brick Road, landing houses on wicked witches, paying no attention to the man behind the curtain


Don't see your favorite fictional land? Then share it with us in the comments! And add more fantastical stories to your to-read shelf with these book lists: Magical World Books and Alternate Universe Books.

Book Preview on Goodreads Now Available to Members in Canada and the U.K.
Posted by Abhinav Athreya on May 13, 2015

Good news! Our popular Preview feature is now available for members in Canada and the U.K! Want to find out more about a book before you add it to your To-Read shelf or decide to buy it? Now you can read a sample on Goodreads.

Preview is easy to use. You’ll find the “Preview” icon on the book page of any of the millions of titles that have a Kindle edition. Click on the icon and a sample of the book will open up within Goodreads using the Kindle Cloud Reader technology.




If the sample piques your interest, you can add the title to your Goodreads “Want to Read” shelf. If you’re ready to buy the full version of the ebook, there’s a link to purchase the title on Amazon (or you can use links on the book page to other retailers).

Preview is available on the Goodreads.com website only, and you will need to be using Goodreads on your desktop computer/laptop. We are working towards making it accessible via mobile web and the mobile apps.


Want to check out the Preview feature? Read samples from some of our Best Books of May, a list of six great books that are racing up our most-popular charts this month.

6 Fascinating Friendships Between Famous Authors
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on May 11, 2015

May 11, 1926: Eighty-nine years ago today, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis encountered each other at an Oxford English faculty meeting. It was not friendship at first sight. "No harm in him," Lewis wrote about his new acquaintance. "Only needs a smack or two."

Of course, it didn't take long for the two to become nearly inseparable. They critiqued each other's early drafts—for Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, and for Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet—and formed their own literary discussion group, The Inklings.

In celebration of their bookish bond, we've taken a look at six other captivating author friendships.


How they met: While working as an editor at Random House, Morrison tried to convince Baldwin to sign a book deal. She failed, but the two became lifelong friends.

Inside their friendship: The two writers admitted the powerful influence the other had on their work, but Morrison put it the most touchingly in her eulogy for Baldwin: "You knew, didn't you? How I relied on your fierce courage to tame wildernesses for me? How strengthened I was by the certainty that came from knowing you would never hurt me? You knew, didn't you, how I loved your love? You knew."


How they met: As a child, Capote went to live with his cousins, who happened to be playmates with Lee. The families lived on the same street in the small town of Monroeville, Alabama.

Inside their friendship: For decades, the big rumor about their friendship was that Capote had either written or heavily edited Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. Finally, a letter from Truman to his aunt, dated a year before the novel's publication, settled the matter. He wrote that he had read his friend's book, liked it very much, and thought she was quite talented.




How they met: A literary star after Jane Eyre's publication, Brontë found herself suddenly thrust into intellectual society. Established novelist Gaskell took the shy woman under her wing.

Inside their friendship: ...And then things got a little weird. Gaskell became obsessed with writing a biography of her friend, but Brontë chafed under the attention, complaining to her publisher: "[Gaskell] seems determined that I shall be a sort of invalid. Why may I not be well like other people?" Two years after Brontë's untimely death, Gaskell published The Life of Charlotte Bronte, a highly controversial take on the famous author.


How they met: Working as a journalist, Gaiman interviewed Pratchett in 1985. The two met at a Chinese restaurant.

Inside their friendship: After reading the first 5,000 words of a story Gaiman was calling William the Antichrist, Pratchett called him up to see if they should work on it together. They did, and the result was the hilarious masterpiece Good Omens. "We got on fine," Pratchett mused later. "Hard to say why, but at bottom was a shared delight and amazement at the sheer strangeness of the universe, in stories, in obscure details, in strange old books in unregarded bookshops." (You can read Gaiman's heartfelt tribute to the late writer here.)


How they met: Alcott had connections. Henry David Thoreau and Nathaniel Hawthorne were close with her family, and Emerson was a lifelong friend of her father's.

Inside their friendship: Emerson gave the young writer free rein in his library. She wrote years later, "His kind hand opened to me the riches of Shakespeare, Dante, Goethe and Carlyle, and I gratefully recall the sweet patience with which he led me round the book-lined room."




How they met: Byron and Shelley met through a mutual acquaintance of sorts, Claire Clairmont—Byron's former mistress and Shelley's stepsister. Claire convinced Shelley and her future husband Percy to travel to Switzerland to meet Byron, and the trio instantly connected.

Inside their friendship: What do literary-minded folk do on a stormy night in? They tell ghost stories, of course. On one such evening, Byron challenged Shelley and a group of friends to write their own ghostly tale. Not long after, Shelley woke from a dream/nightmare with the idea for her classic novel Frankenstein.


Who's your favorite writing duo? Tell us in the comments! And discover more books about writing and friendship on Listopia: Books About Writers and Best Friendship Books.

10 Favorite Book Moms and Their Words of Wisdom
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on May 09, 2015

Mother's Day is traditionally about real moms—and by real, we mean the moms who had to put up with our antics in the real world—but this year, we also wanted to give a shout-out to the moms who helped raise us from the page. Last week we asked on Facebook and on Twitter: Who's your favorite book mom? Today we've got your top answers. Did your pick make the list?

MARMEE
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Little Women
by Louisa May Alcott

Mother of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy
Mom Wisdom: "Oh, my girls, however long you may live, I never can wish you a greater happiness than this!"


MOLLY WEASLEY
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Harry Potter Series
by J.K. Rowling

Mother of Bill, Charlie, Percy, Fred, George, Ron, and Ginny
Mom Wisdom: Beds empty! No note! Car gone—could have crashed—out of my mind with worry—did you care?—never, as long as I've lived—you wait until your father gets home."


MAMA BEAR
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The Berenstain Bears Series
by Stan and Jan Berenstain

Mother of Brother Bear, Sister Bear, and Honey Bear
Mom Wisdom: "There's no question about it! The cubs are watching too much TV."


MA INGALLS
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Little House on the Prairie
by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Mother to Laura, Mary, Carrie, Charles Jr., Grace, Albert, James, and Cassandra
Mom Wisdom: "We start learning the minute we're born, Laura. And if we're wise, we don't stop until the Lord calls us home."


NANNY OGG
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Discworld Series
by Terry Pratchett

Mother to Shawn, Jason, Wayne, Darren, Nev, Shirl, and many more
Mom Wisdom: "Nanny Ogg looked under her bed in case there was a man there. Well, you never knew your luck."


ANGELA MCCOURT
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Angela's Ashes
by Frank McCourt

Mother to Frank, Malachy, Oliver, Eugene, and Margaret
Mom Wisdom: "God, I didn't bring ye into the world to be a family of messenger boys."


MRS. BENNETT
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Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen

Mother to Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia
Mom Wisdom: "Well, my comfort is, I am sure Jane will die of a broken heart, and then he will be sorry for what he has done."


MRS. JOSEPHINE RABBIT
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Peter Rabbit Books
by Beatrix Potter

Mother to Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter Rabbit
Mom Wisdom: "Now my dears, you may go into the fields or down into the lane, but don't go into Mr. McGregor's garden. Your father had an accident there. He was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor."


NATALIE PRIOR
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Divergent Series
by Veronica Roth

Mother to Tris and Caleb
Mom Wisdom: "You're my daughter. I don't care about the factions. Look what they got us. Human beings as a whole cannot be good for long before the bad creeps back in and poisons us again."


MARILLA CUTHBERT
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Anne of Green Gables
by L.M. Montgomery

Adopted mother to Anne
Mom Wisdom: "Good behavior in the first place is more important than theatrical apologies afterwards."


Did we miss your favorite book mom? Then tell us who she is in the comments! And find more witty and wonderful family stories to love on Listopia: Popular Mother's Day Books and Great Books for Mom or Any Woman.

20 Books That Made You Fall in Love with Reading
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on May 08, 2015

Remember when you just didn't get what made reading wonderful? (You were probably a child, so don't be too hard on yourself.) Books were just glued together stacks of paper until the day the right one fell into your lap and—not to be hyperbolic or anything—everything changed.

Last week we asked on Facebook and on Twitter: What was your first favorite book? Today we've got your top answers. Did yours make the list?

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If your first favorite book didn't make the list, share it with us in the comments! And check out more beloved books over on this Listopia: What Book Got You Hooked?
7 Little Known Facts About The Grapes of Wrath
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on May 06, 2015



John Steinbeck won a Pulitzer Prize for The Grapes of Wrath 75 years ago today. To mark the occasion, we've gathered a few surprising facts about Steinbeck's groundbreaking tale of the Joad family.

1. The book was briefly banned in the Soviet Union.
Despite focusing on a poor family's plight during the Great Depression, Steinbeck's book felt like false propaganda to Joseph Stalin and the Communist Party. The reason? It showed that even the most impoverished American could afford a car.

2. The FBI put Steinbeck under surveillance.
Most authors have detractors; Steinbeck's were just more aggressive than average. In response to vehement criticisms and death threats (as well as the previously mentioned ire of the Soviet Union), Steinbeck had federal agents keeping an eye on him.

3. Steinbeck wasn't very impressed with The Grapes of Wrath.
"It isn't the great book I had hoped it would be," he wrote in his diary. "It's just a run-of-the-mill book."

4. The field notes Steinbeck used for research were supposed to be for someone else's book.
In 1938, Farm Security Administration worker and author Sanora Babb collected stories from displaced migrants with the intention of using them for her own novel. Then her supervisor shared the field reports with Steinbeck. With The Grapes of Wrath's success, Babb's unpublished book, Whose Names Are Unknown, was eclipsed and forgotten. The novel was finally published in 2004, a year before Babb's death.

5.The book title is taken from The Battle Hymn of the Republic.
Steinbeck's first wife, Carol, suggested the title, taken from this line: "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord / He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored."

6. The Grapes of Wrath gave Route 66 its nickname.
The iconic two-lane road that connects Chicago to Los Angeles was first dubbed the "Mother Road" by Steinbeck. "66 is the mother road, the road of flight," he wrote, capturing the sense of hope and redemption families felt as they escaped the Dust Bowl states.

7. Popular rumor claimed the book was published as The Angry Raisins in Japanese.
While ultimately proved false, the rumor spread like wildfire after a New York Times story about Elaine Steinbeck, John Steinbeck's widow, and her travels overseas: "Once in Yokohama and, at sea with Japanese, she asked a book-store owner if he had any books by her favorite author. He thought for a moment, then said, yes, he had The Angry Raisins." Probably just a verbal misfire, but forever immortalized in title translation infamy.

Loved The Grapes of Wrath? Add more Steinbeck classics to your to-read shelf with this Listopia: Books by John Steinbeck.
What We're Reading at Goodreads
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on May 04, 2015

It's Book Perk time again! Every two months, each member of the Goodreads team gets to choose a book to order. We stacked up a portion of our latest stash in the Secret Garden-themed conference room—note the spectacularly painted wall in bloom—before letting everyone claim their next to-read.

Check out the full list of titles on Listopia! What will you be reading next?


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