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14 NaNoWriMo Books That Have Been Published

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While November means turkey, football and marathon shopping for some, it’s a month of being hunched over at a laptop slurping cup after cup of caffeine for others.

Yep—it’s National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. People who are crazy ambitious enough to accept the challenge aim to write 50,000 words in November, which is about 1667 words every day. While no one expects masterpieces in such a short time span—the goal is to force writers to get some words down on paper without overthinking it—sometimes it happens. Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants is a particularly successful example. But she’s not the only author to see buckling down and hammering out 50,000 words in a month pay off. Here are 14 other NaNo books that can be found on the shelves at a bookstore near you.

1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

She wrote it during two NaNos, but we’re not holding it against her. The Night Circus spent seven weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and won an Alex Award from the American Library Association in 2012.

2. The Beautiful Land by Alan Averill

From Amazon: “The Beautiful Land is part science fiction, part horror—and, at its core, a love story between a brilliant young computer genius and the fragile woman he has loved since high school. Now, he must bend time and space to save her life as the world around them descends into apocalyptic madness.”

3. Wool by Hugh Howey

From Barnes and Noble: “In a ruined and toxic landscape, a community exists in a giant silo underground, hundreds of stories deep. There, men and women live in a society full of regulations they believe are meant to protect them. Sheriff Holston, who has unwaveringly upheld the silo’s rules for years, unexpectedly breaks the greatest taboo of all: He asks to go outside.” Ridley Scott has expressed interest in directing the Wool movie, the rights to which have been purchased by 20th Century Fox.

4. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Another NYT bestseller, The Forest of Hands and Teeth is a young adult novel that takes place in a post-apocalyptic United States that is overrun with zombies. This is the first of a trilogy, and the film rights have been optioned by Seven Star Pictures.

5. Don’t Let Me Go by J.H. Trimble

From Publisher’s Weekly: "Nate and Adam are smalltown adolescents whose relationship is threatened when Adam moves to New York. Nate recalls the first moments of their romance and its development even as it’s threatened by the arrival of Luke, a closeted younger teen who’s attracted to Nate. Told frankly and honestly from Nate’s point of view, the novel explores issues like coming out, parental acceptance (and its lack), antigay violence, and the attitudes of faculty and fellow students, whose ranks provide both antagonists and allies. Layered with the gritty everyday details of teen existence, the book provides a convincingly clear window into the many perils and sometimes scant pleasures of life in high school while never feeling overly grim; it will be appreciated by adults and teens alike.”

6. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

The New York Times Book Review says that Rowell “specializes in young misfits charting their way in the world,” which must certainly be true in this young adult book about a fan fiction writer named Cath who is going away to college and is stunned when her twin sister refuses to be her roommate.

7. Persistence of Memory by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Published a couple years ago, this YA effort is about a teen who suffers from an alter ego. That alter ego might actually be a vampire who is thousands of years old.

8. Take the Reins by Jessica Burkhart

This was actually the first book in what has become a very successful pre-teen series for Burkhart. The Canterwood Crest novels began with a draft of Take the Reins in 2006’s NaNo.

9. Livvie Owen Lived Here by Sarah Dooley 

A story from the point of view of an autistic 14-year-old.

10. Losing Faith by Denise Jaden

When her sister (Faith, of course) dies from injuries sustained in a fall off a cliff, a girl named Brie finds that a religious cult may have been behind Faith's death.

11. The Compound by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen

A tale of a family locked away in an underground bunker, The Compound received a 2009 Bank Street Award for Best Children’s Book of the Year.

12. The Hungry Season by T. Greenwood

From Publisher’s Weekly: “Renowned novelist Sam Mason cannot conjure the words that used to come so easily to him before the death of his daughter: 'the words are too thin, as fragile and brittle as bones.' Sam can no longer connect, especially not with his wife, Mena, and begins to waste away. Hunger proves to be a powerful metaphor for the family’s loss and desires although means of emotional escape are predictable.”

13. Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen by Donna Gephart

Olivia Bean heads to Hollywood to be on Jeopardy! Sounds like our kind of girl.

14. The God Patent by Ransom Stephens

When a war erupts over two patents created by a pair of electrical engineers, they find themselves in the middle of a battle of science vs. religion.

This is an updated version of a post that originally appeared in 2012.

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Evening Standard/Stringer, Getty Images
60 Years Later, a Lost Stanley Kubrick Script Has Been Found
Evening Standard/Stringer, Getty Images
Evening Standard/Stringer, Getty Images

A “lost” screenplay co-written by famed filmmaker Stanley Kubrick has been found after 60 years, Vulture reports.

The screenplay is an adaptation of Stefan Zweig’s novella Burning Secret, which Vulture describes as a reverse Lolita (plot summary for those who forgot high school English class: a man enters a relationship with a woman because of his obsession with her 12-year-old daughter). In Burning Secret, a man befriends an adolescent boy in order to seduce his mother. Zweig’s other works have inspired films like Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel (which the director claims he "stole" from Zweig's novels Beware of Pity and The Post-Office Girl).

Kubrick’s screenplay adaptation is co-written by novelist Calder Willingham and dated October 24, 1956. Although the screenplay bears a stamp from MGM’s screenwriting department, Nathan Abrams—the Bangor University professor who discovered the script—thinks it’s likely the studio found it too risqué for mass audiences.

“The child acts as an unwitting go-between for his mother and her would-be lover, making for a disturbing story with sexuality and child abuse churning beneath its surface,” Abrams told The Guardian. It's worth noting, however, that Kubrick directed an adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita in 1962, which MGM distributed, and it was also met with a fair share of controversy.

Abrams said the screenplay for Burning Secret is complete enough that it could be created by filmmakers today. He noted that the discovery is particularly exciting because it confirms speculations Kubrick scholars have had for decades.

“Kubrick aficionados knew he wanted to do it, [but] no one ever thought it was completed,” Abrams told The Guardian.

The Guardian reports that Abrams found the screenplay while researching his book Eyes Wide Shut: Stanley Kubrick and the Making of His Final Film. The screenplay is owned by the family of one of Kubrick’s colleagues.

[h/t Vulture]

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By Benjamin D. Maxham, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
11 Simple Facts About Henry David Thoreau
By Benjamin D. Maxham, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
By Benjamin D. Maxham, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

In his book Walden, Henry David Thoreau declared his love of nature, simplicity, and independence. Although most people know about Thoreau’s time in Walden Woods, as well as his Transcendentalism, abolitionist views, and writing on civil disobedience, there’s a lot more to uncover about him. In honor of his birthday (he would’ve turned 201 years old today), here are 11 things you might not have known about Henry David Thoreau.

1. WE’RE PROBABLY MISPRONOUNCING HIS NAME.

Born in Concord, Massachusetts in 1817, David Henry Thoreau switched his first and middle names after graduating from Harvard. His legal name, though, was always David Henry. Although most people today pronounce Thoreau’s surname with the emphasis on the second syllable, he most likely pronounced it “THOR-oh.” Ralph Waldo Emerson’s son, Edward, wrote that the accent in Thoreau’s name was on the first syllable, and other friends called him “Mr. Thorough.”

2. HE INVENTED A MACHINE TO IMPROVE PENCILS.

In the 1820s, Thoreau’s father started manufacturing black-lead pencils. Between teaching students, surveying land, and working as a handyman, Thoreau made money by working for his family’s pencil business. After researching German techniques for making pencils, he invented a grinding machine that made better quality plumbago (a mixture of the lead, graphite, and clay inside a pencil). After his father died, Thoreau ran the family’s pencil company.

3. HE ACCIDENTALLY BURNED HUNDREDS OF ACRES OF WOODS.

In 1844, a year before moving into a house in Walden Woods, the 26-year-old Thoreau was cooking fish he had caught with a friend in the woods outside Concord. The grass around the fire ignited, and the flames burned between 100 and 300 acres of land, thanks to strong winds. Even years later, his neighbors disparagingly called him a rascal and a woods burner. In an 1850 journal entry, Thoreau described how the earth was “uncommonly dry”—there hadn’t been much rain—and how the fire “spread rapidly.” Although he initially felt guilty, he wrote that he soon realized that fire is natural, and lightning could have sparked a fire in the woods just as easily as his cooking accident did.

4. HIS HOUSE AT WALDEN POND LATER BECAME A PIGSTY.

After Thoreau left the home he built in Walden Woods in 1847, the structure went through multiple iterations. He sold the house to Emerson (it was on land that Emerson already owned), and Emerson sold it to his gardener. The gardener never moved in, so the house was empty until a farmer named James Clark bought it in 1849. Clark moved it to his nearby farm and used it to store grain. In 1868, the roof of the building was removed from the base and used to cover a pigsty. In 1875, the rest of the structure was used as a shed before its timber was used to fix Clark’s barn. Today, you can see replicas of Thoreau’s house near Walden Pond in Massachusetts.

5. HE AND HIS BROTHER WERE CAUGHT IN A LOVE TRIANGLE.

In 1839, Thoreau wrote in his journal about how he fell in love with Ellen Sewall, an 18-year-old from Cape Cod. In 1840, Thoreau’s older brother John proposed marriage to Sewall but was rejected. So, like any good brother, Thoreau wrote a letter to Sewall, proposing that she marry him instead. Sewall rejected him too, probably due to her family disapproving of the Thoreau family’s liberal views on Christianity.

Despite the aforementioned marriage proposal, some historians and biographers speculate that Thoreau was gay. He never married, reportedly preferred celibacy, and his journals reveal references to male bodies but no female ones.

6. DESPITE POPULAR MISCONCEPTION, HE WASN’T A LONER.

Historians have debunked the misconception that Thoreau was a selfish hermit who lived alone so he could stay away from other people. Rather than being a loner, Thoreau was an individualist who was close to his family members and lived with Emerson’s family (on and off) for years. To build his cabin in the woods, he got help from his friends including Emerson and Bronson Alcott, the father of Louisa May Alcott. During his stay in the woods, he frequently entertained guests, visited friends, and walked to the (nearby) town of Concord. At his funeral at Concord’s First Parish Church, a large group of friends attended to mourn and celebrate his life.

7. HE WAS A MINIMALIST.

Long before tiny houses were trendy, Thoreau wrote about the benefits of living a simple, minimalist lifestyle. In Walden, he wrote about giving up the luxuries of everyday life in order to quiet the mind and have time for thinking. “My greatest skill has been to want but little,” he wrote. Thoreau also related his love of simplicity to the craft of writing: “It is the fault of some excellent writers ... that they express themselves with too great fullness and detail. They give the most faithful, natural, and lifelike account of their sensations, mental and physical, but they lack moderation and sententiousness.”

8. HE TOOK COPIOUS NOTES.

Although he was a minimalist, Thoreau wrote an abundance of notes and ideas in his journals, essays, and letters. He jotted down his observations of nature, writing in detail about everything from how plant seeds spread across the land to the changing temperature of Walden Pond to animal behavior. In addition to his plethora of notes and environmental data, Thoreau also collected hundreds of plant specimens and birds’ eggs.

9. HE WAS PRAISED FOR HIS ORIGINALITY.

In 1862, newspapers widely reported the news of Thoreau’s death. Obituaries for the 44-year-old writer appeared in The Boston Transcript, The Boston Daily Advertiser, The Liberator, The Boston Journal, The New-York Daily Tribune, and The Salem Observer. The obituaries describe Thoreau as an “eccentric author” and “one of the most original thinkers our country has produced.”

10. HE DONATED HIS COLLECTIONS TO THE BOSTON SOCIETY OF NATURAL HISTORY.

After Thoreau’s death, the Boston Society of Natural History got a huge gift. Thoreau, a member, gave the society his collections of plants, Indian antiquities, and birds’ eggs and nests. The plants were pressed and numbered—there were more than 1000 species—and the Native American antiquities included stone weapons that Thoreau had found while walking in Concord.

11. DON HENLEY OF THE EAGLES IS A HUGE FAN.

As a big fan of both Thoreau and Transcendentalism, musician Don Henley of the Eagles started The Walden Woods Project in 1990 to stop 68 acres of Walden Woods from being turned into offices and condominiums. The project succeeded in saving the woods, and today The Walden Woods Project is a nonprofit organization that conserves Walden Woods, preserves Thoreau’s legacy, and manages an archive of Thoreau’s books, maps, letters, and manuscripts. In an interview with Preservation Magazine, Henley described the importance of preserving Walden Woods: “The pond and the woods that inspired the writing of Walden are historically significant not only because they were the setting for a great American classic, but also because Walden Woods was Henry David Thoreau's living laboratory, where he formulated his theory of forest succession, a precursor to contemporary ecological science.”

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