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books

From Texas Standard:

It's not unheard of for an obituary to be published by mistake. A few years ago, People.com put up an obit for actor Kirk Douglas, who – at 100 – is still alive.

Something similar happened to Dallas-based Half Price Books chain, Austin’s BookPeople and independent bookstores across the country when the first e-reader made its debut. The death knell never rang so loud.

But it turns out bookstores aren't dead after all, at least not some of the best-known ones in Texas.

The first book of the Harry Potter series went on sale in the U.K. 20 years ago today. It offers a convenient excuse to reacquaint yourself with a world before anyone on this side of the Atlantic had heard of muggles, horcruxes or pensieves, before tourists would crowd into London's Kings Cross railway station simply to peer wistfully at the space between Platforms Nine and Ten.

Here's the first story NPR ever aired about Harry Potter — a wonderful piece by the late Margot Adler, from All Things Considered in 1998.

Some gems, from that bygone era:

Adriane Dizon / (cc) flickr

It’s Banned Books Week. The national weeklong event celebrates the freedom to read and open access to information. The week also serves as a reminder that many great works of literature — books like "The Great Gatsby," "1984," "The Bluest Eye" — were once deemed unfit for public consumption and censored.

KERA's Think just wrapped a week of broadcasting in Austin with two Texas Book Festival authors who relish the hard copy's preciousness.

Update, Feb. 5: Meg Bakich, the Highland Park mom who made headlines last month by challenging to the book The Working Poor: Invisible in America​, apparently is backing off. On Thursday, the Highland Park school district sent an email announcing the withdrawal  of the protest against David Shipler's non-fiction book. The Dallas Morning News has more details.

A Better Way To Opt Out Of Required Reading

Nov 25, 2014
Dianna Douglas

A recent dispute in the Dallas suburb of Highland Park over requiring students to read the book The Art of Racing in the Rain was settled today—a committee of teachers, parents and students reviewed the book and found that it can be taught in the classrooms. One thing the debate in Highland Park has shown is that parents and students who object to certain books are also often unhappy with their options for alternative assignments. Some Texas schools have made that process smoother.

Highland Park Teens Speak Up For Their Books

Nov 19, 2014

The required reading at Highland Park High School is still in flux. Some parents convinced administrators to remove books with adult material  -- then other parents, alumni and teachers petitioned the administration to reverse that decision.

Mostly missing from the public debate has been the voices of teenage students whose classes have been affected. As part of the KERA Yearbook project, we hear from three students about what English class has been like this fall.  

patpitchaya / Shutterstock

The Highland Park school district has reversed its decision to suspend seven books from the classroom after parents had concerns about sex, abortion and rape references. 

US Holocaust Memorial Museum/National Archives and Records Administration

It's the last day of Banned Books Week, when American Library Association calls attention to the freedom we have to read what we want. An exhibition at the Dallas Holocaust Museum reminds us that freedom hasn’t always existed in the world, and it's still being challenged here.

Shutterstock

UPDATE, Sept. 26: Highland Park has restored one of the seven suspended books to its approved reading list. In an email blast, the district says the person who challenged A Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls withdrew that challenge on Wednesday. 

Frank Huster

The Highland Park school district has attracted attention after seven books were suspended from classrooms last week. Those books are under further review, which could take several months. One of books suspended is called The Art of Racing In The Rain by Garth Stein​. The story is told from the perspective of a dog named Enzo, and it was on the district’s class syllabus for the fall.

Shelley Kofler / KERA News

Wendy Davis, the Democratic candidate for governor, is releasing a memoir Tuesday that’s already making headlines. In it, the mother of two reveals she twice terminated pregnancies because of health issues. 

Jerome Weeks / KERA News

Today: how the little guy is changing what you read, watch and eat. We know Dallas wants to be seen as a world-class city. For years, that’s been the stated priority. One young Dallasite has an idea for getting there: it’s more about communication than competition with other places. He’s just started a company to publish English translations of books from France, Russia and Mexico. Jerome Weeks talks to Will Evans of Deep Vellum. We'll also hear from Dallas native Doug Mankoff about his time in Hollywood, producing films like Nebraska.   

Jerome Weeks

E-books and Amazon and other industry changes have battered the traditional book trade.  Which is why we don’t see many new bricks-and-mortar bookstores opening these days. But an independent bookstore just opened in Oak Cliff, and it’s an unusual one.

Art&Seek's Jerome Weeks reports the author of 'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk' and pride of Dallas' literary trove Ben Fountain netted the fiction prize in the National Book Critics Circle Awards Thursday night.