books

potter

Fan fiction takes your favorite characters and sends them off in directions the original authors never intended. Case in point:  this Christian version of Harry Potter. Hogwarts School of Prayer and Miracles is the work of “Mommie blogger” Grace Ann who says it has “all the adventure and good morals of the Harry Potter books without all that bad stuff that is bogging it down.” To get an idea of what she means, read an excerpt from Chapter One after the break…

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Here’s another reason for Harry Potter fans to cheer their favorite books and author J.K. Rowling.

According to three new studies conducted by Loris Vezzali of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, people exhibit a marked difference in empathy and tolerance for others before and after reading the Harry Potter books.

The article, published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, studied how children and university students treated “out-groups” and found that subjects who read the books were more accepting of those people who are different than they are:

We conducted three studies to test whether extended contact through reading the popular best-selling books of Harry Potter improves attitudes toward stigmatized groups (immigrants, homosexuals, refugees). Results from one experimental intervention with elementary school children and from two cross-sectional studies with high school and university students (in Italy and United Kingdom) supported our main hypothesis.

Scientific American summarized the study result this way:

Of course there are many factors that shape our attitudes toward others: the media, our parents and peers, religious beliefs. But Vezzali’s work supports earlier research suggesting that reading novels as a child — implying literary engagement with life’s social, cultural and psychological complexities — can have a positive impact on personality development and social skills.

I gotta say, that’s pretty cool. I think I may need to thank my parents for starting me reading as early as they did.

(io9 via The Mary Sue)

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Puffin UK has re-released its series of Doctor Who novellas with beautiful new cover art. Each book is about a different doctor and features a minimalist design of that Doctor’s outfit. Stories are penned by an amazing roster of authors that includes Neil Gaiman, Eoin Colfer, and Richelle Mead. The series is currently available for preorder in a slipcased set on Amazon and is slated to be available on US shores on November 18th.

See the rest of the covers after the break.

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pine marten

You’ve likely wondered what your Patronus would look like, and so has Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. She was recently asked about this on twitter, and said that her patronus would be a pine marten. This adorable little squirrel-fox thing is very rare in Britain but is found in large numbers in Ireland and Scotland. Isn’t it just the cutest Patronus ever?

On that note, Rowling also teased the possibility of a Patronus test coming to Pottermore, so you may have an official answer to this question soon.

See the tweets after the break.

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Amid cries for him to write like the wind, George R.R. Martin is releasing a new book this October, but it’s not quite the one that fans are dying to read. The World of Ice and Fire is an illustrated history of all things Westeros that spans from Dawn Age to the fall of the Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen. The book was co-written by Martin with Elio Garcia and Linda Antonsson, the webmasters of Westeros.org who also fact-checked to make sure everything was accurate.

Martin is also holding a special, one-time event to promote the book in New York City with the $125 ticket price including a signed copy of the new book.

Product Page ($29.98 Vulture via Mashable)

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It seems that some people use more emoji in their text messages than actual words, and it can make deciphering things difficult. Those lovers of all things emoji will likely jump at the challenge to decipher these first lines of classic novels done solely in emoji. I’m not afraid to admit that if this was part of a college entrance exam, I’d be failing. But for everyone else, give it a go and then check out Slate to see if you passed the test.

(Mental Floss via Neatorama)

not a narnia gateway

(Rohit Bhargava via Neatorama)

celestina

Fans of the Harry Potter books got a gift over on Pottermore today in the form of a new song from and bio on Celestina Warbeck aka The Singing Sorceress.

Celestina and her songs have shown up throughout the book series and, in an exclusive interview with Today, J.K. Rowling reveals that Celestina is one of her favorite “off screen” characters:

Celestina Warbeck is one of my favourite ‘off-stage’ characters in the Harry Potter series, and has been part of the Potter world ever since its inception, making an early appearance in the short-lived ‘Daily Prophet’ series I produced for members of the equally short-lived fan club run by my British publisher, Bloomsbury. Although we never lay eyes on Celestina during the whole seven volumes of the Potter books, I always imagined her to resemble Shirley Bassey in both looks and style. I stole her first name from a friend with whom I worked, years ago, at Amnesty International’s Headquarters in London; ‘Celestina’ was simply begging to be scooped up and attached to a glamorous witch.

The song is called “You Stole My Cauldron But You Can’t Have My Heart” and, if you have a Pottermore log in, you can view the full video there.

You can also check out a portion of Celestina’s show at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter after the break.

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Earlier this year, news broke that Ice-T was recording a Dungeons and Dragons book, and now Audible has released The Legend of Drizzt: The Collected Stories by R.A. Salvatore. The cast of narrators features Ice-T along with an incredible celebrity line-up that includes Felicia Day, Weird Al Yankovic, Sean Astin, Greg Grunberg, Tom Felton, Wil Wheaton, Dan Hamon, Danny Pudi, Melissa Rauch, Michael Chilkis, and David Duchovny.

Even better, you can get it for free until midnight on September 21th as long as you have an Audible account.

See the video and hear a clip after the break.

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The original covers for the Harry Potter series have become truly iconic. However, it looks like Bloomsbury Publishing is giving those classic covers a bit of a makeover: An all-new set of dust jacket covers, featuring art by UK concept artist and illustrator Jonny Duddle, will be available starting on Sept. 1.

I have to say that these new covers are fantastic–I think Duddle did some fine work. What do you think? How do these new covers compare to the first ones?

Take a sneak peek at the new covers after the break…

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