Books based on classical works or their authors continue to be of huge interest to writers and readers alike. It’s fascinating to investigate beloved treasures from a fresh perspective, examining the lives of their authors, and seeing how they hold up if modernized and placed in exciting new adventures.
If you’re interested in seeing minor characters step off the page, Sherlock’s older brother Mycroft Holmes graduates Oxford and gets his chance to shine in a thrilling mystery of his own in the novel bearing his name, and penned by former basketball Star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse (Titan Books). Jeannine Atkin’s Little Woman in Blue (She Writes Press) looks at how May Alcott might have felt about being characterized as the one who gave up her art for marriage, as she did as Amy in sister Louisa May Alcott’s most famous novel, Little Women. May had other ideas, ya’ll.
Anyone who has ever been captivated by the wisdom on the pages of The Little Prince will rejoice in the collection of the charm, wit and guidance to be found in A Guide for Grown-Ups: Essential Wisdom of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). And while Erik Didriksen isn’t offering any words to live by in Pop Sonnets (Quirk Books), he is gifting us with the Shakespearean versions of all of favorite songs.
Taking a deeper look at the authors who have penned famous works can be just as illuminating as exploring the lives of their families. Two new biographies let us have it both ways. Peter Ackroyd’s Wilkie Collins (Nan A. Talese) explores Collins’ rise from struggling artist to famed and successful writer who enjoyed a deep friendship with Charles Dickens. Julia Markus’ Lady Byron and Her Daughters (W.W. Norton and Company) tackles the stunning rise of the outcast family to accomplished and progressive women who would make their marks on not only their own stifling society, but for generations that followed.
If reimagined stories tickle your fancy, try After Alice (William Morrow), Gregory Maguire’s take on Alice In Wonderland through Alice’s friend Ada, who goes down the rabbit hole after Alice in effort to find her friend. Jeannette Winterson’s The Gap of Time (Hogarth) both updates Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale for a modern audience (it takes place in 2008) but it also serves as the debut title in the Hogarth Shakespeare series, with bestselling authors retelling the bard’s works.
If you’re thinking of buying books for the holiday, use the hashtag #GiveaBook on Facebook or Twitter and Penguin Random House will donate a book to the Save the Children organization (up to 25,000 times). Make sure to do this by 12/25 to take advantage of this wonderful campaign.