The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- Novelist James Patterson, whose mysteries, thrillers, children's books and romances have sold hundreds of millions of copies, is donating $1 million of his personal fortune to independent bookstores across the country. In a statement released by his publisher, Patterson said, "Every day, booksellers are out there saving our country's literature. The work they do to support schools and the rest of their communities leaves a lasting love of reading in children and adults. I believe their work is vital to our future as a country. What are we if we don't have our own literature? I couldn't be happier to, very humbly, support booksellers in their mission. Maybe that's because it's my mission as well." So far, he's selected 55 stores to receive donations totaling $267,000. In an interview with Morning Edition's Renee Montagne, Patterson said he hopes to highlight the situation faced by independent booksellers. "The government has stepped in to help banks, automobiles, anything where money is concerned, but nobody seems to care about books and our bookstores," he said. "And I'm telling you, American literature is in jeopardy."
- Liu Xia, poet and wife of Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, has been hospitalized for heart problems, Agence France-Presse reports. Although she has not been charged with a crime, she has lived under house arrest since 2010. A friend and human rights lawyer, Mo Shaoping, told AFP that Liu Xia is at a hospital in Beijing. Mo added, "Of course, it would be better if she could go abroad to see a doctor. The problem is whether or not they will let her go. They won't let her decide for herself."
- Finalists for the L.A. Times Book Prizes were announced on Wednesday, with 50 books in 10 categories. Two writers will receive special recognition: novelist Susan Straight, the winner of the Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement, and YA writer John Green, the winner of the Innovators Award "for his dynamic use of online media to entertain and engage." Katie Freeman, Straight's former editor and publicist at Pantheon (now at Riverhead), wrote in an email to NPR, "I cannot think of a writer who deserves this recognition more. She is an exceptional, honest, searingly beautiful writer and a remarkable, memorable person." The prizes will be awarded in April.
- Harper Lee has settled a lawsuit she brought against a museum in her Alabama hometown for selling To Kill a Mockingbird souvenirs. Lee said the Monroe County Heritage Museum in Monroeville sold products related to her bestselling book without asking or compensating her.
- The Carla Furstenberg Cohen Literary Prize — a new prize named in honor of the co-founder of Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington, D.C. — was awarded to Anthony Marra for the novel A Constellation of Vital Phenomena and David Finkel for his nonfiction book Thank You for Your Service. According to a press release, the prize is worth $5,000 and will be awarded in May. Cohen's husband and the chair of the prize, David, said in the release, "Two talented writers exemplify a new generation of probing, resilient and compassionate writing. Anthony Marra and David Finkel have an uncommon understanding and feel of courage and building lives under continuing adversity.
- Dr. Seuss's hat collection is going on tour. For NPR, Lauren Katz reports: "An exhibit called Hats Off to Dr. Seuss!, which debuted at the New York Public Library in January last year, will stop in six states over the next seven months. The exhibit features 26 unique and historic hats from Dr. Seuss's collection, along with his original artwork inspired by the collection."