The App that Helps You Speed Read?

Riane Konc reviews the app Blinkist: "Blinkist is decidedly not a substitute for reading books. It may be a substitute for reading books that no one actually needs to read in the first place, books that only contained 15 minutes worth of an idea but had to be stretched out to 200 pages for the publishers." The app summarizes over 2000 nonfiction books in 15 minutes: read Konc's review and see if you should give it a shot.

It’s Official: U.S. Poet Laureate Signs In

This past Wednesday Tracy K. Smith officially began her term as the new U.S. Poet Laureate. After adding her name to the guest book traditionally signed by poet laureates upon the start of their one year term, she read aloud from previously published poetry collections and introduced new work. Ron Charles from the Washington Post reports "[a]mong her most powerful new pieces were 'found poems' constructed from archival letters that African American veterans sent to President Lincoln asking for pensions they were owed." Smith is the first poet laureate appointed by the new Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden. Stay tuned for her upcoming efforts to engage rural communities in poetry discussions.

How to Finish a Fairy Tale

“I just didn’t see the textual evidence for it. If Mark Twain wanted to make somebody black, he would make them black. He was not shy about dealing with matters of race.” For The New Yorker, Mythili G. Rao on the complicated backstory to the upcoming publication of The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine, a “new” children's book by Mark Twain. See also: our consideration of Twain's self-deprecating travelogue The Innocents Abroad.

Can’t We Go Back to Page One

A memoir by Winnie-the-Pooh author A.A. Milne shows a writer frustrated at how his creation undermined his adult literary cred. Republished 70 years after it went out of print, It's Too Late Now reveals a trapped Milne wishing for more control over his own narrative: “I wanted to escape from [children’s books] as I had once wanted to escape from Punch; as I have always wanted to escape. In vain. England expects the writer, like the cobbler, to stick to his last.”

Tuesday New Release Day: Krauss; Szabó; Yamashita; Locke; Hasbún; Rowe; Olukotun; Ng

Out this week: Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss; Katalin Street by Magda Szabó; Letters to Memory by Karen Tei Yamashita; Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke; Affections by Rodrigo Hasbún; A Loving, Faithful Animal by Josephine Rowe; After the Flare by Deji Bryce Olukotun; and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.