TIME Parenting

Breaking News: Having a Father Is a Good Thing

Hey dads, they like you, they really like you!
Hey dads, they like you, they really like you! Jekaterina Nikitina; Getty Images

A new book 'discovers' the obvious—and the headlines follow. Enough already with the wonder of the dad

Science has a deliciously entertaining habit of stating the obvious. For every ingenious, truly groundbreaking insight that has a researcher sitting bolt upright at 3:00 a.m. entertaining dizzy visions of an inevitable Nobel, there other insights—researched, peer reviewed and published—that you don’t exactly need a double Ph.D to figure out. And so you get studies showing that “Moderate Doses of Alcohol Increase Social Bonding in Groups” or “Dogs Learn to Associate Words With Objects Differently Than Humans Do” or the breaking story that opened with the tantalizing headline, “Causes of Death in Very Old People.” Um, old age?

But the thing about these studies is this: somebody had to do them. Science is nothing if not persnickety about proof, and if you don’t have the data, you can’t officially establish the case. So the work gets done and the box gets checked and progress marches on. It was with that in mind that I tried to read with equanimity a Father’s Day gift from The Washington Post, which led its review of Paul Raeburn’s book Do Fathers Matter? with the headline, “Yes Dads, You Do Matter.”

And so, too, I tried to embrace the idea that Raeburn’s book needs to exist at all.

It’s not that the book isn’t a good, solid piece of science journalism. It is. And it’s not that Raeburn isn’t a good, solid science reporter. He’s been in the game a long time and is the media critic for MIT’s Knight Science Journalism Tracker.

The deeper question is: are we not yet past this? It’s a question Raeburn himself raises but seems to answer with an emphatic no simply by having written his book. There seems to be no killing the idea of dad the extraneous; dad the superfluous; dad, who’s nice to have around the house but only in the way that air conditioning is nice to have in the car — it makes things more comfortable, but you’ll still get where you’re going without it.

It’s as if the steady shrinking of the Y chromosome over the ages is somehow being mirrored by the dwindling relevance of the parent who carries this dying scrap of DNA. That vanishing Y, as recent studies have established, has been both arrested and overstated, but not before giving rise to headlines like “As Y Chromosome Shrinks, End of Men Pondered.” And that bit of silliness came from NPR, not, say, TMZ.

The idea of the father’s expendability has been exacerbated by the persistence of the doofus dad stereotype, something else Raeburn addresses: the well-intentioned bumbler who is still a staple of kid-targeted TV (thank you, Disney Channel). He’s the guy who can’t quite boil an egg and can’t be trusted to go shopping, but is eventually bailed out by mom or one of the kids, who set things right. Eyes roll, dad looks abashed and hilarity ensues. Except it’s not really funny—though not because it’s profoundly offensive or causes deep wounds to the sensitivities of a newly defined oppressed group. There’s enough elective umbrage at large already without adding one more voice of grievance to one more cable news show.

It’s just … off, somehow—like Jay Leno’s cringe-worthy performance at the 2010 White House Correspondent’s dinner, during which he made jokes about President Obama’s courage because (wait for it!) he invited his mother-in-law to live in the White House. There was a time, maybe, when the mother-in-law as harridan image was an apt—or at least fresh—source of humor, but that time is long past. Ditto dad as dunce.

Raeburn’s book is guilty of none of this. It’s stuffed with studies showing the vital role fathers play in their children’s lives from the moment of conception, through the mother’s pregnancy and onward. But there’s still a sense of wonder that comes with it. “The discovery of the father is one of the most important developments in the study of children and families,” is a nice line. But is it true? Is this really something that needs “discovering?” And do fathers really need a new book and a major newspaper reminding them that “You Do Matter?” Not on Father’s Day at least. And certainly not on one in the 21st century.

TIME 2016 Election

Hillary Clinton Book-Tour Overload: Just Don’t Call It a Campaign

The campaign-that-is-not-a-campaign is kicking into high gear

+ READ ARTICLE

Sixteen months after leaving the State Department and six months before she decides whether to run for President again, Hillary Clinton is undertaking a rollout worthy of the highest office.

It officially begins Tuesday, when her book Hard Choices hits stores and mailboxes across the country by the hundreds of thousands. But you can also say it began a year ago, when Clinton began hitting the lucrative speaking circuit. And there’s of course been the carefully targeted leaks of nuggets from the book and media interviews. In many ways, the next few weeks are just more of the same: there will be lots more public speaking, as well as a campaign-style bus, courtesy of Ready for Hillary, the Clinton-insider sanctioned super PAC laying the groundwork for a campaign. In just about every way, it appears to be the continuation of a campaign that began the moment she left the Obama Administration. But Clinton says pay no attention — she has not yet made up her mind. “The time for another hard choice will come soon enough,” she writes in her book, a copy of which was reviewed by TIME.

So the campaign-that-is-not-a-campaign rolls on.

On Monday night, ABC News will air an hour-long prime-time special with Clinton interviewed by Diane Sawyer, followed Tuesday morning with a live interview on Good Morning America with Robin Roberts. It’s an arrangement similar to that negotiated by former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton when they released their memoirs.

Hillary Clinton’s book isn’t a memoir in the traditional sense, but rather a delicately curated account of her time at the State Department clearly aimed at shoring up her vulnerabilities in preparation for a possible presidential campaign. It is filled with behind-the-scenes tales of meetings with foreign leaders and modestly revelatory insights into the Obama Administration’s inner sanctum. There is her long-delayed apology for her vote for the Iraq War, but more often than not the book presents her as a levelheaded decisionmaker, whose foreign policy recommendations were right, even if sometimes unheeded by President Barack Obama, her onetime rival.

The book closes with an outline of the economic challenges facing the nation, a tacit acknowledgement that foreign policy has faded on the public’s list of presidential priorities. Its release comes as Clinton has worked to align herself, at least rhetorically, with her party’s populist wing, delivering a rousing critique of rising income inequality last month in a speech at the New America Foundation in Washington.

Clinton will kick off the book tour with a stop at the Union Square Barnes & Noble bookstore in New York City, followed by a paid speech to the United Fresh Produce Association and Food Marketing Institute in her hometown of Chicago. On Wednesday morning, she will be interviewed by a former aide to both her husband and Obama, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The subsequent days will take her from Toronto to Austin, and next week she will tape a town-hall-style event airing on CNN at the Newseum in Washington. At no fewer than eight locations, she will be trailed by the Ready for Hillary bus and its volunteers.

There’s even a counter-narrative, offered in the 112-page e-book Failed Choices authored by Republican research outfit America Rising that will be released later this week.

In the book and on television, Clinton says she has not made up her mind about another run for the White House. But that won’t stop her from already doing everything that a full-bore candidate for President would do at this point in the 2016 election cycle.

TIME Bizarre

This Harvard University Library Book Is Bound in Human Skin

Experts at Harvard have confirmed that the binding could not have come from any other animal

A book bound in human skin sits in one of Harvard University’s libraries, experts at the school said this week. Scientists tested the 19th-century book Des destineés de l’ame and concluded that they were “99.9% confident” that the binding comes from a person’s epidermis.

The library says that Dr. Ludovic Bouland bound the book in the mid-1880s after receiving it as a gift from the author, Arene Houssaye. He wrapped it using skin from the unclaimed body of a female mental patient who died of a stroke. He left a now-missing note in the book to shed some light on his decision, albeit : “A book about the human soul deserved to have a human covering.”

The tests of the binding ruled out other animal sources, including sheep, cattle, goats and primates closely related to humans like apes and gibbons.

TIME celebrity

All Hail Your Latest Young Adult Sci-Fi Authors: Kylie and Kendall Jenner

Kendall And Kylie Jenner Sign Copies Of "City Of Indra : The Story of Lex And Livia"
Kendall Jenner and Kylie Jenner sign copies of "Rebels: City Of Indra: The Story of Lex And Livia" Dave Kotinsky—Getty Images

"I don't even think they read."

You know who loves keeping up with trends? Kylie and Kendall Jenner. Apparently that applies to the literary world as well.

The two reality stars are now “authors” of the latest piece of young adult, dystopian fiction. Behold Rebels: City of Indra: The Story of Lex and Livia, a YA novel that hit shelves Tuesday and is so complex, it’s worthy of not one but two colons in the title.

We always knew that the girls had imagination. “In first grade I told my friends I had a third story in my house filled with jewels and lions,” Kendall once told HuffPost.

Rebels is slightly more complex. According to the overview, it’s about “a beautiful paradise floating high in the sky, and a nightmare world of poverty carved into tunnels beneath the surface of the earth.” Almost as telling as the back cover copy is a page inside that states manager Elizabeth Killmond-Roman and YA writer Maya Sloan also “worked” on the Simon & Schuster book.

While E! raved, simply raved, about the Jenner’s genius prose—did we mention that Keeping Up with the Kardashians is an E! show?—reading the whole thing seemed like… a lot. So instead, let’s see what reviewers had to say about the instant classic.

From Amazon, which has a one star rating:

Amazon
Amazon

“I don’t even think they read. That’s what annoys me the most,” said a two-star Good Reads review.

But not everyone is a hater. The Barnes and Noble score averaged 3 stars. Here’s a rave review:

Barnes and Nobel
TIME 2016 Election

The 5 Least Mind-Blowing Things About Hillary Clinton’s Book Tease

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaking in Washington on May 14, 2014. Cliff Owen—AP

Clinton’s much-anticipated book is due out early next month, but early glimpses haven't given away much

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock with no media access for the last month, you’ll be well aware that former First Lady, former Secretary of State and the once-and-potentially-future presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has a book coming out next month.

Vogue readers got a first glimpse of Hard Choices in Mother’s Day excerpts which drummed up a million advance purchases of the book, but Clinton revealed more about the memoir in an author’s note on Tuesday. In it, she explores her reasons for wanting to write her eleventh tome — if you count some of her more academic early offerings — this one on her tenure as Secretary of State.

But the sneak peak doesn’t give away much about what the book actually contains — and what was included is hardly surprising. Here are five key things she was either bound to mention, or decided to skip:

1. Not mentioned: Monica

The book is called Hard Choices, she says, because of all the hard choices in life that make us who we are, whether that’s a parent, a politician or a world leader. Though she mentions the choice of “whether to get married—or stay married,” she avoids mention of a certain former White House intern who made waves with an interview of her own this month, Monica Lewinsky. And, anyway, the book is about Clinton’s time as secretary of state, so despite referencing her early choices in life in the tease, she quickly moves on to focus on her choices in office.

2. Mentioned: Osama Bin Laden

Not unsurprisingly, the lead choice is the decision to kill Osama bin Laden, which Clinton pushed for behind the scenes. Given its prominence in the teaser, it would seem this will be her top hard choice—and a very successful one at that—in her book.

3. Not mentioned: Benghazi

Some of Clinton’s less successful hard choices go unmentioned, including her response to the attack in Benghazi, Libya that claimed the lives of Amb. Chris Stevens and two other Americans. She does mention some regrets, though. “As is usually the case with the benefit of hindsight, I wish we could go back and revisit certain choices,” she says. We’ll all have to wait until the book’s release on June 10 to find out what those choices were.

4. Mentioned: Hatred for the press

In recent weeks much has been written about Clinton’s potential 2016 bid, including the fact her biggest hitch is having to deal with the media she loathes. That comes through in her teaser.

“While my views and experiences will surely be scrutinized by followers of Washington’s long-running soap opera—who took what side, who opposed whom, who was up and who was down—I didn’t write this book for them.

I wrote it for Americans and people everywhere who are trying to make sense of this rapidly changing world of ours, who want to understand how leaders and nations can work together and why they sometimes collide, and how their decisions affect all our lives: How a collapsing economy in Athens, Greece, affects businesses in Athens, Georgia. How a revolution in Cairo, Egypt, impacts life in Cairo, Illinois. What a tense diplomatic encounter in St. Petersburg, Russia, means for families in St. Petersburg, Florida.”

5. Mentioned: A tantalizing hint

For anyone hoping and dreaming that Clinton will run for president in 2016, she gives yet another vague hint that she’s leaning that way. She signs off the letter: “One thing that has never been a hard choice for me is serving our country. It has been the greatest honor of my life.” So, perhaps the choice to serve again isn’t so agonizing after all?

TIME 2016 Election

These Were Hillary Clinton’s Options For a Different Book Title

35th Annual Simmons Leadership Conference
Hillary Clinton delivers the Keynote Address at the 35th Annual Simmons Leadership Conference Paul Marotta—Getty Images

Hillary Clinton gave her first at-home interview since leaving her government post in 2013 to PEOPLE

PEOPLE magazine scored Hillary Clinton’s first at-home interview since she left government last year, and the potential presidential candidate offered a preview of her new book Hard Choices on Tuesday.

“I considered a number of titles,” the former secretary of state writes in a newly-released excerpt. “Helpfully, The Washington Post asked its readers to send in suggestions. One proposed It Takes a World, a fitting sequel to [my previous book,] It Takes a Village. My favorite was The Scrunchie Chronicles: 112 Countries and It’s Still All about My Hair.”

PEOPLE’s interview with Clinton hits newsstands June 6.

Read more at PEOPLE.

 

TIME movies

Madonna To Give Directing Another Go with Adé: A Love Story

56th GRAMMY Awards - Arrivals
Singer Madonna arrives at the 56th GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on January 26, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Axelle/Bauer—FilmMagic

The Material Girl will direct her third film based on the book by Rebecca Walker

Madge is returning to filmmaking. The legendary pop star will be directing a movie adaptation of Adé: A Love Story, based on the novel by Rebecca Walker.

Madonna, who has been acting since the ’80s, made her first foray into directing in 2008 with the comedy Filth and Wisdom, about three roommates in London, struggling to achieve their dreams. She followed that up with 2011’s W.E., based on the life and love of Wallis Simpson. Both films were widely panned by critics, though that hasn’t prevented her from taking on this new project.

Adé: A Love Story was written in 2013 by Walker, the daughter of Color Purple author Alice Walker. The story follows two American students travelling in Kenya, when one of the women falls in love with a Swahili Muslim man named Adé. The two lovers plan to marry, but are faced with political and cultural realities that are difficult to overcome. Madonna was an immediate fan of Walker’s book, providing a blurb for it that read, “Read this book! An incredible journey! A beautiful LOVE story!”

The book’s big screen adaptation will be produced by Silver Linings Playbook producer Bruce Cohen and Walker herself. They are currently hunting for a screenwriter to adapt the novel.

[The Hollywood Reporter]

TIME Books

10 Books to Buy with Your Free Money From Amazon

Amazon.com Illustrations Ahead Of Earnings
Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Don't let those three bucks burn a hole in your e-pocket

If there’s anything better than free money, it’s a good deal on a new book. (Well, for some of us.)

Today, some Kindle users have been blessed with the bonus of free money to spend on new books: as a result of a settlement by publishers in an ongoing anti-trust case, customers who bought qualifying books have had refunds of between $0.73 and $3.93 deposited in their Amazon accounts.

So what to do with all that dough? Here are a few ideas:

For the Marshmallow who can’t get enough: The first novel in a Veronica Mars tie-in series, titled The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line, is out today. Series creator Rob Thomas is one of the authors of this mystery, in which Veronica investigates the case of a girl who disappears while on spring break in Neptune.

For the feminist-history buff: Celebrate Gloria Steinem’s 80th birthday today by revisiting her first collection of essays, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, originally published in 1983.

For the sports fan: Mark the beginning of baseball season with Kostya Kennedy’s Pete Rose: An American Dilemma, which was released earlier this month and takes on one of the sport’s most enduring questions. Should the great player, out of baseball’s good graces due to gambling, be forgiven?

For the person who can’t wait to find out what happens: Saw Divergent in theaters over the weekend? Can’t wait for Game of Thrones to come back on April 6? Generally impatient about plot developments? Read ahead with the complete sets of Veronica Roth’s Divergent series and George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. (This is actually eight books total, but we’ll count it as two.)

For your Lean In circle: Out today, Thrive by Arianna Huffington is the latest addition to the work-life-balance genre. Huffington focuses on teaching readers to make sure that the pursuits of money and power don’t prevent achieving the personal success that’s just as important to someone climbing the career ladder.

For the news hound: Get a deeper understanding of some of today’s thorniest issues by pre-ordering one of these newsworthy tomes: Michael Lewis’ new book about Wall Street, Flash Boys, out next week; Glenn Greenwald’s book about Edward Snowden, No Place to Hide, which is due in May; or Serhii Plokhy’s The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union, also due in May, which promises to put recent events in Crimea into context.

For the literary laggard: If you’re yet to read Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, now’s your chance. One of last year’s most acclaimed novels, it’s Kindle-friendly — read: heavy — and a book-club must.

And haven’t you heard? We’re all in book clubs now. So, with the three dollars you saved, you can buy more cheese — which is the only thing better a good deal on a book.

TIME book

Hunger Games Producers To Adapt Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch

'The Goldfinch' by Donna Tartt Little, Brown and Company

A on-screen version of Donna Tartt's best-selling novel—about a boy whose mother is killed at a bombing in a Manhattan art gallery and who escapes with the famous Carel Fabritius painting—is in the works

If you, along with book critics around the world, loved Donna Tartt’s best-selling novel The Goldfinch, you’re in luck. An onscreen adaptation is in the works by the very same people who turned The Hunger Games into one of the most popular book-to-film franchises of all time.

Producer Nina Jacobson, who was involved with all four Hunger Games films, and her production company Color Force are working on an adaptation of Tartt’s sprawling novel about a boy whose mother is killed in a bombing at art gallery, though he survives and escapes with the Carel Fabritius’ painting, “The Goldfinch.” The Wrap reports that Jacobson’s production team is in the process of finding a director.

“We are looking for the right filmmaker, and then we’ll choose the right home based on that filmmaker,” Nina Jacobson told The Wrap. “We’ve been thinking we are more likely to make a limited series for TV. There’s so much scope to the book. At the same time, a filmmaker could come in with a perspective that changes our mind.”

Yet Jacobson gave no clue to what directors they were considering or if there were any stars they had in mind. “With a piece of material this great, there are a lot of conversations to be had,” Jacobson said.

[The Wrap]

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