TIME Books

Here Are the Best #BackToHogwarts Tweets

"Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home"

J.K. Rowling sure knows how to ignite her fan base, which exploded in nostalgia when the author Tweeted on Tuesday that Harry Potter’s oldest son was headed to his first day at Hogwarts.

The Twitterverse took to posting about heading back to the wizarding school themselves. After all, as Rowling once said, “whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” See how fans (and brands) reacted to the big day.

The fan who learned a thing or two from Ron

The fan who always believes

The fan with proof the Hogwarts Express exists

The fan whose family might be like the Dursleys

The fan who seems to think Ginny Weasley’s hair has turned grey already

The fan with a great sense of humor about You Know Who

The fan craving some pumpkin juice

The fan who just can’t deal

The fan who has her quill and parchment at the ready

The fan who wants more than 140 characters

TIME Books

J.K. Rowling Reveals That Harry Potter’s Son Is Following in His Footsteps

Where dwell the brave at heart

J.K. Rowling brought back many a memory on Twitter when she reminded Harry Potter fans that today would be the first day of school for Harry’s oldest son, James Sirius Potter. School, of course, means Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. And as we well know, Hogwarts is no ordinary school.

After fans (and brands, too) went nuts using the hashtag #BackToHogwarts, Rowling chimed in on the fun once again, mentioning the annual Sorting Hat ceremony, where new students are placed in one of the four houses at Hogwarts.

The Teddy Lupin she refers to is the son of the late Nymphadora Tonks and Remus Lupin, who, for those who’ve not kept up with the Potter universe, is dating Victoire Weasley, the daughter of Bill Weasley and Fleur de la Coeur.

TIME Social Media

J.K. Rowling’s Latest Harry Potter News Will Make You Feel Insanely Old

Back to school

Hold on to your broom, Potter fans, because J.K. Rowling’s recent Twitter storm is going to make you wish you had a Time Turner.

That’s right. Potter’s oldest son is off to his first day at Hogwarts. James Sirius Potter is already well-adjusted to Hogwarts when we meet him in the epilogue of Deathly Hallows. It’s his younger brother, Albus Severus Potter, who gets the spotlight. But not today, as Rowling’s followers supposedly wished James luck for Rowling. The author, as always, continued to play along with the fun.

Mischief managed.

Read next: J.K. Rowling Is ‘Proud’ of Draco Malfoy and Neville Longbottom’s Twitter Rivalry

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The Historical Truth Behind Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels

As the fourth and final book comes out in English, a look at what it would have been like to really grow up in Elena's world

In the three years since My Brilliant Friend was first published in English, Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels have wooed many readers with their forceful elegance and unusual perspective on friendship. But, while the relationship between protagonists Elena and Lila is the story’s heart, there’s another character exerting a strong influence on their lives: the city of Naples, which is portrayed in gritty detail throughout the novels. When My Brilliant Friend begins, Elena and Lila are primary school students, born near the end of World War II and growing up there in the 1950s and ’60s. Though Elena escapes to a better life in other cities in the subsequent books, The Story of a New Name and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, Naples maintains a gravitational pull on her. In The Story of the Lost Childthe series’ final installment, out Tuesday in the U.S.—she finally returns to her hometown, where life is as turbulent as ever.

While Elena and Lila have their ups and downs, Naples is consistently depicted as a place of violence, poverty and social unrest. And, in large part, that’s for good reason: though Ferrante’s characters are fictional, her Naples is based on truth.

The 20th-century history of Naples was a particularly hard one, explains Rutgers University Associate Professor Paola Gambarota, who is writing a book about the city, and the devastation experienced during the war set it up to be a place of remarkable deprivation and struggle. Naples was bombed more than 100 times during World War II, and when the Germans prepared to evacuate the city before the Allies landed in 1943, “Nazis destroyed the whole port,” she says, “because they knew that this would be the main port of operation for the Allies.” When troops arrived, the water, gas and electricity systems had all been destroyed. Because the shipping system had been paralyzed, even American troops were at first guaranteed only 100 calories-worth of food per day. The destruction was so great, Gambarota says, “Maybe only Berlin in 1945 can be compared.”

While the Allied forces quickly restored the city’s infrastructure, problems remained: The black market was a powerful force in the port city, and as much as a third of the goods imported by the Allies were stolen and sold illegally. While wealthier Neapolitans had been able to flee to safer areas, like Sorrento or Capri, the poor and the petit bourgeoisie stayed behind to suffer the consequences, though some also benefited from the black market, like the Solara family in Ferrante’s novels.

The city had already been poor before the war—little was invested in the South when Italian Unification began a century earlier—but afterward, Gambarota says, “the socioeconomic situation in Naples…was worse than anywhere else.” Education was a luxury. While it was possible to be lucky like Elena and go on to advanced schooling, many children went the way of Lila, dropping out at a young age in order to earn money for their families. Nevertheless, as the daughter of a shoemaker, Lila would not have been truly impoverished by the city’s standards. “Poverty there [in the ’50s] meant you lived seven people to one room, and that there was nothing to eat. People with no shoes,” Gambarota says. “It’s not the poverty that we know here.”

Domestic violence, which many women experience in the books, “was a daily thing,” she says. This is thanks in part to the fact that until 1975, she says, wives basically had the same legal rights as children. Outside the home, violence was just as bad; Gambarota, who was born in nearby Avellino but moved with her family to Naples while she was still young, remarks that while the Neapolitan culture is rich, “it’s a tough town,” and even more so in the areas surrounding the city center, like Lila and Elena’s neighborhood.

American readers of Ferrante’s work (translated to English by Ann Goldstein) may also wonder about the sections where a character is said to have spoken “in dialect” rather than in proper Italian. Ferrante also uses that in dialetto designator in her original text, says New York University Assistant Professor of Italian Studies Rebecca Falkoff, with only a few exceptions in which dialect words are written out. The split between those who speak mostly Italian and those who speak mostly Neapolitan is one more indicator of the true difficulties of life in Ferrante’s Naples, in which less educated people have trouble communicating with the rest of the world. Even today, Falkoff says, though spoken Italian is widely understood, “for a native speaker of dialect who did not complete secondary schooling and had little experience beyond his or her local community, it might be very difficult to produce grammatically correct standard Italian.”

And to all the practical commonalities between Ferrante’s Naples and the real Naples, Gambarota adds one more intangible similarity: a certain longing to escape, especially among women. “In order to evade that daily violence, that daily force that you were subjected to—and there are some small things but really very difficult things—you just have to go away,” she says. “And this has happened to so many of us. You just have to get away. You just have, at a certain point, a feeling that there is nothing that you can change. And that’s another unchangeable thing in Naples.”


J.K. Rowling Has Revealed A Heartbreaking Truth About Hagrid

The Harry Potter author's latest revelation is more sombre than usual

During a Q&A on Twitter, J.K. Rowling made a surprising revelation about Rubeus Hagrid, one of the best-loved characters from the Harry Potter series. When a fan asked Rowling what form Hagrid’s Patronus would take – a great question, considering Hagrid’s unusual taste in pets – she replied: “Hagrid couldn’t produce a Patronus. It’s a very difficult spell.”

In both the books and the films, the Patronus charm is one of the most powerful defense spells a witch or wizard can cast to ward off Dementors, the dark creatures that feed off human happiness.

It’s one of the most complex spells in the wizarding world, and in order to conjure a Patronus, a wizard needs to draw upon his most powerful happy memory. The Charm conjures a magical guardian in the shape of the animal with whom the witch or wizard shares the greatest affinity.

Rowling’s response may point to the fact that the spell is simply too difficult for Hagrid, who was expelled from Hogwarts as a teenager, to perform. But fans were also worried that the lovable half-giant, abandoned by his mother as a child, may just not have enough happy memories to produce a Patronus. Oh, Hagrid!

Read next: The 50 most important things we’ve learned from J.K. Rowling

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TIME Books

George R.R. Martin Says This Character Is Still Alive in the Books

Helen Sloan—HBO Stephen Dillane as Stannis Baratheon in Game of Thrones

Spoilers for both A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones ahead

Long live King Stannis. According to George R.R. Martin, the supposedly slain Baratheon is still alive — at least in the books.

Taking a (hopefully short) break from writing The Winds of Winter, writer George R.R. Martin fielded fan questions on LiveJournal Wednesday. When one enthusiast asked the author to “cut the crap” and confirm whether Stannis was dead or alive, Martin wrote: “In my books? Alive beyond a doubt.”

Stannis is currently presumed dead in both the show Game of Thrones and the Song of Ice and Fire books upon which the HBO series is based. In the books, Ramsay Snow spread a rumor that Stannis met his demise. But in preview chapters for the upcoming Winds of Winter that Martin posted online way back in 2012, that rumor proved untrue. Stannis is very much alive.

What this means for the onscreen version of Stannis is unclear. The last time fans Game of Thrones saw him, he was about to be killed by Brienne of Tarth. Of course, audiences never actually saw Brienne finish the job.

That doesn’t mean showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss didn’t get rid of the would-be king. The series has diverged in many ways from the books, including killing off Stannis’ daughter, Shireen.

Still, the often-bloody drama rarely shies away from a gruesome death. Any time the camera turns away is cause for suspicion. Fans will eagerly comb the Internet for photos of Stannis actor Stephen Dillane on the Game of Thrones set, just as they search for clues of the survival of The Hound or revival of Jon Snow.

TIME Books

This Famous Book Is Turning 60 Today

NOEL CELIS—AFP/Getty Images Filipino residents broke the record for the largest Zumba class with 12,975 participants in a single venue in Mandaluyong on July 19, 2015.

It's celebrating 60 years of superlatives

Here’s one for the record books: the Guinness Book of World Records celebrates 60 years of documenting the strangest, most impressive, and generally superlative accomplishments on Thursday.

The record book’s first edition was published in 1955. The managing director of Guinness Brewery, Sir Hugh Beaver, thought the book could distributed for free across bars, where a definitive compilation of world records would settle plenty of bar fights in the pre-Google era. It turned out to be a hit: 50,000 copies of the first edition were reprinted and sold, resulting in three more editions in the following year.

The Guinness Book of World Records has never been snobby about what it records: from the most expensive bottle of wine (a 1947 French Cheval-Blanc sold for $304,375 in 2010) to the fastest time to drink a liter of lemon juice through a straw (24.41 seconds). There’s also the man who holds a record for holding the most apples in his mouth and cutting them with a chainsaw in one minute (8 apples).

“We celebrate them all equally,” Craig Glenday told CBS News. “Whether you’re Usain Bolt, who can run a 100 meters in 9.58, or you’re the guy from Germany who can run it in clogs in 16 seconds, or on all fours, or backwards. It’s that rich variety, and we treat them all the same.”

TIME Books

Kazuo Ishiguro’s Thoughts on Some ‘Great Writers’

Ishiguro Cover Sheet
Harry Ransom Center Kazuo Ishiguro’s cover sheet for “Notes on some great writers.”

The author's archive was recently acquired by the Ransom Center

This post is in partnership with the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin. A version of the article below was originally published on the Ransom Center’s Cultural Compass blog. The Ransom Center recently acquired the archives of the author Kazuo Ishiguro.

Within Kazuo Ishiguro’s archive are some of his notes on great writers as well as thoughts about films. Some are handwritten while others are typed. Ishiguro has been, in his own words, “putting random, impromptu thoughts of books read (sometimes films seen) with particular emphasis on useful lessons, etc, for my own writing.”

Once processed and cataloged, Ishiguro’s archive will be available for research.

Here is a sampling from his notes:

Of Franz Kafka’s The Trial
“This book is so deep and mysterious, it is almost unfathomable. the [sic] metaphors are so unspecified, and yet at the same time, seem so pertinent, that one coul [sic] drive oneself mad thinking of applications, or interpretations.”

Of Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye
“This is a formidable novel by Chandler, ostensibly a crime novel, but far surpassing that genre….”

Notes on the script for Natural Born Killers
“Utterly rivetting [sic] script. As is the much more genteel League of Gentlemen, the underlying tension comes from not being able to predict where the sympathy of the film will fall…”

Of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov
“I’ve just got to the end of Vol I… and I’m disappointed with how baggy and unedited it feels…”

Of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park
“This book, while very engrossing and involving, seems to me to not be of the same order as Emma and Persuasion. It’s a cruder book in its moral outlook, and indeed, has something extremely unattractive and lacking in compassion. Of course you have to see these things in terms of the prevailing moral climate. But when you put this book alongside the generosity of spirit for individuals displayed in the other two novels, and the willingness to question the mores of prevailing society, M. Park has to be seen as disappointing.”

Of the film The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
“saw a magnificent film by Michael Powell called ‘Life and Death of Col Blimp.’ It was a film very much concerned with a certain kind of British virtue—the gallantry, the chivalrous gentleman—who was a good loser, and always played fair—in love or in war.”

See more about the Ransom Center’s collection here at the Harry Ransom Center blog

TIME Books

Terry Pratchett’s Final Novel The Shepherd’s Crown Has Been Published Posthumously

Terry Pratchett Portrait Shoot
SFX Magazine—2013 Future Publishing Portrait of English fantasy author Sir Terry Pratchett, photographed to promote the 40th novel in his Discworld series, Raising Steam, on September 18, 2013.

The Shepherd's Crown is the 41st installation in Pratchett's Discworld series

Bookstores across the U.K. and British Commonwealth released Terry Pratchett’s final novel on Wednesday night, five and a half months after the celebrated fantasy writer died of Alzheimer’s disease.

The Shepherd’s Crown is the 41st book in Pratchett’s Discworld series, a collection of fantasy works that rejuvenated the clichés of the genre by infusing them with comedy and an angle of social commentary. The franchise began with Pratchett’s first novel, The Colour of Magic, published in 1983. The Shepherd’s Crown is his last, written throughout his worsening struggle with Alzheimer’s.

“It was a hard book to complete because Terry’s health was declining in the last year,” Rob Wilkins, a friend of the author’s, told the BBC. “But he was still enjoying the writing.”

Many bookstores across the U.K. held midnight launch parties to celebrate the book’s publication. Within hours of its release, a number of Pratchett’s fans took to the Internet to say they had already finished reading it.

TIME celebrity

Mariah Carey Will Release Children’s Book Based on Hit Song ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’

mariah-carey-christmas cover

The book features the complete lyrics of Carey's hit song

All we want for Christmas is Mariah Carey‘s new book!

This fall, the singer is set to make her children’s book debut with All I Want for Christmas Is You, a picture book inspired by Carey’s hit song, PEOPLE can reveal exclusively.

“When I wrote All I Want For Christmas Is You it was my dream for it to become a classic Christmas song,” Carey tell PEOPLE in a statement. “I am so proud of the song’s impact as it continues to create memories for fans each year.”

She adds: “I am thrilled to be able to bring the story of the song to new generations of families with the picture book.”

The book, which features the complete lyrics of Carey’s chart-topping hit, tells the story of a little girl whose greatest holiday wish is for a new puppy.

The song “All I Want for Christmas Is You” was released in 1994 and quickly became a family favorite, selling over 14 million copies.

Carey previously announced in late July that she will direct a feel-good holiday movie set to be released as part of Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas. The mother of two will also costar in the festive film.

All I Want for Christmas Is You hits shelves Nov. 10.

This article originally appeared on People.com

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