TIME Books

The Best Theory About Jon Snow’s Mother

Here's a (spoiler-free) argument that Jon Snow could be heir to the Iron Throne

Whether you’ve read all the Song of Ice and Fire books by George R.R. Martin or just watched HBO’s Game of Thrones TV show, you’ve probably looked for clues as to who Jon Snow’s mother really is. As far as Jon Snow knows, he’s the bastard son of Ned Stark. But some fans thinks Ned lied about Jon’s parentage. Jon may in fact be the son of Ned’s sister, Lyanna Stark, and the former king, Rhaegar Targaryan. That means that Jon Snow could have even more of a claim to the Iron Throne than Deanerys.

The theory is known online as R+L=J and is elegantly summed up in this video by Alt Shift X. Don’t worry TV-only fans: there are no spoilers for plot lines to come.


TIME Rumors

Amazon Appears to Be Testing All-You-Can-Read Kindle Ebook Subscriptions

Amazon Kindle
Amazon Kindle in Sao Paulo, Brazil on March 15, 2013. Yasuyoshi Chiba—AFP/Getty Images

The "Kindle Unlimited" plan could include more than 600,000 ebooks for $9.99 per month.

Amazon loves its subscription business models, so it’s no surprise that the company might be testing an unlimited ebook plan.

The so-called “Kindle Unlimited” plan would reportedly cost $9.99 per month. It was first noticed by users on a Kindle forum, and then by GigaOM. Amazon has since wiped most the evidence from its site, but you can still see some of the test pages on Amazon’s site and on Google Cache.

While Amazon already offers ebook rentals as part of Amazon Prime, users can only take out one book per month, and can only read those books on Amazon devices such as Kindle e-readers and Kindle Fire tablets. Kindle Unlimited would apparently be available on all devices–including iPads and Android tablets–and would have no reading limits.

Unfortunately, none of the major book publishers seem to be participating, as GigaOM points out. Though there are some smaller publishers on board, many of the titles come from Amazon’s own publishing arm.

Still, some publishers are warming to the idea of ebook subscriptions, with Scribd and Oyster offering all-you-can-read books from HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster. If Amazon can offer a similar service that integrates with users’ existing Kindle libraries, it could be a hit that shakes up the way people pay for ebooks. But maybe giving more power to Amazon is what publishers are worried about.

TIME Books

Nadine Gordimer: 5 Essential Reads from the Award-Winning Author

Nadine Gordimer
Nadine Gordimer on June 12, 1983 in Paris Ulf Andersen—Getty Images

Where to start with the author, who has died at 90

Over the course of more than six decades, the Nobel-winning South Africa author Nadine Gordimer, who died on Sunday at 90, wrote more than a dozen novels and many more short stories. It’s a daunting oeuvre, throughout which she often returned to themes related to apartheid. For those daunted by her extensive bibliography, here’s where to start:

Face to Face

Year: 1949

Gordimer’s first novel was still a few years away, but Face to Face — a collection of short stories — was the young author’s first book.

Telling Times : Writing and Living, 1954-2008

Year: 2010

Telling Times wasn’t Gordimer’s last book (in 2012, her novel No Time Like the Present was published) but it’s the place to look for Gordimer’s nonfiction. The compendium of a half-century of work ranges from autobiography and travelogue to reflections on South African history and the great leaders of her time. The New York Times review of the book said that, even though a collection so vast is bound to have ups and downs, the work “reveals the power of ‘engagement,’ in the broad and humane sense.”

Burger’s Daughter

Year: 1979

One of her best-known works, Burger’s Daughter concerns the life of a young daughter of South African anti-apartheid activists and how politics affects the personal. Along with A World of Strangers and The Late Bourgeois World, it’s one of the three Gordimer works banned by the South African government; Burger’s Daughter was the subject of a 1980 book about that nation’s censorship practices. Gordimer later said that she wasn’t surprised the book was banned, but that “if you are a writer you must write what you see.”

The Conservationist:

Year: 1974

Gordimer won the Booker Prize — one of literature’s most prestigious — for this novel, about a rich South African man who buys a farm in order to find meaning in his life. The work was later shortlisted for the extra-prestigious “Best of the Booker” prize.


Year: 2003 for the collection of the same name; the story is copyright 1999.

For those who want to read her work right away, this is the way to go: the short story “Loot” is available for free on the Nobel website.

TIME Books

Nobel Prize-Winning Author Nadine Gordimer Dies

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The family of Nobel Prize-winning author Nadine Gordimer says she has died at the age of 90 in South Africa.

The family said in a statement on Monday that Gordimer, who won the literature prize in 1991, died peacefully in her sleep at her home in Johannesburg on Sunday.

The statement says her two children were with Gordimer when she died. It says a private memorial service will be announced at a later date.

TIME Television

The Strain Moves the Sexy-vs.-Scary Needle for Pop Culture’s Vampires

Fear is back, when it comes to vampires

Graphic by Heather Jones for TIME

It’s been a not-so-fearsome few years for vampires. Thanks to YA fare like Twilight and Vampire Academy, vampires are now the go-to sexy beasts — especially male vampires struggling oh-so-diligently to resist attaching their lips to some lady’s neck. In the pilot of FX’s new show Married, premiering July 17, the vampire-fantasy trope is so established that it’s ripe for parody.

But the reign of sexiness in vampire land just got a serious challenge: The Strain, also from FX, which premiered Sunday.

As James Poniewozik noted in his review of the show for TIME, it’s “an oozy, disgusting vampire drama” full of “gross-out depictions of vampiric biology.” These vamps are meant to be scary, not sexy. So, in honor of the new addition to the vampire canon, we took a look at how some of our favorite bloodsucking shows, movies and books stack up.

TIME Books

Amazon Gave Panelists Talking Points to Answer Questions About Hachette

'Bosch' Photocall At MIPTV 2014 In Cannes
Michael Connelly (L) and 'Bosch' star Titus Welliver (R) pose on April 7, 2014 in Cannes, France. Didier Baverel—WireImage / Getty Images

Amazon Studios has provided its panelists with talking points should the matter be raised

On Saturday, Amazon Studios, Amazon’s original video content production arm, will present its upcoming slate of original programming to the Television Critics Association. That line-up will include Bosch, an adaptation of Michael Connelly’s best-selling series of books about LAPD detective Harry Bosch, which happen to be published by Little, Brown and Company, which is part of Hachette, the media company involved in an ongoing and public dispute with Amazon. The dispute has most noticeably manifested itself in shipping delays for Hachette titles on Amazon, but it looks like the retailer is prepared for Bosch to be another reason for consumers and critics to be curious.

TIME received a copy of the talking points provided by Amazon to the Bosch panelists, with suggested answers for questions about the show as well as about the Hachette dispute. And it looks like any attendee hoping to ask such a question is likely to be disappointed: the creation of Bosch the series has nothing to do with the book’s publisher.

  • For a question about how the dispute has affected the series, the suggested answer is that there has been “zero disruption in Michael [Connelly’s] involvement in the series or our filming schedule.”
  • For a question about personal feelings about the dispute, the suggested answer is “I don’t know the particulars on that situation.”
  • For a question about why Michael Connelly, who is also a co-writer for the show, is not on the panel, the suggested answer is that “scheduling conflicts” are the reason for his absence. (Connelly is scheduled to be at a writer’s conference in New York City this weekend, TIME has confirmed.)

An Amazon spokesperson tells TIME that panelists scheduled to talk about Amazon series — not just the Hachette-adjacent one — were generally provided with such talking points, which is a fairly standard procedure and not surprising. Talking points are commonly designed to help with questions that the participants may not know the answers to; the sample questions are not about creative matters but about details like the way the budget for Amazon shows compares to the budget for shows on a platform like Netflix.

Plus, the sample Q&A provided by Amazon is a suggestion, not a requirement, says the spokesperson. “We’re not trying to tell people what to say,” she said.

TIME Books

Don’t Worry, Brazil. You’ve Still Got a Shot at the Quidditch World Cup

Harry Potter and his crew cheer on once-rival Viktor Krum's Bulgaria

Brazil may have a chance to redeem their 7-1 World Cup loss to Germany—at least in the wizarding world. The Harry Potter fan site Pottermore Friday began live-blogging the Bulgaria-Brazil Quidditch World Cup, with updates from Rita Skeeter and Ginny Potter.

Viktor Krum, Hermione, and Neville Longbottom all make appearances in the updates from Pottermore, where J.K. Rowling released Tuesday a new story about Harry and his friends. While Ginny Potter (who has apparently chosen to take Harry’s name after their marriage) focuses her commentary on the skilled Brazilian chasers, Skeeter’s commentary strays more towards gossip about Dumbledore’s Army.

“Neville Longbottom is already on his feet cheering, even though nothing has really happened yet. Is he drunk?” Skeeter ponders.

And Ron doesn’t seem to have let go of the hard feelings about his now-wife Hermione once dating the Bulgarian seeker Viktor Krum. “Harry Potter is cheering every well-hit Bulgarian Bludger, whereas his supposed best friend Ronald Weasley appears to be gnashing his teeth in chagrin,” Skeeter notes.

Ron (and Brazil) may be in for a relieving ending—the Brazilian Quidditch team led 50-20 as of press time.

TIME movies

Watch: Here’s the Trailer for Reese Witherspoon’s Wild

The film is based on Cheryl Strayed's wildly popular memoir.


Reese Witherspoon optioned the rights to the book for her upcoming movie even before it became a New York Times bestseller and was selected for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0.

Now the trailer is out for the film, Wild, based on Cheryl Strayed’s 2012 memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Starring Witherspoon and directed by Dallas Buyers Club’s Jean-Marc Vallée, the film tells the story of Strayed’s 1,100 mile trek to find herself.

Watch Witherspoon play Strayed in the trailer above.

TIME Books

Self Helpless: Why Do We Keep Searching for the Perfect Advice Book?

Illustration by Luci Gutiérrez for TIME
Illustration by Luci Gutiérrez for TIME

Like most recovering overachievers, I have a complicated relationship with self-help books. That is, I approach the entire genre with a mixture of interest and dread. While I am certain I can become a better version of me with the help of someone who has a research staff and a lucrative book contract, I know my relationship with the self-help book of the moment will end badly. It always does.

Everyone wants to be better at something. Right? Wasn’t this very country founded 238 years ago on the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of flat abs? I dare you to name someone who does not want flat abs. And yet they are so difficult to attain, unless you are an Olympic swimmer or under the age of 10.

This is the problem with self-help generally: real change is hard. So while you could fill whole libraries with the books that have been published in an effort to help us all get flat abs, when it comes to said books, there’s no such thing as strength in numbers. There is only strength in crunches, planks and other core exercises you probably wish didn’t exist. But if you are a recovering overachiever, the drive for self-improvement remains so persistent that it creates a selective memory in which all failed attempts at effectively using self-help books–to attain flat abs or to do just about anything else–are magically erased, along with the pain of childbirth and the tragedy (for me and all the other vans in the world) of the Dutch losing the 2010 World Cup final. Which explains why, when Daniel J. Levitin’s The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload landed on my desk, I thought, Oh goody, something that can help me become a better me at work and at home!

After spending decades in consumer magazines, I can say with certainty that after flat abs, what Americans want most in life is organized closets. And I know, as Levitin does, that you cannot have an organized closet without first having an organized mind. His book is full of amazing tidbits, like the chart that compares the average global temperature with the number of pirates in the world. What does that have to do with organizing? Who knows? Levitin is a professor, and he easily summons up lots of diverting facts to illustrate how distracted we are. For example, he knows that women’s cortisol levels spike when they are confronted with clutter but men’s don’t, which gave me a fantastic idea for my own self-help book: How to Live Happily With a Man Who Doesn’t Notice the Pile of Crapola at the Bottom of the Stairs.

Did Levitin’s book change my life? Well, first I need a leave of absence from work to finish it, as it is 512 pages long. Which brings us to another problem with self-help: those most likely to own self-help books are those least likely to have time for self-help books. Years ago, when my children were small and the working-mother routine felt particularly Sisyphean, my well-meaning husband gave me a book called How to Calm Down. It sat on my night table for six months or so until I realized that what would calm me down most was less time spent awake. I do, however, have an awesome framed photograph of my middle son holding the book and laughing maniacally. So it was good for something.

The one self-help book I have ever been able to get through is Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish’s How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, because the margins are very wide and half the book is fill-in-the-blank exercises, so the part you actually have to read is quite short. If you haven’t read it, here’s the key takeaway: when your child comes home and says, “I’m so mad that my math teacher took away my phone when I was texting in class,” you are not supposed to problem-solve or scold or, heaven forbid, call the school. You are just supposed to say, “Wow, it sounds like you’re really mad.” That’s right: parenting as parroting. Weirdly, it totally works, in part because it’s such an easy concept that even time-pressed lunatics can remember it.

As for the rest of the self-help volumes on your night table? Face it: they are dusty markers of inadequacy, reminders of the better you that will never be. They mock you, just like the fancy cookbooks with recipes for things like coq au vin that you will never learn to spell, much less make; the glue gun you absolutely will never use to DIY anything; the set of Rosetta Stone CDs for a language that it turns out you can get by fairly well without. Taken together, these little failures are all quite bad for your self-esteem. And you will certainly never get flatter abs if you don’t take care of your self-esteem problem first.

Van Ogtrop is the editor of Real Simple and author of Just Let Me Lie Down: Necessary Terms for the Half-Insane Working Mom

TIME Books

Rainbow Rowell’s Landline is a Screenplay Waiting to Happen

Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Landline by Rainbow Rowell St. Martin's Press

Landline offers another reason to get excited about Rainbow Rowell—even if it falls short of her other books

Rainbow Rowell made a name for herself penning last year’s funny and heartfelt young-adult fiction novels Fangirl and Eleanor & Park, the latter of which is headed to the big screen and has already been labeled “the next The Fault in Our Stars.” (As if a great YA novel can’t stand on its own.) Her fourth book, Landline, is the best-selling author’s first novel of adult fiction since her 2011 debut, Attachments, but the labels aren’t worth stressing: Landline might not have any teenage protagonists, but it does have all the pleasures of Rowell’s YA work — immediate writing that’s warm and energetic — even if it’s not her strongest love story to date.

In Landline, out now, television writer Georgie McCool gets stuck at work the week of Christmas while her fed-up husband Neal takes the kids to Omaha for the holidays, leaving Georgie to wonder if the rift in their marriage has finally reached its breaking point. When she discovers a magical landline in her childhood home that connects her to a Neal from the past, she has a chance to save their marriage — or save them the trouble and prevent it from happening.

If that all sounds like a great premise for an offbeat rom-com, you’re right — Landline probably should be. Reading the dialogue-heavy novel at times feels like reading a script that’s meant to be fleshed out on screen later. While moments of stream-of-consciousness narration captured the intense, messy thoughts of two teenagers falling in love in the excellent Eleanor & Park, similar moments and inner monologues border on repetitive in Landline. That’s not to say grown-ups with kids can’t ever think like teenagers (or vice versa), it’s just that these characters aren’t Rowell’s most memorable: Georgie’s back-and-forth fretting about Neal doesn’t have the same stakes when readers don’t get to know the couple or their marriage as well as they did, say, Cath and Levi, characters from Fangirl who felt so real and complete it’s no surprise they’ve inspired volumes of fan art.

There are other frustrations. Rowell has a knack for toying with readers’ instincts — leading them toward one conclusion for pages and pages and then suddenly and thrillingly confirming or subverting those suspicions — but one of Landline’s twists, if you can call it that, is too predictable to be truly satisfying. The novel also sets out to explore a number of worthwhile questions, like whether Georgie can achieve the oh-so-elusive work-life balance, but instead of answering them all, it leaves a few hanging.

Despite these complaints, though, Landline won’t do much to diminish enthusiasm for Rowell or her upcoming projects. When the author announced she’d be handling the screenplay for the Eleanor & Park movie, Rowell was up for the challenge. “I have never written a screenplay” she told MTV, “but I had never written a book before I wrote a book. I’m going to do my best.” If Landline is any indication, she has little to worry about. The book’s most enjoyable moments — like the quippy banter between Georgie and her family — are the same ones most deserving of a screen adaptation.

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