TIME Books

Author of The Notebook Nicholas Sparks Splits From Wife

Nicholas and Cathy Sparks arrive for the Premiere of "Safe Haven" on Feb. 5, 2013 in Hollywood.
Albert L. Ortega—Getty Images Nicholas and Cathy Sparks arrive for the Premiere of "Safe Haven" on Feb. 5, 2013 in Hollywood.

The writer of 17 romantic novels is separating from his wife of 25 years

There will be no storybook ending for Nicholas Sparks and his wife Cathy – the woman who inspired so many of the best-selling author’s novels.

The king of the love story, who has penned 17 romantic novels – nine of which, including The Notebook, have been made into movies – is splitting from his wife of 25 years.

“Cathy and I have separated,” Sparks, 49, tells PEOPLE exclusively. “This is, of course, not a decision we’ve made lightly. We remain close friends with deep respect for each other and love for our children. For our children’s sake, we regard this as a private matter.”

The couple, who married in 1989 – seven years before The Notebook made the young Notre Dame business school grad a literary star – have three sons and twin daughters, ranging in age from 23 to 12.

Though he’s a master at telling love stories, Sparks has always been reluctant to offer real-world romantic advice.

“I don’t like to give marriage tips,” he told PEOPLE in 2003. “There are people who are probably much better at marriage than I am – they’ve lasted a lot longer. I could probably learn from them.”

He always spoke of Cathy, a former lending-company account executive, as his muse. In a PEOPLE interview two years ago, the North Carolina-based couple spoke of how they kept the fire burning in their marriage.

“The marriage relationship has to be primary – it’s one of the best things you can teach your children,” Nicholas said. “So we don’t feel guilty if we go for a walk, just the two of us.”

Added Cathy: “We try to go on vacations alone. You need to leave alone. You have to make the effort to leave, take the time. Just go and have fun alone. We do it a few times a year.”

Sparks, whose other novels include Message in a Bottle and The Wedding, also created the progressive Epiphany School with his wife through the Nicholas Sparks Foundation.

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME Books

Want Some Advice From Norwegian Wood Author Haruki Murakami?

John MacDougall—AFP/Getty Images Japanese writer Haruki Murakami poses for photographers prior to an award ceremony for the Welt Literature Prize bestowed by the German daily Die Welt, in Berlin on Nov. 7, 2014

The renowned Japanese author is taking questions "of any kind" from Jan. 15

Best-selling Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami will play “agony uncle” on a special website to be set up by his publisher, Shinchosha.

The media-shy author will give readers and fans the opportunity to ask him for life advice between Jan. 15 until the end of the month.

A spokesman for Shinchosha said Murakami, whose works have been translated into nearly 50 languages, will “receive questions of any kind,” and that queries in several different languages will be accepted.

The 65-year-old author’s responses will be published on the website over the next two months, the spokesman said. The site will be called Murakami-san no Tokoro (Mr. Murakami’s Place), but a URL has not yet been made public. Interested fans will just have to wait for an announcement or, if they are readers of Japanese, check in at the Shinchosha site for updates.

Murakami is launching the project as a way of reconnecting to his readers, the Asahi Shimbun reports.

Read next: Mark Zuckerberg Invites 30 Million to His New Book Club

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TIME Books

Mark Zuckerberg Invites 30 Million to His New Book Club

Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg Hosts Internet.org Summit
Udit Kulshrestha—Bloomberg/Getty Images Mark Zuckerberg CEO of Facebook speaks during the Internet.org summit in New Delhi on Oct. 9, 2014.

More than 80,000 people had liked the club's page on Facebook

Move over Oprah. Mark Zuckerberg has a book club of his own.

The Facebook co-founder made a New Year’s resolution to read a book every other week, and on Friday he invited his 30 million Facebook followers to join him in what could become the world’s largest book club.

“I’m excited for my reading challenge. I’ve found reading books very intellectually fulfilling,” Zuckerberg said in a post. “Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today.”

Apparently, his followers agree. More than 80,000 people had liked Zuckerberg’s newly-minted Facebook group, “A Year of Books,” as of Sunday morning.

The group’s first book will be Moisés Naim’s The End of Power, which argues that once-powerful positions have lost their dominance.

Read next: 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Facebook From Mark Zuckerberg’s Q&A

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TIME movies

Fifty Shades of Grey Actor Says Movie Isn’t Misogynistic

GQ Men Of The Year Awards - Red Carpet Arrivals
Mike Marsland—WireImage/Getty Images Jamie Dornan attends the GQ Men of the Year awards at The Royal Opera House on September 2, 2014 in London, England.

Jamie Dornan responds to criticism over his upcoming role in the film

The hotly-anticipated February release of Fifty Shades of Grey has many people wound up, but not necessarily in a good way. The film, which portrays a relationship between a sexually dominant man and his submissive partner, already has some advocacy groups criticisizing its storyline, saying it promotes sexual violence.

But the film’s star, actor Jamie Dornan has defended not only Fifty Shades of Grey, but also BDSM (bondage, domination and sadomasochism) culture.

“I can understand why people say tying a woman up and spanking her is misogynistic. But actually, more men are submissive than women. Very powerful men,” Dornan said of BDSM in an interview with Elle UK magazine. “It’s a far bigger scene than I imagined: in pretty much any city in the world that you could name, people want to get spanked with a paddle with studs on it.” But in the film, he continued, “[t]he love story is more important than the BDSM aspect. I mean, we are going to tell a love story, you know, it can’t just be what happens in the Red Room, that’s not a film. There’s so much more going on than that.”

His comments follow criticism from the U.S.-based group Morality in the Media, which issued a statement last summer saying that the film “romanticizes and normalizes sexual violence” and “glamorizes and legitimatizes violence against women.”

[The Hollywood Reporter]

TIME Books

Did a Real-Life Alchemist Inspire Frankenstein?

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley -
Getty Images Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Jan. 1, 1818: Mary Shelley’s 'Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus' is published anonymously in three volumes

Mary Shelley is sometimes called the mother of science fiction for concocting the tale of a lab-made man who becomes a monster — but she may have had a real-life alchemist in mind when she created the character of Victor Frankenstein.

Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus was first published anonymously in London on New Year’s day, 1818, when Shelley was just 21. (Her name didn’t appear on the cover until a second edition was printed five years later.)

Critics with a psychoanalytical bent have read Frankenstein’s monster as a metaphorical figure drawn from Shelley’s tragic childhood and scandalous adolescence — for example, as the personification of her guilt over having an indirect hand in the deaths of two people: her own mother, who died in childbirth, and Percy Shelley’s first wife, Harriet, who drowned herself after Shelley left her, pregnant and alone, to embark on a European tour with Mary.

After all, it was during their European travels, while staying in Geneva with the poet Lord Byron, that Mary Shelley dreamed up Frankenstein in response to a ghost-story competition among the literary group. But since she and Percy had recently traveled through mountainous southern Germany, not far from the centuries-old Frankenstein Castle near the town of Darmstadt, some have speculated that she’d probably also heard the rumors of an eccentric inventor there who claimed to have discovered an “elixir of life.”

According to the History Channel documentary Decoding the Past: In Search of the Real Frankenstein, which aired in 2006, both Shelleys were already intrigued by the use of electricity to animate limbs — newly popular in the scientific community — when, on their way through the dark forests of the Rhine Valley, they likely heard tales of the alchemist Johann Konrad Dippel, a controversial figure rumored to have robbed graves and experimented on corpses at Frankenstein Castle.

“Dippel was convinced that he could bring a body back to life by injecting it with a concoction of blood and bone, often made from both mammal and human corpses,” writes Miranda Seymour in her biography, Mary Shelley. “In Mary’s novel, Victor Frankenstein would use animal bones to help manufacture his monstrous creature.”

While Dippel reportedly claimed to have found a way to live to the age of 135, he himself fell far short of the mark. He died at 61 and became part of a repertoire of local legends, Seymour writes, including “gruesome tales of a cannibal monster who, in times long past, used the grim little castle as his headquarters.”

Whether or not Mary was influenced by Dippel’s story, the premise for Frankenstein seems to have been lurking in her subconscience. In her 1831 preface to the novel, she attributed her inspiration to a nightmare she had at Geneva, where the company spent their evenings terrifying each other with chilling stories.

When she went to sleep, she writes, “I saw — with shut eyes, but acute mental vision — I saw the pale student of the unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine show signs of life and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion…”

Read a book review of 1979’s The Endurance of ‘Frankenstein,’ here in the TIME archives: The Man-Made Monster

MONEY Shopping

You Haven’t Even Heard of Some of the Best-Selling Stuff of 2014

OK, so you probably guessed that some "Frozen" stuff would be among the year's best sellers. But a Jack White record, a 7-year-old self-help book, and generic bottled water?

In no particular order, here’s a compilation of items that proved to be top sellers for 2014, including more than a few head scratchers.

  • Book

    StrengthsFinder 2.0
    Brian Pope—Gallup, Inc. StrengthsFinder 2.0

    The year’s best-selling book at Amazon.com may come as quite a shock, starting with the fact that it wasn’t released in 2014—but seven years earlier. It’s StrengthsFinder 2.0, a research-driven book about assessing one’s natural talents and building them, from author Tom Rath and publisher Gallup Press. In fact, many of the 2014 top 20 best-sellers at Amazon may be surprises, including several kids’ books (two Frozen-related titles, one Whimpy Kid), some classics (To Kill a Mockingbird, Oh the Places You’ll Go!), and the College Board’s Official SAT Study Guide. There’s a fair amount of overlap with the list of 2014 best sellers from Barnes & Noble, including The Fault in Our Stars, Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Patton, and Diary of a Whimpy Kid: The Long Haul in the top 20 for both.

  • Packaged Beverage

    soda cans
    Andrew Bret Wallis—Getty Images

    Soda slumped in a big way in 2014. Among other measures, Coca-Cola felt forced to cut jobs, partner with energy drink Monster Beverage, and launch a high-end milk brand in order to cope with declining sales of classic Coke soda brands. But guess what? According to data from the Beverage Marketing Corporation, carbonated soda is still tops in the U.S. in terms of packaged beverage sales, accounting for 20.9% of all sales in 2014. Fast on soda’s heels, however, is bottled water, which captured 17.8% of the beverage market this year, up from 14.4% in 2009. By 2016, it’s expected that bottled water will surpass soda as the country’s best-selling packaged beverage.

  • Bottled Water

    Bottle of water
    Getty Images

    Per Statista, the all-things-statistics site, the best-selling water brand in the U.S. in 2014 was “Private Label,” which was purchased at least twice as often as any other brand. What, you’ve never heard of “Private Label”? There’s good reason: It’s simply the collective term used to lump in all generic store brands of bottled water—the cheap stuff that’s apparently quite popular with American consumers. (The nation’s best-selling ice cream is also “Private Label.”) Rounding out the top five are bottled water brands you’re probably more familiar with: Dasani, Nestle, Aquafina, and Poland Spring.

  • Surprise Marijuana Product

    Freshly packaged cannabis-infused peanut butter cookies are prepared inside Sweet Grass Kitchen, a well-established gourmet marijuana edibles bakery which sells its confections to retail outlets, in Denver. Colorado is now selling more recreational pot than medical pot, a turning point for the newly legal industry, tax records released Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014 show.
    Brennan Linsley—AP Freshly packaged cannabis-infused peanut butter cookies are prepared inside Sweet Grass Kitchen, a well-established gourmet marijuana edibles bakery which sells its confections to retail outlets, in Denver. Colorado is now selling more recreational pot than medical pot, a turning point for the newly legal industry, tax records released Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014 show.

    When recreational marijuana became legal in Colorado (and later, Washington state), it was assumed that sales would be strong for pot you could smoke. Much more surprising have been the impressive sales of pot you can eat or drink. A recent report estimates that in Colorado, edible marijuana accounts for 45% of all pot sales. One explanation for high demand for edibles is that local laws ban public smoking, while pot-infused brownies or soda can be consumed out in the open without calling attention. (Keep in mind: It’s still illegal to consume marijuana in public in any way in Colorado.)

  • Album

    Executive producer John Lasseter (C) and the cast of Disney's "Frozen" were presented with gold records commemorating the success of the "Frozen" soundtrack.
    Alberto E. Rodriguez—Getty Images for Disney Executive producer John Lasseter (C) and the cast of Disney's "Frozen" were presented with gold records commemorating the success of the "Frozen" soundtrack.

    The “Frozen” soundtrack had a huge headstart, but “1989” from Taylor Swift has been coming on strong in recent months, with sales boosted no doubt by her decision to remove her music from Spotify. Just before Christmas, the New York Times reported that “Frozen” had sold 3.46 million copies in the U.S. thus far in 2014, versus 3.34 million for Swift, and that it was too early to declare a champ: “The victor will be decided in the next few days as stockings are stuffed and iTunes gift cards are redeemed.” Meanwhile, a few months ago, Billboard posted a fascinating comparison of the top-selling albums from 2014 versus 1994: Through October, 2014 had only one album that had sold more than one million copies (“Frozen,” of course), while every album at that point in 1994’s top 10 had sold more than 1.8 million copies.

  • Song

    Pharrell Williams performs onstage during 93.3 FLZ’s Jingle Ball 2014 at Amalie Arena on December 22, 2014 in Tampa, Florida.
    Gerardo Mora—Getty Images North America Pharrell Williams performs onstage during 93.3 FLZ¬ís Jingle Ball 2014 at Amalie Arena on December 22, 2014 in Tampa, Florida.

    On both iTunes and Amazon, the 2014 crown goes to a tune that seems like it was released ages ago: “Happy” by Pharrell.

  • Vinyl Record

    Jack White performs at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD.
    Kyle Gustafson—The Washington Post/Getty Images Jack White performs at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD.

    The Wall Street Journal dubbed the vinyl record as the year’s “Biggest Music Comeback” after LP sales surged nearly 50%. Record sales were especially strong among hipsters and younger clientele at retailers like Urban Outfitters, Whole Foods, and Amazon. As for the year’s best-seller, it looks like the award goes to Jack White’s “Lazaretto,” which became the biggest vinyl record in 20 years after 60,000 copies were sold within two months of its release. “Lazaretto” has gone on to sell more than 75,000 copies in vinyl format so far. White also broke the record for the fastest released record ever in 2014, with a special limited-edition 45 of the album’s title track that was printed and made available for sale less than four hours after the song was recorded.

  • iTunes Paid Apps

    Minecraft on an Apple iPad
    Veryan Dale—Alamy Minecraft on an Apple iPad

    MineCraft and Heads Up! hold the top two spots. The $7 pocket edition of the former reportedly made more money on Christmas than any other iOs app. The latter is a 99¢ guessing game introduced in 2013 by Ellen DeGeneres, who plays it on her show.

  • Video Game

    Call of Duty 4

    “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” sold roughly 5.8 million units in the U.S. in 2014, the most of any video game. The others in the top three (“Destiny” and “Grand Theft Auto V”) were also heavy on guns and violence.

  • Video Game Console

    Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 4 (PS4) game console and controller
    Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 4 (PS4) game console and controller

    Thanks to some deep discounting, Microsoft’s Xbox One reportedly outsold the Playstation 4 and all other consoles on Black Friday and throughout all of November. But in the grand scheme, Sony’s PS4 has been pretty dominant. The PS4 reached 10 million global sales by August 2014, less than one year after it hit the market, and the console crossed the 17 million mark in December, far outpacing Xbox One sales.

  • Vehicle

    2015 Ford F-150
    Ford 2015 Ford F-150

    The Ford F series has been America’s best-selling truck for 38 years, and the best-selling vehicle period for 33 years—including 2014. This is the case even as Ford sales fell off in autumn because buyers have been waiting for the new aluminum-body F-150 to hit the market. Perhaps more interestingly, Car and Driver compiled a list of the year’s worst-selling cars, which includes the Porsche 918 Spyder and the teeny-tiny Scion iQ. No doubt the former sold only 57 units at least partially because of its $800K+ starting price.

  • Luxury Auto Brand

    2014 CLA45 AMG.
    Mercedes-Benz USA—Wieck 2014 CLA45 AMG.

    Bragging rights for the year’s top-selling luxury automaker will come down to the wire. As of early December, BMW and Mercedes had each sold a smidge under 300,000 vehicles in 2014.

  • Electric Car

    2015 Nissan LEAF
    Nissan—Wieck 2015 Nissan LEAF

    Through November, Nissan had sold 27,098 Leafs in the U.S., by far the most of any plug-in in 2014. Overall, however, electric car sales have underwhelmed lately, which isn’t surprising considering that gas prices have plummeted, negating some of the savings electrified vehicles provide compared to traditional cars. For the sake of comparison, Honda sold more than 32,000 CR-V crossovers in November 2014 alone.

  • NFL Jersey

    Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos in action against the New York Jets on October 12, 2014 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
    Jim McIsaac—Getty Images Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos in action against the New York Jets on October 12, 2014 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

    According to NFLShop.com, the best-selling jersey from April 1 to October 31, 2014, was Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos, followed by Super Bowl champion quarterback Russell Wilson of the Seahawks, and then two quarterbacks whose teams didn’t reach the playoffs this year: the Cleveland Browns’ Johnny Manziel and last-year’s jersey-selling sensation, Colin Kaepernick of the 49ers. Interestingly, while Dick’s Sporting Goods also has Manning’s jersey as its top seller, the best-selling jersey among women is Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts. Perhaps they appreciate the incredibly sportsmanlike way Luck congratulates the opposition whenever a player slams him to the ground.

  • Movie

    Guardians of the Galaxy
    © Walt Disney Co.—courtesy Everett Collection Guardians of the Galaxy

    After being pulled from theaters and then released online, the controversial Seth Rogen comedy “The Interview” quickly became Sony’s top-grossing online film of 2014, snagging $15 million in digital revenue in a single weekend. As for traditional movies actually released widely in 2014, “Guardians of the Galaxy” came out on top in what was called a “confounding,” lackluster year at the box office, with overall sales down 5% compared to 2013. “Frozen,” the top-grossing animated film of all time and #10 among all movies, doesn’t qualify as the biggest movie of 2013 or 2014 because it was released in late 2013 and ticket sales were spread over both years. As for the top-selling DVD of 2014, the contest isn’t remotely close: Nearly 10 million copies of “Frozen” have been sold, roughly three times more than the #2 film, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”

TIME Books

7 Myths About Self-Made Billionaires

John Sviokla is the head of Global Thought Leadership at PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP). Mitch Cohen is vice chairman at PwC.

A lot of the truisms that get touted as the keys to successful entrepreneurship don't stand up to data

In 1984, Dietrich Mateschitz was a bored, forty-year-old marketing executive at the German cosmetics company Blendax. He spent his days peddling toothpaste and cosmetics to retailers around the world.

Then on a routine trip to Thailand, Mateschitz learned that the Japanese manufacturer of a line of supersweet “health” drinks popular in Asia was the biggest taxpayer in Japan. There was nothing like them in the West. Mateschitz decided right then to quit his job and start a company to manufacture and market the drinks in Europe.

Within a few years, Red Bull had launched its signature carbonated beverage in Mateschitz’s native Austria and in Slovenia. Today, Red Bull is far more than the drink that carries its name. It is a media company; a Formula 1 franchise; a Nascar franchise; a sponsor of mountain climbers and skiers and other extreme sportsmen; a “philosophy,” as its founder has said, of life lived in a heightened state of adrenaline-fused activity—all bred from the modest foundations of a good idea.

That success is not evenly distributed across the range of good ideas made us ask the question, what enables self-made billionaires to create such massive value?

Quickly it became clear that if we wanted answers, we would need to look for them ourselves. As we began collecting data and conducting interviews it became almost immediately clear that a lot of the truisms that get touted as the keys to successful entrepreneurship didn’t stand up to the data we had. For instance:


Our tech-dominated era—populated by savvy wunder-kinder—has left the impression that most self-made billionaires cross that billion-dollar finish line early in their careers. While it is true that people like Bill Gates, Michael Dell, and Mark Zuckerberg made their first billion while still quite young—and with the first companies they formed—the majority of people in our sample are like Dietrich Mateschitz, who didn’t hit the billion-dollar mark until well after his fortieth birthday. For more than 70 percent of the sample, the idea or transition that catapulted them to billion-dollar success happened after age thirty.


Technology dominance has also led many to believe that the main path for self-made entrepreneurs is the tech sector, which is so often held up as a bastion of new wealth and meritocracy, where anyone with a great idea and the willingness to code for long hours can rise to the top. In fact, less than 20 percent of our sample of self-made billionaires came from tech. The money management and the consumer products industries are not far behind tech in terms of the number of self-made billionaires. Overall, more than nineteen different industries were represented in our sample, including oil and gas, apparel, food and beverages, publishing, printing, real estate development, entertainment, and hotels, as well as technology and tech services, among others.

Greenfield Innovators

There is a general belief that self-made billionaires create “brand-new” things. There’s no question that exploring new market spaces has the potential to yield large profits, but it’s not the route that most self-made billionaires chart. More than 80 percent of our sample of self-made billionaires earned their billions in red oceans—highly competitive, mature industries.

Dietrich Mateschitz again offers a case in point for this fact—he inserted Red Bull as a new product category (the “energy” drink) into an existing beverage market. He signaled its difference from existing drinks with both the skinny 8.4-ounce can and a premium price more than double that of a can of Coke. Such seemingly small tweaks may not seem as awesome as a new market innovation, but the value is still there.


When we conducted a simple survey asking friends and colleagues about perceptions of self-made billionaires, we heard plenty of comments about “one-hit wonders” and a strong belief that many of the self-made have earned as much as they have because of luck. We could believe in luck if the majority of our sample had only one successful venture. But our data convinced us that luck alone does not explain the success of self-made billionaires, given that more than 90 percent of them have launched multiple successful businesses.

Exploitative Practices

It’s difficult to find any successful organization that hasn’t been accused by someone, somewhere, of unsavory practices. Billionaires in particular are easy targets for such accusations. While we make no claims about their universal purity, as a group the businesses launched by the self-made billionaires in our sample lean toward the socially responsible end of the scale in their industries. Furthermore, a large number of self-made billionaires have signed the Giving Pledge, promising to give away more than half of their net worth; a significant portion are active in philanthropy or social projects.

Overnight Success

It may seem that certain individuals form companies and suddenly enter the public consciousness with a meteorically successful product, but the reality is that many self-made billionaires reach extreme success only after many years of professional investment and commitment to a particular market space. They often exhibit early entrepreneurial drive: more than 50 percent had a first job before age eighteen; nearly 30 percent had launched their first entrepreneurial venture before age twenty-two; and almost 75 percent before age thirty. Note that while some billionaires had the kind of humble upbringing that necessitated an early entry to work, they are in the minority—more than 75 percent of self-made billionaires were raised in households with affluence levels in the middle class or above.

Talent, but Also Practice

The billionaires’ early ventures provided a great deal of practice in a couple of key areas, which improved any skills they already had. Seventy-five percent or more had direct sales experience; and almost 70 percent had ownership of a profit and loss statement before age thirty.

These are just a few of the counterintuitive findings that made it clear to us that there was a mismatch between what many claim to “know” about extreme success and what the data report.

Adapted and reprinted from The Self-Made Billionaire Effect: How Extreme Producers Create Massive Value, by John Sviokla and Mitch Cohen with permission of Portfolio, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright (c) PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, 2015.

John Sviokla is the head of Global Thought Leadership at PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP). He has written for the Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and Sloan Management Review and has appeared on CNBC and Fox News. Mitch Cohen is vice chairman at PwC. During his 33-year career at the firm, he has served numerous Fortune 500 clients and helped to guide the firm’s strategy as well as its initiatives around innovation and corporate responsibility.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME 2016 Election

The Revealing Titles of 7 Upcoming Books by Presidential Contenders

Eva Hambach—AFP/Getty Images Hillary Clinton's memoir titled "Hard Choices" after its release on June 9, 2014 in Washington.

The titles tell you all you need to know

You can tell a lot about a politician from how they name their memoir. The title is a giveaway for whether the book is a look back at their career or a sales pitch for its next phase. Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices managed to do both at once, promising a look at the decisions she made as Secretary of State while also keying up her one of her 2016 campaign themes. (Still, it was generic enough that it had already been used.)

Next year will bring a bumper crop of new political memoirs, including a few by some potential presidential contenders. Here’s what we can tell about those books from their titles alone.

“God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy,” Mike Huckabee

Back in the Reagan era, Republican consultants used to say that they could win campaigns with “gays, guns and God” — the so-called three G’s. Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister and former governor, looks to be aiming to modify that culture warrior stance a little. Few political books are titled this bluntly.

“American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone,” Marco Rubio

This title is so cliched it’s surprising that it hasn’t been used by more politicians. It seems a safe bet that this book will couple the Florida senator’s compelling family story with a broad-brush set of conservative policy proposals aimed at helping middle-class voters.

“Taking a Stand: Moving Beyond Partisan Politics to Unite America,” Rand Paul

This book’s title and its subtitle are at war with each other. (Taking a stand usually means choosing sides, not bringing them together.) That seems appropriate, though, as the Kentucky senator tries to square his image as a political outsider with the goal of becoming the ultimate D.C. insider, the president of the United States.

“Bella’s Gift: How One Little Girl Transformed Our Family And Inspired A Nation,” Rick and Karen Santorum

The title indicates that this political memoir will be heavy on the memoir and light on the politics. The former Pennsylvania senator and his wife appear to be hoping that a personal look at their special-needs child will soften his political image as well as tell an uplifting story.

“You Have a Brain: A Teen’s Guide to T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G.,” Ben Carson

From the use of the second-person to the eight-point mnemonic in the subtitle, this is the only book by a potential presidential contender that looks like it could sit comfortably on the shelf of motivational business books for sale at a FedEx Office store.

“Untitled,” Ted Cruz

The fact that this memoir doesn’t have a title yet is intriguing. Will he go for something provocative, like many of the conservative stands he’s taken as Texas senator? Or will he put something more prim, foreshadowing a more restrained presidential campaign? And will he resist the urge to use a “Cruz/cruise” pun?

“Untitled,” Jeb Bush

The former Florida governor and son and brother of former presidents also hasn’t named his upcoming e-book, but that doesn’t mean much since he’s had much less time to think about it than Cruz. Whether he comes up with a title that will sell well in e-book marketplaces will be a test of how he’s adapted to technology.

TIME Books

Why Annie Proulx Regrets Writing Brokeback Mountain

Annie Proulx Brokeback Mountain
Carlos Alvarez—Getty Images Writer Annie Proulx attends the "Brokeback Mountain" Opera press conference at the Royal Theatre on Jan. 27, 2014 in Madrid, Spain.

"So many people have completely misunderstood the story"

Pulitzer-winning writer Annie Proulx opened up to the Paris Review about why she wishes she’d never written Brokeback Mountain, the short story that turned into the triple Academy Award-winning film of the same name. Both the film and short story follow the lives of two cowboys, Jack and Ennis, as they navigate their secret romance in 1960s Wyoming.

Here’s what Proulx said about what happened after the film adaptation:

But the problem has come since the film. So many people have completely misunderstood the story. I think it’s important to leave spaces in a story for readers to fill in from their own experience, but unfortunately the audience that “Brokeback” reached most strongly have powerful fantasy lives. And one of the reasons we keep the gates locked here is that a lot of men have decided that the story should have had a happy ending. They can’t bear the way it ends—they just can’t stand it. So they rewrite the story, including all kinds of boyfriends and new lovers and so forth after Jack is killed. And it just drives me wild. They can’t understand that the story isn’t about Jack and Ennis. It’s about homophobia; it’s about a social situation; it’s about a place and a particular mindset and morality. They just don’t get it. I can’t tell you how many of these things have been sent to me as though they’re expecting me to say, Oh great, if only I’d had the sense to write it that way. And they all begin the same way—I’m not gay, but . . . The implication is that because they’re men they understand much better than I how these people would have behaved. And maybe they do. But that’s not the story I wrote. Those are not their characters. The characters belong to me by law.

[The Paris Review]

TIME Books

Everything J.K. Rowling Revealed About Harry Potter in 2014

Harry Potter
Jaap Buitendijk—Warner Bros. From left: Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, 2011.

The boy who lived. And lived. And lived

It’s been more than five years since J.K. Rowling’s final Harry Potter book was released. But it doesn’t mean the wizarding world has come to a halt. 2014 brought columns from Rita Skeeter, social media riddles from Rowling and revelations that Hogwarts was as warm and welcoming a place to diversity as Potter fans would have wanted. Though some critics argue Rowling needs to cool it with the new content, Potter fanatics feel otherwise. Here’s everything we learned about the wizarding world in 2014.

Dumbledore’s Army members are in their thirties

Rowling hit the heart of nostalgia in July when she published a gossip column from Rita Skeeter about Harry and Company’s reunion at the Quidditch World Cup. The infamous wizards, “no longer the fresh-faced teenagers they were in their heyday,” are now in their thirties. Harry, a 34-year-old with “threads of silver” in his hair, was sporting a new scar, a “nasty cut over his right cheekbone,” which Skeeter speculated was from an argument with his wife Ginny Potter, now a reporter for the Daily Prophet.

READ MORE J.K. Rowling finally gives Harry Potter fans what they want

Hermione Granger, the feminist fatale, naturally did not change her last name as Ginny did. Granger unsurprisingly rose to be Deputy Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Ron Weasley, however, is beginning to bald and left the Ministry of Magic after only two years to co-manage Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes with his brother George. Percy Weasley, meanwhile, is Head of the Department of Magical Transportation.

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Neville Longbottom is now an Herbology teacher at Hogwarts and is married to Hannah Abbot, a Hufflepuff. Luna Lovegood is married to Rolf Scamander (grandson of Newt Scamander, more on that below). Teddy Lupin, son of the deceased Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks, is now 16 and seems to be addicted to snogging Victoire, who is Bill Weasley and Fleur de la Coeur’s daughter.

Dolores Umbridge was inspired by one of Rowling’s own teachers

Rowling released a 1,700-word story on Halloween, noting that Umbridge was based on a former teacher who she despised. “Umbridge is not only one of the most malicious Potter characters—she is the only person other than Lord Voldemort to leave a permanent physical scar on Harry,” Rowling wrote and “one of the characters for whom [she felt] the purest dislike.” Her affinity for kittens was also inspired by a woman Rowling once shared an office with, who “had covered the wall space behind her desk with pictures of fluffy kitties.” Umbridge’s backstory was revealed in the piece, including the fact that her mother was a Muggle, her father a wizard and her brother a Squib. “Nasty things tended to happen” to those who inquired about her family. And even to those who didn’t, we always knew.

Gilderoy Lockhart tried to make a line of hair products

The famous wizard was always looking for new ways to stay famous. Lockhart discovered Occamy eggs—Occamys are serpentine-like creatures with wings who are very protective of their silver eggs. The creatures’ aggressiveness made the shampoos too expensive and too dangerous to produce.

Celestina Warbeck was quite the dramatic rockstar

“An early marriage to a backing dancer lasted only a year; Celestina then married her manager, with whom she had a son, only to leave him for the composer Irving Warble ten years later,” Rowling wrote. Rowling posted the story about one of Molly Weasley’s favorites on Pottermore in August, along with a jazz-like song called “You Stole My Cauldron But You Can’t Have My Heart.”

Rowling is very excited about the Harry Potter spinoff

Fans thought Rowling was hinting at a new Potter book when she posted an anagram to Twitter asking fans to solve it. But a winner revealed it was simply a hint at Rowling’s latest project: The screenplay for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a Potter movie spinoff. The screenplay is based on a book that once only existed in the wizarding world and served as a textbook at Hogwarts.

There is room for everyone at Hogwarts (almost)

Rowling responded to a fan who tweeted that his wife had teasingly told him there were no Jews at Hogwarts, meaning that she was the only one qualified to be “magical” in the family.

She confirmed in a later Tweet that the only people she never imagined at Hogwarts are Wiccans. All sexual orientations are welcome as well, she confirmed when a fan asked about an LGBT club at Hogwarts.

There’s a reason Draco Malfoy is so mean

“Draco was raised in an atmosphere of regret that the Dark Lord had not succeeded in taking command of the wizarding community,” Rowling wrote, revealing that before meeting Harry on the Hogwarts Express, Draco, his family and other ex-Death Eaters thought Harry could be “another, and better, Voldemort.” Draco married Astoria Greengrass, who may have helped shape the bitter Slytherin into a better man. “As Astoria refused to raise their grandson Scorpius in the belief that Muggles were scum, family gatherings were fraught with tension,” Rowling wrote.

Snape is not a vampire, but there was almost a vampire in the series

Rowling toyed with the idea of a vampire professor at Hogwarts called Trocar, named for a “sharply pointed shaft inserted into arteries or cavities to extract bodily fluids.” Though Trocar was edited out early on in the Potter process, fans speculated that Snape was a vampire. “While it is true that he has an unhealthy pallor, and is sometimes described as looking like a large bat in his long black coat, he never actually turns into a bat,” Rowling wrote. “We meet him outside in the castle by daylight, and no corpses with puncture marks in their necks ever turn up at Hogwarts.”

The Inferi were not zombies

Inferi were somewhat inspired by zombies, but Rowling purposely didn’t call them that because of Michael Jackson. “I’m part of the ‘Thriller’ generation,” she wrote. “To me, a zombie will always mean Michael Jackson in a bright red bomber jacket.”

The Hufflepuff Horcrux was almost a cauldron

“But there was something slightly comical and incongruous about having such a large and heavy horcrux,” Rowling wrote.

The Leaky Cauldron was almost ruined by muggles

The oldest pub in London survived when Muggles built Charing Cross Road that “ought to have flattened it completely.” The bar also serves a beer that a former landlord created to honor a former Minister of Magic, but it’s “so disgusting that nobody has ever been known to finish a pint.”

Rowling has some regrets
The author regretted killing off Florean Fortescue, the owner of the Diagon Alley ice cream parlor. “I seemed to have him kidnapped and killed for no good reason,” she wrote. “He is not the first wizard whom Voldemort murdered because he knew too much (or too little), but he is the only one I feel guilty about, because it was all my fault.”

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