We’re Getting Three New ‘Harry Potter’ Stories from J.K. Rowling This Autumn

In 2007, many Harry Potter fans were prepared for the final book to be “The End,” even with the series’ author, J.K. Rowling, stating the story would conclude with book seven, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Since then we have seen a number of stories on the companion website Pottermore, a real-life version of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, an upcoming Potter-world film trilogy Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and a new play titled Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The latter was not written by Rowling herself, but the script turned novel was released this past July.

Announced on Wednesday, fans can now expect three new e-books about Hogwarts to be released this September 6 which will include, Politics, and Pesky Poltergeists; Of Heroism, Hardship, and Dangerous Hobbies; and Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide. However, after the Cursed Child, Rowling states the book will explore characters other than the boy wizard Harry.

“He goes on a very big journey during these two plays and then, yeah, I think we’re done. This is the next generation, you know… so, I’m thrilled to see it realized so beautifully but, no, Harry is done now.”

McDonald’s Swapping Toys with Books in Happy Meals

Would you like a side of children’s literacy with your burger?

Now through Feb. 15, McDonald’s is offering slightly less guilt-inducing Happy Meals that come with books instead of toys. McDonald’s hopes to distribute 17 million books to kids over the course of the program.

The books will vary by date and location, but most stores will give away one of four books with each meal including the Valentine’s Day themed books, “Pete the Cat: Valentine’s Day is Cool” by Kimberly and James Dean; “Clark the Shark Takes Heart” by Bruce Hale; and “Happy Valentine’s Day, Mouse!” by Laura Numeroff; as well as the classic children’s story “Paddington” by Michael Bond.
The books are conveniently sized to fit inside the Happy Meal box and Spanish language versions will be available at most stores.

In addition to the books McDonald’s is putting in the kids’ meals, the fast food giant announced plans to donate 10,000 books to the children’s literacy group Reading is Fundamental. Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO of Reading is Fundamental, expanded on the benefits of the program in an interview with Fox News.

“There’s magic in books, and the simple act of reading with our children has a profound impact on their educational development,” she said. “By giving them choices and increasing access to books, we can make a lasting difference in the lives of those who need us most.”

There has been some fallout on social media from parents complaining that McDonald’s should just let “kids be kids,” and keep the toys in the box. But for the most part, the response has been overwhelmingly positive, with most parents realizing that there is no better way to let a kid be a kid than to offer up a cozy lap, a good book, and a snuggly reading session with mom or dad.

How Over a Million American Families Live on $2 Per Day

In early 2011, 1.5 million American households, including 3 million children, were living on less than $2 in cash per person per day. Half of those households didn’t have access to in-kind benefits like food stamps, either. Worst of all, the numbers had increased dramatically since 1996.

Those are the astonishing findings Johns Hopkins’ Kathryn Edin and the University of Michigan’s Luke Shaefer discovered after analyzing Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) data in 2012. In the intervening years, Edin and Shaefer sought out Americans living in this situation, with basically no cash income, relying on food stamps, private charity, and plasma sales for survival.

The result is $2.00 a Day, a harrowing book that describes in devastating detail what life is like for the poorest of America’s poor.

How do families making $2 per person per day get by? How do they get housing and food? $2.00 a Day reveals the experiences and hidden truths of homelessness and resourcefulness that most of us don’t see.

A New J.R.R. Tolkien Novel, ‘The Tale Of Kullervo’, Is On The Way

You’d think that the Tolkien estate had enough money; between the movies, the books, and the merch, he’s been one of the most successful dead authors for quite a while. But, apparently, there’s a manuscript yet to be published, and gold yet to be mined from nerds.

The manuscript in question is The Story of Kullervo, which actually has been published in some academic journals, but is getting a standalone release later this month in the UK and next April in the U.S. It’s based on Finland’s national saga, The Kalevala, and follows an orphan getting revenge on the dark mage that killed his father. Peskily for his heirs, Tolkien never finished the book, which is probably what kept them from putting it out until now.

There is at least a little justification for putting this out; the book will be edited by and have commentary by Professor Verlyn Flieger, best known to nerds for her work on Tolkien, but who is also is an expert in medieval literature and comparative mythology. Still, let’s not pretend that the goal here isn’t ultimately to sell the rights to Hollywood and see if they can’t get another franchise going.

This isn’t the first manuscript from the vaults the estate has rolled out, but hopefully it’s the last. We really don’t need to see some poor academic trying to justify the necessity of The Compleat Treasury of the Dongs J.R.R. Tolkien Doodled in His Book Margins.

The Price of College Textbooks is 1000% Higher Than They Were 38 Years Ago

The price of college textbooks has ballooned in the past 40 years, according to NBC’s latest number-crunching. Textbooks are 1041 percent more expensive today than they were in January 1977.

That’s unreal, you might say. Actually, that’s the market. Economists say that textbook prices have continued to go up, at a rate that’s even higher than the rate of inflation, because students need them the same way that drug addicts need a fix—at whatever cost. “They’ve been able to keep raising prices because students are ‘captive consumers,'” said Nicole Allen from the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition. “[Students] have to buy whatever book they’re assigned.”

Those on the publishing side may disagree—Marisa Bluestone from the Association of American Publishers argued that students can always rent textbooks or buy them secondhand. But either way, there’s no sign that the market will get any better for students: professors are not “price-sensitive” (they don’t have to buy those things), so they will continue to assign whatever materials they like. And students will keep having to pay the sticker price.

“I find the prices of college textbooks in general ridiculous,” said one Northeastern University student. “But you gotta do what you gotta do.” Spoken like a true freshman.

HOW TO TRAVEL THE WORLD ON $50 A DAY

The ability to travel the world shouldn’t just be reserved for millionaires, rock stars, and flu viruses… us regular shlubs to see what KFCs look like in Beijing too. In his new book, How to Travel the World on $50 a Day, travel guru Matt Kepnes shows you how to hop from country to country on the cheap.

Whether it’s how to score free flights, hotel rooms, or admissions to coveted attractions, Kepnes taps into his years of experience to teach you how to save for your trip and then make it pop without spending thousands. And he’s a good guy to listen to, as advice from his award winning budget travel site, Nomadic Matt, has been referenced by The New York Times, CNN, The Guardian UK, Yahoo! Finance and more.

A Collection of Creepy Vintage Krampus Christmas Postcards

The 2004 book Devil in Design by Monte Beauchamp (previously) of BLAB! features a beautiful collection of creepy vintage Krampus Christmas postcards. The book, published by Fantagraphics Books, includes interesting snippets of the history of postcards and Krampus. While it’s currently out of print, used copies are available through Amazon or those interested can pick up a copy of Beauchamp’s more recent Krampus book, Krampus: The Devil of Christmas.