Hallmark Channel Takes Jane Austen for an Updated Spin

Welcome to Today in Books, where we report on literary headlines at the intersection of politics, culture, media, and more.

Librarians Hold the Front Line

“Punk-ass book jockeys” was intended to be an insult when Aziz Ansari’s Tom Haverford uttered it on a memorable episode of Parks & Recreation, but I can think of no better description for the librarians who are rising up to defend the First Amendment and protect the free exchange of ideas in the face of increasingly violent book banning attempts. No one should be subjected to the accusations and abuse these folks are experiencing, and it certainly isn’t what they thought they were signing up for. Librarians don’t owe us this, and the work they’re doing to protect not just books but the rights of queer people and people of color is punk AF. 

Hallmark Diversifies Offerings

If you’ve been in withdrawal after mainlining Hallmark holiday movies from Halloween right on through New Year’s, good news: “Loveuary” has begun. This year, the Hallmark Channel’s monthlong exploitation celebration of Valentine’s Day features three new movies inspired by (who else?) Jane Austen, among them a spin on Sense & Sensibility with a largely Black cast.

A period adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. After a change in circumstances, Marianne is torn between two men, while Elinor longs for a man beyond reach.

This is just the latest in Hallmark’s ongoing efforts to reach more diverse audiences, and I am for it for many reasons, not the least of which is how much it freaks out right-wing conservatives to see a brand that is driven by “family values” acknowledge that for most Americans, family values include support for ideas the far-right wants to present as extreme. Hallmark has plenty work left to do—and they should probably thank some Netflix execs for paving the way with the incredible casting of Bridgerton—but this is progress. RIP to their mentions, and may their efforts succeed.

26 Paperbacks to Pick Up This Month

Oh, the promise of the paperback release! Nary a month goes by that I don’t see a list like this and fool myself into thinking it will ever be possible to ~catch up on all the good books in the world. I can vouch for Hannah Pittard’s We Are Too Many, a divorce “memoir” that presents text messages both real and imagined between her and her ex. Read it while you wait for Leslie Jamison’s Splinters later this month. And someday I will get to What Napoleon Could Not Do by DK Nnuro. Barack recommends it, and I trust his picks. 

Speaking of Bad-Ass Librarians 

On today’s Book Riot PodcastJeff O’Neal and I discuss the Texas teacher who created a clandestine stock of banned books, Argylle’s all-sizzle-no-steak box office moment, and more news from the world of books and reading.

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