Thrones, Teens, and Apartheid Zones | What We’re Reading

This is a week for Library Journal/School Library Journal staffers to indulge in fantasy and film, series and adaptations, books to movies and TV, and a little bit of language studies thrown in for good measure. Climb up onto that stallion, that throne, or that witness box and see What We’re Reading.

Game of Thrones : A Pop-Up Guide to Westeros Kate DiGirolomo, Editorial Assistant, Library Journal
The new season of Game of Thrones is mere weeks away, and I was lucky enough to score a ticket to an early screening of the premiere at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. No spoilers, but it was phenomenal, and has made me all the more excited for my copy of Game of Thrones: A Pop-Up Guide to Westeros (Insight Editions)! Gorgeous and intricate, it details the major settings of George R.R. Martin’s world and with just a little bit of fiddling turns into a full 3-D map. A few members of the office have whipped out their camera phones to snap a shot of the final product, and it’s taken residence on my desk to construct on demand. Each time I’ve flipped through it I’ve found a new compartment tucked away. Definitely a book for the fanatic!

TeenageLiz French, Associate Editor, LJ
This week, I’m going all full disclosure. I know people. People who do cool, creative jobs, not unlike my own job at Library Journal. So when my friend Rosemary, the best film archival researcher in the world I know, invited me to a screening of Teenage, the new documentary directed by Matt Wolf, I was happy to attend. Rosemary was lead researcher on this amazing doc, and the film clips, photos, and ephemera she and the research team found make Teenage super-compelling. After the screening (and Q&A with Wolf), I asked her about the book that the director based his documentary on, Brit pop culture writer Jon Savage’s Teenage: The Prehistory of Youth Culture (Penguin), which of course she had to read as background. She loaned me her copy and I’ve only just begun to plumb its depths. The film was somewhat dreamy and impressionistic; the book is more fact-based, bursting with info and insights from teens in Britain, the United States, and Germany. I was especially taken by the Sub-Deb clubs that sprang up in the Midwest around the Second World War, and the anti-Nazi “Swing Kids,” who got the fictional film treatment in 1993 with er, Swing Kids, directed by Thomas Carter and starring Robert Sean Leonard, Christian Bale, and Frank Whaley.

Who Owns the Future?Meredith Schwartz, Senior Editor, News & Features, LJ
I’m still dug into Michelle West’s Sun Sword series from DAW—onto The Riven Shield, which is book five of six, so I’m in the home stretch.
Next up, a complete change of pace or two: After hearing Jaron Lanier’s excellent speech at the Association of American Publishers’ annual meeting, I’m planning to get his Who Owns the Future? (S. & S.). Highlights from his talk: big data hides (and hence, fails to remunerate) the contribution of the individual humans whose work is being aggregated. This, he says, is why tech-disrupted industries tend to shift from a bell curve, where the most people make a middling amount of money, to a Zipf distribution curve (AKA “hockey stick” or “long tail”) where a few people make almost all the money. Lanier’s proposed solution is based on two-way links and micropayments but he didn’t have much time to go into it, so I’m looking forward to seeing it unpacked.
After that I’m thinking of picking up What Works for Women at Work by Joan Williams and Rachel Dempsey (NYU Press), because of Salon’s recent Q&A with Williams. I’m usually not a fan of self-help/self-improvement books, no matter how data-driven the advice. But in Salon, Williams references simple hacks for employers on how to redesign basic business systems to interrupt implicit bias, and that, I’m totally into.

Etta Verma, Editor, Reviews, LJ
I haven’t had much time for leisure reading this week, but I’ve been following Oscar Pistorius’s murder trial on Twitter, mainly through tweets by David Smith, The Guardian’s South African correspondent. Smith tweeted an article I found really interesting, on language apartheid in today’s South Africa. To get ahead in the country, he explains, you have to speak English, a situation leading to the Pistorius trial being conducted in the language, although “no one actually acting in this trial has English as their first language.”

Game of ThronesAshleigh Williams, Editorial Assistant, School Library Journal
Continuing in the familiar vein of “I love this show, but need to read the books so that my nerdiness isn’t called into question at the next fandom gathering,” I tackled, and completed, A Game of Thrones (Bantam), book 1 of George R.R. Martin’s behemoth series, “A Song of Ice and Fire.” There are no words, really, to sufficiently capture the mixture of wonder, sadness, excitement, and unfathomable rage one experiences as a tourist through the incredible world Martin has created. By the time I reached the last page, I wanted to find the nearest silver stallion and gallop along First Avenue with a shield bearing my very own sigil. Only four more massive books to go!

Liz French About Liz French

Library Journal Senior Editor Liz French edits nonfiction and women's fiction reviews at LJ and also compiles the "What We're Reading" and "Classic Returns" columns for LJ online. She's inordinately interested in what you're reading as well. Email:, Twitter: @lizefrench


  1. Appreciative of Liz French’s review of TEENAGE by Jon Savage. Such a great book, Savage an incredible researcher. Matt Wolf’s documentary TEENAGE was created in collaboration with Jon Savage (over a four year period). An exciting and talented filmmaker, Matt Wolf takes a unique, artistic approach to the book. His documentary plays through April 3, 2014 at The Landmark Sunshine Theater on East Houston Street, and is also playing in Los Angeles at the Laemmle 7 Theater there.