What’s up, book nerds? Emily here, covering another week of book news!

A Viral Short Story

There’s no getting around the fact that “Cat Person” by Kristen Roupenian was a huge newsmaker this week. Published in the December 11 print issue of The New Yorker, the story follows 20-year-old Margot as she navigates a not-so-romantic relationship with a 34-year-old man named Robert. It’s a simple premise, but “Cat Person” gained a lot of attention online – record-breaking amounts, according to the magazine.

The Guardian called it “the short story that launched a thousand theories,” and if you’ve been on Twitter you’ll see why. Reactions to the piece have varied widely, from surprise that a short story was trending at all to debate on the merits of its writing. While some women related to the story, the narrative caused enough discomfort among men that a twitter account was created just for sharing male readers’ often defensive reactions. Perhaps more deservingly, “Cat Person” also received backlash for fatphobia.

The most interesting part of the “Cat Person” phenomenon has been the discussion on how stories are received in an era of think pieces and the #MeToo movement. My hope is that these conversations continue and inspire more people to read short fiction, especially by women.

A new Harry Potter chapter

In the wake of J.K. Rowling’s disappointing statement on Johnny Depp’s continued involvement in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, technology has provided us with some Harry Potter content that may actually put a smile on your face.

Pages from a new volume of the wizarding saga appeared online on Tuesday. Botnik Studios, the creative team behind Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash, stated in a tweet that predictive keyboards wrote a new chapter, titled “The Handsome One.”

Within this chapter alone, Hermione is dipped in hot sauce, Death Eaters kiss, and Dumbledore’s hair is apparently its own distinct entity. If you’re looking for some levity, the approximately three-page read is well worth it.

The year in books, according to Amazon

With the year soon coming to a close, there are all kinds of “best of 2017” and “top ten of 2017” lists popping up. We even started to mention some of these lists in last week’s Book Beat. And this week, Amazon has released a series of charts showing “This Year in Books” based on data from Kindle and Audible.

Cover of The Handmaid's Tale

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale was 2017’s most-read fiction book, while The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson won the top spot in non-fiction. Brandon Sanderson’s Oathbringer was deemed most unputdownable, while Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was the top audiobook on Alexa. The charts cover a lot of other categories like most highlighted books, top translated books, and most gifted books, and they even provide readership breakdowns by geography.

My favourite part of this list was not the book announcements themselves, surprisingly, but the section on book cover trends. Hand lettering and brush strokes were popular this year, while reds, blues, and oranges were common cover colours. The series ends fittingly with a timeline revisiting the titles that set sales records and won awards throughout the year.

Happy Thursday!