J.K. Rowling: new book, charity launch, Harry Potter rumors

J.K. Rowling's new book is a commencement speech she gave at Harvard

A book release, an upcoming movie, a lighting ceremony at the Empire State Building and the usual questions about Harry Potter: It's been an unusually busy month for J.K. Rowling.

The British author released a new book yesterday -- but don't get too excited, Harry Potter fans; it's more Harvard than Hogwarts. "Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination," a slim book containing Rowling's 2008 commencement speech at the Massachusetts university, came out yesterday from publisher Little, Brown.

Rowling's speech went viral quickly; a video of her address on YouTube has garnered over 1.5 million views. Not everyone is impressed with the book version, though -- at the Washington Post, Ron Charles criticized the book for being padded with needless illustrations, writing, "The result feels like a long, bland greeting card. When Rowling speaks of her life since graduation, we get an illustration of a ladder. When she extols the benefits of failure, we’re provided with a drawing of a pencil eraser."

Charles notes, approvingly, that Rowling's profits from the book will be donated to Harvard financial aid and to Lumos, the author's charity benefiting poor and disabled children who live in institutions and orphanages. Lumos, named after a spell in the "Harry Potter" books, was just launched in the United States, and Rowling attended a lighting ceremony in New York last week in which the Empire State Building was illuminated with the charity's official blue, purple and white color scheme.

Wherever Rowling goes, of course, her famous boy wizard isn't far behind. This month also brought news that Academy Award-winning actor Eddie Redmayne is rumored to be the favorite to play Scamander in an upcoming film adaptation of "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," based on Rowling's "Harry Potter" spinoff book. Rowling, according to the Hollywood Reporter, is "heavily involved" in the adaptation, and will write the screenplay.

The author also raised eyebrows last week for an appearance on the morning news show "Today," in which she declined to rule out writing another "Harry Potter" book. "I've always said I'm not going to say I definitely won't because, because I don't see why I should say that. You know, it's my world and I might choose to step back into it," Rowling told host Matt Lauer.

The chances of a return to Hogwarts, though, still seem remote. Rowling added: "But I think 'Harry Potter 8,' as in what happened next to Harry, Ron and Hermione -- I don't think that's going to happen."

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World