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l those Potterheads suffering from Harry Potter withdrawal can now get their daily fix of magic with author J.K. Rowling’s website Pottermore.com finally opening up to all users. Launched in June 2011, the website dedicated to the boy wizard was till now accessible only to a select few. Now anyone can log in, register and play along.

First, get yourself a cool magical username, then explore the world of Harry Potter as depicted in Book 1— Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone — from Privet Drive to Diagon Alley to Hogwarts and beyond. The site has many interactive features that include buying school supplies and collecting wizarding cards as well as ordinary objects.

You will have an account at Gringotts, you can shop at Diagon Alley and even let your wand choose you. And you can, of course, hop onto the Hogwarts Express. The most exciting feature is the sorting process — find out which house you really belong to. And no, everyone cannot be in Griffindor! You can also practise spells, make potions and hold wizarding duels to win house points. Like any social networking site, you can invite your friends to your account.

To top it all, there are sections like “New from J.K. Rowling” and “Ghost Plots” that give Potter fans unpublished dope from the books.

Which feature of Pottermore are you enjoying the most?

Tell t2@abp.in

Six Indian writers have made it to the shortlists of the 2012 Commonwealth Book and Short Story prizes. Of them, Jahnavi Barua (Rebirth), Rahul Bhattacharya (The Sly Company of People Who Care) and C.Y. Gopinath (The Book of Answers) are in the reckoning for the Commonwealth Book Prize, while Anushka Jasraj (Radio Story), Poile Sengupta (Ammulu) and Sreejith Sukumaran (Another Dull Day) are on the Commonwealth Short Story Prize shortlist. The subcontinent has added two other names to the list — Pakistan’s Jamil Ahmad (The Wandering Falcon) and Sri Lankan writer Shehan Karunatilaka (Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew). Regional awards for five regions — Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, Caribbean, and the Pacific — will be declared on May 22 and the overall winner will be named at the Hay Festival on June 8.

Bookworm is, of course, excited that two of the shortlisted authors, Rahul and Shehan, were here for the first Calcutta Literary Meet in January 2012!

Sid, a young boy in New Delhi, drinks mosquito repellent in a bid to kill himself but is saved in the nick of time by his father. Later we learn that Sid doesn’t want to study engineering. He doesn’t want to go to IIT. That’s the beginning of S.V. Divvaakar’s novel The Winner’s Price (Konark Publishers, Rs 250). Now haven’t we heard all of this before? Even as the name Chetan Bhagat pops in your head, Divvaakar gives you the cue — there’s a battered copy of Five Point Someone lying in Sid’s room.

While the theme — craze for engineering — has already been done to death, aspirational India doesn’t seem to be tiring of it. To that the writer has added everything from Kolaveri Di to WikiLeaks, from a lady lobbyist who uses her courage as much as her cleavage to insider trading in oil rigs in the Gulf.

IIT may be fast becoming a place where books are born in tandem with engineers, but IITian Divvaakar’s attempt stands out in terms of its three-decade span, its scope as well as its rather error-free editing, which today sadly is a rather tall ask for most writers of “campus novels”.

Barnes and Noble has launched a new model of its popular e-book reader Nook with built-in light. Unlike LCD screens, the e-ink screens of the older Nooks and Amazon’s Kindles are not backlit and hence do not allow reading in the dark. The new Nook, christened Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight, comes for $139 (around Rs 7,130) and has LEDs with brightness controls. Should Indians care since they cannot buy from the online Nook store? Yes, because the announcement follows the buzz that market-leader Kindle, which caters to customers in India, is coming up with a model with lights. With the launch of the new Nook, a Kindle with similar or better features seems a certainty. Watch this space for updates.

 

He’s back, long after he was gone.Basic Training, a novel written by Kurt Vonnegut in the 1940s, has finally been released though only as an e-book. Published by RosettaBooks as a Kindle Single for $1.99, this book written under the pseudonym Mark Harvey is an autobiographical and satirical take on “the military, authoritarianism, gender relationships, parenthood and mid-century myths about the family”. While Vonnegut fans rejoice, Bookworm wonders with a smile what the staunch critic of the “computer people” and “electronic communities” would have said about being published in the e-format!