Ann Patchett is many things—a novelist, essayist and master of the written word—but she is not married to her dog, no matter what a wonderful (now corrected) typo in The New York Times' Sunday Book Review may lead you to believe. Patchett caught the typo early, and sent the paper what surely must be one of 2014's finest examples of a letter to the editor ... Discuss

This year's best mystery/drama/story isn't on TV. It's not even in theaters. It's actually a podcast, but even if you don't consider yourself a podcast listener, you need to be listening to Serial. WBEZ Chicago is the station behind This American Life—this country's other great audio documentarians—but Serial is a different animal. It's clearly made with Generation Binge in mind, trusting that the same addiction that fueled Breaking Bad could be harnessed for podcasts and, boy, were they ever right. The segments are posted weekly (they're currently six episodes in) and listeners are on tenterhooks between releases.

Serial is a piece of serialized investigative journalism that, for its first season, is focusing on the 1999 real-life murder of a teenager in Maryland. The boyfriend was charged in the murder, but as reporter Sarah Koenig (pictured) goes over the facts, some serious questions are raised. To tell you any more than that would be to spoil this team's masterful unveiling of their own riveting research. You shouldn't even be reading this. You should be listening to Serial. It's all free, but be warned, once you start listening, you won't be able to stop ... Discuss

These new additions JK Rowling is making to the Potterverse are becoming dependable, but it's still fun to see a master toymaker tinker around with her inventions. As a Halloween treat to the nations, she's written several new short stories for Pottermore, the official Harry Potter fansite. Thus far, her stories have focused on bit players, and today's additions are no exception. Dolores Umbridge is, with all due respect to Voldemort, possibly Rowling's most hateable creation, and in today's exploration of Umbridge's past (excerpted here) we learn that she is no misunderstood victim, just a genuinely unpleasant person—though she is certainly not exactly all she seems. Other stories focus on the awesome flying thestrals, the eccentric Sibyll Trelawney, the sinister Ministry of Magic and other Potter-y things. Happy Halloween ... Discuss

Last time Jenny Slate and her husband, Dean Fleischer-Camp, released one of their irresistible "Marcel the Shell with Shoes On" videos, Slate was mostly known for her one season on SNL. These days, her future is looking bright, with her lead turn in Obvious Child grabbing all sorts of critical acclaim, as well as her note-perfect portrayal as Jean Ralphio's sister, Mona Lisa, on Parks & Rec. But she hasn't forgotten her best character, a tiny, sneakered shell named Marcel. But there's now a children's book to market—called The Most Surprised I've Ever Been—and she's back with a new video. Take it away, Marcel ... Discuss

You may remember a meme floating around Facebook over the last few months, in which friends would ask each other to share “10 books that have stayed with you" as a status update. The lists spread across the social network, with hundreds of thousands of Facebook users around the world ranking their favorite books. Now, Facebook has tallied up the full rankings across eight countries (that had at least 20,000 take part in the meme), to see which books where most beloved around the globe.

The list in the U.S., U.K., Italy, Philippines, Brazil, India and France were all dominated by one work: J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. The only country among the lists not topped by Harry Potter was Mexico (it ranked third), where One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez took the No. 1 spot.

The Bible on the other hand, didn’t fare as well. It ranked sixth for U.S. and U.K. readers, and barely cracked the top 10 in one other country, Brazil ... Discuss

John Grisham, human law thriller machine behind books like The Firm and The Pelican Brief, opened up to an interviewer about his thoughts on those who download child porn, and how the law is too hard on them and "They haven't hurt anybody, OK? They deserve some type of punishment, whatever. But ten years in prison?" Yikes. From The Telegraph:

A friend of mine, ten years ago, was drinking. His drinking was out of control. And he went to a website ...And it said, 16-year-old girls. So he went there. Downloaded some stuff. It was 16-year-old girls who looked 30. You know, they were all dressed up and whatever. He shouldn't have done it, it was stupid. But it wasn't 10-year-old boys and he didn't touch anything ...And he went to prison for three years.

Tale as old as time. One minute, you're drinking too much. Next minute, you're engaging in a horrible crime that exploits thousands of innocent children for the perverse enjoyment of others. Rest your case, Mr. Grisham ...

Update: Grisham has offered an apology for his statements, saying "My comments ...were in no way intended to show sympathy for those convicted of sex crimes, especially the sexual molestation of children. I can think of nothing more despicable. I regret having made these comments, and apologize to all." Discuss