Robert Lawrence Stine (b. 1943) began writing when he was nine years old, having discovered a typewriter in the attic of his Ohio home. His writing career took off with a series of humourous children’s books by “Jovial Bob Stine”. At the same time, he created the popular humour magazine Bananas, which ran for 72 issues between 1975 and 1984. But it was in another genre that Stine really lit up the literary world. In 1986 he began writing horror novels and soon after launched the most famous series of horror books of all time: Goosebumps. Between 1992 and 1997, R.L. Stine published an incredible 62 Goosebumps novels (with over 100 additional spin-off volumes in subsequent years), selling over 400 million copies and making him among the wealthiest authors in the world. He was named America’s number one best-selling author by USA Today. Among many other awards, Guinness gave him the world record for best-selling children’s book series of all time. Goosebumps was translated into 32 languages, and became a hit TV show that ran for four seasons. It also spawned three video games. Along with his humour and horror books, R.L. Stine has written adult fiction and science fiction. An equally famous series of books are R.L. Stine’s Fear Street, with over 100 titles published. A prolific writer, few know exactly how many books Stine has written, with estimates ranging from 300 to 500 books, or even more – perhaps another reason why Stine was on People‘s list of the world’s “Most Intriguing People”.
Words of the Week
Nothing is life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less. – Marie Curie
Primo Levi (1919-1987) was born in Turin, Italy. His brilliance was quickly noted even as a child, allowing him to start school a year early. After learning at both secular and religious schools in his youth, as an adult he decided to study chemistry. Despite the open anti-Semitism of the university system, Levi fought through it and graduated with honours. Being a Jew barred him from most jobs. However, a mining company that was aware of his intelligence and expertise offered him a position under a false name and false papers. He later found work for a Swiss company looking to extract anti-diabetic components from vegetables. As World War II worsened, Levi joined an Italian resistance movement. Untrained, he was quickly captured and arrested, sent to the Fossoli internment camp, and later to Auschwitz where he spent nearly a year until it was liberated by the Soviets. It didn’t get any easier at this point. To get back home to Turin he had to travel across Belarus, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine, Austria, and Germany (a story which has been adapted to film). After the war, Levi started a chemical company with a friend, synthesizing various industrial compounds like stannous chloride (for use in mirrors) and a variety of synthetic dyes. Meanwhile, he began writing about his roller coaster life experiences. He would go on to write two famous memoirs, one of which was voted the best science book ever written by London’s Royal Institution. Levi also penned many poems, essays and short stories – two of which have been adapted to film – and published two well-known novels. Often quoted, he once wrote: “The aims of life are the best defense against death.”
Words of the Week
If words are the pen of the heart, song is the pen of the soul. – Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi