Today in books and literature: Penguin was the runner-up in the Greg Smith memoir sweepstakes, the case against adults reading books for kids, and Frank Langella has written a gossipy memoir.

Professional contrarian and noted Internet-baiter Joel Stein has volunteered his opinions on the phenomenon of adults reading children's books. Shockingly, he is not a fan. Writes Stein:

I have no idea what The Hunger Games is like. Maybe there are complicated shades of good and evil in each character. Maybe there are Pynchonesque turns of phrase. Maybe it delves into issues of identity, self-justification and anomie that would make David Foster Wallace proud. I don’t know because it’s a book for kids. I’ll read The Hunger Games when I finish the previous 3,000 years of fiction written for adults. 

OK, that's pretty funny, but hush Joel Stein. Let The Hunger Games, Twilight, and Harry Potter folks have their fun. To paraphrase Bruce Springsteen, it ain't no sin to be glad you're alive, and it no sin to read and enjoy a book meant for 12-year-olds while you're alive. So relax. [The New York Times]

Marilyn Hagerty, the 85-year-old Grand Forks Herald columnist who was mocked and then ultimately celebrated for her fair and accurate Olive Garden review, is in talks with Harper Collins about a possible book deal. (Of course.) The project, per the Herald (wonder who their source was on this) would be a "a collaboration with Anthony Bourdain." That makes sense, since back in September Bourdain signed a deal to acquire projects for Ecco, a Harper Collins imprint. [Grand Forks Herald via MSNBC]

More on that whopping $1.5 million book deal former Goldman Sachs executive Greg Smith landed with Grand Central Publishing, an imprint of Hachette. It seems that Penguin was very much in the mix to acquire Smith's book, but Smith chose to go with the Hachette offer yesterday. Considering the reservations many unnamed publishers who passed on making Smith an offer voiced about the project, not landing the book could turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Penguin. Then again, it could be the next Liar's Poker. You never know [New York Post]

Fans of gossipy Hollywood memoirs would be well-served by checking out Frank Langella's new autobiography, Dropped Names. It seems the Frost/Nixon star spares no details when it comes to describing "[Anne] Bancroft's toxic narcissism, Paul Newman's lack of one-on-one charisma, Roddy McDowall's gay opportunism, and Yul Brynner's dearth of humanity." Dishy! [The Huffington Post]