Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • Isaac Asimov, Pioneer of Science Fiction

    Mon, 20 Aug 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Isaac Asimov celebrated his own birthday on January 2. He was born sometime between October 4, 1919 and January 2, 1920 in Russia. According to his father, he was one of the healthiest children around, a fact put to the test when he contracted pneumonia at age 2. Asimov was one of 17 children to fall sick in the town where his family lived, and the only child to survive. The family moved to United States the following year, and Isaac Asimov grew up in Brooklyn, New York.  Read More
  • Ten of the Most Beautiful Sentences in Literature, Part 2

    Thu, 16 Aug 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Sentences can bring both joy and pain. The joy brought from a well crafted sentence lasts far longer than the pain a poorly written one inflicts on readers. Even when a beautiful sentence helps readers feel the pain present in the work, the contentment felt when remembering the beauty of the sentence far outweighs the momentary fleetingness of the emotion. It is the word choice, the flow, the structure, and the skill of the author that all combine to create something truly beautiful. We all have sentences we love. Certain elements draw each of us to different authors and sentences, Read More
  • Julia Child's Life and Legacy

    Wed, 15 Aug 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Cooking is a skill everyone must utilize with varying degrees of success. There are people who struggle to turn on the correct stove burner when making pasta, others who are able to manage something edible, and some who create food to be savored, not just eaten. But after the skill-less, mediocre, and expert, there is another type of cook. These cooks are able to bring about new innovations and introduce previously foreign tastes to the public. One such cook was Julia Child who is credited with introducing French cuisine to the American public through her cookbooks and television shows. Read More
  • Examining the Life and Work of Nobel Prize Winner V.S. Naipaul

    Tue, 14 Aug 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    V.S. Naipaul once said that no woman writer could be his equal. He did not win any points with feminists and those striving for gender equality, but it's hard to argue with his literary output. Again, we have to ask ourselves, how do we separate an author's ideology from the work he or she produces? Do we? Can we? Should we? Born August 17, 1932, Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul died on Saturday, August 11, 2018 at the age of 85. The author is considered one of the modern legends of literature. Read More
  • Remembering Legendary Author Ian Fleming

    Mon, 13 Aug 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Everyone has a favorite super spy—a character whose cunning nature, quick thinking, or pure mental and physical strength keep us rooting for them long after their books, TV series, or films have reached "the end." Before common names like Jack Bauer, Ethan Hunt, and Jason Bourne dotted the super spy landscape, another famous spy arrested our imagination: James Bond. The dashing and debonair 007 was the creation of Ian Fleming, who has earned a reputation as a legendary author. Yesterday marked the anniversary of Ian Fleming's death. In his honor, we take a look back at his life and his Read More
  • Best Books About Weddings

    Wed, 08 Aug 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Wedding season is upon us. Indeed, August recently surpassed June as the most popular month for couples to walk down the aisle making now a perfect time to look at books that center around weddings. Whether you’re looking for inspiration for your own affair, trying to pass the time before the big day, or searching for a wedding-themed book to add to your collection, here are some of our favorite books about weddings. Read More
  • How Terry McMillan Got Her Groove Back

    Tue, 07 Aug 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Terry McMillan, author of bestselling novels Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back, was born October 18, 1951 in Port Huron, Michigan. She was the oldest of her four siblings and after her parents separated, she was left to care for her brother and sisters. Although forced to grow up at an early age, she found solace in her personal retreat: the Port Huron library. There, she fell in love with reading—relishing the works of classic writers including Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. As much as she enjoyed their writing, she was discouraged that great works Read More
  • Book Spotlight: The Girl Who Drank the Moon

    Mon, 06 Aug 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    The Newbery Award-winning novel The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill was published in 2016 by Algonquin Young Readers. This middle grade novel appeals to both young and old readers with it's important message and compelling fairy tale feel. The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a magical story that's perfect for lovers of magic, fairy tales, and for Newbery collectors. What is it about this book that captures the imagination and has lead to it's massive success and popularity? Read More
  • Maya Angelou's Books for Children

    Thu, 02 Aug 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Many readers know Maya Angelou’s work and recognize her literary contributions, as well as her significant work as a professor, filmmaker, historian, and civil rights activist. She wrote seven autobiographies in her lifetime, acted in numerous films and prominent works of television, and was honored with many prestigious awards. But did you know that she also wrote children’s books? We love the idea of an author’s work—one of the most prominent writers of the twentieth century, perhaps—being accessible to children through a combination of image and text. We want to tell you about a couple of Maya Angelou’s books for Read More
  • A Harry Potter Birthday Round-Up

    Tue, 31 Jul 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    July 31 is an important day in the Wizarding world. Not only is it Harry Potter’s birthday—which, of course, before the age of 11 didn’t mean much of anything seeing as the Dursleys either forgot about it or knowingly ignored the day’s significance—but it’s also the day which Harry found out about his past, and with a single proclamation from Hagrid (“Harry—yer a wizard!”), his life was changed forever. If you ask the generation of readers who grew up alongside “the boy who lived”, they’ll tell you Harry’s story changed their lives, as well. Read More
  • The Brontë Sisters' Inspiration and Exploration of Human Nature

    Mon, 30 Jul 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë are sisters of great literary skill. All three are still published authors over 100 years after their deaths. The novels they produced explore the intricacy of human nature and the effect one person can have on others. Their lives provide examples of the difficult life faced by citizens in Industrial Age England. Before being published, the sisters were forced to be teachers and governesses. Once they started seeking publication, they were forced to use male pseudonyms in order to be published. All three died from causes treatable with modern medicine. Through their writing and, by Read More
  • Norman Mailer: Novelist, Activist, and New Journalist

    Thu, 26 Jul 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    On January 31, 1923, Norman Kingsley Mailer was born in Long Branch, New Jersey. He'd grow to become one of the preeminent American authors of the 20th century, writing about 40 books and countless essays and stories. Mailer's work earned him two Pulitzer Prizes and the National Book Award, while his politics garnered some less positive criticism. Read More
  • Iconic Images of Author Jack London

    Wed, 25 Jul 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    On January 12, 1876, author Jack London was born John Griffith Chaney. The son of astrologer William Chaney and music teacher/spiritualist Flora Wellman, London grew up in poverty. After working as a sailor, going to Alaska for the Klondike Gold Rush, and even doing a stint as a hobo, London came to see writing as his means of escaping the work "trap." He began his career, fortuitously, at a time when new printing technology made it more cost effective to publish magazines cheaply, and he was soon making an excellent living thanks to the burgeoning demand for short fiction. London Read More
  • Northwestern University Press's Writings from an Unbound Europe

    Tue, 24 Jul 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Where do you go to find literature in translation from Central and Eastern Europe? For much of the 1990s and early 2000s, readers could rely on Northwestern University Press for contemporary fiction translated from various languages within the former communist countries. While the series came to an end in 2012, Northwestern University Press’s Writings from an Unbound Europe remains one of the most significant series for a wide range of works from Central and Eastern Europe. We want to highlight its remaining significance several years after the series’ end, and we also want to highlight some of our favorite texts Read More
  • Top James A. Michener Books, Continued

    Mon, 23 Jul 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    One of the most popular blog posts we’ve published to date is our article titled Top Ten James A. Michener Books. First posted over two years ago, it continues to be widely read, and the comment section has allowed readers, collectors, and general fans of Michener to agree or disagree with our list. Be sure to click over and read that post if you missed it before. Obviously, Michener has endeared himself to many, and everyone has his or her favorites when it comes to the legendary author and historian’s work. We wanted to create a continuation of our previous Read More
  • A Portrait of James Joyce

    Thu, 19 Jul 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was born in Dublin on February 2, 1882. The oldest of ten children, Joyce would eventually renounce both Ireland and the Catholic faith into which he was baptized. Even more than a century later, his works have remained fascinating—and confounding—to critics, scholars, and readers. Read More
  • Eight Fascinating Facts About Jaws Author Peter Benchley

    Wed, 18 Jul 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Many readers only know Peter Benchley, if they know him at all, as the author of Jaws (1974), the novel upon which Steven Spielberg’s acclaimed blockbuster film was based—but Benchley was more than a one hit wonder (or a one trick pony). In a career spanning decades and media, Benchley would go on to write a number of acclaimed novels like Beast (1991) and The Deep (1976), not to mention screenplays and television programs, in addition to working as an ocean conservationist. Here are a few interesting facts about him. Read More
  • The Significance of J.R.R. Tolkien's Tree and Leaf

    Tue, 17 Jul 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    English fantasy writer and J.R.R. Tolkien is widely considered to the be the father of the modern fantasy genre. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy are some of the most enduring and beloved novels in the genre. In the years since readers were first introduced to Middle Earth (The Hobbit was published in 1937), the novels have served as in inspiration to countless writers, filmmakers, video game creators, and even the creator of the Dungeons & Dragons tabletop role playing game. His most famous works have remained in print since their publication, and even some of his lesser-known Read More
  • McSweeney's Publishing Company: Notable Titles

    Mon, 16 Jul 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    The brainchild of acclaimed author and philanthropist Dave Eggers, McSweeney’s has been publishing vibrant, frequently off-kilter writing in various forms for more than 20 years. While for many the name McSweeney’s primarily conjures up images of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, (i.e. the good people who brought us “It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherf*ckers”), the publisher also puts out a quarterly literary magazine as well as standalone books. Though these various concerns may seem disparate, there is certainly a unity to the various Eggers-run projects, and readers can expect anything with the McSweeney’s stamp to showcase an often wry (though sometimes quite serious), Read More
  • The Founding of the Smithsonian Institution: Increasing & Diffusing Knowledge

    Fri, 13 Jul 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Imagine you wake up one morning and discover that a mysterious benefactor left you a small fortune, stipulating that the funds be used to help others. How would you spend it? Now imagine that you have to make that decision with 293 other people without splitting the money. This is the task that the 24th Congress of the United States faced when it created the Smithsonian Institution.  Read More
  • Important Collections of the Work of Legendary Photographer Ansel Adams

    Wed, 11 Jul 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    You’ve heard the adage "a picture’s worth a thousand words." And it’s true. Pictures have power, and since the dawn of photography as we know it, individuals have been using photos to tell stories, influence others, and make a difference. Are you interested in collecting the works of legendary photographers? We’d like to begin spotlighting several of them for you. We hope these posts inspire you—to begin a collection, add to an existing one, or maybe get out and take some of your own photographs. If you do have a collection that includes any books of famous photographers, share with Read More
  • Caldecott Winning Illustrators Series: Robert Lawson

    Tue, 10 Jul 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    For the past eighty-one years, the Caldecott Medal has been awarded annually to one book out of a carefully curated selection. The Caldecott-winning illustrators and the images they so lovingly craft are representative of the best and most innovative aspects of the genre. These books are desirable for both parents and collectors alike, but also serve as a benchmark of quality, pushing the industry forward to greater heights each year. Continuing our Caldecott Winning Illustrators Series, we take a closer look at one of these amazing illustrators: Robert Lawson, who won the medal in 1941 for his book They Were Read More
  • Dean Koontz: Collectible Writer with Staying Power

    Mon, 09 Jul 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Dean Koontz is an American master of suspense and horror who has sold over 450 million copies of his books worldwide. His works have frequently appeared on The New York Times bestseller list and more than 20 of his novels reached the coveted number one position.   Read More
  • Book Collecting Spotlight: Decision Points by George W. Bush

    Fri, 06 Jul 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Today is former President George W. Bush's birthday. We've written numerous times before about presidents as authors and award winning books by political leaders. We thought today would be a good opportunity to take a closer look at President Bush's book, Decision Points.  Read More
  • Patriotic Poems to Read in Honor of the Fourth of July

    Wed, 04 Jul 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    It’s Independence Day here in the USA. Whether you’re firing up the grill, attending a local parade, or saving seats for the firework show, we hope you have a safe and celebratory 4th of July. If you’re looking for another way to get in a festive spirit, we’d recommend seeking out the following four poems. While America is certainly not a utopia, these poems both remind us of the good and challenge us to be better. The list of great American, patriotic poems is a long one, so we’ve only scratched the surface here. Share your favorites with us in Read More
  • Best Books from Haiti

    Tue, 03 Jul 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    There are so many incredible works of literature from Haiti that we’re going to have some difficulty selecting just a handful of our favorites for you here. But, that being said, we’ll give it a try. Many American readers know Haiti through a lens of Western bias: from news reports of violence or of the devastation wrought by the earthquake in 2010. Or, going back almost one hundred years prior, through the neocolonial perspective produced by the U.S. invasion and occupation of the country in 1915. Can we help to change your mind? In addition to reminding you here of Read More
  • In Memoriam: Elie Wiesel and the Myth of Sisyphus

    Mon, 02 Jul 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    In 1978, a four part miniseries called Holocaust aired on NBC. It featured Meryl Streep as a cast member, and it portrayed all of the horrors that we have since come to expect from depictions of the Holocaust (to enumerate them would, perhaps, defeat the purpose). Though it was one of the earliest examples of this particular historical atrocity being adapted for prime time, in the ensuing decades it undoubtedly blurred together in the minds of its viewers with similar media like Schindler’s List (1993) and Sophie’s Choice (1982). Though the miniseries, which was ostensibly fictionalized from true events, would garner Read More
  • Getting Lost in Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

    Sat, 30 Jun 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell has staying power. Today, the book turns 82 years young, and it continues to be heralded as a favorite by readers of all ages. Gone with the Wind has become a sort of benchmark for Southern Literature since its publication in 1936, and while some contest its portrayal of African American and period-based racism, it remains widely studied and referenced both by scholars and readers alike. The book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1937, and a now well-known and well-loved film by the same name was released in 1939. We've collected everything we Read More
  • Seven Favorite (Unexpected) Romance Authors

    Thu, 28 Jun 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    It is officially wedding season. June is one of the most popular months to get married, and nothing says "love" like a romantic book. These authors have delivered true tales of romance—though many of them aren't considered "romance writers." Read More
  • Four Facts About Julia Child

    Wed, 27 Jun 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Julia Child is arguably the most well-known cookbook author in America. Child launched her impressive career in 1961 with the publication of her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking co-authored with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle. The goal of the book was to make French cooking accessible to home cooks in America, and it was an unprecedented success. Its precise style and measurements changed the entire cookbook industry in the U.S., which had until then focused more on loose sketches of recipes. The success of the book as well as promotional television show appearances helped launch Child's career as Read More
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