Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • James Joyce's Dublin

    Tue, 20 Feb 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you’re traveling to Dublin anytime soon and are a James Joyce fan, you might want to set aside at least a couple of days for visiting the dozens of locations connected to some of Joyce’s most famous works. Most notably, visitors to Dublin can trace the path through the city that Leopold Bloom takes on June 16, 1904. In addition, visitors can walk by the house—which was listed for sale the last time we were in Dublin, if you’re in the market—that served as the setting for “The Dead,” Joyce’s last story in his famous collection Dubliners (1914). Are Read More
  • In Their Own Words: Books to Be Inspired by on President's Day

    Mon, 19 Feb 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    The British have had ripe occasion recently to appreciate a leader whose oratory and philosophy were integral to his ability to improve the world. With movies like Dunkirk and Darkest Hour and TV shows like The Crown, memories of Winston Churchill, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, sting all the more sharply as they are juxtaposed against what many view as the failures of some of our current leaders to live up to truly noble aspirations. It's always good to remember our presidents and statesmen who led with a certain moral obligation, integrity of character, humanistic concern, and displayed a talent for Read More
  • How Ian Fleming Began Writing His First James Bond Novel

    Fri, 16 Feb 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Perhaps Ian Fleming is being self-deprecating when he calls Casino Royale (1953), the first of more than a dozen Bond novels and stories he would write in his lifetime, his “dreadful oafish opus.” Or, perhaps his alliterative turn of phrase is a sincere appraisal of a work that sprung from surprisingly humble origins. After all, at the time of the book’s writing, Fleming was a newspaperman but hardly a writer in the more elevated sense. Rather than serving as a reflection of any sincere desire to become a beloved author, it seems that Fleming’s inaugural Bond installment was written primarily as Read More
  • Collecting Yoko Ono's Artist Books

    Thu, 15 Feb 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Collecting artist monographs and exhibition catalogues can be an especially exciting endeavor. In addition, many artists’ books are, themselves, pieces of art to be collected. For example, many artists created hand bound, limited editions that can be added to any discerning collector’s shelves (and, in most cases, can and should be displayed). Yoko Ono has an interesting personal history, as well as a fascinating role in the contemporary and conceptual art worlds. Prior to meeting John Lennon, Ono was involved in performance and conceptual art movements in New York City. Most notably, she participated in “happenings” involving many performers and Read More
  • Valentine's Day for Cynics: The 10 Worst Couples in Literature

    Wed, 14 Feb 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    For many people, Valentine's Day is a holiday filled with roses, romance, and affection. Giant teddy bears show up on people’s doorsteps, flower delivery services are swamped, and getting a reservation for two at a nice restaurant is nearly impossible. However, for us singletons and cynics, Valentine’s Day often causes more of a dull nausea in our stomachs than the sensation of little butterflies fluttering about. So if you, like me, take a Grinch-like approach to this fluffy pink holiday, I hope you find some solace reading about 10 of the worst couples in literature. Read More
  • The 2018 Caldecott and Newbery Award Winners Are...

    Mon, 12 Feb 2018 11:45:00 Permalink
    Every year, we anxiously await the selection of the Caldecott and Newbery Award-winning books. These titles are the best of the best, and every year, we can't wait to see if they're in our collection already or if we need to run out and grab a copy. The American Library Association announced the 2018 winners this morning. And the awards go to Read More
  • Graphic Novels About Irish Independence

    Thu, 08 Feb 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you’re interested in learning more about Irish independence and also love graphic novels, we have some exciting book recommendations for you. Gerry Hunt, an Irish artist, writer, and cartoonist who founded Dublin Comics, created a series of graphic novels depicting the Easter Rising of 1916 and the subsequent fight for independence from Britain. Have we piqued your interest? Let us tell you more. Read More
  • Ten of the Best Quotes from Charles Dickens

    Wed, 07 Feb 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Charles Dickens is widely considered to be the most important writer of the Victorian age. Dickens' success came, despite the odds being stacked against him. He had to work in a factory from a young age to support his family; his father was in debtors' prison. Dickens was eventually able to spend two years in school after which he worked at a law office. An interest in theater eventually led to a job as a freelance reporter. He published the majority of his novels as weekly or monthly serials, beginning with The Pickwick Papers in 1836. He was an immediate Read More
  • Don't Know Poet Rubén Darío? Here's Why You Should

    Tue, 06 Feb 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Jorge Luis Borges said that all writers create their own predecessors. Bold, new writing doesn’t simply reveal its own concerns, it reveals an entire literary history leading up to its creation, and sometimes that history involves works that might not otherwise be widely read. In American literature, Ernest Hemingway held up Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) as a kind of ur-novel to which all other American fiction can be traced. In Spanish-American poetry, that same considerable distinction is held by Rubén Darío. Read More
  • Nine Fascinating Facts About John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men

    Fri, 02 Feb 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    John Steinbeck’s timeless novella Of Mice and Men was published in 1937 to considerable acclaim, and the reading public’s appreciation of the text has hardly diminished since. What began as a perplexing work eyed warily by Steinbeck’s agents has gone from being a Book of the Month Club selection on its initial publication to one of the most widely read and assigned books on high school curricula throughout the country. Here are a few interesting facts about it. Read More
  • A Reader's Guide to Langston Hughes

    Thu, 01 Feb 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    In his seminal 1926 essay “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain,” then-burgeoning poet, essayist, novelist, playwright, and all-around giant of American letters Langston Hughes argued passionately that Black writers across the world should be proud of their racial and cultural heritage. He says, towards the essay’s conclusion, “The younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, it doesn't matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly, too.” Even then, at the height of the Harlem Renaissance, it’s hard Read More
  • Autobiography from the Civil Rights Movement

    Wed, 31 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Have you been following news about civil rights activism on social media and in your community? Are you wondering more about how current protests for equality have ties to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s in America, as well as similar movements in other parts of the world? We want to say up front that we couldn’t possible write about, in a short article, all of the significant biographies and autobiographies that concern leaders of civil rights and freedom movements in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. With that being said, we have selected a handful of texts Read More
  • A Brief History of the Library of Congress

    Tue, 30 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    The Library of Congress has been around nearly as long as the United States of America. Approve by President John Adams in 1800, the goal of the library was to solve a problem when the government moved from Philadelphia to Washington D.C. Namely, in Philadelphia, congressmen had access to the well-stocked Free Library of Philadelphia. Their concern was that the burgeoning new capital was still under development, and in D.C., members of Congress would lack access to books outside their own personal collection. The Act of Congress allocated $5,000 to stock the library, which today would be roughly $92,000. The Read More
  • Five Interesting Fact About Virginia Woolf

    Fri, 26 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    English writer Virginia Woolf is widely considered one of the most important modernist and feminist writers. She was successful in her own time with her writing as well as through her work for education reform. She and her husband, Leonard, also ran the publishing house Hogarth. But she gained her status as an icon in the 1970s during the third wave of feminism. Since then, her name has become synonymous with the movement and her work, including her most famous novel, Mrs. Dalloway, has been translated into over fifty languages. Here are some interesting facts about Woolf. Read More
  • Five Interesting Facts About Virginia Woolf

    Fri, 26 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    English writer Virginia Woolf is widely considered one of the most important modernist and feminist writers. She was successful in her own time with her writing as well as through her work for education reform. She and her husband, Leonard, also ran the publishing house Hogarth. But she gained her status as an icon in the 1970s during the third wave of feminism. Since then, her name has become synonymous with the movement and her work, including her most famous novel, Mrs. Dalloway, has been translated into over fifty languages. Here are some interesting facts about Woolf. Read More
  • A Brief History of Robots in Literature

    Thu, 25 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    The Czech writer Karel Čapek introduced the world to the word robot, by way of his play, RUR, (Rossum’s Universal Robots) in 1920. The name, deriving from robotnik, Czech for “forced worker,” has been used since by countless high-minded writers and storytellers to answer two principal questions: What would civilization look like if androids liberated humans from the work they perform today? And would these androids ever be exploited by their creators, or develop competing interests of their own? Though some authors, of course, have been less ambitious, answering the more simple question: What if a character happened to be Read More
  • New Poetry from Wesleyan University Press

    Wed, 24 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Many university presses across the country publish poetry collections, but few university presses are as notable for their poetry publications as Wesleyan University. The Wesleyan University Press began its work in 1957, and although it focuses on a relatively broad range of subjects—from poetry to music and dance to Connecticut history and culture—it is perhaps best known for its important contributions to new poetry and poetics. As the press explains, it has “published an internationally renowned poetry series, collecting five Pulitzer Prizes, a Bollingen, and two National Book Awards in that one series alone.” What books from the press should Read More
  • Collecting Editions of The Eve of St. Agnes by John Keats

    Sat, 20 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    John Keats is now largely considered one of the most influential poets of the early nineteenth century. He wrote poetry for only six years and published for only four years before his untimely death from tuberculosis in 1821. The final volume of poetry Keats lived to see published, Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems, is considered one of the most important collections of poems ever to be published, according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. What follows are some noteworthy editions to consider adding to your Keats collection. Read More
  • Book Collecting: Taschen's Limited Letterpress Edition of The Fire Next Time

    Fri, 19 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time (1963) was published for the first time over 50 years ago. To commemorate its original publication, and to remind readers of its continued significance in the twenty-first century, Taschen released a letterpress edition of the book, which includes more than 100 photographs taken by Steve Schapiro. As a photographer for Life magazine, Schapiro traveled through the American South with Baldwin and captured images from the Civil Rights movement, including pictures from Selma and from the March on Washington. In addition to Baldwin’s texts and Schapiro’s photos, this letterpress edition of The Fire Next Time Read More
  • Collecting Rudyard Kipling? Don't Overlook These Titles

    Thu, 18 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Rudyard Kipling remains a polarizing figure. As we’ve written before, his favor among his countrymen and literary critics has ebbed and flowed as societal and cultural norms have shifted. A Nobel laureate who has been referred to as everything from “a complete man of genius” by Henry James to “morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting” by George Orwell, Kipling at least merits our study. And for many, his works are highly-sought after collectibles. Read More
  • Ten Books to Honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day

    Mon, 15 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    In the United States on the third Monday of every January, we have the opportunity to come together as a nation and celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. In the midst of the chaos and oppression that accompanied the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King Jr. rose above hate and violence to guide a broken nation toward a future where people “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” As our country once again navigates divisiveness, we are faced with two choices: to be silent, or to Read More
  • Boxcar Press, Letterpress, and Fine Press Bookmaking

    Fri, 12 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    For many authors and illustrators, the ability to make your own book is quite appealing. If you’re interested in collecting fine press objects or bookmaking through the art of letterpress, what are your options? One of the more interesting possibilities for contemporary authors who want to pursue letterpress comes from Boxcar Press. Unlike other presses, Boxcar Press isn’t always printing books (although it does have printing capabilities). Instead, it’s making polymer plates for letterpress bookmakers and broadside artists who are interested in modern fine press. We’ll tell you a little bit more about the polymer plates that Boxcar Press makes, Read More
  • Visiting the Charles Dickens House and Museum in London

    Thu, 11 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you’re traveling to London anytime soon and are an avid reader or collector of nineteenth-century British literature, why not plan a stop at the former home of Charles Dickens? We’re willing to guess that you’ve read at least one of Dickens’s novels, if not many of them. While he also wrote a number of works of nonfiction, drama, and poetry, Dickens is known best for his fiction (and largely his novels). You’ve probably read, or seen a film adaptation, of the novella A Christmas Carol (1843), in addition to reading novels such as The Pickwick Papers (1837), Oliver Twist Read More
  • 89 Years Ago Today Tintin Made His First Print Appearance

    Wed, 10 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Following their first appearance in Le Petit Vingtième on January 10, 1929, The Tintin comics (1929-1986), which were originally created by the Belgian illustrator Georges Remi under the pseudonym Hergé, grew from a work of kid-friendly anti-Soviet propaganda to a globally recognizable phenomenon. Today, the comics retain a strong cult following on the strength of their warm-hearted plot lines, gentle wit, and beloved characters, from the titular Tintin and his canine companion Snowy, to Captain Haddock, to the incompetent, barely distinguishable detectives Thomson and Thompson, and many others.   Read More
  • Philip Roth, Philip K. Dick, and the Man in the High Castle

    Sat, 06 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    What would our world look like if the Axis powers had won World War II? How would our daily lives have been transformed if the United States had been sympathetic to Nazi Germany? Posing “what if” questions about World War II and its aftermath has been popular among some of America’s most widely read authors. Notably, both Philip K. Dick and Philip Roth have imagined alternate histories in which Nazi Germany won the war. While the series The Man in the High Castle takes its title and storyline directly from Dick’s novel of the same name, we’d like to explore Read More
  • Waiting for Godot in Popular Culture

    Fri, 05 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Nobel Prize winning poet, playwright and novelist Samuel Beckett was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1906. He studied English, French, and Italian at Trinity College before accepting a position at Campbell College where he taught for some years and also developed a friendship with fellow Irish writer James Joyce. It was at this time that be published his first work, an essay discussing Joyce's body of work. But his most famous work is undoubtedly the play, Waiting for Godot. If you haven't seen it, chances are you've seen it referenced in some unique ways. Read More
  • Beyond the Shire: Four Fun Facts About J.R.R. Tolkien

    Wed, 03 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    J.R.R. Tolkien is widely considered the father of modern high fantasy. The Hob bit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy have captivated readers since their original publication and created a boom in popularity for the genre. Tolkien's influence could be seen in fiction published shortly after the release of his masterpiece trilogy, and it is still being felt today. With the popularity of Peter Jackson's film adaptations of both The Hobbit as well as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Tolkien's most famous works have reached an even larger audience. Even people who aren't fans of fantasy fiction have Read More
  • The Best of 2017: Our Ten Most Popular Blog Posts

    Sun, 31 Dec 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    As 2017 comes to an end, we wanted to take a moment to thank you for your readership and continued support of Books Tell You Why. We love that this corner of the internet has been a place for bibliophiles and readers to interact, share insights, and gain some helpful knowledge about rare books and book collecting. It is our pleasure to engage with you. Let’s take a look back at some of our highlights this year. In no particular order, here are the ten most-read posts on blogis librorum, written and published in 2017. Read More
  • Top Ten Rudyard Kipling Quotes

    Sat, 30 Dec 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    In 1942, as ever, George Orwell was bemused. He had spent the early decades of the century wondering how so many Britons could hold Rudyard Kipling’s “If—” (1896) so dearly without realizing that “(f)ew people who have criticized England from the inside have said bitterer things about her” than its author. In a way, Orwell’s outrage gets right to the heart of the questions begged by the man who remains the youngest (and first) English-language writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Of the writer dubbed a genius by Henry James and a unique master of verse by T Read More
  • Interview with Ulysses Rare Books in Dublin

    Fri, 29 Dec 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Earlier this year, we had the pleasure of visiting Ulysses Rare Books in Dublin, Ireland. We were so thrilled to see some of the most interesting rare first editions of the most significant works of Irish literature in the shop, from those of W.B. Yeats to James Joyce to Seamus Heaney. We were lucky enough to learn a bit more through an interview with one of the shop’s co-owners, Aisling Cunningham, who runs the bookstore with her brother, David. Read More
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