Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • How Theodor Geisel Became Dr. Seuss

    Sat, 16 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Theodor Geisel, known today as Dr. Seuss, was a student of English literature in his youth. While attending Oxford to get a Ph.D. in the 1920s, his future-wife persuaded him to pursue his dreams as a writer and illustrator. He returned home to the United States, with little experience other than a stint as editor of Dartmouth’s humor magazine, the Jack-O-Lantern. He submitted pieces to publishers and periodicals. It was a long slog, but he eventually made his debut with a cartoon in the July 16, 1927 issue of the Saturday Evening Post. His pay was $25—enough encouragement for the Read More
  • Five Interesting Facts About Clive Cussler

    Fri, 15 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    While not necessarily as well known as Tom Clancy or Michael Crichton, Clive Cussler has for many years been one of the acknowledged masters of techno-fiction, a genre that blends science fiction, spy novels, and adventure stories. While someone like Crichton has become renowned for the realism and meticulous attention to detail that characterizes his works, Clive Cussler has made a name for himself over the course of more than 70 books by emphasizing the sort of swashbuckling, credulity-defying adventure that can be traced back to Robert Louis Stevenson and others. Here are five interesting facts about him. Read More
  • Collecting Nobel Laureates: Isaac Bashevis Singer

    Thu, 14 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Today, we'd like to discuss some collecting points for Polish-born author and Nobel Prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer. Singer was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1978 “for his impassioned narrative art which, with roots in a Polish-Jewish cultural tradition, brings universal human conditions to life". In Singer’s writing we see interesting and compelling family dynamics as well as religious influences, demons, and the supernatural. The morality at work (or not at work) in his novels and short stories was often under scrutiny. However, Singer is unarguably one of the most prominent and valuable voices to come out of Read More
  • Political Playwright: Wole Soyinka

    Wed, 13 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    In 1986, Wole Soyinka became the first African to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Soyinka's legacy is bound up in the numerous plays, novels, short stories, essays, memoirs, movies, and translations which he has authored. And throughout his life, he has served as a spokesman against apartheid and government corruption. He has won numerous other awards for his work, including the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Academy of Achievement Golden Plate Award, and the Agip Prize for Literature, and he has taught at many prestigious universities including Emory University, Harvard, and Obafemi Awolowo University. Read More
  • VLOG: The Art of Wood Engraving and Printing

    Tue, 12 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Wood engraving is perhaps one of the most amazing art forms known to man. Often, wood engravings are found in older collectible books as well as in modern-day fine press books. But unfortunately, the art form can often be missed in the more mainstream world of book collecting and art. Today we'd like to change that by sharing a collection of videos about the wood engraving process. Read More
  • Busy as He May Be, Dean Koontz Cares About His Collectors

    Sat, 09 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Even if you’ve never read Dean Koontz’s books, you’ve certainly seen them around. Whether in airports, used bookshops, or your aunt’s living room, the work of Koontz litters shelves and stands all over the world. It makes sense, too. At age 70, Dean Koontz has placed himself among the top twenty best-selling authors of all time, with more books in circulation than either Stephen King or James Patterson. Read More
  • Nothing But Land: A Literary Tour of the Great Plains

    Fri, 08 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    “A place where there was nothing but land: not a country at all, but the materials out of which countries were made.” A bleak sentiment, yes, but perhaps one that has been the basis for some of the most stark, intimate, and revealing writing in the American literary tradition. Taken from the mind of Jim Burden, the central character in Willa Cather’s masterpiece novel, My Antonia (1918), this moment expresses a place where imagination, creativity, and fortitude are not merely boons to intellectual survival: they’re essential. But perhaps it makes sense that these aforementioned qualities are also often found in Read More
  • The Bond Dossier: Diamonds Are Forever

    Thu, 07 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    With any series of novels, there comes a pivot point—a moment when the author decides to move away from familiar themes and tropes in the hopes of breaking new ground for his characters and worlds, exploring previously untapped themes and ideas in an effort to create greater depth and complexity for his readers. One could argue Ian Fleming’s fourth James Bond novel, Diamonds Are Forever, is just such a pivot point. Read More
  • Collecting Art Books

    Wed, 06 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Today, we’d like to tackle the topic of collecting art books. Before we begin, it’s necessary to define what exactly “collecting art books” means. In fact, it can mean different things to different people, and this blog post certainly won’t be an all-inclusive list. For the sake of this post, we’ll discuss four variations on the collecting art book's theme. First, we’ll focus on collecting books of artists’ art work. Second, we’ll document some great books about art, from its history to key players in the art scene, both past and present. Then, we’ll shift our attention to collecting books Read More
  • How the Founding Fathers Help Us Understand Ourselves

    Mon, 04 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    The term “Founding Fathers” was coined by a speechwriter named Judson Welliver. He wrote under the administration of Warren G. Harding, who said the phrase nearly a century after the last of that group perished—the fourth president James Madison, who died in the year 1836. Yet even before they had a collective name, the legacies of the founders were constantly being reinterpreted. Read More
  • Nine Fascinating Facts about Franz Kafka

    Sun, 03 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Even today, Franz Kafka remains one of the most celebrated practitioners of absurdism that the world of letters has ever known. Born to an Austrian Jewish family around the turn of the 20th Century, Kafka spent most of his life working in obscurity, paying the bills with an insurance job that he reportedly loathed, only to gain a huge audience after his death on the strength of such classics as The Trial (1925) and The Metamorphosis (1915). Here are some interesting facts about him. Read More
  • Elie Wiesel: Reluctant Writer and Collectible Nobel Laureate is Dead.

    Sat, 02 Jul 2016 05:08:55 Permalink
    Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel passes away on July 2, 2016. Wiesel was born in Sighet, Romania in 1928, and is best known for his voice as a Holocaust survivor and advocate for peace. Wiesel’s family was separated during World War II when the German army deported their Jewish community of Sighet to Auschwitz-Birkenau. His father died just weeks before the camp was liberated by American troops in 1945. After the war, Wiesel was reunited with two of his three sisters in France; his mother and youngest sister did not survive. Read More
  • Elie Wiesel: Reluctant Writer and Collectible Nobel Laureate is Dead

    Sat, 02 Jul 2016 05:08:55 Permalink
    Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel passed away on July 2, 2016. Wiesel was born in Sighet, Romania in 1928, and is best known for his voice as a Holocaust survivor and advocate for peace. Wiesel’s family was separated during World War II when the German army deported their Jewish community of Sighet to Auschwitz-Birkenau. His father died just weeks before the camp was liberated by American troops in 1945. After the war, Wiesel was reunited with two of his three sisters in France; his mother and youngest sister did not survive. Read More
  • Collecting Nobel Laureates: Eugenio Montale & Dario Fo

    Fri, 01 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Collecting the works of Nobel laureates makes sense. There’s a definable list of winners. The winners are the best-of-the-best. And, your collection can span titles from authors the world over. Or, if you prefer, it can be focused on a specific genre, idea, or region. If you’re interested in Italian Nobel Prize in Literature winners—in total, six individuals from Italy have been awarded the Prize—today we spotlight the most recent winners: Eugenio Montale and Dario Fo. For more information on our previous Italian Nobel Prize in Literature winner spotlights, see the end of the post. Read More
  • Czesław Miłosz's Political and Literary Legacy

    Thu, 30 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Czesław Miłosz was born in 1911 in Poland to an ethnically Lithuanian civil engineer and a Polish noble. Miłosz was raised in Lithuania, and though it caused much controversy in his life, he would never ally himself formally with either Poland or Lithuanian, saying that he was born in Poland, and was therefore technically Polish, but that he was raised with the spirit of the Lithuanian people and could not deny that part of himself. Interestingly, Miłosz's literary and political efforts would cause him to remain on the fringe, only recognized in and by his homeland later in his life. Read More
  • Five of the Coolest Libraries for Children in the U.S.

    Wed, 29 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Libraries create access to information and are seen as institutions that promote higher learning and research. However, for the smaller scholars, libraries can simply be a place for fun. Many public libraries focus on their children’s area and make it a utopia that exposes children of all socioeconomic groups to art, literature, and a really good time. These are five wonderful libraries that create a haven for small minds yearning for activity and stimulation. Read More
  • Luigi Pirandello's Four Nobel Prizes

    Tue, 28 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    While the Nobel Prize in Literature does not explicitly aim to single out the most influential writers of a given generation (per Alfred Nobel, its purpose is to reward “the most outstanding work in an ideal direction”), that it should do so seems inevitable. The most outstanding work, after all, frequently proves to be the most read and most imitated. And indeed, that the Nobel sometimes helps to define the chain of literary influence from one era to the next can be one of the most gratifying things about the list. It is by this metric that Luigi Pirandello, the Read More
  • A Brief Introduction to Eric Carle

    Sat, 25 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    It is the first day of preschool. You walk into a classroom filled with unfamiliar faces, clinging to your mom’s hand before it’s time to say goodbye. You take your seat on the welcome rug, carefully patting down your “first-day of school” dress as you timidly scan the brightly colored toys and trinkets that line the shelves. It doesn’t look like a scary place, but it is very different from anything you’ve known. As you absorb the new world around you, the teacher pulls out a book. You recognize the cover as one you’ve read before, and as she begins Read More
  • Did Shakespeare Really Write His Plays?

    Fri, 24 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    The life of Shakespeare is shaped by two major qualities: excellence and obscurity. For this reason, his biography has been subject to much scrutiny and speculation. The central question that plagues the legacy of Shakespeare is a famous one, and gets down to the reality of the figure himself. Did Shakespeare, the great poet and dramatist, really exist as we know him? Read More
  • Michael and Jeff Shaara: Masters of Historical Fiction

    Thu, 23 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    The title of Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War novel The Killer Angels (1974) comes from an exchange between between Union Colonel Joshua Chamberlain and his father which appears relatively early in the book. Hearing Chamberlain recite a line from Hamlet that likens man to angels, his father responds, "Well, boy, if he's an angel, he's sure a murderin' angel." The title is deeply ambivalent. The ‘killer angels’ are, notably, still called angels despite being killers, and vice versa. On some level, this ambivalence is the true appeal of Shaara’s writing. He trains his sights on one of the most Read More
  • Five Interesting Facts about Jean-Paul Sartre

    Tue, 21 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Jean-Paul Sartre lived a full life. He is widely remembered for his contributions as a philosopher, playwright, and teacher. His notable works include his philosophical magnum opus, L'Etre et le néant [Being and Nothingness] which was published in 1943, and his plays, Les Mouches [The Flies], 1943 and Huis Clos [No Exit], 1947. His ideas have a continued influence on philosophical and literary studies today. But what are some other facts about the esteemed thinker? Read on to discover five interesting factoids about Jean-Paul Sartre. Read More
  • Why It's Time to Appreciate Lillian Hellman Again

    Mon, 20 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    In 1939, Lillian Hellman was riding in a taxi with the star of one of her plays. The atmosphere in the car was tense. The actress, Tallulah Bankhead, wanted to put on a performance for the benefit of Finland, which had been invaded by the USSR earlier in the year. Hellman refused to allow her play to be performed for the cause, citing her lack of esteem for what she believed was a pro-Nazi republic. Bankhead, frustrated by Hellman’s stubbornness, told the playwright she would never act in one of her plays again. Hellman then responded by striking the actress Read More
  • Reading with Dad on Father's Day

    Sun, 19 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    The cover art of Reading with Dad by Richard Jorgensen depicts a worn leather chair. On it sits an open book, and beneath it, two pairs of shoes—one large and one small. The chair is not unlike the ones found in our home library. The small shoes are not unlike the lace-up Keds that have littered our house over the years in a rainbow of colors and in various stages of disrepair.  The larger shoes are very much like those whose footprints my daughters try to follow. They are Dad shoes. If one is to believe the predominant image presented Read More
  • The Profound Magical Realism of Chris Van Allsburg

    Sat, 18 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Chris Van Allsburg begins writing his fantasy children’s picture books with a single question “What if…?” and answers it with a string of beautiful and inspiring tales of the extreme. We have some “What ifs…?” of our own. What if a young man with a vague interest in art was denied admission to the University of Michigan because he lacked a portfolio? What if the warmth of that sculptor’s studio kept him away from the inviting apartment with pencils and paper?  What if a future Caldecott winner had not married a woman who taught children and hadn’t been encouraged to Read More
  • John Hersey and the Power of Seeing People

    Fri, 17 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    American author and journalist John Hersey is best known for his journalistic triumph, Hiroshima, which was published in The New Yorker in 1946 and described the effects of the atomic bomb through the lens of six survivors. Poignant and understated, Hiroshima continues to resonate with readers to this day, and its publication can be considered the journalism event of the 20th century. It has inspired a whole generation of journalists to write in a way that evokes feelings, emotions, and images which will stick with their audiences. But how did Hersey end up writing a war piece such as Hiroshima, Read More
  • Why You Shouldn't Miss Out On Amy Clampitt's Poetry

    Wed, 15 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Although Amy Clampitt began writing poems at the early age of nine, her literary career began more than three decades later. And not until her 60s did she complete her first full-length volume, The Kingfisher, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1983. Within a small span of 15 years, Clampitt became one of America’s most respected poets, earning university appointments, grants, and acclaim. Read More
  • The Jerzy Kosinski Controversy

    Tue, 14 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Jerzy Kosinski was born in Poland not long after Hitler's rise to power. After years spent denying his Jewish faith, Kosinski immigrated to the United States (by forging documents of Communist support vowing he'd return to his homeland). He was quickly successful in the U.S. He graduated from Columbia University, received a Guggenheim Fellowship, and taught at universities like Yale and Princeton. His books appeared on the New York Times Best Seller list, and he won several awards. For all intents and purposes, he was on the fast track to fame and fortune. Somewhere along the way, though, he hit Read More
  • The Significance of Anne Frank's Private Humanity

    Sun, 12 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    To consider the lives lost, the futures thrown into fires, the endless suffering, and the human cost of the atrocity now called “The Holocaust” is more than the human mind could ever process or confront. Instead, we have one representative for those six million. One small voice who illustrates a daily life cut short, who explains the views and the growth of a mind not allowed to see adulthood, one who comes forward to speak for those who are no longer among us. Her name is Anne, and she kept a diary. This is the story of that book. Read More
  • Five Interesting Facts About William Styron

    Sat, 11 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    William Styron was born on May 11, 1925. An acclaimed American novelist and essayist well known for his works Sophie’s Choice (1979) and The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967), Styron led a noteworthy life. He attended both Davidson College and Duke University, spent time abroad, and returned to the United States where he lived with his wife of over 50 years until his death in 2006. Here are five interesting facts that you may not know about William Styron. Read More
  • The Interesting History of Copyright Law

    Thu, 09 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you like reading books, it’s probably to be taken into new narrative worlds: to explore vast, dramatic landscapes of knowledge and discovery. What you might be less interested in, however, is the legal architecture that makes that very book possible. Intellectual property laws make up a necessary system that protects the author’s creation and the publisher’s investment. It lies at the intersection between art, business, and government, and purports that it is a society’s duty to regard the preservation and health of its culture. Read More
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