Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • Raymond Chandler: Making Pulp Serious

    Tue, 23 Jul 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    Raymond Chandler is one of those rare authors who reminds the literary establishment that genre has no bearing over a book’s quality. Chandler bridged gaps in his career. His work helped bring crime fiction to academics, and the serious novel to Hollywood studios. He considered himself an intellectual snob and loved Charles Dickens, Henry James, and Ernest Hemingway. He was a man who studied Greek and Latin, but Chandler emphasized that his own strange preferences brought him to the world of the detective story. Read More
  • Ernest Hemingway, Famous Author or Failed Double Agent?

    Sun, 21 Jul 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    During World War II, Ernest Hemingway was determined to be a spy. He spoke to no less than four governmental entities on the matter. Three were American: the American embassy in Cuba, the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), and the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). One was Russian: the NKVD, a forerunner of the KGB. He accepted positions from three—the American embassy in Cuba, the ONI, and the NKVD—and worked simultaneously for the Americans and Russians from 1941-1943. Read More
  • Five Interesting Books About the Moon Landing

    Sat, 20 Jul 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    Today marks the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing! On July 20, 1969, NASA successfully landed the Apollo 11 astronauts on the moon. Eight years earlier in 1961, President Kennedy kicked the Space Race into overdrive when he called for more efforts and resources to be put into the space programs with the goal of reaching the moon by the end of the decade. July 16, 1969, found Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins boarding the Saturn V rocket at the Kennedy Space Center and being launched into Earth’s orbit. After three days Armstrong and Aldrin landed on Read More
  • What Were Americans Reading When We Landed on the Moon?

    Fri, 19 Jul 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    Sometime around Thanksgiving 1862, Harriet Beecher Stowe, author Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), met sitting-president Abraham Lincoln. Upon the initial introduction, Lincoln famously quipped, “So you're the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!” Accounts of the exact wording vary, and in fact the whole story may be apocryphal, but it still speaks to the way that art and media help us make sense of history as it unfolds around us. Uncle Tom’s Cabin (or, if not Stowe’s novel, then perhaps works like Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1961) or 1845's The Narrative of the Life of Read More
  • Making History: A Tribute to John Glenn

    Thu, 18 Jul 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    When John Glenn became the first man to orbit around the earth, he reawakened a hope and patriotism in the citizens of the United States. Today would have been Glenn's 98th birthday, fittingly falling only a couple days before the anniversary of the first lunar landing. In his honor, we're remembering what the world was like all those years ago when he rose up and inspired a nation. Read More
  • Famous Astronauts and Their Lives After NASA

    Wed, 17 Jul 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 successfully landed on the moon and for the first time, mankind took its first physical steps out in the universe. The 50th anniversary of the lunar landing is fast approaching. The things NASA has learned from that first landing and the numerous following expeditions into space have changed the face of scientific understanding. To celebrate  NASA and the brave astronauts who have made history throughout the years, let's take a look at the lives of some of the most famous astronauts after they ended their careers in space exploration. Read More
  • Collecting Clement Clarke Moore's The Night Before Christmas

    Mon, 15 Jul 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    For many families, Christmas wouldn't come around without a Christmas Eve reading of the ultimate holiday poem, Clement Clarke Moore’s The Night Before Christmas. Originally known as A Visit from St. Nicholas, Twas the Night Before Christmas has been a part of the Christmas tradition for over a century and a half. Who was the author behind this famous Christmas poem? What are some valuable editions of  The Night Before Christmas to add to your collection? We thought we'd give you a taste of Christmas in July and explore this popular holiday title. Read More
  • Gerald Ford, President by Accident

    Sun, 14 Jul 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    This week we celebrate the birth of Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States. Ford was born as Leslie Lynch King Jr. on July 14, 1913 in Omaha, Nebraska. While many presidents grew up under affluent circumstances, Ford succeeded through hard work—combined with very unusual circumstances. Indeed, he became the only President of the United States never elected to either the presidency or the vice presidency. Read More
  • Ten Inspiring Quotes From Henry David Thoreau's Walden

    Fri, 12 Jul 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    Born in 1817, Henry David Thoreau spent most of his life in Concord, Massachusetts. He was sent to Harvard, where he did very well and in 1837, graduated in the top half of his class. Despite his high placement and due to the economic depression, lack of job opportunities, and Thoreau’s disinterest in available careers, he began teaching at the Concord public school. He left after two weeks due to a disagreement over how to discipline students. From there, he started working at his family’s pencil factory. In 1838, Thoreau and his brother John opened and operated a school until Read More
  • Famous Authors and Their Pseudonyms (Part One)

    Thu, 11 Jul 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    When J.K. Rowling, author of the famous Harry Potter series, admitted that she wrote The Cuckoo's Calling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, the world was in uproar. It should come as no surprise that Rowling would choose to write under a false name, though. After all, she originally hid her identity by writing as J.K. Rowling—rather than using her full name, Joanne Rowling—and she's not the first legendary author to use a pseudonym. Read More
  • O.J. Simpson's If I Did It: The Road to Publication

    Tue, 09 Jul 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    Born on July 9, 1947, O.J. Simpson is 72 years old today. We thought his birthday was a fitting day to revisit the interesting publication history of his notorious "tell-all", If I Did It, so we're republishing our post on it here. We are always fascinated by a book’s road to publication. From its author’s efforts to get his or her story on paper, to its editor’s work, to the actual publishing of the book, it’s a nuanced process, filled with highs and lows. O.J. Simpson—the most notorious subject in a criminal trial in the last century—penned If I Did Read More
  • Defining Science Fiction: Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, and Isaac Asimov

    Sun, 07 Jul 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    Defining science fiction has always been a tricky proposition. It has been suggested that "you know it when you see it," but that hardly seems a sufficient rule. Still less helpful is the notion that the science fiction moniker applies to any fiction dealing imaginatively with concepts borrowed from science. The fact of the matter remains that select staples of the literary cannon have displayed an interest in science from Shakespeare’s work through the likes of Thomas Pynchon. This does little to change the fact that when we speak of science fiction we hardly ever mean The Tempest (1610), and we Read More
  • Nancy Reagan: Some of the Books

    Sat, 06 Jul 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    The media seemed pleased to have Ronald and Nancy Reagan in the White House. They lauded the glamour they brought from Hollywood, and Nancy’s style was compared favorably with Jacqueline Kennedy. She was always perfectly coiffed and dressed in designer gowns the mass media reading public could never dream of affording. The list of books depicting Nancy Reagan's life is a lengthy one. Many depict Mrs. Reagan in an unflattering light, while others paint the picture of a love story between her and President Ronald Reagan. We've compiled several titles and descriptions here for your reading and collecting pleasures.  Read More
  • The Founding Fathers: Authors and Revolutionaries

    Thu, 04 Jul 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    When you think of controversial authors, what names come to mind? Perhaps Karl Marx and Charles Darwin, or maybe Ayn Rand and J.D. Salinger. But the original "kings of controversy" came much earlier. America's founding fathers penned two of the most influential—and revolutionary—documents in history: the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. Read More
  • Edgar Allan Poe, Impoverished Literary Genius

    Wed, 03 Jul 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    Today we celebrate Edgar Allan Poe, master of the short story and inventor of detective fiction. Although best remembered for his sinister tales and mysteries, during his life Poe was known for his scathing literary reviews. Poe lived most of his life on the brink of poverty and was the first well-known American author to live solely on his writing. Although his work initially received mixed reviews, Poe has since emerged as one of America’s most beloved writers. Read More
  • Top Books by State: Colorado

    Tue, 02 Jul 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    This month we are continuing our literary road trip through the United States by taking a look at some of the great books set in Colorado. Now there are many amazing writers that come from Colorado, but a surprising few of them set their books in their home state. While only one of the authors mentioned on this list hails from the Centennial State, all of them embody something of the beauty of Colorado. The western state is known for its amazing geographical features. Within its borders are mountains, plains, and deserts. In Colorado, you can experience the bustle of Read More
  • Ten Favorite Irish Authors

    Thu, 27 Jun 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    Today, we're feeling lucky! We thought it would be an ideal time to turn our attention to Ireland and celebrate some of the Emerald Isle's most accomplished authors—and their quirks.  Read More
  • Top Books by State: California

    Wed, 26 Jun 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    Today we continue our Top Books by States series by talking a closer look at California. California is one of the most diverse states in the country, containing deserts, mountains, cities, beaches, and farmland all within its borders. It also serves as the heart of the American entertainment industry. California writers are just as diverse as their state. The books featured here are of a variety of genres, but what makes them some of the best and most representative of the state aren't just that their writers live in California, but that they all exemplify something of the beauty and Read More
  • Book Spotlight: Animal Farm by George Orwell

    Tue, 25 Jun 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    Published on August 17, 2019, Animal Farm was George Orwell’s first bestseller and helped cement his place among timeless authors. Born June 25, 1903, as Eric Arthur Blair, Orwell spent much of his career after his experiences during the Spanish Civil War speaking against totalitarian governments. His works, from Animal Farm to Nineteen Eighty-Four, are still influential and widely studied nearly 70 years after his death.   Read More
  • Lawrence Block: Master of Crime

    Mon, 24 Jun 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    Renowned novelist Lawrence Block has been intriguing and mystifying readers since the 1960s with his beloved crime novels and short stories. Though he has been publishing almost constantly since the publication of his first novel, Grifter's Game, which was published in 1961, Block actually got his start writing in an unconventional way. Before becoming the legend of crime fiction that he is today, Block actually wrote erotic novels under a variety of pen names. He had some skill for writing and at nearly two hundred dollars per erotic story and upwards of fifty jobs a year, the job was fun Read More
  • Dan Brown's Rules for Storytelling Are… Actually Pretty Sound?

    Sat, 22 Jun 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    Love him or hate him, Dan Brown has had an outsized impact on Anglophone pop culture since his breakout novel, The Da Vinci Code (2003) was released 16 years ago. Harvard Professor of Religious Symbology Robert Langdon burst onto the scene like an apres-garde Indiana Jones and gave a generation of readers and filmgoers a slightly dubious lesson in religious history. Since then, things like the Malthusian Tragic (Thomas Robert Malthus—the population growth alarmist who bears a striking philosophical resemblance to Marvel’s Thanos—figures prominently in Da Vinci’s 2013 follow-up, Inferno) and The Gnostic Gospels (a series of Coptic texts that present Read More
  • Top Picks: Rare Books for Summer Reading

    Fri, 21 Jun 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    The first day of summer is officially here! Vacation has started for many students and the mercury has already risen to summery temperatures. Now's the time to start thinking about the best part of this season: summer reading. The best summer reading books transport us to another place, like a vacation without ever leaving the sofa. Read More
  • Famous Authors Who Wrote Only One Novel

    Wed, 19 Jun 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    On March 30, 1820, Anna Sewell was born into a devoutly Quaker family. Her mother, Mary Wright Sewell, was a successful children's book author. Sewell was mostly educated at home and did not attend school for the first time until she was twelve years old. Two years later, she seriously injured both ankles in an accident. From then on, Sewell had extremely limited mobility; she required crutches and could never walk great distances.  Read More
  • Five of Chris Van Allsburg's Best Works

    Tue, 18 Jun 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    Best known for his children’s books, Chris Van Allsburg is a well-loved author who inspired many young readers through his work. In addition to his two Caldecott Medals, a Caldecott Honor, a nomination for the international Hans Christian Andersen Award, and his contribution to Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Van Allsburg’s work has been adapted into movies and audiobooks, helping his work reach a wider audience. Here are five of our favorite titles. Read More
  • Five More Literary Fathers and Why We Love Them

    Sun, 16 Jun 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    Happy Father’s Day! One day a year dads are officially recognized for the endless amounts of work they do throughout the year. It is a rare day indeed when fathers are properly appreciated. To show our appreciation, we prepared a second list of literary fathers who we love and who we love to hate. To see our previous list, click here. Read More
  • Caldecott Winning Illustrators Series: Nicolas Mordvinoff

    Fri, 14 Jun 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    Every year a book that represents the best that children's book illustrations have to offer is awarded the Caldecott Medal. The Caldecott Medal is considered one of the most prestigious awards that an American children's book can receive and illustrators awarded this honor are widely acknowledged to be the best in the business. Often times, the medal is an indicator of an already impressive career or a sign of great things to come from the illustrator. The Caldecott Medal often ensures continuous print for an awarded book, and good things for the illustrator's future work. Even so, sometimes the illustrator—despite Read More
  • Boris Pasternak, Thwarted Nobel Laureate

    Thu, 13 Jun 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    If English literary critic William Hazlitt was correct in his assertion that “When a thing ceases to be a subject of controversy, it ceases to be a subject of interest,” we can assume that the 1958 Nobel Prize in Literature awarded to Boris Pasternak will remain relevant through the ages. Read More
  • Print Making Processes: Relief and Intaglio

    Tue, 11 Jun 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    There are four major classes of printmaking techniques: relief printing, intaglio printmaking, stenciling, and lithography. Let’s look into some detail about the relief and intaglio printmaking processes. These are the two oldest and best known of the major classes of printmaking techniques. Read More
  • A Saul Bellow Round-Up

    Mon, 10 Jun 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you've been reading our blog for any length of time, you know that we have a strong appreciation for Saul Bellow. Bellow was an extremely prolific writer in his lifetime, and his works have become prized collectibles. He is perhaps best known for the titles The Adventures of Augie March, Herzog, and Henderson the Rain King. Bellow was also the recipient of numerous awards and accolades including the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Pulitzer Prize (in the same year!). We've written about him at length, so in honor of his birthday, we've rounded up several of our favorite Saul Bellow posts for Read More
  • Five Interesting Facts About D-Day

    Thu, 06 Jun 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    On June 6, 1944, the Allied forces began their invasion of German occupied France through Normandy. Through this operation, the foundation for victory on the Western Front was laid, leading to the eventual Allied victory over Germany. To commemorate the 75th anniversary, here are five interesting facts about D-Day. Read More
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