Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • Lies, Damned Lies, & Quotations: The Quotable Mark Twain

    Wed, 30 Nov 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it. —Mark Twain, How to Tell a Story (1897) At the beginning of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), Mark Twain presents a notice that recalls the book curses of old: “Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot. BY ORDER OF THE AUTHOR.” Looking at this quote Read More
  • The Many Joys of Gardening Books

    Tue, 29 Nov 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    “If you have a garden and a library,” said the Roman philosopher Cicero, “you have everything you need.” These are wise conditions under which to live a life: With books to connect you to humanity, and plants to connect you to nature. And as reading is a lifetime joy—one at which we get better with age—gardening is the same. To cultivate a garden for food or for beauty is a skill one can employ into the farthest reaches of old age. And, it is our luck that we may turn to our library, and peer through the pages of a Read More
  • Visiting Literary Homes in Moscow, Russia

    Sat, 26 Nov 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you’re planning a trip to Moscow, Russia and are interested in visiting authors’ homes, you’re in great luck. We only had a handful of days to spend exploring the many literary haunts and homes of some of Russia’s greatest writers, so we packed in as much as we could. While visitors to Russia often think of St. Petersburg as the place to go to visit the homes of Fyodor Dostoevsky and Vladimir Nabokov, we can’t recommend a trip to Moscow enough. In addition to the magnificence of Red Square and St. Basil’s Cathedral, where else in the world can Read More
  • 7 Videos to Take You Inside the Craft of Paper Making

    Fri, 25 Nov 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    No matter how far the digital age encroaches, nothing will ever replace the joys of paper. The pleasures of underlining words with pen or of feeling the page in your hand are hard to beat. Some even argue memory-retention is better when one reads on paper than on the screen. From Ancient Egypt, to Han Dynasty China, to Gutenberg’s Europe, paper has long been a treasured object. Here are seven videos to renew your admiration for the incredible craft of papermaking. Read More
  • A History of Book Ownership in the American Colonies

    Thu, 24 Nov 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    The Puritans who settled New England were, for their part, a bookish lot. A component of their schismatic position regarding the church derived from the fact that they believed that the Bible ought to be translated into (and read in) the vernacular. So, one would expect them on the whole to be a group of thorough readers. As a result of these tendencies, in its era, colonial New England boasted the highest rate of book ownership in the world. Thus began the history of book ownership in the American colonies. And while in the early days of the settlement most Read More
  • Three Book-Inspired Recipes for Thanksgiving Day

    Wed, 23 Nov 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Tomorrow, the United States celebrates Thanksgiving, a holiday of family—and yes—food. We know the usual staples—turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy—but there’s always room for some creativity to enliven an old tradition. Here are some delicious, literary-inspired dishes to impress your entire guest list, or at least make you excited for a festive and hearty meal. Read More
  • Toni Morrison Papers Now Open to Students and Researchers

    Tue, 22 Nov 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    For students, faculty members, and scholars across the globe, the papers of Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison are now open at the Princeton University Library. Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for her novel Beloved (1987), and she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. Morrison taught at a number of colleges and universities during her career, including at Howard University, Bard College, and Rutgers University. From 1989 until 2006, Morrison taught at Princeton University as the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities. Since 2014, Princeton has owned the writer’s collected papers, and archivists have been Read More
  • A Brief History of Typography

    Sat, 19 Nov 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    In 1984, Steve Jobs mistakenly referred to typefaces as fonts on Apple computers thereby perpetuating a misnomer that effectively erased much knowledge of typesetting for generations of young people. While creating new typefaces has become easier than ever before, it is likely that many people creating typefaces and fonts today are unaware of the amazing history, traditions, and standards of a specialization that are becoming increasingly rare as technology evolves. Read More
  • Collecting and Preserving Broadsides

    Fri, 18 Nov 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Are you considering expanding your current book collection to include paper ephemera? If so, you might want to learn more about collecting and preserving broadsides. Sometimes you will also see broadsides described as “broadsheets.” Now that you know the terminology, you might be asking: what in the world is a broadside? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it is “a sheet of paper printed on one side only, forming one large page.” But this definition doesn’t fully explain the significance of these items. Broadsides are among the most sought-after items for collectors: from those interested in sixteenth-century political ephemera to Read More
  • Read More Poetry: The Maya Angelou Edition

    Thu, 17 Nov 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    We’ve long made a case that the world needs to read more poetry. And we’ve been thrilled to see poetry making its way into mainstream media. If you’ve tuned in to any network television programming lately (the recent Summer Olympics come to mind), you’ve likely heard commercials featuring the poetry of one of the great poets of the twentieth century: Maya Angelou. Today, we’d like to take a turn spotlighting some of Angelou’s most poignant poetic efforts. The list of her works is a long one, and one that it would be difficult to cover in one blog post. Her Read More
  • Christa Wolf, Awarded Authors, and the Deutscher Bücherpreis

    Wed, 16 Nov 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Christa Wolf may just be one of the greatest novelists to come out of Germany. Yet despite her popularity and critical recognition in Europe, the East German novelist remains largely outside the purview of many contemporary American readers. We’d like to change that. Whether you’re reading her novels in German or in English translation, you should recognize that you’re consuming works of fiction that helped to define, in many ways, the divided postwar Germany. In honor of her life’s work, Wolf was awarded the Deutscher Bücherpreis [German Book Prize] in 2002—the first year in which the prestigious prize was given Read More
  • The Importance of Condition in Rare Book Collecting

    Tue, 15 Nov 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Condition. Condition. Condition. It’s something of a mantra heard from the novice rare book collector to book collecting experts and everyone in between. Perhaps just as important as whether a book is a first edition or the first of its kind—primacy—the condition of a book is crucial in helping assess its value and place in the rare book collecting universe. This is especially true when looking at modern classics such as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby where the number of original copies is quite large compared with other classic American novels published just 10 or 20 years before. For Read More
  • Pablo Larraín's Film About Pablo "Neruda"

    Sat, 12 Nov 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Many readers of Pablo Neruda’s work are familiar with the cinematic depiction of the Chilean Nobel Prize winner in the 1994 film Il Postino, set on an Italian island. Since the release of Il Postino, the poet has maintained a loyal following among readers and academics, yet his fictional likeness hasn’t appeared in another film—until now! A new film, simply entitled Neruda, has been making its way through the festival circuit. The movie reimagines Neruda’s exile from Chile in the 1940s due to his politics, helping viewers to think through the continued relevance of political refugeeism and forced migration in Read More
  • The Bond Dossier: Goldfinger

    Fri, 11 Nov 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    It’s a central question in the journey of any artist: How do you bounce back from a project that didn’t meet audience expectations? For novelist Ian Fleming, the answer lies in the publication of his seventh James Bond novel, Goldfinger. Coming off a somewhat tepid response to his previous novel, Dr. No, Fleming was determined to turn out a Bond story that would not only further the development of the series and its central character, but also give readers what they had come to know and love in the Bond series—action, adventure, thrills, romance, and style. And Fleming’s efforts to Read More
  • A Breif Guide to Collecting the Works of Eric Gill

    Thu, 10 Nov 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Eric Gill was a sculptor and engraver who is now best known for his scandalous personal behavior alongside his spiritual art. Gill remains a controversial artist. As his biographer Fiona MacCarthy so aptly puts it, “Does consciousness of artists' reprehensible behaviour (Gill, [today,] would no doubt be in prison) put up a barrier between the viewer and the work? Or does knowledge of the artist's life, fallibilities included, amplify and enrich our understanding of the art?”* While that question may be one each individual must answer for him or herself, for those interested in the work of Eric Gill, what Read More
  • A Brief Guide to Collecting the Works of Eric Gill

    Thu, 10 Nov 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Eric Gill was a sculptor and engraver who is now best known for his scandalous personal behavior alongside his spiritual art. Gill remains a controversial artist. As his biographer Fiona MacCarthy so aptly puts it, “Does consciousness of artists' reprehensible behaviour (Gill, [today,] would no doubt be in prison) put up a barrier between the viewer and the work? Or does knowledge of the artist's life, fallibilities included, amplify and enrich our understanding of the art?”* While that question may be one each individual must answer for him or herself, for those interested in the work of Eric Gill, what Read More
  • Visiting the New Zealand Home of Katherine Mansfield

    Wed, 09 Nov 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you’re interested in modernism and in the works of important women writers, you should familiarize yourself with the work of New Zealand short-story writer Katherine Mansfield. There’s no better way to get excited about this author than to visit her childhood home in Wellington, New Zealand if you happen to find yourself on the other side of the world. Read More
  • What to Read on Election Day

    Tue, 08 Nov 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Presidential election season; the high-stakes political race that comes around once every four years and determines the leader of the United States, the future of the American people, and the mood of our relatives at Thanksgiving dinner. When faced with such a big decision, it can often be helpful to first take a look into the past. As you head to the polls this November day, consider checking out one of these seven presidential books. Read More
  • Buying Rare and Antiquarian Books in Sydney, Australia

    Sat, 05 Nov 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you’re interested in rare books from Australia or New Zealand, one of the best cities for searching just might be Sydney. In particular, many of the bookstores in the city specialize in fiction and poetry by local writers, including Aboriginal novelists and poets. While Melbourne, a city located to the south, is known for its literary history, there are many reasonably priced and exciting rare bookshops scattered across Sydney. And given that this city is immensely walk-able, we’d recommend picking up a map and heading out on the town. Read More
  • Collecting Legendary Works of Psychology

    Fri, 04 Nov 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    The name “Sigmund Freud” is synonymous with psychology. And for good reason. Freud did much to propel the study of psychology. He developed psychoanalysis, the theory of the Oedipus complex, and the model of the id, ego, and super-ego, among countless other contributions. He is still one of the most studied figures in the field’s history as well as in the humanities. Today marks the anniversary of the publication of Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams, one of his most famous works. There’s much to know if you’re seeking to collect a copy of The Interpretation of Dreams. Likewise, along with Read More
  • Saving the French Home of James Baldwin

    Thu, 03 Nov 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you’re a book collector or an avid reader, chances are you’ve visited the home of at least one notable writer. In all likelihood, if you’re like us, you seek out authors’ homes whenever you’re on vacation or traveling to a new city. What do you gain from visiting the home of a writer? Trips like these give us unparalleled access to the ambiences in which works, both small and great, arose. After all, what can be more intimate—other than, perhaps, immersing yourself in the literary worlds created by great masters of fiction—than standing in the office, kitchen, or bedroom Read More
  • Aurora Teardrops: An Interview with Author Harold Budd and Artist Jane Maru

    Wed, 02 Nov 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Heavenly Monkey is set to release its latest fine press publication: Aurora Teardrops. The book—a collection of poems by legendary musician Harold Budd and batik paintings by artist Jane Maru—has been in production for over two years, but the collaboration between author and illustrator is something that’s existed for longer still. Indeed, the entirety of Aurora Teardrops proves to be the perfect melding of different parts—each shining bright on its own but glowing when combined. Rollin Milroy and Heavenly Monkey worked closely with Harold and Jane to hone the overall concept and ensure the final product was the right combination Read More
  • Favorite Children's Books of Famous Authors

    Tue, 01 Nov 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    E.L. Konigsburg once said that children’s books are “the key to the accumulated wisdom, wit, truth, myth, history, philosophy, and recipes for salting potatoes during the past 6,000 years of civilization.” In those earliest days of civilization stories were told around small fires and were illustrated on cave walls. But I imagine, even then, they dispelled shadows and illuminated ideas—the best stories always do. Authors who write children’s books contribute to this canon, but also draw upon it. Let’s take a look at the favorite children’s books of these famous authors. Read More
  • Beyond Horror: Spooky Books That Are Actually About Halloween

    Mon, 31 Oct 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    As Halloween descends upon us, the spooky and the festive-minded among us have their hopes set on a good read. There is a long tradition of horror literature to which countless authors have contributed, but the library becomes far smaller when it comes to the treatment of Halloween itself. Writing a fearsome story is one thing; depicting and contributing to the culture of the autumn celebration is another. Here, we consider some of the important books to extend the tradition of Halloween writing. Read More
  • Ten of the Best Quotes from Evelyn Waugh

    Fri, 28 Oct 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    My sophomore year of college, I took an English class that delved into literature with central themes of faith, hope, and love. One of the first books we cracked open was Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder, a coming of age story that takes place in 1945 England. I had never read any of Waugh’s work before, but was immediately transfixed by his beautiful writing and unique perspective. The assigned reading was a rare breed of homework—the kind that gave me no desire to procrastinate, but rather left me struggling not to work Read More
  • A Brief History of Papermaking

    Thu, 27 Oct 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    We associate paper so strongly with writing that it's easy to forget its other uses. By the same token, we don't often think about the fact that paper was, at one time, an invention. The fact remains, however, that paper was once at the cutting edge of modern technology. Indeed, the material which was used not just for books but for packaging, cleaning, decoration, and a host of other applications has taken a fascinating journey through history to arrive at its current state of ubiquity. Read More
  • Women Writing War Literature

    Wed, 26 Oct 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Which novels and works of poetry might fall into the broad category of war literature? Should we look only to fiction that depicts combat and its aftermath? Or is this category of literature sufficiently wide-ranging that it can also comprise texts written during and about wartime more generally? Regardless of how you answer these questions, you might realize that the novels and short-story collections commonly classified as literature about war have one thing in common: they’re often written by male writers. Yet not all works of this genre—not by a long shot—are written by male writers. Why has this been a Read More
  • Primacy and Rare Book Collecting: The Value of Being First

    Tue, 25 Oct 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    As the old saying goes: ‘It pays to be first.’ In the world of rare book collecting, this is also a well-known fact. First editions. First printing. First drafts of manuscripts. These are usually the kinds of 'firsts' book collectors are on the look-out for when evaluating a book’s worth and value, and it’s these elements that factor largely into how much rare books fetch at auction and how sought-after they become. However, the concept of primacy, or being recognized as the first incarnation of something within the literary canon, goes well beyond the simple notion of first editions or Read More
  • Index of Influence: Archiving Pablo Neruda's Poetry and Politics

    Mon, 24 Oct 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    This December will mark the 45th anniversary of Pablo Neruda’s acceptance of the Nobel Prize in Literature. To honor the poet’s global reach through his leftist politics, an exhibition of Neruda works and objects from 40 different countries will be on display in the Sinclair Galleries at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. At a moment in which individual involvement in global politics appears both necessary and impossible, Neruda’s works remind us of the power of language to resist tyranny and oppression, and to imagine a world in which human equality and dignity thrive. The exhibit is entitled, Index of Read More
  • The Varied Works of Doris Lessing

    Sat, 22 Oct 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Doris Lessing is widely considered to be one of Britain's most notable writers. She penned over fifty books of varying genres, including novels, short story collections, books of poetry, a comic, plays, and even a short series of books on cats. Throughout her impressive and long career, Lessing earned the W.H. Gibson Literary Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the David Cohen Prize, the S.T. Dupont Golden PEN Award, among others. In 2007 she became the eleventh woman and the oldest recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature. She declined damehood in 1992 but accepted appointment as a Companion Read More
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