Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • How to Prevent and Reverse Foxing in Rare Books

    Sun, 23 Apr 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    There is never a wrong time to think about the effects of moisture and humidity on rare books. Just as too much sun can damage your rare books, so can too much moisture. And we'’re not just talking about direct moisture, such as liquid spills. The relative humidity of the air is also a concern. Excess humidity (usually relative humidity above 75%) can encourage the growth of fungi and mildew, which can lead to foxing. If foxing occurs, what are the best ways to reverse it? Better yet, how can you prevent foxing in your rare books? Read More
  • Ernest Hemingway's Feelings Toward F. Scott Fitzgerald

    Sat, 22 Apr 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you’ve ever seen the movie Midnight in Paris then you are familiar with the rose colored glasses romanticists often wear when thinking of the past. In the film, writer Gill Pender (played by Owen Wilson), somehow manages to travel back in time to 1920s Paris and meet many of the greatest minds in literature, including Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. In this particular movie, the two historical writers seem to be cordial, Fitzgerald is handsome and sociable while Hemingway is philosophical and intense. Though Midnight in Paris is immensely enjoyable, it may not be wholly accurate in it’s Read More
  • VLOG: How Is Vellum Made?

    Fri, 21 Apr 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Vellum, a fine parchment traditionally made from calf skins, was for many years the default material for use in printing important manuscripts or documents. Many of Gutenberg’s first Bibles, for instance, were printed on Vellum, as were many illuminated manuscripts from the Medieval Era. And, in fact, despite the decrease in the material’s prevalence over the centuries, all British Acts of Parliament are still printed and archived on vellum. Differentiated from other forms of parchment by the quality of the animal skin used (debate continues as to whether vellum must refer to parchment made from calf skins or if it Read More
  • The Bond Dossier: The Man With the Golden Gun

    Thu, 20 Apr 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    All good things must come to an end. It’s a cliche, of course, but no truer sentiment can be applied to the string of critical and commercial successes Ian Fleming produced via his internationally loved British spy, James Bond. Fleming's run culminated with the publication of his 12th Bond novel, The Man with the Golden Gun. Released just eight months after Fleming’s death, The Man with the Golden Gun is something of a melancholic note for the series to end on, as Fleming’s health was failing throughout the composition of the novel. While both critics and fans alike believe The Read More
  • Best Books on New Zealand

    Wed, 19 Apr 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    New Zealand writers largely emerged on the global scene in the mid-twentieth century (although writers from the country existed long before). Some critics cite the government’s decision in 1946 to establish a literary fund as one of the primary catalysts for publishing literature within the country, while others cite events such as the creation of a publishing house at the University of New Zealand.* That this country is a prominent space for literary production shouldn’t come as a surprise to most twenty-first century readers, many of whom are well-acquainted with the internationally renowned Auckland Writers Festival, which brings acclaimed writers Read More
  • Ezra Pound and Mentally Ill Writers

    Tue, 18 Apr 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Of the great writers of the 20th century there were a tremendous number battling serious mental illness. Virginia Woolf struggled with bipolarity throughout her life, eventually killing herself in 1941; Hemingway was beset by a crippling depression that led to alcoholism and eventually suicide; Robert Lowell spent time in a mental hospital, as did Sylvia Plath and David Foster Wallace, both of whom famously committed suicide after producing works of monumental importance dealing with, among other things, the horrors of depression. As we go back further, we encounter the likes of Leo Tolstoy and Thomas Hardy. Everyone on this list Read More
  • Salman Rushdie's Novels on Film

    Sat, 15 Apr 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Readers of Salman Rushdie’s novels know that he has been a prolific writer over the last few decades. Not only have his books received heaps of international critical acclaim, but they have also been loved by readers across the globe. So here’s where we have to tell you that the title of this article is a bit of a misnomer: only one of Rushdie’s novels has ever been adapted for the silver screen. In all these years, Rushdie’s works simply have not been remade as feature films. And it took more than 30 years for his novel, Midnight’s Children (1981), Read More
  • Collecting Striking Editions of the Rubaiyat

    Fri, 14 Apr 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    I bought my edition of the Rubaiyat from a secondhand bookstore. I can’t tell exactly how old it is; it doesn’t include a date. It was printed by Concord Books, Inc., a publisher whose fate I’ve yet been able to discern. But the volume itself is attractive: a faithful representation of the same Persian poem that captivated Victorian readers some 150 years ago. That is, it’s exquisitely translated, and comes with joyous, beautiful illustrations to boot. Read More
  • Collecting Nobel Laureates: Gabriel García Márquez and Octavio Paz

    Thu, 13 Apr 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    When one thinks of the great literary minds to come out of Latin America, Gabriel García Márquez and Octavio Paz often top the list. Indeed, both Gabo and Paz have had a significant impact on the world of Latin American letters and politics. Likewise, each man won a Nobel Prize in Literature. If you are collecting Nobel laureates, especially Nobel laureates from Latin America, these two authors must be included. Read on for collecting points and ideas for the Gabriel García Márquez and Octavio Paz enthusiast. Read More
  • Esther Forbes: First Female Member of the American Antiquarian Society

    Wed, 12 Apr 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Historian and writer Esther Forbes had a knack for bringing the life and experiences of the past to present-day readers through the pages of her books. Most well known for her books, Paul Revere and the World He Lived In (1942) and Johnny Tremain (1943), Forbes’ writing garnered her attention from the outset. Her first published novel, O Genteel Lady!  was selected as the second book for the Book of the Month Club, ensuring her book was sold to a wide readership. In a review in The Independent, O Genteel Lady! was described as “A distinguished first novel, written with Read More
  • Bird & Bull: A Fine History of a Fine Press

    Tue, 11 Apr 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    In 1958, Henry Morris, inspired by piece of medieval paper he'd recently acquired and a new hobby of paper making, founded Bird & Bull Press. Bird & Bull Press published over seventy-five beautiful books, each printed on paper handmade by Morris himself or carefully selected and imported. Bird & Bull publications were printed by letterpress from metal type, creating books that not only serve as a lovely example of the skill and artistry that goes into bookmaking, typography, and paper making, but as a means of preserving a history and tradition that otherwise may have been lost. Read More
  • Multilingual Literature of Singapore

    Sat, 08 Apr 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Have you read any literature from Singapore lately? This city-state is located at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, and it has long been along various trade routes throughout Southeast Asia. As a result of its geographic location, as well as its status as a British colony through much of the nineteenth century and into the first half of the twentieth century, Singapore has attracted immigrants from across the region. Indeed, there are four national languages in Singapore, including English, Malay, Mandarin (Chinese), and Tamil. Given the wide range of national languages in the region, the literary history of Read More
  • First Books vs. First Editions: The Difference and Significance

    Fri, 07 Apr 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Everyone thinks they understand the value of a first edition. The first printing of a book automatically makes it rare, right? Because X or Y novel is a first run, it’s immediately valuable and worthy of collecting, yes? While this is certainly the case with a number of books throughout the literary landscape, first editions are not necessarily sought after by collectors just because they’re the first run. In fact, when you think about it, every book ever published has a first edition printing, but some were not lucky enough to see a second or third. One factor that truly Read More
  • Famous Writers and Their Famous Spouses

    Thu, 06 Apr 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Creativity attracts creativity. It's true: creative minds often gravitate to one another. Perhaps this is why it is not uncommon to see couples formed after two people come together in a shared desire to create something meaningful, important, and lasting. Here's a list of famous and creative writers whose relationships with their spouses were forged by a mutual love of everything from aviation to photography. Read More
  • Collecting Nobel Laureates: Miguel Angel Asturias & Pablo Neruda

    Wed, 05 Apr 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Recently, we began spotlighting Nobel Prize in Literature winners from Latin America. Today, we’d like to highlight a couple more of our favorites. Read on for general information, ideas, and collecting points on Miguel Angel Asturias and Pablo Neruda, winners of the Prize at a time in history when the world as a whole was waking up to the amazing works and writers emerging from Latin America. For more information on our previous Latin American Nobel laureate spotlights featuring Gabriela Mistral and Mario Vargas Llosa, please see the end of this post.  Read More
  • George MacDonald: Master of Fantasy & Religious Thought

    Tue, 04 Apr 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    For a while in the West it’s been somewhat difficult for Christian intellectuals to be taken seriously. Though not exactly extinct (Marilynne Robinson comes to mind), religious writers are hard to find, and they are often dogged by the presumption that to be credible you must be secular. Even Christian writers of generations past, like G.K. Chesterton, J.R.R. Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis, felt and battled this anxiety. But for these thinkers, the Scottish author and minister George MacDonald presented an enduring model for being both an intellectual and a person of faith. Read More
  • Writers of Ghazals and Persian Poetry

    Sat, 01 Apr 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    What is a ghazal, and who writes them? In short, it’s a poem that is typically composed of anywhere between five and fifteen couplets that are, according to the American Academy of Poets, “structurally, thematically, and emotionally autonomous.” Traditionally, the first couplet of a ghazal will introduce a scheme, which subsequent couplets will pick up. The final couplet of a ghazal usually will refer to the poet and sometimes even includes his or her name. It’s a poetic form that began in what we now call the Middle East in the seventh century, and it was popularized in the thirteenth Read More
  • Rethinking Form: Musician Lou Reed's Short Stories

    Fri, 31 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    It has now been more than three years since Lou Reed’s death, yet fans across the globe continue to listen to his music, and musicians cover his songs in homage. We’re willing to bet that you’re at least somewhat acquainted with the Velvet Underground, the band fronted and formed by Reed in the 1960s that was once managed by Andy Warhol, and you might even be a fan of Reed’s later solo work. But what do you know about the connections between his music and the world of literature? There are more links between famous fiction and Reed’s songwriting process Read More
  • Novelist Ken Kesey's Life and Work

    Thu, 30 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Novelist Ken Kesey was an important member of the 1960s counterculture movement. His home served as a meeting place for some famous, like-minded friends. Indeed, he fostered and befriended a community of artists that included such important Beat and counterculture figures as Allen Ginsburg and Tom Wolfe. Likewise, Kesey's own work remains an important reflection of counterculture ideas, the treatment of the mentally ill, and life in the American Northwest. His novels One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962) and Sometimes a Great Notion (1964) are considered modern classics. Let's learn a bit more about Kesey's life and work. Read More
  • Lars Bo's Literary Engravings

    Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Have you seen the literary engravings of Lars Bo? While you may not be familiar with Lars Bo’s name, we’re willing to bet that you’ve seen his work in some of your favorite books. Bo was a Danish artist who was born on May 29, 1924 and lived until October 21, 1999. He studied design in Denmark until 1943, and later traveled through Europe before moving to Paris, where he would remain until his death. During his early years in Paris, Bo wrote a novel entitled The Wonderful House in Paris [Det vidunderlige hus i Paris]. Yet most literary enthusiasts aren’t Read More
  • Collecting Limited Editions Club Publications

    Tue, 28 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    As book collectors, we know the importance of the book as a physical object. From marginalia to dust jackets, numerous factors come in to play when determining what to collect and how much any given collectible is worth. Indeed, the condition of the physical book goes a long way in determining its value to collectors, and in many case the look of a book—from its illustrations to its binding and everything in between—charts the course for collectors. Many ‘groupings’ of collectible books exist, and they often direct the collecting ways of interested bibliophiles. For example, some collectors focus on collecting Read More
  • Visiting Ralph Ellison's Papers at the Library of Congress

    Sat, 25 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Are you interested in learning more about the life and literary work of Ralph Ellison? If you find yourself in Washington, D.C., there are many reasons to plan a visit to the Library of Congress. One of those reasons, though, should certainly be to explore the Ralph Ellison papers, which include materials from 1890-2005. There are a total of 74,800 items in the collection, such as correspondence, drafts for essays, short stories, novels, lectures given by and about Ellison, a wide variety of resources documenting his literary career, and Ellison’s final unfinished novel, Juneteenth. Read More
  • Five Famous Hawaiian Authors

    Fri, 24 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Sand. Surf. Sun. All of it in seemingly endless supply. It’s the pinnacle of a dreamy, island vacation: Hawaii. The last of the 50 U.S. states to enter the Union, Hawaii has long been a melting pot of its own when it comes to the cultures, traditions, and people who make these chains of islands such a destination for vacationers and dreamers alike. Japanese, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Europeans. All these influences and more are part of a great cultural fabric that makes Hawaii such a vibrant place. What about famous authors from the islands? Read More
  • Yasunari Kawabata, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

    Thu, 23 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    There are many authors who have won the Nobel Prize in Literature whose works enjoy continued success throughout the United States and in many parts of the world. Some Nobel laureates, however, have not remained as well-known as others. In the event that you have not been introduced to the lyrical, lonely writings of Yasunari Kawabata, we’d like to present you with some background information about this writer, who was also the first Japanese winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. In brief, he was born in Osaka, Japan in 1899 and committed suicide in 1972. Much of his most Read More
  • The Bond Dossier: You Only Live Twice

    Wed, 22 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    It’s perhaps tragically ironic Ian Fleming’s eleventh James Bond novel is titled You Only Live Twice. That irony stems from the fact it was the last Bond novel Fleming completed before his death in August 1964. While a handful of other Fleming-conceived novels were published after his death, You Only Live Twice was the final 007 story Fleming saw from start to finish. He passed away just five months after the novel’s publication. Read More
  • Libraries and Special Collections: The Geisel Library at UC San Diego

    Tue, 21 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Everyone loves a beautiful, old library with oak desks, cozy chairs, and tall windows. Libraries built during the economic boom of the mid-20th century, however, were often used as a playground for architectural experimentation, particularly on college and university campuses. Sometimes the result was instantly regrettable; at other times, it was intriguing and other-worldly. The Geisel Library at the University of California, San Diego falls in the latter category. Read More
  • Five of the Best Books on India

    Sat, 18 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    The Indian subcontinent is extremely large, including the nations of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Yet those nations have not always been separate. To be sure, the subcontinent was divided during the India-Pakistan Partition of 1947, and years later in 1971, Bangladesh (which was, at the time, East Pakistan), gained its independence. Given the complicated modern political history, it’s especially difficult to select only a handful of texts to represent the best books on India. As such, we’re beginning with an early twentieth-century work and then jumping immediately to the period following Bangladeshi independence, and we’re also offering the following books Read More
  • Collecting Nobel Laureates: Saul Bellow

    Fri, 17 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Since Saul Bellow won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1976, only a few other American writers (the inimitable Toni Morrison, who earned the sought-after medal in 1993 and most recently, Bob Dylan, come to mind) have accomplished the same feat. This fact speaks to a number of phenomena, but it chiefly indicates the way that Bellow’s fiction represented a sort of capstone in American fiction. Born in Quebec to Lithuanian-Jewish immigrants, Bellow soon moved to Chicago, a city he would come to immortalize in his works. Perhaps more than any other writer, Bellow brought the modernist and intellectual traditions Read More
  • Celebrating the Life of Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott

    Fri, 17 Mar 2017 02:22:27 Permalink
    "for what else is there but books, books and the sea, verandahs and the pages of the sea, to write of the wind and the memory of wind-whipped hair in the sun, the colour of fire!" -- Derek Walcott,  Collected Poems 1948-1984   Caribbean writer and Nobel Prize in Literature winner Derek Walcott passed away early this morning. He was 87 years old. We thought we'd take a moment today to celebrate Walcott's life and influence. Read More
  • The History Behind William Styron's Fictional Nat Turner

    Thu, 16 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    William Styron's account of The Confessions of Nat Turner differs significantly from the original Confessions of Nat Turner garnered by Turner's lawyer while he awaited his trial and impending execution. Because of this, the fact of whether it is historical-fiction or historical-fiction, is not an irrelevant minutia. Cries of controversy—that Styron is a racist or that he minimizes the genuineness of the Nat Turner Rebellion—depend wholly on how the reader approaches the text through the lens of it's emphasis.  Read More
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