Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • Buying Rare and Antiquarian Books in Finland

    Wed, 15 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Are you planning a trip to the Nordic countries anytime soon? If you’ll find yourself in Finland, there are dozens of rare and antiquarian bookstores to keep you busy as you explore Helsinki on foot, and there are more shops scattered north of the capital city. There are nineteen members of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) in the country, and fifteen are located in Helsinki. Many have storefronts with regular hours if you’re planning to wander around the city, while some others require an appointment to visit the shop. And if you decide to take a quick ferry Read More
  • Win the Man Booker Prize, Sell More Books!

    Tue, 14 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    The Man Booker Prize was created in 1969 with the aim of promoting the finest in fiction by a citizen of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, or the Republic of Ireland written during the preceding year. Prize winners are chosen by judges who make the selections for the best novel based on personal opinion alone. The cash value of this Prize is relatively low, with winners receiving only £50,000. However, the Man Booker Prize draws attention to works of fiction which might otherwise have gone unnoticed. As Ion Trewin, the late Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation stated, the Read More
  • Family Endurance: The Vicar of Wakefield

    Sat, 11 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Published in 1766, The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith became one of the most widely read novels of the Victorian era. It is widely referenced in British literature—from Charles Dickens' Tale of Two Cities to Jane Austen's Emma and George Eliot's Middlemarch. A book about family endurance, the drama surrounds the characters of the Primrose family: Dr. Primrose as the Vicar of Wakefield, his wife, and their many children. The Primrose's idyllic country life is turned upside down when they lose their financial footing and a daughter is abducted. Read More
  • What Exactly Is Young Adult Literature? A Brief History

    Fri, 10 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you ask a book lover what they read during their young, formative years, the conversation will inevitably turn to how “we didn’t have books like The Hunger Games when I was growing up.” And it’s true: young adult literature as a genre only began to take root in the 1970s and ‘80s, but boy, has it ever gone through a growth spurt since then. Books for teens are dominating book sales and box offices these days. Where did this phenomenon begin? Read More
  • Five Fun Facts About Winston Churchill

    Thu, 09 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Winston Churchill is a universally recognized name. Even if you don't know his entire back story, it is most likely you've studied him and his role in British politics in a history class somewhere along the line. Today, we thought it would be interesting to dig up a couple facts about the great leader that may be lesser known. Here are five things we found that don't necessarily come to mind when you picture Winston Churchill. Read More
  • Collecting Nobel Laureates: Gabriela Mistral and Mario Vargas Llosa

    Wed, 08 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Since its inception in the early part of the 20th century, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to a Latin American author on six different occasions. While all Nobel laureates are worthy of our study, praise, and, in many cases, collecting efforts, there is a special place in our hearts for these six from Latin America. Over the course of the next few months, we’d like to detail for you book collecting information and ideas for these Nobel Prize winners. Today, we spotlight the first Latin American winner, Gabriela Mistral, and the most recent winner from Latin America, Read More
  • Writers Who Have Published Both Comic Books & Novels

    Tue, 07 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Most novelists find satisfaction is housing their ideas exclusively in books. Novels often seem to be the perfect medium to flesh out a story based solely on words. For others, however, that’s not enough, and another layer of art is required to tell their stories. Here are three writers who have used both novels and comics to let their imaginations run wild. Read More
  • Researching in the J.M. Coetzee Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

    Sat, 04 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    In 1969, the Nobel Prize-winning South African novelist J.M. Coetzee received his Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin after writing a dissertation on the early work of the Irish writer Samuel Beckett. That same year, Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. More than forty years after earning his Ph.D.—and after having written nearly a dozen novels and numerous works of criticism—in 2011 the University of Texas at Austin acquired the author's papers to be held in the Harry Ransom Center. The archive contains nearly 160 boxes of material, including drafts of his novels and of his autobiography, personal Read More
  • Arthur Miller: Writing During the Red Scare

    Fri, 03 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    The Cold War was an era clouded by persistent paranoia, not only between the United States and the Soviet Union. When it came to its own citizens, the U.S. government was, in some cases, just as fearful as it was about foreign threats—especially when it came to the Hollywood crowd. Indeed, in October 1947, members of a congressional committee, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), began investigating members of the movie industry who they suspected were communist sympathizers. They banned the work of 325 screenwriters, actors, and directors*. Among those blacklisted were composer Aaron Copland, writers Dashiell Hammett, Lillian Hellman, Read More
  • Collecting Patricia Cornwell, Master of Mystery and Suspense

    Thu, 02 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Patricia Cornwell is a contemporary American suspense author who has made her mark writing medical thrillers primarily featuring medical examiner, Dr. Kay Scarpetta. Scarpetta, her niece Lucy, and her friend, investigator Pete Marino, have become such an international phenomenon that Cornwell has earned numerous accolades including the Sherlock Award, the Gold Dagger Award, and the RBA Internation Prize for Crime Writing, among others. What should collectors know if they're hoping to build a Patricia Cornwell collection? Read More
  • Rainer Maria Rilke: Travel, Poetry, and the Search for Morality

    Wed, 01 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Rainer Maria Rilke was a Bohemian-Austrian born in Prague in 1875. Throughout his life, Rilke searched for a way to reconcile religion, philosophy, and art. The closest he came was when he traveled to Russia with Lou Andreas-Salomé, his close friend and confidant. Rilke glorified Russian peasant life. To him it seemed that Russians were inherently more moral than their European equivalents. What led Rike to this determination? What were the greatest influences on arguably one of the most adept lyrical poets the German language has to offer? Read More
  • Famous Writers Who Lived in New York City's Chelsea Hotel

    Tue, 28 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you are interested in New York’s twentieth-century literary history, it’s likely that you already have some familiarity with the Chelsea Hotel. Since the hotel’s opening in 1884, it has served as the home for many different famous American and British writers, from Mark Twain to Dylan Thomas to the infamous Sid Vicious of Sex Pistols fame. Many other musicians also lived in the rooms at the Chelsea, including dozens of those who are also recognized poets, such as Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. In 1974, Leonard Cohen wrote and performed “Chelsea Hotel No. 2,” a song about a love Read More
  • Happy Birthday, John Steinbeck!

    Mon, 27 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Since its inception, the criteria for the Nobel Prize in Literature have always been slightly fuzzy. Some have taken Alfred Nobel’s assertion that the prize should determine "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction" as suggesting a kind of preference of idealism in the awarded work, and recent picks like Bob Dylan and Svetlana Alexievich have tended to bear out that reading. If one is wont to understand the award in those terms, then 1962 Nobel Laureate John Steinbeck, who would have turned 115 today, is perhaps one of the most auspicious picks of Read More
  • David Hockney's Illustrations of the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales

    Fri, 24 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    David Hockney is an English artist who is well known for his portraits, photocollages, and etchings, as well as for his connection to the Pop Art movement of the 1950s and 1960s. His works are owned by museums across the globe, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Australia, the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, the Tate Gallery in London, and Paris’s Centre Georges Pompidou. In short, Hockney’s paintings and photocollages are featured in the permanent collections Read More
  • VLOG: Five Videos on the Art of Gilding

    Thu, 23 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Gilding is an overarching term that can be used to describe the art of applying a thin layer of gold leaf or powder to surfaces such as stone, wood, or metal. Gilding was used by the early Egyptians, and, according to Pliny the Elder, it became common in Rome following the fall of Carthage. Gilding today can be found in woodworking, ceramics, architectural and interior designs, and of course, book binding. Book sellers and collectors use the terms gilding and, commonly, gilt, when referencing a book’s decorative gold appearance. Often we see book sellers describe their books as having all Read More
  • Literary Giants and the Nobel Prize Museum in Stockholm

    Wed, 22 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    We recently visited the Nobel Prize Museum in Stockholm, Sweden, hoping to catch a glimpse of some objects or rare first editions by some of our favorite Nobel Prize-winning authors. Despite awarding more than 100 prizes to literary giants alone over the last century or so, the museum is actually a bit smaller than you might expect. As a result, you’ll find most literary objects on display at the museum as part of temporary or traveling exhibitions. There are a handful of what we suspect are permanent exhibits—including Maya traje belonging to Rigoberta Menchú Tum and a small hippopotamus figurine belonging Read More
  • Three of the Best Books from Poland

    Tue, 21 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    The twentieth century was a complicated and often tragic one for Poland. The years leading up to Polish independence and the Second Republic were characterized by uprisings against the partitioning powers surrounding the region, and that independence was short-lived. During World War II, Poland was invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany, and many of the most notorious concentration camps were located within Poland’s borders. Once the war came to an end, Communist Poland, within the Soviet sphere of influence, became a repressive state. In the decades that followed, Polish citizens waged acts of resistance against various regime policies, culminating in Read More
  • Visiting the Newberry Library in Chicago

    Sat, 18 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    We love visiting many different libraries in the United States and across the globe, but one of our favorites might be the Newberry Library in Chicago. With its diverse collections, fantastic exhibits, and emphasis on public programs, we believe the Newberry has something to offer to anyone and everyone. The library’s collection of manuscripts is vast, housing more than 800 Modern Manuscript collections that make up, in total, about 15,000 linear feet. The manuscript collection ranges in time from medieval works to those of the twentieth century. The Newberry has numerous other core collections, including those on local Chicago histories Read More
  • The Bond Dossier: On Her Majesty's Secret Service

    Fri, 17 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    It’s early 1962 and James Bond author Ian Fleming is hard at work on his next Bond adventure. At his Goldeneye estate in Jamaica, Fleming artfully plots Bond’s next move, how his foes will oppose him, and the romances at stake. At the same time, just down the beach a film crew is working on the first big screen adaptation of Fleming’s work, Dr. No, with Scottish actor Sean Connery in the title role. It must have been a surreal moment, but one that cemented Fleming’s place as one of the most popular crime/adventure writers of his time. Still, even Read More
  • Read More Poetry: The Langston Hughes Edition

    Thu, 16 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    We're a little over one month into the new year. How are your new year's resolutions shaping up? One of our promises for 2017 was (and is!) to read more poetry. You should make it a habit to do so, too. Today, we’ll help the poetry cause by presenting poems from legendary poet and author, Langston Hughes. Read More
  • Visiting Thomas Wolfe's Old Kentucky Home in Asheville, NC

    Wed, 15 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Thomas Wolfe lived a very brief life. He was born in 1900 and lived only until 1938, dying of tuberculosis in his family’s stately home in Asheville, North Carolina. Although Wolfe was only 37 years old at the time of his death, he produced some of the greatest American modernist novels, including Look Homeward, Angel: A Story of the Buried Life (1929). In that novel, Thomas Wolfe celebrated his “Old Kentucky Home”—the house in Asheville where he was raised. If you’re interested in learning more about the writer, we recommend taking a trip to Asheville and touring the Wolfe family Read More
  • Five of the Best Couples in All of Literature

    Tue, 14 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Valentine's Day is a chance to celebrate love in all its forms. What better way to do so than to consider some of the best couples, and arguably the most famous couples, in literature? Whether they fell in love at first sight or took a little while longer to work their way into each other's hearts, the following literary couples have one thing in common: people keep coming back to their stories again and again, to see both the best and the worst love has to offer.  Read More
  • Buying Rare and Antiquarian Books in Costa Rica

    Sat, 11 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Buying used, rare, and antiquarian books in Costa Rica’s capital city of San Jose can be quite a challenge, but not because of a dearth of bookstores. Rather, unlike many cities in various parts of the world packed that are packed with bookshops, San Jose streets don’t have numbers that allow visitors unfamiliar with the city’s directional methods to locate with ease their intended destinations. Instead, directions are developed almost entirely on landmarks. As such, rather than receiving a specific address for a bookstore, you’ll get directions based on distance to or from a nearby restaurant, church, or coffee shop Read More
  • Charles Lamb vs. Bob Dylan: Rereading and Retelling Shakespeare

    Fri, 10 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Controversial Nobel Prize in Literature winner Bob Dylan admitted to being flabbergasted when he learned of the honor that’s lately been bestowed on him—but at least he managed to compare himself to Shakespeare in the process. The comparison, though, was an interesting one, and one that takes up the question of how we should approach the Bard’s writing. Dylan’s assertion was that he has never thought about whether his songs are ‘literature’ and that Shakespeare probably would have been in the same boat regarding his plays. Dylan says, imagining Shakespeare’s thoughts leading up to the original production of Hamlet (1599), Read More
  • Sam Shepard's Wildly Varied Literary Career

    Thu, 09 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Just two years ago, Sam Shepard’s now-famous play True West (1980) was revived on the London stage at the tricycle theatre. About fifteen years ago now, the seminal work was revived for the first time in New York City on a stage starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly. For many theatregoers and movie viewers today, we know Sam Shepard best for his own performances as an actor, in films such as Days of Heaven (1978), The Right Stuff (1983), and All the Pretty Horses (2000). Yet Shepard has a long and interesting literary career that began years before Read More
  • Kate Chopin's Personal and Literary Awakening

    Wed, 08 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Sometimes it takes an outsider to see our strengths and put us on the road we are destined to travel. And so it was for Kate Chopin in the late 1880s. She is now well-known for her short stories and one famous novel. In the late nineteenth century, however, she was not an author at all, but a widow and mother of five saddled with an enormous debt left by her late husband. Shortly after her husband’s death, her mother died as well, leaving Kate in a state of depression. Read More
  • How the Iowa Writers' Workshop Proves the Value of an MFA

    Tue, 07 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Six years ago, author Chad Harbach wrote an essay about the two cultures producing the glut of literary fiction writers today: that of New York City media and publishing, and that of the university MFA program. New York City has long been the hotbed of American cosmopolitan culture, and many of the country’s great writers from the very beginning, like Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, and Edith Wharton helped ossify New York as the closest thing the nation would have to a literary epicenter. Yet in the past few decades, a new titan has emerged, coming from the halls of higher Read More
  • Seven Famous Literary Cafés

    Sat, 04 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    The idea of the writer in a café is so prominent it has become almost cliché. Depicted in books and movies for decades, it's likely something you have even seen for yourself: young men and women working diligently on their laptops in the local coffee shop. Next time you find yourself irritated by the writer hogging the power outlet for hours while your cell phone dies, consider the fact that these writers are part of a time-honored literary tradition. Businesses all over the world offer up stories of their famous patrons as a means to draw in new customers. These Read More
  • Best Books on Canada

    Fri, 03 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    In many ways, writing a short article listing the best books on Canada is an impossible task. The nation is a particularly diverse one filled with prolific First Nations indigenous writers, novelists who are descendants of European settlers, and immigrant authors from Southern and West Africa, Southeast Asia, Central Europe, and other parts of the world. In short, we can’t imagine any kind of singular classification of Canadian literature. We can, however, offer you some of our more recent favorites that make up at least one list of the best books on this country. Read More
  • How Ulysses Got Published

    Thu, 02 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    The past few years have been big for small presses. The two most recent Man Booker Award-winning novels were published by the same small press in England: London’s Oneworld Publications put out both Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings (2014) and the British edition of Paul Beatty’s The Sellout (2015). Meanwhile, in the United States, Coffee House Press in Minneapolis put out the first American edition of Eimear McBride’s acclaimed debut tour-de-force, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing (2013) which won the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. Anyone who claims that we are entering a golden era of Read More
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