Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • 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
  • VLOG: Six Videos on the Art of Woodcut Printing

    Fri, 21 Oct 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Let’s face it: no matter how much we love reading, everyone likes to look at a good picture. Printers and publishers have long known this, and have struggled for suitable ways to include images alongside set type. The key was to make the illustration copyable, and for that function, bookmakers depended on engravings. And for centuries, woodcuts were king. Today, we’re bombarded with printed images on magazines, billboards, and elsewhere, but unfortunately, none bear the aura of intimate craftsmanship like engravings do. Read More
  • Buying Rare and Antiquarian Books in Mexico City

    Thu, 20 Oct 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Before traveling to Mexico City, we thought Buenos Aires had more used and antiquarian bookstores than anywhere else in the world. While that might still feel true while walking the streets of the Argentinian capital city—it seems like there’s a used bookstore on just about every corner—we were nearly just as giddy to discover the sheer number of shops in this capital city. Similar to in Buenos Aires, there’s a map of bookstores selling old and rare books that covers four major regions of the city (“Mapa de librerías de Viejo de la Ciudad de México”). It’s published by the Read More
  • Visiting the Nadine Gordimer Papers at the Lilly Library

    Wed, 19 Oct 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Are you interested in doing more than just reading the works of Nadine Gordimer? If you’re ever visiting Bloomington, Indiana, you might consider scheduling a visit at the Lilly Library to explore the materials contained in The Nadine Gordimer Papers. As most lovers of Gordimer’s fiction and South African literature in general know, the Nobel Prize-winning author was born in Springs, South Africa to Jewish immigrant parents in 1923. She wrote fiction for much of her life, with her first short story published in the Children’s Sunday Express when she was 15 years old. The New Yorker published one of Read More
  • An Introduction to The Golden Cockerel Press

    Tue, 18 Oct 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Our love affair with fine press is no secret. And we’re in good company. Countless collectors and bibliophiles have discovered the art of fine press printing and savor the chance to compile libraries filled with these creative masterpieces. (If you’re new to fine press and would like to know more, start here!) The history of fine press is an interesting one, and we often focus on currently functioning fine presses. For example, we recently spotlighted a modern fine press printer, Two Ponds Press, which touts works like The Brownsville Boys and a Margaret Wise Brown original. Today, we’d like to Read More
  • The Playful Madness of Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum

    Sat, 15 Oct 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    On February 19 of this year, world literature lost one of its most wise and respected members: Umberto Eco. A recent passing, one wonders if his reputation will go the way of many “greats” with penchants for humor and madness. Canonical reverence, as it does with Moby Dick, Ulysses, and others, often obscures the joyous play and zaniness of the object it praises. Eco, a literary trickster if there ever was one, would be disheartened to see his memory so distorted. Read More
  • The Ten Best Moments From Winnie-The-Pooh

    Fri, 14 Oct 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    There is, written in the annals of fictional history, an account of a “bear with very little brain.” He resides in The Hundred Acre Wood. This wood can be difficult to find, but once you discover it, it is clearly mapped. One can mark the very spots where some of the sweetest moments between a honey of a bear and his rag-tag team of friends take place. This is one reader's list of the top ten moments from Winnie-the-Pooh. Read More
  • Congratulations to the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature Winner, Bob Dylan

    Thu, 13 Oct 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    The Nobel Prize in Literature was announced today at 1:00p.m. local time in Sweden. The winner is American musician Bob Dylan "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition". Born in Duluth, Minnesota, Dylan spent much of his life in New York. He is best known for the music he created in the 1960s and the significant influence it had on popular culture. He explored themes of social condition, politics, and religion, and his songs like "The Times They Are a-Changin'" (1963) and "Blowin' in the Wind" (1959) earned him national renown. Along with being a Read More
  • Five Underrated Children's Books

    Wed, 12 Oct 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    The bookshelves at my parents' house are filled to the brim. If you were to stop by, you would see fat books, thin books, paperbacks, and hard covers, every genre from historical fiction to poetry present and accounted for. They are lovely to look at and enjoyable to read, but I’ll let you in on a little secret…you won’t find any of our best books sitting in plain sight. If you really want a treat, direct your attention to the small cupboard in the corner. Behind it’s unassuming doors, you will find the books of our childhood. Paperbacks with torn Read More
  • Four Writers Who Had Messy Political Views

    Tue, 11 Oct 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Of course great authors are meant to be wise. We construct syllabi around their work, we give them Nobel Prizes, we call them geniuses and guardians of high culture. So how is that so many of them fall into politics that, when viewed from a slight distance of time or place, seem grotesque, and even immoral? Read More
  • Nine Interesting Facts about Walt Whitman

    Sat, 08 Oct 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Walt Whitman is generally considered, along with Emily Dickinson, to be one of the most important American Poets. His most famous work, Leaves of Grass (1855), which was conceived of as a sort of American epic in the tradition of Homer and Dante, remains one of the most well-known, well-loved, and enduring works of poetry in the canon. Here are nine interesting facts about Whitman and his magnum opus. Read More
  • Beyond Schindler's List: The Work of Thomas Keneally

    Fri, 07 Oct 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    So much of Australian literature is focused on what it means to be Australian and what Australia as a country represents. There are echoes of English literature throughout the Australian canon as well as frequent thematic exploration of colonialism and the country's beginnings as an English penal colony. The harsh and brutal landscape of the Australian bush is a common setting: it's unique and amazing animal life often appearing in some form or another. So, too, is the importance of Aboriginal culture often present in Australian literature. It is interesting to note, then, that one of Australia's most internationally well-known Read More
  • Experimental Archaeology: The Legacy of Thor Heyerdahl

    Thu, 06 Oct 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    In Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers (2008), the popular sociologist outlines the role that timing played in Bill Gates’ runaway success in the world of software. He suggests that because Gates was one of very few people of his generation who had access to computers as a teenager and came of age at the appropriate moment to eventually become a software developer, he (or someone fitting his description fairly) was destined to find such a level of success. And of course the same logic can be applied elsewhere. Thor Heyerdahl, for instance, was no doubt destined for a hugely important career as Read More
  • How Rigoberta Menchú Tum's Autobiography Helped Win the Nobel Prize

    Wed, 05 Oct 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Who is Rigoberta Menchú Tum, and when and why was she awarded the Nobel Prize? Until 1992, the year in which she won the Nobel Prize, not many people outside of Latin American knew of her existence. However, after the Nobel Committee awarded her the Nobel Peace Prize, she became the “youngest person ever to be bestowed with this honor,” according to the Fundación Rigoberta Menchú Tum. But prior to winning the prize, Rigoberta Menchú’s story received international attention after she narrated her autobiography to Elizabeth Burgos, a Venezuelan anthropologist. The book became I, Rigoberta Menchú, which ended up topping Read More
  • Anne Rice's Top Five Novels

    Tue, 04 Oct 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    With 100 million books sold, Anne Rice enjoys the sort of success available to only a few authors per generation. Rice made a name for herself with her influential spin on the gothic genre, to which she adds another title, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis, this year. You may know her from her famous Vampire Chronicles series, though her forty-volume career encompasses far more. Below, we’ve compiled five highlights from Anne Rice’s prolific career. Read More
  • Join Us for the 2016 Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair

    Sun, 02 Oct 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you are near Seattle next weekend (October 8th-9th), we would like to invite you to the Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair. Sign up here for your complimentary tickets, and then join us to experience some remarkable books. Read More
  • The Bond Dossier: Dr. No

    Sat, 01 Oct 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    There comes a time in any great series of books when the tides turn—when, for some reason or another, the characters, plots, themes, or messages of the books fall out of favor or have their relevancy or worth challenged, both for the writer and the reader. For Ian Fleming and his James Bond novels, that time came with Dr. No. (1958), the sixth book in the Bond series under Fleming’s watch. In hindsight, perhaps the spiral in critical appeal—though the commercial success of Dr. No remained aligned with the Bond novels that came before—was inevitable. After all, Fleming was uncertain about Read More
  • Remembering the Legacy of Elie Wiesel

    Fri, 30 Sep 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    When Elie Wiesel passed away over the summer, the world entered a state of collective mourning. Rarely was there a public figure so universally respected and missed. Schoolchildren grew up reading his books. World leaders bore witness to his eloquence and message. Wiesel had seen humanity plunge to its worst, and his life was devoted to fight against that ever happening again. Read More
  • Book It: Five of the Most Interesting U.S. Libraries

    Thu, 29 Sep 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Let’s face it: Visiting a library while traveling to a new city is not always atop everyone’s must-do list. Even for the most bookish or literary-minded traveler, libraries as destinations often get lost in the fray when whipping up itineraries or sightseeing spots. Museums. Parks. Skyscrapers. Food markets. Sporting events. These activities more times than not reign supreme over buildings of archaic texts and decaying books where most travelers feel ‘You’ve seen one library, you’ve seen them all.’ But there are a number of libraries across the country that not only warrant serious investigation but also reward visitors with insight into Read More
  • Interview with Mónica Montes at the Library of David Alfaro Siqueiros

    Wed, 28 Sep 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    In May, we had the opportunity to visit the Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros, the former studio of the famous Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros, located in Mexico City. In addition its continuing function as a gallery space, the Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros also contains the archives and personal library of the painter. We were thrilled to get a chance to visit the muralist’s preserved library and to examine some of the books contained within it. We also had the opportunity to speak with Mónica Montes, one of the primary archivists at the space. She agreed to an interview with Read More
  • Polite Society and the Novel: Finding Heirs to Jane Austen & Edith Wharton

    Tue, 27 Sep 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    In Nancy Armstrong’s Desire and Domestic Fiction (1987), the literary critic discusses the role of writing in reproducing cultural norms and mores. By reading novels, citizens internalize the rules of polite society; they learn how they ought to act. While Armstrong’s argument does implicate novelists themselves in whatever happens to be wrong with a given society, she also establishes the novel as a potential space for resistance. That is, while books reproduce their current cultures, they also shape them. Perhaps this is why some of the most incisive critics of polite society over the centuries have by writers. Case in Read More
  • Read More Poetry: The Rudyard Kipling Edition

    Sat, 24 Sep 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    We’ve often argued that the world needs to read more poetry. After all, without poetry we wouldn’t consider how “Good fences make good neighbors” (Robert Frost), or ponder how “Success is counted sweetest/ By those who ne’er succeed./ To comprehend a nectar/ Requires sorest need.” (Emily Dickinson), or to remember to “Talk less/Smile more/ Don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for.” (Lin Manuel Miranda). Truly, the list of great poetic works is a lengthy one, and one that is still being added to. Today, we’d like to spotlight some of the best quotes from Rudyard Kipling’s Read More
  • Learning About the International Prize for Arabic Fiction

    Fri, 23 Sep 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    For those who don’t have the ability to read Arabic literature before its translation, information about the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) might not have made its way to you yet. However, in the past several years, we have been incredibly excited about the books that have won this prize and that have been translated into English for western readers. While we wish we could read many of these texts in their original language, for now, we’re thrilled to see that writers from Iraq, Jordan, and other regions of the Middle East are receiving international recognition for their glorious works Read More
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