Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • First Day of Winter Reading Guide (Or, Four Strategies for Ringing in the Season)

    Wed, 21 Dec 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Winter, let us say, has its detractors. Beyond a certain latitude, the Winter Solstice is a symbol of minimal sunlight, bracing cold, and brutal snowstorms. This does not mean that the season has nothing to recommend it. The colder months offer the opportunity to stay in, drink hot cocoa, and watch something seasonal or festive, say, It's a Wonderful Life (1946). And really, snow’s not so bad if you’re watching it fall from the comfort of your own home. Here are four strategies for reading around the winter solstice. Read More
  • VLOG: Four Videos on the Art of Chromolithography

    Tue, 20 Dec 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    The word lithograph comes from lithos, the Greek word for stone. Lithography differs from similar image-based printing methods by not requiring the artist to carve into the medium, as she would have to do with a copper engraving or a woodcut relief. Instead, she draws the image onto the smooth surface of a limestone block, and then uses oil and other substances to transfer it onto paper. Read More
  • Why Did Ernest Hemingway Despise Ford Madox Ford?

    Sat, 17 Dec 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Ernest Hemingway, author of A Farewell to Arms (1929) and The Old Man and the Sea (1952), was not one to shy away from literary feuds. He and F. Scott Fitzgerald had a friendship that seems, in retrospect, more like a sibling rivalry than anything else, and his and fellow Nobel laureate William Faulkner’s mutual distaste for each other’s writing is well documented. Often forgotten, however, is Hemingway’s feud with English novelist Ford Madox Ford. This in spite of the fact that one of the most scathing character sketches in Hemingway’s posthumously published memoir A Moveable Feast (1964) focuses not Read More
  • Test Your Jane Austen Knowledge Against These Facts

    Fri, 16 Dec 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Jane Austen completed six novels in her lifetime. Not only were her books popular immediately after publication, but each of her novels is now considered a classic. Readers today love Austen's work for its engaging characters and love stories, but her books do more than entertain. In fact, they cast a fascinating light on the social and class structure of the 18th century and the unique position of Georgian society women. Despite the years that separate the society represented in her novels from today, Austen remains a beloved author whose characters' struggles and victories still resonate long after the culture Read More
  • Native American Writers and Artists in N. Scott Momaday's Family

    Thu, 15 Dec 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Many readers of twentieth-century literature are familiar with the works of Native American novelist N. Scott Momaday. A writer of Kiowa and Cherokee ancestry, Momaday was born in Lawton, Oklahoma at the Kiowa-Comanche Indian Hospital to Natachee Scott and Alfred Morris Momaday. In 1963, N. Scott Momaday received a Ph.D. in literature from Stanford University, and shortly thereafter, his novel House Made of Dawn (1968) won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Many critics cite House Made of Dawn as the beginning of what scholars and critics have described as the “Native American Renaissance,” referring to the (re)emergence of native American Read More
  • The Tie That Binds: The Importance of Binding in Rare Book Collecting

    Wed, 14 Dec 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    It’s the first thing you see. It’s the first thing you feel when you pick it up. It often goes a long way toward determining how you feel about it or how you’re going to feel about it once you crack the pages. While we’re talking about book covers in this example, what we’re really talking about is binding: the method in which the front and back cover are fastened over the actual book pages. Because a book’s binding can be decorative as well as pragmatic—helping to protect the book from the elements—it’s often a critical factor in determining a Read More
  • Historical Accuracy of Little House on the Prairie

    Tue, 13 Dec 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    "A long time ago, when all the grandfathers and grandmothers of today were little boys and little girls or very small babies, or perhaps not even born, Pa and Ma and Mary and Laura and Baby Carrie left their little house in the Big Woods of Wisconsin." One of the most beloved opening lines in children’s literature comes from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s third book in the Little House series, Little House on the Prairie. It details the experience of a northern family’s migration in their covered wagon and working the land they eventually call home. From Wisconsin to Kansas to Read More
  • Portraits of Appalachia: Stereotypical Images of the Mountain Man on Local Color Literature

    Sat, 10 Dec 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    How is stereotype developed and how is it spread? Historically, books have played a role as purveyors of stereotype, both intentionally and unintentionally. It’s easy to think of a book’s text as promoting stereotypical points of view, but the book’s cover design is just as influential. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, book cover design was an unwitting influence on the development of the Appalachian stereotype. The artistic portraits of Appalachia and Appalachians found on the covers of books widely dispersed to reading audiences across the nation had a lasting impact on the stereotypical image of Appalachia.  Read More
  • A Guide to Buying and Collecting Signed Books

    Fri, 09 Dec 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    A signed book is a sought-after collectible for a bibliophile, and it can add exponential value to a book collection. Whether you’re just beginning your collection or are a seasoned collector, what should you consider when looking for and purchasing a signed book? What’s the best “type” of signature? Below is a brief guide to collecting signed books, including a glossary of signed book terms and a guide to finding signed books. Scroll to the bottom of the post for a list of noteworthy signed books to add to your collection today. Read More
  • 45th Anniversary of Pablo Neruda's Nobel Prize

    Thu, 08 Dec 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Pablo Neruda wasn’t born with the name by which so many readers across the globe have come to know his work. Rather, he was born Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto in the small Chilean town of Parral, Chile. This December marks the 45th anniversary of Neruda winning the Nobel Prize in Literature. In 1971, Neruda traveled back to Stockholm—he had visited on previous occasions and had met the founder of Sweden’s first poetry journal, FIB:S lyrikklub, Stig Carlson—to accept the Nobel Prize. Yet his winning this award wasn’t entirely a surprise. To be sure, scholars and fans of his work had Read More
  • Willa Cather and Pioneer Novels

    Wed, 07 Dec 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    As a hardened millennial, I am well-versed in the first-world problems of modern life. I've been reduced to drinking lattés made with soy milk when my preferred dairy-substitute of almond milk is unavailable. I have made the arduous journey into the gas station when the pay at the pump feature is out of order. I’ve accidentally put clothes that are labeled “lay flat to dry” in the dryer and been left with a pile of sweaters that look like they belong to a Chihuahua. Faced with such difficulties in 2016, I am hard pressed to imagine what daily life must Read More
  • Children's Books: A Gift Giving Guide

    Tue, 06 Dec 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    I wonder if the art of gift giving, like that of conversation and letter writing, is becoming lost. Like the latter two, gift giving requires time and attention. Our spans of these seem to be becoming shorter in this fast-paced digital age. Maybe that’s why the allure of the gift card is so strong. For the giver, it’s easy, doesn’t have to be wrapped, and one size fits all. But what if you want to personalize a gift—have it made to order—bespoke?  A children’s book may be the perfect choice. Read More
  • Vladimir Nabokov's Recently Published Letters to His Wife

    Sat, 03 Dec 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you’re interested in twentieth-century literature in any way at all, you’ve probably encountered some of the fiction of Vladimir Nabokov. The Russian immigrant novelist was born in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1899, and he immigrated with his family to Britain after the Russian Revolution. He moved to the United States in 1939, just two years before the U.S. would enter World War II, and he remained here with his wife, Véra, until 1959. Most American readers are familiar with the novelist’s perhaps most famous—or infamous, depending upon the speaker—work, Lolita. Yet we’d like to introduce you to a recently Read More
  • The Bond Dossier: Thunderball

    Fri, 02 Dec 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    There are some books where the story behind the story is just as interesting—if not more so—than the story itself. 007 creator and novelist Ian Fleming had largely avoided this scenario in the publication of his first seven Bond novels; however, Fleming’s eighth 007 novel, Thunderball, found Fleming and his protagonist in some of the most high-stakes peril yet—though Bond’s struggles against international crime syndicates pales slightly in comparison to Fleming’s entanglements with copyright lawyers. Whatever the case, Thunderball marked several turning points for both Fleming and James Bond. While the novel was one of the most well-received and commercially Read More
  • Your 2016 Holiday Gift Guide

    Thu, 01 Dec 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Books make the best gifts. It’s true. A perfectly selected title is a thoughtful, timeless gift. While giftees may grow out of other items or move on from current fads, books remain—perched on the nearest bookshelf, nightstand, or coffee table, ready to inspire and teach. For our holiday gift guide this year, we’ve broken down books into simple categories to make it easy to pick out a title for everyone on your list. No extra dialogue. No fluff. Just you and the books that’ll make the best gifts for everyone on your list. Some of these titles were picked for Read More
  • 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
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