Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • J.M. Coetzee on Literature and Psychoanalysis

    Sat, 10 Sep 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    What is the relationship between storytelling and clinical psychology? That’s a question the South African Nobel Prize-winning novelist J.M. Coetzee recently attempted to explore through an extended conversation with British clinical psychologist Arabella Kurtz. According to an article in the New Republic*, Kurtz invited Coetzee to engage in this written dialogue despite Coetzee being “notoriously publicly averse.” Yet Coetzee did end up joining in correspondence with Kurtz for around five years, and those letters were published in a book entitled The Good Story: Exchanges on Truth, Fiction and Psychotherapy. The correspondence began back in 2008, and it concluded only a Read More
  • The Bond Dossier: From Russia with Love

    Fri, 09 Sep 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    There comes a point in every artistic endeavor when an artist grows tired of the very creation that once thrilled them, that took them from struggling nobody into the stratosphere of fame and fortune. For James Bond creator and author Ian Fleming, that moment of doubt, frustration, and uncertainty finally reared its ugly head with the fifth novel in the James Bond 007 series, From Russia with Love. Published in April 1957, the novel—widely considered to be one of Fleming most interesting and captivating Bond novel—represents a moment in Fleming's career where he seriously considered giving up the Bond mantle. In Read More
  • Buying Rare and Antiquarian Books in Seoul

    Thu, 08 Sep 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you’re traveling to Korea and are considering some rare book shopping, we recommend dedicating at least one full day in Seoul to explore the city’s bookstores and rare books market. While most of the antiquarian bookstores specialize in Korean-language texts—in other words, you’ll need to know some Korean, either written or verbal, to have a good chance of locating an author you’ve set out to find—several of the book-buying options in South Korea’s capital city also have books written in other East Asian languages, as well as in English and other Western languages. Earlier this year, we spent a Read More
  • Malcolm Bradbury's Personal and Literary Legacy

    Wed, 07 Sep 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    When Sir Malcolm Bradbury died in 2000, it seemed the entirety of London literary culture mourned. Here was a man who had written a trove of delightful novels, taught countless students, and advocated tirelessly for the advancement of the written word. His death sparked something different from the usual public grieving process. Where many authors are lamented because there will be no more books, this man was mourned because there would be no more Bradbury. Read More
  • A Brief History of Woodcut Illustrations

    Tue, 06 Sep 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Though illustrations are today mostly synonymous with children’s literature, techniques for printing illustrations were developed and employed at almost the very moment the printing press entered use. And while contemporary publishers have a variety of methods at their disposal for mixing images and text, in the 15th century it was all about the woodcuts. Read More
  • Tortilla Flat: A Little Book and a Big Controversy

    Sat, 03 Sep 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    On May 28, 1935, the world saw the release of Tortilla Flat. It would become John Steinbeck’s first truly successful book, heralding the arrival of a truly distinguished American voice. Steinbeck later went on to write more ambitious novels like East of Eden and The Grapes of Wrath, ultimately leading the author to a Nobel Prize in Literature. But before all that pomp and regard, there was a slim, comic novel about jolly laborers passing time in California. Read More
  • Best Books from Postcolonial Sudan

    Fri, 02 Sep 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    With the relatively recent creation of South Sudan and the redrawing of national borders in Eastern Africa, many of us might not immediately think of literary fiction when we hear a reference to this part of the world. Yet Sudanese literature has played—and continues to play—an important role in reshaping the ways we thinking about postcolonial fiction and its impact on world politics. According to an article* in The Guardian, Sudan is one of the many places on the globe that has become a victim of the “single story,” so to speak: “the one-note depiction of Sudan merely as a Read More
  • Six Interesting Facts About Edgar Rice Burroughs, the Author of Tarzan

    Thu, 01 Sep 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Recently, popular culture saw Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan resurrected once again for the silver screen. But The Legend of Tarzan, a blockbuster treatment of the much-cinematized hero, was received overall to mild acclaim. The problem seemed for both critics and audiences that the story itself was old. And in this moment, it pays to remember the time, place, and person the story came from. Read More
  • The Stories of American Immigrants

    Wed, 31 Aug 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" ~ The New Colossus These words have greeted thousands upon thousands of immigrants throughout the course of history, immigrants who often brought no more than the clothes on their backs, a few suitcases, and a story waiting to be told. Read More
  • The Top Five Children's Books By Virginia Lee Burton

    Tue, 30 Aug 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Virginia Lee Burton won critical acclaim and the heartfelt approval of generations of readers, young and old. How did she accomplish this? She did it by first securing the endorsement of her own two children. Her young sons, Ari and Michael, like all children in Burton’s estimation, were “very frank critics.” By gauging their responses, she would adjust her stories and her illustrations to make sure that she not only captured but also maintained their attention.  Read More
  • Libraries & Special Collections: Fantastic French Libraries

    Sat, 27 Aug 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    France has always been an important site in terms of history, culture, religion, and philosophy. As a result, it is home to some of the oldest and most beautiful libraries in the world. These libraries house collections impressive both due to their size and their age. Let's take a look at some of France's most important libraries. Read More
  • Everything You Need to Know About Two Ponds Press

    Fri, 26 Aug 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Two Ponds Press has a vision: to celebrate and reinvent the fine art press. The Press succeeds in doing just that by working with artists from all over the world to create new and exciting pieces of fine printing. The works are something to behold, and the Press is currently in the process of crafting books that include poetry, children’s lit, culinary art, photography, and much more. Read on for a brief introduction to the works of Two Ponds Press and more about the process and people behind them. Read More
  • Kingsley and Martin Amis' Family Rivalry

    Thu, 25 Aug 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    There’s hardly a more memorable father-son duo in modern literature than Kingsley and Martin Amis. “Duo,” though, may not be the most accurate term. The pair never worked together, nor did they much agree as far as their art was concerned. In fact, each man was distinct in temperament and personality, and wrote novels unique to their own aims and tastes. Differ as they may, both have offered a powerful portrait of their time and place, with rich narrative voices to bring their visions to life. Read More
  • Reading Borges into Dickens

    Wed, 24 Aug 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Walter Benjamin, in his 1940 ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’ discusses the way in which historical narratives constantly reshuffle themselves. Because we can’t see into the future, he says, history always leads to the precise moment of the present, and must change with each new historical moment in order to seem coherent. As it is with history, so too is it with the literary canon. Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick (1851) was transmuted from a rare flop by a popular author to one of the most important works in English only when it became clear that novels of the 20th century Read More
  • Seven Perfect Summer Reads by Nelson DeMille

    Tue, 23 Aug 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    As summer slowly comes to an end, lazy afternoons feel stickier than usual. The air is still, the trees are quiet, and humidity hangs over the front porch like a blanket. On days like these, I find a box fan and a suspenseful novel help pick up the pace. For a quick and captivating read, consider one (or many!) of these seven Nelson DeMille novels. Read More
  • The Brontë Society's Bicentennial Brawl

    Sat, 20 Aug 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Literary societies have been around for hundreds of years. Cornell's Browning Society dates back to 1877. The society, dedicated to the study and promotion of Robert Browning's poetry, led to more widespread popularity of the poet to the point that he acknowledged the society's critical role in his career. Similar societies sprang up, inspired by the Browning group, and today many groups exist for a variety of writers. Some groups focus mostly as social clubs in which hobbyists gather with other like-minded fans to discuss the objects of their literary affection, while others are more scholarly, focusing on discussion, research, Read More
  • VLOG: The Art of Fine Bookbinding

    Fri, 19 Aug 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Few simple things in life are as satisfying as opening the cover and flipping through the pages of a brand new book. This is perhaps exponentially more true for those who work in the art of bookbinding by hand. Indeed, bookbinding is something to behold. Binders must be meticulous with every bit of stacking, folding, glueing, and stitching; and there is also the design aspect of the binding to consider. For those who are unfamiliar with bookbinding, we've compiled a few introductory videos to give you a taste of the beautiful work being done by fine binders. Read More
  • Specialist Announces Earliest Dust Jacket Dates from 1819

    Thu, 18 Aug 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Even among bibliophiles, the subject of early dust jackets is an often unexplored area of knowledge. Yet early dust jackets have an important place in book history: they reflect historical attitudes towards bookbinding, publishing, and advertising. The mystery and challenge of the dust jacket is that as they were initially intended to be disposable, few early examples remain today. In fact, no one knows with any certainty when dust jackets were first produced by publishers. Early dust jacket specialist, Mark Godburn, suggests that less than one percent of the total number issued now survive and writes that there is no Read More
  • Eight Fascinating Facts about V.S. Naipaul

    Wed, 17 Aug 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Born in Trinidad in 1932, V.S. Naipaul earned a Nobel Prize in Literature “for having united perceptive narrative and incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories." Naipaul struggled in the fledgling years of his writerly life to find a distinct voice, first in Trinidad and later during his tumultuous years at Oxford. He would show off that vaunted scrutiny in his earlier comic novels before taking the same blend of high style and high insight to a career’s worth of more tragic novels and travel writing. For the sheer power with which colonial Read More
  • Why We Can Stop Reading Charles Bukowski

    Tue, 16 Aug 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    In certain cases, the persona of the writer outsizes the body of writing itself. There are few examples of this clearer than the one set by the poet and novelist Charles Bukowski. He committed to his pages the environment he knew best—that of lowlifes, the forgotten, and the destitute. This sort of life—with all its modest adventures to be found in saloons, motels, booze, and sex—has captivated the adolescent mind for years. And it should not surprise us that these readers are the chief reason Bukowski is kept alive at all. Read More
  • William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury in Color

    Sat, 13 Aug 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Each year, The Folio Society publishes a number of limited editions. Each of the books, according to The Folio Society, are “strictly limited, bound to order and numbered by hand”, and they are “outstanding works of literary or historical significance.” Back in 2012, a Folio Society limited edition of William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury (1929) became available to collectors. What was so unique about this limited edition was that it reproduced the colored print pattern—in all 14 colors imagined by Faulkner—to guide the reader through the novel. Yet in the 1920s, such printing practices were nearly unheard of Read More
  • Walter Dean Myers' Impact on Young Adult Literature

    Fri, 12 Aug 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Walter Dean Myers wrote over one hundred books for children and young adult readers. The author dedicated his life to writing books that accurately portrayed life in an urban environment, creating realistic portrayals of African American youths in stories that appeal to children of all races and backgrounds. Read More
  • Science Fiction Book by A.I. Written in Japan

    Thu, 11 Aug 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    How unique are individual novelists? Are works of fiction the products of distinct, creative minds, or could an algorithm actually produce some of the texts we’ve all come to know and love? According to an article* in Slate, a novel co-written in Japan by A.I. (or, artificial intelligence) recently competed for a Japanese literary prize. Should we be excited or concerned about the latest development? Or, should we be more critical of attempts to use technology for cultural production? Read More
  • Postwar Germany in the Works of W.G. Sebald

    Wed, 10 Aug 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Whose role is it to write postwar German fiction? Since World War II ended, numerous writers of great acclaim have come out of West Germany and the GDR, and later from reunified Germany. For instance, you might be familiar with the works of the West German novelists Heinrich Böll and Günter Grass, or with the GDR literature of Christa Wolf. While many writers of the immediate postwar period returned to the rise of Nazi Germany and its aftermath in their works, W.G. Sebald is a bit of an interesting case. Read More
  • Six Facts About Henry David Thoreau's Walden

    Tue, 09 Aug 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    On August 9, 1854, Henry David Thoreau published his book, Walden; or, Life in the Woods. It narrates—with an ample serving of artistic intervention—its author’s experiment to live divorced from society, in an effort to uncover better ways of living. “I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life,” he writes in a manifesto-like paragraph of Walden, “to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.” Read More
  • Alfred and Maud: Tennyson's Favorite Tennyson

    Sat, 06 Aug 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson remains the Oxford English Dictionary’s ninth most-quoted individual, and to look at his CV is to understand why. Named Poet Laureate of Great Britain upon the death of William Wordsworth in 1850, Tennyson’s poems have left an indelible mark not just on poetry but on the English language as a whole. “Tis better to have loved and lost/Than never to have loved at all,” entered (and remained in) the lexicon by way of Tennyson’s masterpiece In Memoriam A.H.H. (1849), while “Theirs not to reason why, /Theirs but to do and die” comes to us from “The Charge Read More
  • What to Read for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games

    Fri, 05 Aug 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Tonight, as soon as the torch is lit at the Rio Summer Olympics, the world will have its eyes fixed on television screens across the globe. Watching the events of the Games has been an international tradition since we've had TVs in our homes. Yet what’s less common is to get into the Olympics spirit not by watching, but by reading. They may not be as immediate as a live stream broadcast of the high-dive, but good Olympics books can do you a lot of good. Read More
  • Collecting Rare Cookbooks

    Thu, 04 Aug 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Are you thinking about creating a new book collection? Do you like to cook? Do you like to eat? If you can answer yes to any of these questions, you might do well to learn more about collecting rare and vintage cookbooks. As you might imagine, there are cookbooks of all sorts out there to be had. Today, we’d like to focus on two possible paths for your collection: books written and signed by famous chefs, and rare cookbooks of writers and artists. Read More
  • Let's Get Some Sun: A Literary Tour of Florida

    Wed, 03 Aug 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    For many, Florida is something of a no man’s land—a state whose cultural and geographic regions make for an eclectic, disparate mix of traditions and heritage, incorporating southern culture from the north and Caribbean influences from the south. It’s a state brimming with swampland and beachfront, with incongruities like the Everglades and the Keys, a combination attracting a diverse population and cross-section of people who desire for an even more diverse literature that speaks to their experience as Floridians. Read More
  • Holling C. Holling: Stories and Lessons

    Tue, 02 Aug 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Who, as a child, has not at least entertained the idea of tying a note to a balloon and sending it out into the great beyond, or scrolling a message in a bottle and tossing it into the sea? The thought of something we authored soaring over the landscape or riding the tides to eventually connect with someone far away is almost as thrilling as going on an adventure ourselves. It may be this innate desire for exploration and connection beyond our backyards—beyond our borders—that has led to the timeless popularity of the children’s books written by Holling C. Holling. Read More
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