Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • Five Interesting Facts about Jean-Paul Sartre

    Tue, 21 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Jean-Paul Sartre lived a full life. He is widely remembered for his contributions as a philosopher, playwright, and teacher. His notable works include his philosophical magnum opus, L'Etre et le néant [Being and Nothingness] which was published in 1943, and his plays, Les Mouches [The Flies], 1943 and Huis Clos [No Exit], 1947. His ideas have a continued influence on philosophical and literary studies today. But what are some other facts about the esteemed thinker? Read on to discover five interesting factoids about Jean-Paul Sartre. Read More
  • Why It's Time to Appreciate Lillian Hellman Again

    Mon, 20 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    In 1939, Lillian Hellman was riding in a taxi with the star of one of her plays. The atmosphere in the car was tense. The actress, Tallulah Bankhead, wanted to put on a performance for the benefit of Finland, which had been invaded by the USSR earlier in the year. Hellman refused to allow her play to be performed for the cause, citing her lack of esteem for what she believed was a pro-Nazi republic. Bankhead, frustrated by Hellman’s stubbornness, told the playwright she would never act in one of her plays again. Hellman then responded by striking the actress Read More
  • Reading with Dad on Father's Day

    Sun, 19 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    The cover art of Reading with Dad by Richard Jorgensen depicts a worn leather chair. On it sits an open book, and beneath it, two pairs of shoes—one large and one small. The chair is not unlike the ones found in our home library. The small shoes are not unlike the lace-up Keds that have littered our house over the years in a rainbow of colors and in various stages of disrepair.  The larger shoes are very much like those whose footprints my daughters try to follow. They are Dad shoes. If one is to believe the predominant image presented Read More
  • The Profound Magical Realism of Chris Van Allsburg

    Sat, 18 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Chris Van Allsburg begins writing his fantasy children’s picture books with a single question “What if…?” and answers it with a string of beautiful and inspiring tales of the extreme. We have some “What ifs…?” of our own. What if a young man with a vague interest in art was denied admission to the University of Michigan because he lacked a portfolio? What if the warmth of that sculptor’s studio kept him away from the inviting apartment with pencils and paper?  What if a future Caldecott winner had not married a woman who taught children and hadn’t been encouraged to Read More
  • John Hersey and the Power of Seeing People

    Fri, 17 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    American author and journalist John Hersey is best known for his journalistic triumph, Hiroshima, which was published in The New Yorker in 1946 and described the effects of the atomic bomb through the lens of six survivors. Poignant and understated, Hiroshima continues to resonate with readers to this day, and its publication can be considered the journalism event of the 20th century. It has inspired a whole generation of journalists to write in a way that evokes feelings, emotions, and images which will stick with their audiences. But how did Hersey end up writing a war piece such as Hiroshima, Read More
  • Why You Shouldn't Miss Out On Amy Clampitt's Poetry

    Wed, 15 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Although Amy Clampitt began writing poems at the early age of nine, her literary career began more than three decades later. And not until her 60s did she complete her first full-length volume, The Kingfisher, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1983. Within a small span of 15 years, Clampitt became one of America’s most respected poets, earning university appointments, grants, and acclaim. Read More
  • The Jerzy Kosinski Controversy

    Tue, 14 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Jerzy Kosinski was born in Poland not long after Hitler's rise to power. After years spent denying his Jewish faith, Kosinski immigrated to the United States (by forging documents of Communist support vowing he'd return to his homeland). He was quickly successful in the U.S. He graduated from Columbia University, received a Guggenheim Fellowship, and taught at universities like Yale and Princeton. His books appeared on the New York Times Best Seller list, and he won several awards. For all intents and purposes, he was on the fast track to fame and fortune. Somewhere along the way, though, he hit Read More
  • The Significance of Anne Frank's Private Humanity

    Sun, 12 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    To consider the lives lost, the futures thrown into fires, the endless suffering, and the human cost of the atrocity now called “The Holocaust” is more than the human mind could ever process or confront. Instead, we have one representative for those six million. One small voice who illustrates a daily life cut short, who explains the views and the growth of a mind not allowed to see adulthood, one who comes forward to speak for those who are no longer among us. Her name is Anne, and she kept a diary. This is the story of that book. Read More
  • Five Interesting Facts About William Styron

    Sat, 11 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    William Styron was born on May 11, 1925. An acclaimed American novelist and essayist well known for his works Sophie’s Choice (1979) and The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967), Styron led a noteworthy life. He attended both Davidson College and Duke University, spent time abroad, and returned to the United States where he lived with his wife of over 50 years until his death in 2006. Here are five interesting facts that you may not know about William Styron. Read More
  • The Interesting History of Copyright Law

    Thu, 09 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you like reading books, it’s probably to be taken into new narrative worlds: to explore vast, dramatic landscapes of knowledge and discovery. What you might be less interested in, however, is the legal architecture that makes that very book possible. Intellectual property laws make up a necessary system that protects the author’s creation and the publisher’s investment. It lies at the intersection between art, business, and government, and purports that it is a society’s duty to regard the preservation and health of its culture. Read More
  • Buying Antiquarian Books in Stockholm

    Wed, 08 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you’re planning a visit to Sweden and are a collector of rare books, you’ll have options aplenty in Stockholm. There are currently fifty-two antiquarian and rare booksellers registered with the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB), and fifteen of those shops are located in Stockholm, Sweden’s capital. Of course, antiquarian booksellers can be found throughout the country, in cities like Lund, Uppsala, and Gothenburg. We recommend starting on the snowy streets of Stockholm, and perhaps stopping into one of the city’s many coffee shops in between browsing for a boost of caffeine to aid in your book hunt. Read More
  • D-Day: What to Read in Remembrance of World War II

    Mon, 06 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    On a warm, overcast night turned early morning—after weeks of air raids on German bridges, railways, and other strategic points—Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy. Indeed it took weeks of deception, planning, and careful misdirection to allow Allies to attack an under-prepared German army and regain lost ground. The Invasion of Normandy—almost canceled due to cloudy weather obscuring the full moon glow crucial to the mission's success—was a turning point in World War II, allowing the Allies to push through France and edge the German army out of the country. This year, spend June 6 reading up on Read More
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin: The Book That Changed Everything Forever

    Sun, 05 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    We like to believe that every book makes an impact and every story has meaning and relevance. In the case of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, however, the truth of that belief is overwhelming and iconic. Uncle Tom’s Cabin literally changed the way that people thought about slavery, impacted a generation, and opened eyes and hearts—specifically regarding race—in a way that no other book has. The history of the publication and reception of this book is almost as fascinating as the story itself and, like the book, is worth revisiting again, and again, and again. Read More
  • Happy Birthday, Larry McMurtry!

    Fri, 03 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    June 3 is a great opportunity to celebrate Larry McMurtry and to tell a story about our visit to his hometown of Archer City late last year. Born on this day in 1936, McMurtry is the author of thirty-two novels and just as many screenplays, in addition to a handful of memoirs and essay collections. McMurtry is most known for his novel Lonesome Dove, which won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and was adapted into a television series winning seven Emmy Awards. Many of his novels—including The Evening Star, The Last Picture Show, Texasville, Terms of Endearment, and Horseman, Read More
  • Five Facts About Thomas Hardy

    Thu, 02 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Thomas Hardy’s long life, spanning from 1840 to 1928, positions him between two critical points in literary history. His legacy connects the masterful British writers like Wordsworth and Eliot to the era of Modernism that culminated in the likes of Woolf and that other, more poetic Eliot. Hardy’s most significant work spans some five decades, comprising novels and poetry that today are regarded as classics of the canon. Read More
  • The Bond Dossier: Moonraker

    Wed, 01 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    If there’s one overarching fear authors experience when creating novel series, it’s repetition—drudging up the same plot twists and themes and motifs novel after novel until each story essentially becomes a parody of itself. In fact, Ian Fleming expressed that very sentiment to friends and confidants during the early stages of writing his third Bond novel, Moonraker. But if Fleming had any anxieties about rehashing material from Casino Royale and Live and Let Die, those trepidations did not present in the final product. Moonraker, which many consider to be Fleming’s best Bond novel—noted author and close friend Noel Coward remarked Read More
  • Ten Patriotic Reads for Memorial Day

    Mon, 30 May 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    For many in the U.S., Memorial Day is the calendar date that marks the beginning of sweet summertime. Students become restless at their desks, pontoon boats are pulled out of winter storage, and Dads across the Midwest poke their head outside and casually suggest “throwing something on the grill" for dinner. In the midst of sunny afternoons spent living the American Dream, it is easy to forget that our freedom has never been free. Memorial Day is a time to honor those fallen in service to our country. Unless one has served in the military, it can be difficult to Read More
  • The Loneliness of T.H. White, the Man Who Wrote of Kings

    Sun, 29 May 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    T.H. White is the man best known for writing the King Arthur books; the ones about the young boy who pulls a sword from a stone and creates Camelot with his wizard mentor Merlin. These stories are beloved, retold, and have been reinvented as animated films and full scale musicals, even defining the time in America before the assassination of President Kennedy. Camelot, it seems, is a perfect place, one where there is no trouble, life is easy, and love is pure. White’s life, however, bore no resemblance to such a place, and his battle with alcohol, emotion, and his Read More
  • Rachel Carson: Mother of the Environmental Movement

    Fri, 27 May 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    For those of you who believe that climate change is the most significant threat facing the world right now, Rachel Carson should be your patron saint. A noted nature writer and a marine biologist by trade, Carson helped to usher in the modern environmentalist movement with her 1962 book Silent Spring, an indictment of pesticide overuse that is at once scathing and deeply unsettling to read. More than 50 years after her death, the deeply-held concern over the fate of the planet that she so scorchingly exemplified is a more powerful (and arguably much more urgent) force than ever. Read More
  • Alexander Pushkin & the Beginning of Russian Literature

    Thu, 26 May 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Russia holds a distinguished place in the vast world of modern literature. Insulated from the larger cultural trends of mainland Europe, it exploded onto the scene in the nineteenth century. It has produced some titanic names—Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov—and a string of others that will endure through the ages. What caused this impressive boom is unclear, but its origin is far easier to trace. Russia, that powerhouse of modern literature, begins with the poet Alexander Pushkin. Read More
  • Six Surprising Facts About Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Wed, 25 May 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Ralph Waldo Emerson is a figure that speaks of New Hampshire, poetry, and a deep understanding of the world and nature. A man of great thought, deep contemplation, and vivid humor, Emerson has lived and existed within the canon of great literature for generations. Though he is an iconic figure, there a few interesting facts that might surprise you about the great poet. Read More
  • The Persistent Voice of Mikhail Sholokhov

    Tue, 24 May 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    “Good things take time” is an old adage that has been issued to almost everyone at one point or another in their lifetime. It flows from the mouths of professors as they warn their students not to wait until the night before to start their 15-page research paper, from coaches of disgruntled beginner athletes, and from parents attempting to convince their child to be more diligent in practicing their piano notes. With the boom of technology and the drive for convenience, it seems being patient grows more difficult with each passing day. Waiting for the Wi-Fi connection at a local Read More
  • Arnold Lobel: The Anatomy of a Fable

    Sun, 22 May 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    The genesis of the fable is unclear, but its legacy is far-reaching. The name "Aesop" is synonymous with fables, although the stories themselves and their corresponding lessons had been handed down for generations before he recorded them several hundred years B.C. They made their first appearance in printed English in 1484. It is safe to say, then, that fables are an integral part of our collective literary and cultural history. Their lessons are universal and timeless. Who among us has not been exhorted to heed the lesson of the Hare and the Tortoise and remember that “slow and steady wins Read More
  • Home On the Range: Five Writers from the American Southwest

    Sat, 21 May 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Deserts. The Mojave. The Sonoran. The Chihuahuan. Vast, barren, dusty landscapes with skies that seem to stretch forever, and towering, jagged rock formations cut from the scorched earth. Cacti. Heat. Sun. In other words, tough country, both in terms of its topography and culture and politics. Conflict between American settlers and Native American Indians looms large in the history of this place, as does the often tortured relationship its inhabitants experience between calling this region home and striving to get out. But as we’ve seen time and time again with this series, great conflict often breeds great beauty, and writers Read More
  • Collecting Books with Woodcuts

    Fri, 20 May 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Since the eighth century in Japan, woodcuts have been used for printing textiles and paper, and later for creating illustrations in books. According to an article* from the Metropolitan Museum of Art's website, “woodcuts are produced by inking a raised surface against which a piece of paper is pressed, either manually or by running it through a press, to create an image on the paper.” Beginning in the fifteenth century, woodcuts served as illustrations in printed books, and many scholars attribute the first successful black-and-white woodcuts as book illustrations to Albrecht Dürer. By the mid-sixteenth century, woodcuts were replaced largely Read More
  • The Bond Dossier: Live and Let Die

    Wed, 18 May 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    The saying goes that an artist has his or her entire life to create their first major work, but only a few years to finish their second. It’s an adage often used to rationalize a drop-off in quality or ambition between an artist’s first two major pieces, which is an all too common occurrence. But Ian Fleming is perhaps the shining exception to this rule. Fleming’s second James Bond novel, Live and Let Die, was published April 5, 1954 and was completed just a few months before the release of the debut Bond novel, Casino Royale—in fact, some Bond scholars Read More
  • John Patrick: Workaholic of the Stage and Screen

    Tue, 17 May 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    One evening, John Patrick revved his chainsaw on the president of a power company’s lawn. The playwright wanted to run an extra power line to his new farm in New York state. Having received nothing but a string of empty promises, Patrick decided to take matters into his own hands. So he threatened to cut down the executive’s elm tree unless his concerns were properly addressed. The playwright knew a little about getting what he wanted—he had a Pulitzer Prize, after all. Read More
  • Collecting the Legendary L. Frank Baum

    Sun, 15 May 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    L. Frank Baum created one of the most enduring settings in all of literature—Oz—not to mention some of our most beloved characters. What’s more, his collected works established a brand of American fairy tale that had never before been seen and has since been the inspiration and influence for countless other writers as well as for children of all ages who are looking to find their place and purpose in the world. L. Frank Baum was a master, and it’s not surprising that his works are some of the most sought-after by book collectors. What follows is a brief discussion Read More
  • The Magic of Artemis Fowl and Eoin Colfer

    Sat, 14 May 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Author Eoin Colfer, best known for his Artemis Fowl series, was born in Wexford, Ireland in 1965. His parents instilled in him a love of reading at a young age. He developed an interest in writing in elementary school. Inspired by a history lesson, he began writing adventure stories featuring vikings. Colfer studied education at the University of Dublin and followed in his parents' footsteps to become a school teacher. He spent several years teaching abroad. His first book, Benny and Omar, was inspired by his time in Tunisia and published in 1998. Read More
  • Happy Limerick Day: A Brief History of the Limerick

    Thu, 12 May 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    On May 12 each year, the international poetry community stops to recognize a quirky, off-kilter poetic form: the limerick. Celebrated on the birthday of English artist, illustrator, and poet Edward Lear (1812-1888), the holiday pays tribute to the five-line, rhyming form and to Lear himself, who helped popularize the form throughout his career. Read More
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