Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • The Big Apple: Four New York City Writers You Should Be Reading

    Wed, 27 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    In the pantheon of American arts and letters, few cities loom larger than New York City. The center of American publishing since the earliest days of the enterprise, New York City has, at one time or another, played host to a number of the country’s most daring, innovative, and influential authors. Entire literary scenes and schools have emerged, developed, and faded in the city’s numerous boroughs. Some of the most infamous relationships between writers have been forged in the city’s storied cafes and bars. It’s the one place in America where the literati congregate: where the aspiring bring their stories Read More
  • George Bernard Shaw: The Art of Quotation

    Tue, 26 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Good booze, beautiful scenery, and wit are the very things Ireland is perhaps known best for. The country’s long history of strife and oppression has given its people a talent for insight and humor. An analysis of the sharpest wits in the English language reveal a lopsided representation of Ireland, with a stacked roster represented by the likes of Swift, Sterne, Wilde, and Behan. And strong as they may be, such a list would be incomplete without the inclusion of playwright and Nobel Prize-winner George Bernard Shaw. Read More
  • The History of the Pulps

    Sat, 23 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    One of the less-remembered truths about the world of books is that, for much of their history, books were expensive. Even in the eighteenth century, owning more than a few books was a marker of middle class status. This fact, of course, did nothing to negate the desire that exists within almost everyone to be taken in by stories. As such, the nineteenth century saw a rise in deliberate attempts to produce inexpensive reading material, the most memorable of which efforts took the forms of the penny dreadful and the dime novel. Cheaply produced on low quality paper, these alternatives Read More
  • The Legend of the Pied Piper

    Fri, 22 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Deep within the children’s section of the local library, is an old dusty copy of classic fairytales. Behind the faded cover lives stories of heroism, nobility, and true love; stories that eagerly fill the minds of young dreamers everywhere. However, dwelling amongst the “once upon a times” and “happily ever afters” is a far more sinister tale of rat infestation, broken promises, and the disappearance of an entire city’s children. Read More
  • The Top Five Children's Libraries From Around the World

    Thu, 21 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Libraries are not just for adults, and they are a wonderfully international experience. Go anywhere in the world and you’ll find a place to gain access, have fun, and get an education. These are five of our favorite children's libraries from around the world. Read More
  • In Praise of Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian

    Wed, 20 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    In recent years, a string of successful film adaptations has brought the work of Cormac McCarthy into a wide, national spotlight. But to many of his dedicated readers, the crowning achievement of the author’s fifty-year career is his 1985 novel, Blood Meridian. The story concerns a band of Indian scalpers, circa 1850, and their campaign along the Mexican-American border. The novel’s vision, severely violent and infernal, has put many readers off, but galvanized all the more. Read More
  • Collecting Indigenous Sámi Literature

    Tue, 19 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you’ve read anything about Sámi culture or literature recently, it may have been through Vendela Vida’s novel Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name: A Novel (2007). While many works of indigenous literature have received international acclaim over the last century, Sámi fiction and poetry has remained relatively obscured from global readership. In case you’re not familiar with Sámi history or culture, we can give you a brief background. The Sámi are an indigenous group with geographic ties to the Arctic regions of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. According to a presentation before UNESCO and the Nordic World Heritage Read More
  • How Theodor Geisel Became Dr. Seuss

    Sat, 16 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Theodor Geisel, known today as Dr. Seuss, was a student of English literature in his youth. While attending Oxford to get a Ph.D. in the 1920s, his future-wife persuaded him to pursue his dreams as a writer and illustrator. He returned home to the United States, with little experience other than a stint as editor of Dartmouth’s humor magazine, the Jack-O-Lantern. He submitted pieces to publishers and periodicals. It was a long slog, but he eventually made his debut with a cartoon in the July 16, 1927 issue of the Saturday Evening Post. His pay was $25—enough encouragement for the Read More
  • Five Interesting Facts About Clive Cussler

    Fri, 15 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    While not necessarily as well known as Tom Clancy or Michael Crichton, Clive Cussler has for many years been one of the acknowledged masters of techno-fiction, a genre that blends science fiction, spy novels, and adventure stories. While someone like Crichton has become renowned for the realism and meticulous attention to detail that characterizes his works, Clive Cussler has made a name for himself over the course of more than 70 books by emphasizing the sort of swashbuckling, credulity-defying adventure that can be traced back to Robert Louis Stevenson and others. Here are five interesting facts about him. Read More
  • Collecting Nobel Laureates: Isaac Bashevis Singer

    Thu, 14 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Today, we'd like to discuss some collecting points for Polish-born author and Nobel Prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer. Singer was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1978 “for his impassioned narrative art which, with roots in a Polish-Jewish cultural tradition, brings universal human conditions to life". In Singer’s writing we see interesting and compelling family dynamics as well as religious influences, demons, and the supernatural. The morality at work (or not at work) in his novels and short stories was often under scrutiny. However, Singer is unarguably one of the most prominent and valuable voices to come out of Read More
  • Political Playwright: Wole Soyinka

    Wed, 13 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    In 1986, Wole Soyinka became the first African to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Soyinka's legacy is bound up in the numerous plays, novels, short stories, essays, memoirs, movies, and translations which he has authored. And throughout his life, he has served as a spokesman against apartheid and government corruption. He has won numerous other awards for his work, including the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Academy of Achievement Golden Plate Award, and the Agip Prize for Literature, and he has taught at many prestigious universities including Emory University, Harvard, and Obafemi Awolowo University. Read More
  • VLOG: The Art of Wood Engraving and Printing

    Tue, 12 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Wood engraving is perhaps one of the most amazing art forms known to man. Often, wood engravings are found in older collectible books as well as in modern-day fine press books. But unfortunately, the art form can often be missed in the more mainstream world of book collecting and art. Today we'd like to change that by sharing a collection of videos about the wood engraving process. Read More
  • Busy as He May Be, Dean Koontz Cares About His Collectors

    Sat, 09 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Even if you’ve never read Dean Koontz’s books, you’ve certainly seen them around. Whether in airports, used bookshops, or your aunt’s living room, the work of Koontz litters shelves and stands all over the world. It makes sense, too. At age 70, Dean Koontz has placed himself among the top twenty best-selling authors of all time, with more books in circulation than either Stephen King or James Patterson. Read More
  • Nothing But Land: A Literary Tour of the Great Plains

    Fri, 08 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    “A place where there was nothing but land: not a country at all, but the materials out of which countries were made.” A bleak sentiment, yes, but perhaps one that has been the basis for some of the most stark, intimate, and revealing writing in the American literary tradition. Taken from the mind of Jim Burden, the central character in Willa Cather’s masterpiece novel, My Antonia (1918), this moment expresses a place where imagination, creativity, and fortitude are not merely boons to intellectual survival: they’re essential. But perhaps it makes sense that these aforementioned qualities are also often found in Read More
  • The Bond Dossier: Diamonds Are Forever

    Thu, 07 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    With any series of novels, there comes a pivot point—a moment when the author decides to move away from familiar themes and tropes in the hopes of breaking new ground for his characters and worlds, exploring previously untapped themes and ideas in an effort to create greater depth and complexity for his readers. One could argue Ian Fleming’s fourth James Bond novel, Diamonds Are Forever, is just such a pivot point. Read More
  • Collecting Art Books

    Wed, 06 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Today, we’d like to tackle the topic of collecting art books. Before we begin, it’s necessary to define what exactly “collecting art books” means. In fact, it can mean different things to different people, and this blog post certainly won’t be an all-inclusive list. For the sake of this post, we’ll discuss four variations on the collecting art book's theme. First, we’ll focus on collecting books of artists’ art work. Second, we’ll document some great books about art, from its history to key players in the art scene, both past and present. Then, we’ll shift our attention to collecting books Read More
  • How the Founding Fathers Help Us Understand Ourselves

    Mon, 04 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    The term “Founding Fathers” was coined by a speechwriter named Judson Welliver. He wrote under the administration of Warren G. Harding, who said the phrase nearly a century after the last of that group perished—the fourth president James Madison, who died in the year 1836. Yet even before they had a collective name, the legacies of the founders were constantly being reinterpreted. Read More
  • Nine Fascinating Facts about Franz Kafka

    Sun, 03 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Even today, Franz Kafka remains one of the most celebrated practitioners of absurdism that the world of letters has ever known. Born to an Austrian Jewish family around the turn of the 20th Century, Kafka spent most of his life working in obscurity, paying the bills with an insurance job that he reportedly loathed, only to gain a huge audience after his death on the strength of such classics as The Trial (1925) and The Metamorphosis (1915). Here are some interesting facts about him. Read More
  • Elie Wiesel: Reluctant Writer and Collectible Nobel Laureate is Dead.

    Sat, 02 Jul 2016 05:08:55 Permalink
    Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel passes away on July 2, 2016. Wiesel was born in Sighet, Romania in 1928, and is best known for his voice as a Holocaust survivor and advocate for peace. Wiesel’s family was separated during World War II when the German army deported their Jewish community of Sighet to Auschwitz-Birkenau. His father died just weeks before the camp was liberated by American troops in 1945. After the war, Wiesel was reunited with two of his three sisters in France; his mother and youngest sister did not survive. Read More
  • Elie Wiesel: Reluctant Writer and Collectible Nobel Laureate is Dead

    Sat, 02 Jul 2016 05:08:55 Permalink
    Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel passed away on July 2, 2016. Wiesel was born in Sighet, Romania in 1928, and is best known for his voice as a Holocaust survivor and advocate for peace. Wiesel’s family was separated during World War II when the German army deported their Jewish community of Sighet to Auschwitz-Birkenau. His father died just weeks before the camp was liberated by American troops in 1945. After the war, Wiesel was reunited with two of his three sisters in France; his mother and youngest sister did not survive. Read More
  • Collecting Nobel Laureates: Eugenio Montale & Dario Fo

    Fri, 01 Jul 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Collecting the works of Nobel laureates makes sense. There’s a definable list of winners. The winners are the best-of-the-best. And, your collection can span titles from authors the world over. Or, if you prefer, it can be focused on a specific genre, idea, or region. If you’re interested in Italian Nobel Prize in Literature winners—in total, six individuals from Italy have been awarded the Prize—today we spotlight the most recent winners: Eugenio Montale and Dario Fo. For more information on our previous Italian Nobel Prize in Literature winner spotlights, see the end of the post. Read More
  • Czesław Miłosz's Political and Literary Legacy

    Thu, 30 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Czesław Miłosz was born in 1911 in Poland to an ethnically Lithuanian civil engineer and a Polish noble. Miłosz was raised in Lithuania, and though it caused much controversy in his life, he would never ally himself formally with either Poland or Lithuanian, saying that he was born in Poland, and was therefore technically Polish, but that he was raised with the spirit of the Lithuanian people and could not deny that part of himself. Interestingly, Miłosz's literary and political efforts would cause him to remain on the fringe, only recognized in and by his homeland later in his life. Read More
  • Five of the Coolest Libraries for Children in the U.S.

    Wed, 29 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Libraries create access to information and are seen as institutions that promote higher learning and research. However, for the smaller scholars, libraries can simply be a place for fun. Many public libraries focus on their children’s area and make it a utopia that exposes children of all socioeconomic groups to art, literature, and a really good time. These are five wonderful libraries that create a haven for small minds yearning for activity and stimulation. Read More
  • Luigi Pirandello's Four Nobel Prizes

    Tue, 28 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    While the Nobel Prize in Literature does not explicitly aim to single out the most influential writers of a given generation (per Alfred Nobel, its purpose is to reward “the most outstanding work in an ideal direction”), that it should do so seems inevitable. The most outstanding work, after all, frequently proves to be the most read and most imitated. And indeed, that the Nobel sometimes helps to define the chain of literary influence from one era to the next can be one of the most gratifying things about the list. It is by this metric that Luigi Pirandello, the Read More
  • A Brief Introduction to Eric Carle

    Sat, 25 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    It is the first day of preschool. You walk into a classroom filled with unfamiliar faces, clinging to your mom’s hand before it’s time to say goodbye. You take your seat on the welcome rug, carefully patting down your “first-day of school” dress as you timidly scan the brightly colored toys and trinkets that line the shelves. It doesn’t look like a scary place, but it is very different from anything you’ve known. As you absorb the new world around you, the teacher pulls out a book. You recognize the cover as one you’ve read before, and as she begins Read More
  • Did Shakespeare Really Write His Plays?

    Fri, 24 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    The life of Shakespeare is shaped by two major qualities: excellence and obscurity. For this reason, his biography has been subject to much scrutiny and speculation. The central question that plagues the legacy of Shakespeare is a famous one, and gets down to the reality of the figure himself. Did Shakespeare, the great poet and dramatist, really exist as we know him? Read More
  • Michael and Jeff Shaara: Masters of Historical Fiction

    Thu, 23 Jun 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    The title of Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War novel The Killer Angels (1974) comes from an exchange between between Union Colonel Joshua Chamberlain and his father which appears relatively early in the book. Hearing Chamberlain recite a line from Hamlet that likens man to angels, his father responds, "Well, boy, if he's an angel, he's sure a murderin' angel." The title is deeply ambivalent. The ‘killer angels’ are, notably, still called angels despite being killers, and vice versa. On some level, this ambivalence is the true appeal of Shaara’s writing. He trains his sights on one of the most Read More
  • 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
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