Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • Caldecott Medalist Peter Spier: An Illustrious Career

    Thu, 04 Jun 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Many elements combine to make for a deeply affecting children’s book. As in most any writing, story and characters are major factors in the success or failure of a children’s book. Likewise, an aesthetic is essential, one that is both captivating to children and palatable to the adults who often purchase and read the books aloud. While there’s no denying the importance of these elements, it seems likely that for many the most crucial element of a good children’s book is its artwork. Artwork, after all, is what imbues the plot, the characters, and the aesthetics with a sense of Read More
  • Libraries & Special Collections: The Poetry Foundation Library

    Wed, 03 Jun 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Among the many small libraries in the United States attached to organizations, the Poetry Foundation Library in Chicago is a gem. The library itself only opened in 2011, but the collection began as a resource for Poetry magazine in 1912. Open to the public, the library is an extension of the Poetry Foundation’s mission “to raise poetry to a more visible and influential position in American culture.” Read More
  • Heinrich Bӧll: Nobel Prize Winner and D-Day Adversary

    Tue, 02 Jun 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    As another anniversary of the 1944 allied landing at Normandy takes place this June, thousands of participants will trod the roads and fields once defended by Hitler’s Wehrmacht. One of the members of Wehrmacht was Heinrich Bӧll, a devout Catholic from Cologne and an eventual Nobel Prize in Literature winner in 1972. Read More
  • Carol Shields: Our Literary Neighbor to the North

    Mon, 01 Jun 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    It may (or may not) shock some of you to know that Alice Munro, who won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature, was the first Canadian writer to achieve Nobel laureate-status. Still others, while in the process of reading these sentences, may be equally shocked to realize that they can hardly name any Canadian authors. Munro, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje; for many the list stops there. Though Canada’s most populous cities are often mere hours of travel from the literary hubs of the lower 48, a deep awareness of our northern neighbor’s literary output rarely seems to make it through Read More
  • T.S. Eliot and the Struggle of Faith

    Sun, 31 May 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Nobel laureate T.S. Eliot made some of the most recognizable and well-respected contributions to the American literary canon. He is best remembered for poems like "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (1915) and The Wasteland (1922), and his poetic efforts are often considered synonymous with the “high” modernist style of his time. Though less well known, T.S. Eliot also penned several plays—religious in nature—later in his career. They, too, are deserving of our attention, if for no other reason than for the insight they give us into the ever-searching mind of one of the greatest writers of the 20th Read More
  • Beer Me: Five Writers on America's Most Famous Beverage

    Sat, 30 May 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    This month, we were treated to American Craft Beer Week, an annual celebration of the craft beer movement across the country. For seven days, craft beer lovers, brewers, critics and writers – yes, there are many wordsmiths and literature-minded folks putting pen to paper in the name of craft beer – took part in tastings, special beer releases, panel discussions and other gatherings. Read More
  • An Interview with David Pascoe of Nawakum Press

    Fri, 29 May 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    We were fortunate enough to interview David Pascoe of Nawakum Press--a publisher of unique, handcrafted books. David has collaborated with an impressive group of writers and artists, including Barry Moser and Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Paul Muldoon. His books have been collected by many important institutions, including the Library of Congress, Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book Library, Stanford University's Cecil H. Green Library, Harvard University's Houghton Library, and many others. In this interview, David shares with us the story of Nawakum Press: its origins, inspirations, and notable collaborations.  Read More
  • Feminist Literature from Iran

    Thu, 28 May 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Thinking about the contemporary politics of the Middle East, few of us immediately think of the rich history of Iranian literary production. However, modern Iran—from the time of the Shah through to the depths of Islamic fundamentalism and the suppression of human rights—has produced some of the most interesting texts by and about women. What does feminism look like in Iran? We might begin to answer such a question by reading the poetry of Forough Farrokhzad, ending with the graphic novel Persepolis, written by Marjane Satrapi, and exploring various genres in between. Read More
  • When Ian Fleming Met John F. Kennedy

    Wed, 27 May 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Ian Fleming was one of the great raconteurs of 20th century international life. Not surprisingly, he was also a great participant in it. Fleming was famously at the forefront of British secret intelligence during World War II, helping establish the vital No. 30 Commando unit to intercept Nazi communications. This experience was essential in creating the espionage stories of the James Bond books. Fleming, as he became a celebrity author, often met with leading figures of his time, some of whom were also big fans of his work. One of the most memorable of these meetings was with soon-to-be U.S. president Read More
  • Real Life Examples of Successful Women in Science

    Tue, 26 May 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    History is packed with examples of powerful women who've made names for themselves in the fields of science and technology. Think Jane Goodall. Mae Jemison. Barbara McClintock. Rachel Carson. Each of these ladies has had a significant and lasting impact. So, we wondered, is there something these women in science had in common? What led to their success? Read More
  • Writing between Dogma and Despair: Walker Percy's Catholicism

    Mon, 25 May 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Lately, much has been said about whether the Catholic Church should canonize prolific 19th and 20th Century thinker and writer G.K. Chesterton. He was, proponents insist, one of the most vocal lay-supporters of the Catholic faith in the last two centuries. His arguments for the church’s doctrines were imaginative and seemingly boundless. Whether or not the beloved crafter of fairy tales and treatises stands a real chance of sainthood, the speculation does make one wonder: where are the sainthood campaigns for other great Catholic authors? Where is the push to canonize Flannery O’Connor? Gerard Manly Hopkins? Graham Greene? Where, most Read More
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson's Influence: An American Literary Tradition

    Sun, 24 May 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    "In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty." - Ralph Waldo Emerson Philosophy, in its purest form, should be about a love of wisdom. Unfortunately, it is often a field dominated by pedants, logicians, and empiricists. Yet we know life is scarcely described best through laws and technicalities. It is far too complex and marvelous for rigid deconstruction. Ralph Waldo Emerson understood this well. And he offered nearly two centuries of readers a loving interpretation of life, art, and the New World in which he lived. Read More
  • King's Printers in England: Giving Monarchs a Voice Throughout History

    Sat, 23 May 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Many established governments around the globe have a dedicated printing house that handles all official documents and resources. In the United States, it’s the US Government Printing Office. In the British Commonwealth (primarily the United Kingdom and Canada), the role of King’s or Queen’s Printer may be assigned at the monarch’s pleasure. And things get sticky when politics, religion, and publishing mix. Read More
  • Famous Holocaust Memoirs

    Fri, 22 May 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    What kind of text do you imagine when you hear the word memoir? The term might be narrowly defined as a biographical narrative that recounts an important historical event, in a linear chronology, from the viewpoint of a witness. Yet the form that these accounts take also can be experimental, playing with notions of contested memory, witness, and testimony. Holocaust memoirs, perhaps more than most other works of literature connected to a particular moment of political violence, have taught readers about the significance of such texts in redefining the ways we think about history and its indelible effects on the present Read More
  • 5 Surprising Facts about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

    Thu, 21 May 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s name is synonymous with mystery. The creator of Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle’s impact on the world of detective and mystery genre remains too great to measure. With an uncanny sense of detail and a keen eye for inimitable characters, Conan Doyle has riveted and delighted millions of readers over the course of the last century. Here are five interesting facts about him.  Read More
  • Are You Ready for the London Antiquarian Book Fair?

    Wed, 20 May 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you are near London next week (May 28th-30th), we would like to invite you to the London International Antiquarian Book Fair! See our catalog, sign up for your complimentary tickets, and then join us in Olympia to experience some remarkable books. Read More
  • Eight Surprising Hobbies of Legendary Authors

    Tue, 19 May 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Writing is a creative release to many people, but when you make your living from the pen, what do you turn to in order to replenish your soul? Those we consider legendary authors today didn’t spend all of their time at the desk. These eight authors and their hidden passions may surprise you. Read More
  • James Boswell and the Power of Biography

    Mon, 18 May 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Biography lends to death a new terror. -Oscar Wilde Wilde’s take on biography is most obviously meant to garner a laugh—maybe a nervous one— at the thought of leaving the detailing of one’s life in the hands of another. As a result, perhaps in a roundabout way, Wilde also sheds light on the responsibility that falls to the biographer. After all, biographers hold an incredible power, and they can choose to wield it in a number of ways. Read More
  • Myth, Fairy Tales, & Children: A Brief History of Fantasy

    Sun, 17 May 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you were to play a word association game with the word “fantasy,” your brain would probably jump to things like magic, dragons, heroes, wizards, quests, monsters, mythical creatures, other worlds, and so on. In only a few decades, fantasy has declared itself loudly to the public consciousness as an established genre that's demanded to be heard. Where did the human fascination with such stories begin? Read More
  • A Brief List of Significant Latin American Writers

    Sat, 16 May 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    The twentieth century saw an unmatched period of artistic accomplishment in Latin America. Though it is nearly impossible to choose only a few writers to highlight, the following Latin American authors must be noted for their contributions to the richness of modern literature and poetry. Read More
  • The Politics of Exhuming Pablo Neruda

    Fri, 15 May 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    In 1973, Augusto Pinochet seized power in Chile, installing himself as leader in one of the longest-running dictatorships in modern history. Given Pablo Neruda’s powerful voice as a leftist poet, he was targeted by the Pinochet regime. Indeed, Pinochet sent soldiers to destroy Neruda’s library at La Chascona, his home in Santiago. Neruda died just twelve days after the coup. While many Chileans and others worldwide knew that Neruda had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, the timing of his death led to questions about whether he actually had been a victim of the Pinochet regime. As a result, nearly forty years Read More
  • Presidents, Generals, and Munchkins; Oh My! L. Frank Baum's Influence

    Thu, 14 May 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    “Well, I've worried some about, you know, why write books … why are we teaching people to write books when presidents and senators do not read them, and generals do not read them. And it's been the university experience that taught me that there is a very good reason, that you catch people before they become generals and presidents and so forth and you poison their minds with … humanity." -Kurt Vonnegut, 1976 Read More
  • From Book-to-Film: Books Made Famous by Hollywood

    Wed, 13 May 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    From early nineteenth-century novelists to Pulitzer Prize-winning authors of the twentieth century, many writers have seen their works of fiction adapted for the silver screen and met with enormous popularity and acclaim. Indeed, numerous book-to-film adaptations have gained millions of viewers over the years, and books of Academy Award-winning movies continue to be purchased in bookstores across the country. Read More
  • Charles Baxter's Real Life Fiction

    Tue, 12 May 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Today, the state of the English language short story is too multifarious to pin down. We have the well-crafted and masterful stories of Nobel laureate Alice Munro, which the likes of Anton Chekhov and Henry James perfected. There are the zany, first-person narrated stories of George Saunders and the frontier tales of Annie Proulx. Then there’s Charles Baxter, whose work tends to turn toward our quotidian relationships and the small interactions that make up a lifetime. Read More
  • Learning About Literature and Partition

    Mon, 11 May 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    For much of the first half of the twentieth century, India remained under the control of the British Empire. While many leaders in India had pushed for independence for decades, it wasn’t until the end of World War II—and the crumbling of the system of Western colonization—that Britain began to conceive of leaving the subcontinent. In an attempt to leave as peacefully as possible, misguided efforts to divide the area into the nations of India and Pakistan based on religious and ethnic differences resulted in bloody riots that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands in the Punjab. In the decades Read More
  • From Hester Prynne to Lily Potter: Five Famous Literary Mothers

    Sun, 10 May 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    J.D. Salinger said, "Mothers are all slightly insane." Alice Walker complemented her mother with these words, "Yes, Mother. I can see you are flawed. You have not hidden it. That is your greatest gift to me." Maya Angelou wrote of her mother, "To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power." From the slightly insane to the flawed to the near saintly, mothers have been a force of nature in both human history and in literature. In honor of Mother's Day, here are five literary mothers on which to ruminate this May. Read More
  • A Glossary of Publishing Industry Terms, Part IV

    Sat, 09 May 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    The process of printing and publishing a book has many steps, and when it comes to collecting rare books, the pre-publication material can be as valuable (if not more so) than the actual book. What are the terms to distinguish these unique items? We hope this quick glossary helps in your collecting! Read More
  • Libraries & Special Collections: The Library of Alexandria

    Fri, 08 May 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    You can’t talk about the history of libraries without including the Library of Alexandria, that pinnacle of human knowledge and wisdom in the Ancient World. Like other aspects of far history, not very much is concretely known about the Library of Alexandria, but we can piece together what Ancient historians and thinkers have said about it. It is not just a matter of legend. Read More
  • JAWS Author Peter Benchley as Ocean Advocate

    Thu, 07 May 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Author Peter Benchley may have stumbled into fame as an expert on all things shark, but he quickly took up the mantle as their advocate. Benchley’s smash hit novel, Jaws, came out in 1974, spent 44 weeks on the bestseller list, and became the first summer blockbuster film (ever) the following year. Although Benchley cast a great white shark as his villain, he would spend the rest of his career debunking the stereotype he created. Read More
  • Quiz: Where Would You Live in Tolkien's Middle Earth?

    Wed, 06 May 2015 10:08:57 Permalink
    Are you a fan of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings? Ever wonder what it would be like to live in Middle Earth? Are you more of a hobbit, elf, dwarf, orc, or human? Take our quiz to discover where you belong on Middle Earth. Read More
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