Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • Caldecott Winning Illustrators Series: Marie Hall Ets

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 08:00:00 Permalink
    Reading is one of the most fundamental and important skills we learn as children. The books we encounter as children teach us lessons, offer us comfort, and hopefully build a foundational love of reading and story that stay with us for the rest of our lives. For these reasons, children's books are some of the most valued and beloved books in literature. To that end, each year the Caldecott Medal is awarded to a children's book that exemplifies the best and most innovative work in the field of children's book illustration. These books are vibrant, relevant, and crucial stories whose Read More
  • 7 Interesting Facts About Jack Nicklaus

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 08:00:00 Permalink
    Jack Nicklaus is such a wildly accomplished golfer that listing out his achievements almost seems tedious. Though, perhaps it would reflect the slow, systematic nature of golf itself to cite each of his 18 major championship victories, his 73 PGA tour victories, and his double and triple career grand slams. After the spirit of his own writings (more on those later), however, we’ll keep the introduction brief: Jack Nicklaus is probably the greatest golfer of all time, and throughout his long and varied life and career he's done and accomplished a number of odd, surprising, and delightful things. Here are Read More
  • Susan Sontag: Controversial Cultural Critic

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 08:00:00 Permalink
    “Words alter, words add, words subtract.” Susan Sontag: philosopher, literary critic, academic, political commentator, humanist, essayist, novelist, celebrity, diva, activist, zeitgeist; there is no one label in her repertoire that she didn’t engender a polarizing opinion on. With her trademark hair boasting an austere white stripe, Sontag shot to celebrity status in the 1960s, when she not only branded herself physically, but also made sure to be seen at shows, launches and Hollywood parties, laying the framework for a diva's reputation for haughtiness and mercurial behavior. She was observed berating any clerk or waiter who didn’t treat her with proper Read More
  • A.A. Milne: More Than Just Winnie the Pooh

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 08:00:00 Permalink
    Winnie the Pooh and his friends Piglet, Eeyore, and Tigger have been enchanting children for decades. While these imaginative characters are certainly the most popular creations to come from author A.A. Milne, they are not his only or first work. In fact, Winnie the Pooh came pretty late in the game, quickly overshadowing the collection of writing Milne had already produced. Along with children's literature, this versatile writer also penned adult novels and works of nonfictions, magazine articles, poetry, and scripts for stage and screen. Read More
  • What is a Rare Book?

    Wed, 15 Jan 2020 08:00:00 Permalink
    We often hear about people who are starting or adding to rare book collections, but it can be difficult to know exactly what counts as a “rare” book. Indeed, you may find yourself wondering: What is a rare book? The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines something that is “rare” in a variety of ways, and some of them certainly apply to rare books. For example, the OED defines a rare object as “a thing or things . . . occurring infrequently, encountered only occasionally or at intervals, uncommon,” or “of a kind seldom found, done or occurring; unusual, uncommon, exceptional.” Read More
  • A Guide to Collecting the Works of Anchee Min

    Tue, 14 Jan 2020 08:00:00 Permalink
    Whether you’re just beginning to read the works of Anchee Min or are considering starting a contemporary literature collection that focuses on Min’s works, it’s essential to know more about her background to understand the potential ways of framing your collection. While many people simply collect all books written by a particular author, Min’s life story provides an interesting background for framing a larger collection that includes texts of the Chinese Cultural Revolution or the Chinese-American immigrant community in the U.S. and elsewhere. Read More
  • Top Books by State: Idaho

    Mon, 13 Jan 2020 08:00:00 Permalink
    Today we continue our literary road trip by taking a closer look at some of the best books from the state of Idaho. This Pacific Northwest state is known for its impressive, mountainous beauty and its sweeping forests. In fact, approximately 38% of the state is actually owned and preserved by the United States Forest Service. Idaho is unique in that it shares natural characteristics with both the Pacific Northwest and geological features more associated with the American West. This beautiful state is known for its national park tourism, agriculture, mining, and rich Native American cultures. The books we're looking Read More
  • Ten Interesting Facts About Jack London

    Sun, 12 Jan 2020 08:00:00 Permalink
    Jack London's characteristically raw, edgy writing influenced and inspired such literary giants as Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, George Orwell and Upton Sinclair. He was also one of the first writers to gain fame and wealth from his fiction. However, London's short life was one marked by poverty and struggle from beginning to end. Here are 10 interesting facts about this often abrasive American author: Read More
  • The Writings of Former President Richard Nixon

    Thu, 09 Jan 2020 08:00:00 Permalink
    Former President Richard Nixon has the unique distinction of being the only president in the history of the United States government to resign from office. Known for his involvement in the Vietnam War as well as the Watergate Scandal, Nixon's political legacy is one of the more controversial moments in 20th century American history. Today we take a closer look at Nixon's presidency as well as some of the books written in his post-presidential career as a best-selling author, which detail this complicated man's place in the fabric of the country and the political views that led him to both Read More
  • Six Famous Horror Novels Based on True Stories

    Tue, 07 Jan 2020 08:00:00 Permalink
    On July 26, 1984, Edward Gein died in a state mental institution. Gein's case stole the headlines in November 1957, when police went to his farmhouse to investigate the disappearance of local hardware store clerk Bernice Worden. Gein had been the last customer at the store and had been seen loitering on the premises. Officers were horrified to find Worden's corpse hanging in the barn⁠—along with a collection of household items and a suit made out of human skin, and bowls made from human skulls. It seemed that Gein was responsible for the deaths of countless victims, not just that Read More
  • Homage to the Midwest: Building a Carl Sandburg Collection

    Mon, 06 Jan 2020 08:00:00 Permalink
    As a poet and writer born in Illinois in 1878, it might seem obvious that a collection of Carl Sandburg’s works would pay homage in some fashion to the Midwest. Yet more than many authors coming out of the Midwest, Carl Sandburg’s works truly conjure images of rolling prairies and Midwestern cityscapes. Although Sandburg ended up spending the last part of his life in rural Western North Carolina, the subject matter of his poems, biographical writings, and other texts always hearken back to the middle part of the country. From visualizations of cornfields and cornhuskers to biographical writings about Abraham Read More
  • Umberto Eco as Consummate Book Collector

    Sun, 05 Jan 2020 08:00:00 Permalink
    Umberto Eco made quite a name for himself as a philosopher, author, and semiotician. He also earned a reputation for being an enthusiastic collector of rare books. Eco amassed tens of thousands of books, and always observed that he hadn't read most of them. Yet his personal library played an important role for him as a writer, informing his books with a unique—and fascinating—intertextual layer. Read More
  • Ten Magnificent Tolkien Collectibles

    Fri, 03 Jan 2020 08:00:00 Permalink
    Books are their own little world, and no writer has taken this to heart quite like J.R.R. Tolkien. Through Middle-Earth, the British author imagined a land of such history and vastness that, although he has many imitators, Tolkien still has no equal. Beyond the billion-dollar films and merchandise, Tolkien has left behind an expansive bibliography which can take even the most serious collectors time to navigate. It’s not quite as hard as learning Elvish, but building the perfect Tolkien library requires a bit of enthusiastic study. Here's a look at ten magnificent items for a Tolkien collection. Read More
  • The Best of 2019: Our Top Ten Blog Posts

    Tue, 31 Dec 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    It's hard to believe another year has come and gone. We hope your holiday season has been a wonderful one and that you're looking ahead to 2020 with joy and excitement. We like to take time at the end of each year to take stock of our work over the past 12 months. We've compiled our top posts from 2019. Thank you for reading and commenting! This community of book enthusiasts is why we do what we do. Here's to a bookish 2020! Read More
  • Top Books by State: Hawaii

    Sat, 28 Dec 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    Today we continue our literary journey through the United State with our Top Books by State series. The next stop: Hawaii. Hawaii is one of very few states to have been a sovereign nation before statehood. While the U.S. had acknowledged Hawaii as an independent nation and had established treaties, the U.S. and European businessmen organized a coup to overthrow the Kamehameha monarchy. The U.S. government supported the coup, stating that military demonstrations in Hawaii and the queen's new constitution expanding her personal power were a threat to U.S. citizens; however, control of the sugar trade was a primary motivation Read More
  • Ten Profound Henry Miller Quotes

    Thu, 26 Dec 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    Born December 26, 1891, Henry Miller left a profound mark on American literature. Best known for his candor, Miller was unafraid to discuss and include topics in his works that many other authors shied away from in the mid-20th century, causing many of his major works to be banned in the United States and Britain. It was not until the freedom that came with the 1960s that his works were widely published. Because of his candor, his works contain a level of profound insight that other works lacking this particular trait fail to ever reach. Read More
  • 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: The Authorship Question

    Tue, 24 Dec 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    It is a fact that this stalwart Christmas poem, now considered a tradition, was initially published as an Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas in New York's Troy Sentinel newspaper on December 23, 1823.  It was published anonymously. The poem is credited with connecting St. Nicholas to Christmas and planted the seeds that led to our idea of Santa Claus. It also established most of the reindeer names. Read More
  • Nine Caldecott Winners for the Winter Season

    Thu, 19 Dec 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    The first snowfall of the year, the anticipation of Christmas, the wealth of holiday traditions: the end of the year is filled with opportunities for joy and fascination for the young (and young at heart). It’s no surprise, then, that the list of Caldecott award winners is filled with winter tales. It’s the perfect time of year to snuggle up with loved ones and read a book, so here are some classics to enjoy, from The Polar Express to The Big Snow. Read More
  • The Lost World: 5 Books Steven Spielberg Almost Adapted

    Wed, 18 Dec 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    Steven Spielberg (who turns 73 today!) is more than just one of the most successful and well-respected directors in Hollywood—he’s also a prolific adapter of books and other literary works for the silver screen. Some of his best known works, from Jaws (1974) to the Color Purple (1982) to Jurassic Park (1990), were originally based on books of various levels of literary acclaim. Because one of the great all-time literary and filmic pastimes is comparing novels to their screen adaptations, the book lovers of the world owe Spielberg a huge debt of gratitude (the fact that many of these films Read More
  • Caldecott Winning Illustrators Series: Barbara Cooney

    Tue, 17 Dec 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    Each year the Caldecott Medal is awarded to the children's book most representative of the highest level of quality and skill in the industry. While sometimes the author and illustrator are one in the same, as with Barbara Cooney's 1958 win for Chanticleer and the Fox, just as often the illustrator in question did not write the book, which is the case for Cooney's 1980 win for her collaboration on Donald Hall's Ox-Cart Man. Cooney is a perfect example of what a recipient should be. Her work is prized not only for the exceptional addition it makes to children's books, but as Read More
  • Hero vs. Villain: Jane Austen's Male Characters

    Mon, 16 Dec 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    When thinking of Jane Austen, one, primarily, first thinks of her heroines. While a perfectly reasonable instinct since they are the main protagonists, their male counterparts are often overlooked and shuffled to the side and considered only in their marriage eligibility, a rather fair occurrence when one considers how female characters were often treated by Austen’s contemporaries. This does, however, offer a disservice to Austen’s work. Her male characters are just as carefully crafted as her female protagonists, each providing specific insight into the different kinds of men, both heroes and villains, Austen and her heroines experienced. Read More
  • Children's Books to Gift This Holiday Season

    Wed, 11 Dec 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    Christmas is a magical time for children. School is out of session, the possibility of snow lends a sense of excitement to every cold day, treats and presents are never far off, and the season is filled with the warm comfort of tradition. This year, we invite you to take a look at some of the best Christmas books to gift to children. Maybe you can start a new tradition of your own by giving a book that comes to hold an important place in a child's holiday celebration. From The Night Before Christmas to a few more unusual titles, Read More
  • Three of Cornelia Funke's Best Series

    Tue, 10 Dec 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    Fantasy books hold a special place in literature. Their world-building provides insight into authors’ imaginations and exposes readers to new, unique cultures and worlds. In a time where fantasy is running rampant, it can be difficult to find novels outside of the sometimes static popular motifs. German author Cornelia Funke writes some of the best children’s and young adult fantasy series. In her work, she combines well loved fantasy tropes and creatures and elements from classic fairy tales into new, colorful worlds for readers to enjoy. Read More
  • John Milton, Political Activist and Poet

    Mon, 09 Dec 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    “I sung of Chaos and Eternal Night, Taught by the heav'nly Muse to venture down The dark descent, and up to reascend”                 -Paradise Lost     Today we celebrate literary giant John Milton, author of Paradise Lost. His poetry profoundly influenced English literature and in particular the works of William Wordsworth, William Blake, Alexander Pope, and John Keats. Now, over three centuries since his death, Milton remains one of the greatest of all English poets. Read More
  • James Thurber's Life and Work

    Sun, 08 Dec 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    James Thurber became one of the most popular humorists of his time by shining a comedic light on the everyday man and his daily, mundane frustrations and idiosyncrasies. In his work, Thurber often asked his audience to consider how their minds shaped their view of reality. Read More
  • The Real Man Behind Santa Claus (And the Books That Made Him Famous)

    Fri, 06 Dec 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    At this time of year, it is common to hear cheery adults ask wide-eyed children, “What do you want from Santa Claus?” In the lead-up to Christmas day, one can find a white-beard wielding, red suit wearing, rosy-faced man at most every shopping center and holiday event, and whether the young children are excited to tell him their Christmas wishes or run screaming in terror at the thought of sitting upon his lap, imagining Christmas without Santa Claus is incredibly difficult. Indeed, Santa has become so intertwined with the Christmas holiday that for many, he takes center stage on December Read More
  • Five of Disney's Best Adaptations

    Thu, 05 Dec 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    It has long been a tradition to adapt older, well-loved works into more modern versions. From the re-telling of fairy tales, each with their own flair, to the use of popular tropes instituted by some of the most popular authors, the practice of making the old new has long held reader’s and author’s interest. Technology has allowed for this tradition to transform into new medias. One of the best known providers of adapted classics is The Walt Disney Company. While sometimes they change little and sometimes they change much, Disney’s productions are all masterfully created to inspire and draw audiences Read More
  • David Macaulay: A Mind To Be Reckoned With

    Mon, 02 Dec 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    From the time he was a child, David Macaulay evidenced a fascination with how machines operated. He soon began to make models of machines and began drawing illustrations of these machines. Soon he was constructing elevators out of shoe boxes, tape, and string and devising intricate systems of moving cable cars made with empty thread spools. Read More
  • Jan Brett: More Than Pretty Pictures

    Sun, 01 Dec 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    Jan Brett decided she would be an illustrator when she was quite young. As a child, she felt that she could enter the pages of her beautiful picture books. Her goal as an illustrator is to recreate that feeling of believing that the imaginary places really exist. Her beautiful pictures allow children and the adults who love them to experience this magic in the 41 million copies of her books in print. She is both an author and illustrator, but it’s her illustrations that truly set her books apart from other players in the world of children’s literature. Read More
  • Who Were Mark Twain's Publishers?

    Sat, 30 Nov 2019 08:00:00 Permalink
    Samuel Langhorne Clemens, or Mark Twain as he is known to many readers, wrote nearly two dozen books over the course of his career, not to mention the wide variety of essays that appeared in various literary magazines. He’s a popular author for new and seasoned collectors alike, and his fiction and essays have appeared in dozens of different editions for more than a century. Yet unless you’re extremely familiar with particular editions of Twain’s work, you may not be too knowledgeable about his many publishers. So, who were his publishers? Read More
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