Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • The Vicar of Wakefield: Edition by Edition

    Tue, 10 Nov 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    As a great song is covered once and again by a multitude of bands spanning musical genres and aesthetics; a great story is illustrated time over time by a variety of visual artists, each imbuing the work with their sensibilities and vision. Nothing short of a true classic can inspire generations of artists to revisit a piece—to dig deep into its inner workings in an attempt to unearth some hidden meaning glossed over by previous editions or iterations. And this principle is most certainly true with Oliver Goldsmith’s Victorian novel, The Vicar of Wakefield, first published in 1766, which has Read More
  • Ivan Turgenev and Eight Other Essential Russian Authors

    Mon, 09 Nov 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    This month marks the 197th anniversary of Ivan Turgenev’s birthday. It's as good a time as ever to reflect on the contributions of this important figure of Russian literature's Golden Age. He rubbed shoulders with the classic authors of his time and brought the eye of the West to one of the world's great literary nations. Turgenev holds a remarkable legacy, and it is strengthened even more when one considers the other voices of his country he helped to amplify. Today, we explore Turgenev and eight other essential Russian authors. Read More
  • Kazuo Ishiguro: Surprising User of Spontaneous Prose

    Sun, 08 Nov 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    “That’s not writing, that’s typing” -Truman Capote on Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (1957) Writers and readers alike are taught to be dubious of first drafts. “The first draft of anything,” Ernest Hemingway said, “is sh*t.” By that same reflex, many seem to find themselves wary of anything written too quickly. Detractors of National Novel Writing Month tend to express their disapproval by way of this wariness. They intimate, or sometimes say outright, that nothing of value could possibly be written that quickly. Read More
  • Deception and Sinister Moments in Children's Literature

    Sat, 07 Nov 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    A snapshot of 19th Century children’s literature and one of modern day children’s literature would make for a very interesting before-and-after photo. In the time before children’s lit giants like Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak, or Shel Silverstein, children’s literature often defaulted to mortality or cautionary tales designed to teach children the dangers of greed or gluttony—think of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, as their takes on Little Red Riding Hood and Beauty and the Beast are far afield from the Disney versions. While these tales relied heavily on the use of irony, sardonic humor, grim imagery, and violence, forays into the sinister—particularly Read More
  • James Bond in Film: Past, Present, and Future

    Fri, 06 Nov 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    James Bond will never die. This is true not only in the narratives of his books and movies, but in our world as well. Fifty years after Ian Fleming’s death, the world-famous secret agent continues to live on with the help of a gamut of actors, novelists, and directors. Even in the last two months, the world has seen two significant additions to the 007 canon — first with the September release of the most recent Bond novel, Trigger Mortis, and now with the debut of the franchise’s latest movie, Spectre. Our desire for all things Bond is stronger than Read More
  • Ten of the Most Beautiful Sentences in Literature

    Thu, 05 Nov 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Letters become words, words become sentences, and sentences come together to fill the chapters of literature all over the world. While some passages run through our minds for only a moment before we turn the page, others have the power to stay with us for a lifetime. As an avid reader, I have found that beautiful sentences are beautiful not only because they are poetic, but also because they express a truth we crave to understand. Whether you are reading in a quiet house, on a crowded bus, or sitting on a park bench on a warm summer’s day, beautiful Read More
  • C.K. Williams: A Social Poet

    Wed, 04 Nov 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Renowned poet C.K. Williams passed away on September 20, 2015. Today, we hope to honor his legacy as we explore the makings of the man who the Academey of Arts and Letters described as an "esteemed colleague, whose compassionate poems move consistently toward sympathy and moral enlightenment." Williams started writing poetry when he was 19 years old. His work was heavily influenced by the political environment at the time; thus, much of his writing centered on the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement. As he wrote, his poetry grew more introspective and personal. Many of his poems explore the Read More
  • Karl Ove Knausgaard's Revolution in Norwegian Fiction

    Tue, 03 Nov 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    On the whole, not a lot of recent Scandinavian fiction has made its way into the hearts of English-language readers. This isn’t to say that a lot of great novels aren’t out there waiting to find a translator, but rather that these translations just don’t happen with too much frequency. Many American readers have heard of and possibly read the works of Knut Hamsun, the Norwegian Nobel Prize winner from the first half of the twentieth century who died a Nazi sympathizer. And perhaps you picked up a copy of Lars Saabye Christensen’s The Half Brother (2001), a modern epic Read More
  • Ten Things You Didn't Know About The Lord of the Rings

    Mon, 02 Nov 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (1954, '55) stands today, more than fifty years after its initial publication, as one of the most popular and influential works of all time. Though Tolkien was dedicated to the notion that his sweeping, Beowulf-inspired epic was more akin to history than fantasy, it has effectively shaped the face of modern fantasy in both literature and film, seeping into the broader culture in ways that even Tolkien himself could hardly have foreseen. Here are ten surprising facts about The Lord of the Rings. Read More
  • Eloise at 60: The Illustrator Behind the Beloved Character

    Sun, 01 Nov 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Creating a good children’s book is hard, creating one that endures for half a century is even harder. Yet that’s exactly what Hilary Knight and Kay Thompson did with the creation of their famous character, Eloise. For sixty years, the exuberant six year old has captivated generations of fans in a way few children’s books ever do. There should be magic in every children's book, and Eloise's magic comes from her sheer relatability. So many people see themselves in the character's enduring weirdness and audacity. In the end, it is doubtful this would have ever happened were it not for the Read More
  • Five of the Best Halloween Books for Children

    Sat, 31 Oct 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Happy Halloween! We hope you’re able to share some tricks and treats with those you love today. In honor of the festivities, we thought we’d compile a list of some of the top Halloween children’s books. Snuggle up with your little ones and one or more of these favorites after a successful night of trick-or-treating, and you’re sure to round out your day in the best possible way. Read More
  • Rudolfo Anaya and Chicano Literature

    Fri, 30 Oct 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    On the whole, the term Chicano describes the culture of a people who live within the mixing currents of Mexican and American life. Other than that, the Chicano identity is predictably hard to pin down. Nonetheless, writers of the Chicano tradition have played a vital role in giving a voice to a people who have not easily found one. The Chicano tradition is notably vast and hybridized, coming from two already diverse nations. While there have been Mexican-American writers since the age of exploration, Chicano culture truly came into being after the Mexican American War, when many Mexicans found their Read More
  • Five Bookish Costumes for A Literary Halloween

    Thu, 29 Oct 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Whether you fancy the trick or the treat, Halloween may perhaps be the most polarizing holiday. Ask any Halloweener why they’re not quick to don a pirate get-up or nurse uniform and the answer is usually the same: "I don’t know what to dress-up as." Mummy? Cowboy? Prisoner? Political figure of the day? For a reader with a voracious imagination, these well-worn paths offer very little appeal and only heighten the anxiety about choosing the best costume to wow friends at your Halloween party. But this year, literary Halloween-goers can rest easy and indulge in a little more candy or Read More
  • Revisiting Brideshead: 3 Surprising Facts About Brideshead Revisited

    Wed, 28 Oct 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    One could say Evelyn Waugh was something of an early 20th Century Anthony Bourdain. A novelist, essayist, biographer and travel writer, Waugh (1903-1966) was a renowned world traveler and played witness to some of the more seismic events of his era: the fall of the British Empire throughout South America, World War II, the struggles of a post-war Europe, and the emergence of the United States as a world superpower. All of these things Waugh maintained strong views upon and chronicled in his writings, both fictive and non. Perhaps his most well-known endeavor, Brideshead Revisited, is our subject today. Read More
  • The Noble, Doomed Search for the Philosopher's Stone

    Tue, 27 Oct 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    For something that never existed, the philosopher’s stone has shaped a great deal of history. To people like us — we rational and practical folk of the 21st century — its influence can be hard to comprehend. It was, after all, bad science. Part of its appeal was that it promised so much. Not only did it solve the alchemist’s problem of transmuting base metals into gold, it also provided the elixir of life, even immortality. Numerous civilizations, through a variety of centuries, set out on a quest for the imaginary stone. Was the pursuit a failure? Absolutely. But was Read More
  • Hardboiled Fiction and Hollywood

    Mon, 26 Oct 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    For decades, the Los Angeles area has captivated writers of hardboiled detective fiction. In the last 100 years, we’ve read about the exploits of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe, and we’ve watched a variety of actors play these detectives on the silver screen. Indeed, as an epicenter of film production, Hollywood has brought cinematic narratives of the quintessentially American hardboiled detective to viewers across the globe. Let’s take a look at the novels that introduced gritty Southern California to readers and the film adaptations that followed them. Read More
  • Taking Stock of Bonds: The Top Five James Bond Films

    Sun, 25 Oct 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    It was easy, back in 2012, to think of the just-released Skyfall as an elegant capstone to the long running James Bond film series. It dealt with Bond’s past in a way that showed a certain self-consciousness about the fifty year film legacy of the beloved super spy. It let us bid a teary farewell to Dame Judi Dench as ‘M.’ And, it presented us with a tightly crafted and emotionally gripping story. Now that Spectre, due in theatres this fall, is on the horizon, that feeling seems slightly misguided. More than a farewell, Skyfall may prove to mark a Read More
  • Jorge Luis Borges at the Keats-Shelley House in Rome

    Sat, 24 Oct 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    For hundreds of years, Rome has been a city of wonder and inspiration for writers from various parts of the world. From Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to John Keats, the Italian capital became a part-time home. If you’re in Rome and you’re facing the Spanish Steps, look just to the right: you’ll see the Keats-Shelley House. It was in this very apartment that John Keats spent his final days. The property is now a museum that holds significant works and materials related to the Romantic poets. But instead of focusing entirely on the materials of the Romantics, we’d like to Read More
  • Four Lesser-Known Poets You Should Know

    Fri, 23 Oct 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    The dream version of Babe Ruth that appears to Benny in the 1993 film The Sandlot said it best: “There’s heroes and there’s legends. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die...” While such a reference might not seem entirely applicable to a discussion of American poetics, there’s a profound truth to the sentiment that rings clear throughout the annals of poetry. The truth of the matter is, it’s impossible to identify which poets will leave an indelible mark on their craft and which will merely be but a footnote in discussions of poetic tradition.  That said, if we take a Read More
  • Henry Wade's Halcyon: Past Fly Fishing With an Eye to the Future

    Thu, 22 Oct 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    “There are but few which it has fallen to our lot to read that we could recommend to our readers so sincerely or with so much pleasure.” – Spectator, February 8, 1861. On that welcoming note, Halcyon; Or Rod-fishing with Fly, Minnow and Worm to which is added a Short and Easy Method of Dressing Flies, with a Description of the Materials Used by Henry Wade, entered the literary world.   Read More
  • Poor Authors: Great Works Written in Times of Financial Scarcity

    Wed, 21 Oct 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    “No one in this world,” wrote H.L. Mencken in 1926, “has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses.”  This dictum may reek of an under-appreciated artist’s elitist disappointment, but there is perhaps some truth to it. Surely today, if you would like to make money, you are better off making a superhero movie than writing the next Mrs. Dalloway. It is risky, in the end, to be a genius. It is much safer to cater to the general tastes of a people than to be original, which can be alienating and inaccessible to the audience of Read More
  • Best Books on Italy

    Tue, 20 Oct 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    For many English-language readers, a mention of Italy conjures vivid images of culinary landscapes and Renaissance art. While Italian literature hasn’t been translated as widely as works from certain other regions of Western and Central Europe, many books from the country capture it in vastly different periods of time, bringing readers murder mysteries, film histories, and wartime memories. Today, we'd like to explore a sample of the best books on Italy. Read More
  • Early Versions of Six Classic Novels

    Mon, 19 Oct 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Every literary composition is the result of a grand evolution — from hesitant, early beginnings to a ready and publishable book. Even great masterpieces have started out as underwhelming first drafts. Many scholars speculate that Shakespeare wrote Ur-Hamlet a decade before the world was graced with the masterwork we know today. Indeed, variations between Hamlet’s quartos and the Folio suggest Shakespeare was constantly revisiting his famous tragedy. Yet the example of Shakespeare and Hamlet is but one instance in a long tradition of re-invention and meticulous revision that will exist as long as literature does. Below, we look at this Read More
  • Town Named in Honor of Nobel Prize Winner Ivo Andrić

    Sun, 18 Oct 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Ivo Andrić was a novelist from the former Yugoslavia who gained international acclaim for his novel The Bridge on the Drina (1945), which takes place over four centuries in the northern Bosnian town of Višegrad. For his literary contributions, Andrić won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1961. Recently, Emir Kusturica, a Serbian filmmaker, became involved in a project to commemorate the novelist. Along the Drina in Višegrad, Kusturica has been central in the creation of Andrićgrad — a town named in honor of Ivo Andrić. Read More
  • A Reading Guide to Cormac McCarthy

    Sat, 17 Oct 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    For several years now, Cormac McCarthy has received his due as one of the best living writers around. However, he has never had the reputation of being a particularly accessible writer. If you’ve had trouble reading McCarthy’s work, you’re not alone. Even Harold Bloom, one of today’s most eminent readers, confessed to two false starts reading Blood Meridian. The evocative power of the novel’s violence, Bloom said, was difficult to bear. And indeed, as a distinct writer, McCarthy’s work can require a certain sensitivity and attentiveness to behold. Yet despite its difficulties, legions of Cormac McCarthy’s fans will assure you Read More
  • Six Interesting Facts About Günter Grass

    Fri, 16 Oct 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Günter Grass, who won the 1999 Nobel Prize in Literature, died earlier this year, at the age of 87. He maintained a complicated attitude toward the country of Germany for all his life. Grass was a true agitator; he was almost always political, polemical, and provocative. Consequently, upon his death many obituaries concerned themselves with his political controversies, of which there were certainly a good deal. But of course, Grass was a multifaceted person and artist. On the 88th anniversary of his birth, we peel back the divisive persona, and take a look at the legacy of Günter Grass. Read More
  • How to Begin Collecting Economists

    Thu, 15 Oct 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Over the course of history, the economy — and all the surmising and projecting and studying it requires — has given rise to some of the most remarkable works of human-thought. Economists in every generation provide a fascinating breadth of work and ideas. Today, we’d like to explore a couple of famous economists as well as some ideas for collecting economy-based works.A basic list of economists that merit our attention can be formed from a quick glance throughout history. These individuals punctuate the economic landscape of their times with their thought-processes, philosophies, and recommendations. So without further ado, we give you some Read More
  • The Origins and Legacy of Winnie-the-Pooh

    Wed, 14 Oct 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Winnie-the-Pooh was formally introduced to the world on October 14, 1926. And in nearly ninety years since Winnie-the-Pooh was published, this beloved bear has gone from a mere character in a bedtime story to the engine of a $5.5 billion per year franchise. A.A. Milne’s ursine creation is known internationally from TV and film adaptations, plush toys, and about every item of merchandise one can imagine. In April of this year, plans for a live-action Winnie-the-Pooh film were announced, proving that the appeal of this honey-loving bear isn't slowing down anytime soon. Read More
  • Visiting the Homes of Pablo Neruda

    Tue, 13 Oct 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you’re interested in traveling to Chile and visiting the homes of the Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda, you’ll need to plan to make your way to three different properties in three different cities. Indeed, Neruda had a home in Santiago, the capital of Chile, as well as two other properties in Valparaiso and Isla Negra. Each is now maintained by the Fundación Pablo Neruda. If you decide to make the treks, we promise it’s worth it. Read More
  • Quiz: Which Famous Library Should You Visit?

    Mon, 12 Oct 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    For bibliophiles, there are few greater pleasures than visiting a well-curated library. Of course, as we've detailed on our blog, libraries exist in astonishing variety. How, then, does one determine which library to see next? Worry not. Book lovers may now breathe a collective sigh of relief for there can be no better way to answer this question than by taking our latest quiz: which famous library should you visit? Read More
< prev next >

Looks like you are ready to submit this application

If you are satisfied that your application is complete, go ahead and click "submit this application."
Otherwise, click "review this application" to review your answers or make additional changes.