Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • More Than Just A Beer in the Glass: An Interview with Brooklyn Brewery's Garrett Oliver

    Thu, 17 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    For Garrett Oliver, beer is not simply a fizzy, alcoholic beverage we pull from the back of the fridge after a hard day at the office, or something we guzzle on Sunday afternoons while watching our team battle it out against a rival opponent. Sure, beer can be both release and celebration, but in Oliver’s book – well, make that books – beer is a window into our history as human beings and a glimpse at the things in life we value and hold dear. Read More
  • Beatrix Potter: A Pioneer in Self-Publishing

    Wed, 16 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    When one thinks of Beatrix Potter and her literary legacy —her delicate illustrations and charming stories that have delighted children and parents alike for over one hundred years —one does not necessarily think also of writers like E.L. James, John Grisham, or Edgar Allen Poe. But these writers, though they differ greatly in genre and in time, all have something in common with the celebrated naturalist and storyteller. Each of these writers, like Potter herself, began their literary careers by self-publishing. From her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit , to Wag-by-Wall , the last of her stories published Read More
  • Edna O'Brien and Her Country Girls

    Tue, 15 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Today she’s known as the “doyenne” of Irish literature and a respected elder stateswoman of arts and letters throughout the English speaking world. Her awards are numerous and accolades esteemed, but when Edna O'Brien broke onto the international literary stage in 1960 with the publication of her novel The Country Girls, she was a struggling devotee of James Joyce working as a reader for a London-based publishing house. Read More
  • Black Sparrow Reissues Charles Reznikoff Works

    Mon, 14 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Are you familiar with the works of Charles Reznikoff? If you haven’t already encountered Reznikoff’s books of poetry, including Testimony (1965) and Holocaust (1975), we’d recommend visiting a bookstore and seeking out these texts as soon as possible. And because Black Sparrow Press recently reissued a number of Reznikoff’s poetry books, it’s easier than ever to obtain one of these books for your personal collection.  Read More
  • A History of Literary Fraud

    Sun, 13 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    It’s a writer’s job to play with the truth. We entrust the nonfiction writer with a little license: to render the real with a little flourish that the average eye doesn’t see. And, we trust the fiction writer to show us truth and beauty through a grand fabrication. Despite this understanding, we still hold our writers to delicate standards of integrity. We want engagement and artistry from memoirs and histories, but will not tolerate lies. Nor will we tolerate unoriginality or plagiarism from a writer of fiction. And, as a general rule, we like our books to be written by Read More
  • Collecting Nobel Laureates: Thomas Mann & Herta Müller

    Sat, 12 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Collecting Nobel Prize in Literature winners makes sense: there’s a list to follow; a new author is chosen each year from all around the globe, allowing for an eclectic reach; and your collection will be filled with the best of the best. Today, we continue our efforts to spotlight Nobel laureates, and picking up where we left off last time, we’d like to feature two more German winners. Read on for tips and tricks for collecting the works of Thomas Mann and Herta Müller. Read More
  • The Fantastic Imagination of William Joyce

    Fri, 11 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    William Joyce is the multi-talented writer, illustrator, and genius behind some of the most beloved and well known children's stories, films, and characters of the past half century. Joyce's imagination has served him well, and his trademark style must be the fantastical ideas he portrays all while pushing boundaries and asking “what if?”. Read More
  • Emily Dickinson and Three Types of Reclusive Writers

    Thu, 10 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Henry David Thoreau would no doubt bristle at anyone questioning his credentials as the ultimate writerly recluse. His magnum opus, Walden (1854), presents a grand, philosophical vision of doing without and living a simple, self-reliant existence, far from the comforts of civilization. As Kathryn Schulz’s recent New Yorker article points out, however, the impression of seclusion the heralded poet tries to convey is not entirely accurate. Not only did Thoreau spend less than two years in his cabin on Walden Pond, said cabin could hardly be described as remote. Walden Pond itself was a popular spot for vacationers and picnickers Read More
  • Great Christmas Gift Ideas for Children

    Wed, 09 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Stories are to be found everywhere on this narrative-inclined Christmas holiday—in movies, songs, even in its decorations—but nothing endures quite like the stories that were read to us by family. As we age, it becomes our job to pass on that holiday cheer to the younger spirits in our lives. There is a rich selection of children’s literature to choose from, including classics like Eloise at Christmastime, and modern gems like Angela and the Baby Jesus. Here, we explore the many books available for parents and family members wishing to brighten a young child’s holiday. Read More
  • Illustrations and Woodcuts of Mary Azarian

    Tue, 08 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Renowned artist Mary Azarian has been working on woodcuts since the fourth grade. Now, she runs a one-woman woodcutting business, doing all of her own printing, painting, packaging, and distributing. Her woodcuts are inspired by the nature that surrounds her, and she says she's drawn much inspiration from her own life and experiences in the natural world. Azarian has illustrated over 50 books. Her most well known work is in the children's book Snowflake Bentley which won the 1999 Caldecott Medal. Read More
  • Hanukkah Traditions in Literature

    Mon, 07 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    In the Jewish faith tradition, Hanukkah is a beautiful remembrance of the miraculous supply of oil for the rededication of the Jewish Temple, and a victory over the Seleucid Empire. For eight days and nights, the Jewish people celebrate and reflect together with gifts, prayer, and the lighting of the menorah. In Hebrew, the word “Hanukkah” means “dedication.” Through the reflections and perspectives of Jewish authors and characters, we have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of what it truly means to be dedicated to one’s faith. Here are a few literary works that embody the spirit of Hanukkah. Read More
  • The Night Before Christmas: A Pop Culture Rundown

    Sun, 06 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    For some, it may be years since they’ve heard it recited. Others, on the other hand, may have never had the chance to hear the classic Christmas tale from start to finish. But this doesn’t mean The Night Before Christmas is in any way a relic of Christmas past—a poetic ghost clinging to some kind of existence in this world rather than passing on to another. In fact, as families gather together this Christmas season, the references and allusions to this 1823 work may be more prevalent than you think. Read More
  • How New is New? Tom Wolfe and the New Journalism

    Sat, 05 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    In the 1880s, the term "new journalism" was sometimes used to refer to the new yellow print newspapers that were being popularized at the time. In 1923, Robert E. Park referred to the penny-newspaper trend of the 1830s as the advent of "new journalism." In 1973, Bonfire of the Vanities (1987) author Tom Wolfe edited an anthology containing works by Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, and Joan Didion, fashioned as both a collection of admirable pieces of writing and as a sort of manifesto for what Wolfe saw as the a groundbreaking trend in American letters. Its title? The New Journalism Read More
  • Best Books from Russia

    Fri, 04 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Since the 19th century, Russian novelists have attained international fame and recognition. Indeed, Russia has produced some of the world's most legendary authors. If you’re traveling to Russia or are thinking about learning more about the country through works of fiction, what should you read? Beginning in the 19th century and moving through to the 21st century, we’ll discuss some of the best books from Russia that you should add to your reading lists. Read More
  • Is Heart of Darkness Racist?

    Thu, 03 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    During Joseph Conrad’s lifetime, little fuss was made over his 1899 novella Heart of Darkness. Of the three pieces of writing all bound into the single volume in which Heart of Darkness was sold, what would come to be the author’s most famous work received the least critical attention. It was initially passed over in favor of works like Youth: A Narrative (1902) and The End of the Tether (1902) that history has largely left to fester. Over the course of the past century, however, Conrad’s once-obscure work about a young man, Marlow, taking a trip down the Congo River, has Read More
  • David Macaulay's Books For All Age

    Wed, 02 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    David Macaulay's books and illustrations are as thought-provoking as they are whimsical. He first had his idea for a French gargoyle story, which became Cathedral: The Story of its Construction, in the early seventies. While the lovely gargoyle ladies of medieval France did not make the cut, he was left with a drawing of a cathedral. This inspired a trip to Europe for research and resulted in the aforementioned Cathedral: The Story of its Construction's publication in the spring of 1973. Macaulay was given the Caldecott Honor Award for his efforts. He had been an interior designer and a high Read More
  • Christmas Gift Ideas for Friends and Family

    Tue, 01 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Charles Dickens understood Christmas. No one knew better than him that this year-end holiday should do but one thing: lift our spirits. It's a celebration to keep us warm and merry in the short days and frigid winds of winter. We are to do this with good food and wine, lights, music, gifts, and company. A crucial element of this palliative recipe was stories, and Dickens both extended and innovated the cultural tradition of Christmas in his own novels and tales. It’s an age-old belief that no one should go through Christmas without a good book, and the gift ideas below will Read More
  • Famous Friendships of Legendary Author Mark Twain

    Mon, 30 Nov 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Mark Twain, the father of American Literature, captured the limelight of his age in a way that no writer has since. The stories that surround him are the stuff of myths and legends. His influence as America’s greatest “funnyman” has lasted for over a century. Twain’s relationships are just as interesting as Twain himself. From presidents to inventors, Twain brushed shoulders with many of history’s giants. Today, we explore some of Twain's many famous friendships. Read More
  • A Reading Guide to Sue Miller

    Sun, 29 Nov 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Finding time to write can be difficult for anyone with a job and other commitments. Add to that the increased responsibilities that come with having children and images come to mind of single-mother J.K. Rowling writing away on dinner napkins on a train to and from work—savoring the few precious hours of alone time after she put her eldest daughter to bed, before she too had to go to sleep. That she managed to turn those stolen hours and ink-filled scraps of paper into the Harry Potter series, arguably seven of the most beloved and influential books in contemporary literature, Read More
  • A Quick Guide to the Works of Arthur Miller

    Sat, 28 Nov 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    In an interview with the Paris Review, Arthur Miller spoke of his admiration for the Greek tragedies when he was young. He had had little classical background at the time, but as to their form he said, “the architecture was clear.” A quick glance at the dictionary reveals the definition of architecture is "the complex or carefully designed structure of something." Interestingly, on the day of his interview, the playwright had greeted the visiting journalist* from a ladder in an old barn that he was converting into a guesthouse. The conversation eventually moved to a one room study at a Read More
  • Interesting Editions of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book

    Fri, 27 Nov 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Numerous authors have taken their cues from the great Rudyard Kipling. Readers, too, find him to be incredibly compelling, and as we’ve said before, the man had a gift in that he was able to speak to individuals who hailed from vastly different sides of the social spectrum. And he still does so. Perhaps that’s what makes the works of Rudyard Kipling so highly sought after for the collector. Today, we hope to help the Kipling collector by detailing some of the interesting editions of one of Rudyard Kipling’s most famous works, The Jungle Book. Read More
  • On Gratitude: Ten Quotes for a Literary Thanksgiving

    Thu, 26 Nov 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Today is Thanksgiving in the United States, and that means friends and families are coming together to give thanks and express gratitude for what and whom they have in their lives. A day focused on gathering around a shared table to indulge in extravagant food and drink, one could argue Thanksgiving is the purest of all holidays where the pressures of a commerce-driven culture are set aside in favor of breaking bread, telling stories, and celebrating a communal moment of peace and good will—that is, at least until the Black Friday sales begin.  Read More
  • All I Want for Christmas Is a Book: An Early Gift Guide

    Wed, 25 Nov 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Christmas is only one month away! As you think about what sorts of gifts you’d like to give and receive this year, we’re confident books are at the top of your list. You are reading this blog, after all! And it’s true, a book makes a timeless gift—one that can be enjoyed over and over again, and for generations to come. So, we thought we’d break down some ideas for you, in an effort to make your shopping a little easier and free up some time in this busy holiday season for you to do some reading or collecting of Read More
  • The Birth of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species

    Tue, 24 Nov 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Today, we celebrate the 156th birthday of Charles Darwin's most famous work: On the Origin of Species. Darwin's depiction of evolution and natural selection was groundbreaking. And it remains one of the most important books of scientific thought in all of history. We'd like to use the anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species to dig deeper into its author and the work itself. Read More
  • Shel Silverstein: Five Lessons for Grown Ups

    Mon, 23 Nov 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Every once in a while the literary world produces a creative genius who, despite initial impressions, defies definition. Shel Silverstein was such a genius. One can find his poetry collections artfully and prominently displayed in the children’s section of any bookstore or library and stacked on pint-sized carts in kinder classes everywhere. Read any one of them with a listening child, and watch the “light in the attic” go on as she discovers a kindred spirit who is full of dreams and fond of silly. Little ones relish the absurdity in his poems and lean in for more, as with Read More
  • Sweet Home Chicago: A Literary Tour of the Windy City

    Sun, 22 Nov 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Though often referred to as the Second City, Chicago is second to none in terms of its rich cultural heritage, iconic architecture, sports fandom, and inventive takes on comfort food staples like the pizza hotdog and the red hot. But The Windy City is also home to a literary tradition rivaled by very few cities across the country, with some of America’s most renowned writers calling Chicago their home. Read More
  • Mystery Writers of America at the Lilly Library

    Sat, 21 Nov 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Do you have an interest in crime writing and detective novels? You’re not alone. From the novels of Agatha Christie to the films of Alfred Hitchcock, Americans love a good detective story. The Mystery Writers of America, Inc. (MWA) is, according to the association itself, the “premier organization for mystery writers, professionals allied to the crime writing field, aspiring writers, and those who are devoted to the genre.” In other words, MWA promotes crime fiction, from those who write it to the readers who support it. Where can you go to check out the myriad of documents connected to this organization? Read More
  • Don DeLillo and the Power of Marginalia

    Fri, 20 Nov 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    The act of reading is the act of exchanging ideas, but more often than not, it’s a one way export. A book is a means through which the author impresses thoughts upon his readers. The idea of a passive readership has been drilled into our heads, but there are authors who challenge this assumption. Most notably, Billy Collins, in his poem, "Marginalia," recalls a message scrawled in the corners of Catcher in the Rye, among other marginal jots. Other authors have taken up arms against the idea that a book is an immutable altar of knowledge, but few are as Read More
  • Quiz: What Type of Book Should You Collect?

    Thu, 19 Nov 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    For the indecisive bibliophiles among us, help has arrived! We have put together a quiz to determine your ideal collecting area. Answer our six penetrating questions and discover new bookish horizons. You may even realize that you've been hunting the wrong books for years. There's only one way to find out. Read More
  • The Musical and Satirical Legacy of W.S. Gilbert

    Wed, 18 Nov 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    As a genre of literature, few forms are as likely to be neglected as musical theatre. Musicals are meant to be seen live. Or, if you are barred from that option, you may listen to the cast recording. But who reads the libretto of a musical? It contains neither performance nor music, none of the elements we are drawn to the theatre for. It’s a common dismissal, and it's one often made unconsciously. It's one that also ignores the contribution musical theatre makes to the grand scope of literature. Among the greatest writers in this important tradition is English author, Read More
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