Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • Collecting Modern First Editions: An Interview with Siep Kuijpers

    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Since childhood, Siep Kuijpers has been passionate about book collecting. He lives in the Netherlands and has been a teacher and book collector for over forty years. Acquiring limited edition books by his favorite authors is one of his most cherished pursuits. The horror, fantasy, and science fiction genres are his first literary loves, but he is also interested in unique graphic novels. Siep has graciously shared his collecting experiences with us in the following interview. Read More
  • How Elizabeth Gaskell Saved Charlotte Brontë's Reputation

    Sat, 22 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    "I desired more... Who blames me? Many call me discontented. I couldn't help it, the restlessness is in my nature; it agitated me to pain sometimes.” - Charlotte Brontë,  Jane Eyre Bearing more than a few parallels to her heroine, Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë was born poor, obscure, and plain. Despite leading a life filled with hardship and tragedy, Brontë became a successful novelist in her thirties. Yet while she received popular acclaim, Brontë also faced scathing reviews and harsh personal criticism.  Brontë's 1847 novel, Jane Eyre, earned the ire of critics for its frank depiction of passion in a woman - a Read More
  • Mark Twain, Prankster Journalist

    Fri, 21 Nov 2014 08:56:00 Permalink
      "Get the facts first. Then you can distort them as much as you like."  -Dan DeQuille, reporter,  Territorial Enterprise, ca 1862   Before he would pen Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer or even adopt the pseudonym "Mark Twain," Samuel Clemens tried his hand at mining. He had little luck, however, and soon turned to journalism to make a living. Clemens got hired as a reporter for the Territorial Enterprise, the largest newspaper in Virginia City, Nevada. Though Clemens did some honest reporting, he also earned a reputation for publishing pranks and hoaxes--often under his new pen name.  Read More
  • The Kennedy Assassination: Conspiracy Theories & the Warren Commission

    Thu, 20 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    On November 22nd, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dealey Plaza in Houston, Texas. This tragedy is forever seared into the country's consciousness. But what really happened? In anticipation of the 1964 election, President Kennedy began visiting swing states to woo supporters for his reelection campaign. On November 21, he and Mrs. Kennedy commenced a two day, five city tour of Texas. Texas was an important state for Kennedy, and as such he planned a trip to Dallas, even though US Ambassador Adlai Stevenson had been attacked there by political extremists only a month before. Read More
  • Isaac Bashevis Singer, Tireless Author and Indefatigable Self-Promoter

    Wed, 19 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    One of the best known authors of the twentieth century, Isaac Bashevis Singer won literary accolades all over the world, including that most illustrious of awards, the Nobel Prize in Literature. The 1978 Nobel laureate wrote primarily in Yiddish, yet the majority of his published works are in English--a fact that makes Singer all the more fascinating to both scholars and collectors.  Read More
  • Songs for the Philologists: The Ultimate Tolkien Collectible

    Tue, 18 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    J. R. R. Tolkien is known as the “father of high fantasy” yet the resonance of his work cannot be limited to one genre. Tolkien’s novels, particularly The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955), were much more than tales of elves and dragons. Tolkien believed that all myths contain “fundamental truths” that speak deeply to the human condition. His novels are imbued with such primordial themes and they have forever changed the face of literature. Tolkien’s followers are notoriously zealous, and the same is true for those who collect his work. Tolkien’s writing is sought by book Read More
  • How Apartheid Shaped Nobel Laureate, Nadine Gordimer

    Mon, 17 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Nadine Gordimer, the great Nobel Laureate who passed away in July 2014, is a fascinating study. A close analysis of her writing - but even more specifically, the way in which her writing coalesced with the politics of South Africa - provides an interesting commentary on how authors both influence and are influenced by their culture. It is no secret that Gordimer spent much of her life fighting for the anti-apartheid cause. In fact, in a statement after her death, Gordimer's family noted that one of her proudest moments - along with winning the Nobel Prize - was playing a Read More
  • 10 Interesting Facts about Margaret Atwood

    Sun, 16 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Margaret Atwood is one fascinating lady. Her writing career stretches over half a century and ranges from poetry, short stories, fiction, and non-fiction. Her Canadian nationality is at the forefront of her identity. And she really, really loves birds. Atwood has a slew of awards and honors to her name, including the Man Booker Prize, and there’s no question why. The characters and settings that she creates are complex, interesting, and reflective of reality with a twist of imagination. Whether you’re new to Atwood or you have multiple copies of The Handmaid’s Tale at home, here are some tidbits about Read More
  • Eight Authors Who Were Famous Before Thirty

    Sat, 15 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    What were you doing when you were nineteen years old? Most of us were probably waffling among college majors or learning the ropes at the family business. But before his twentieth birthday, Christopher Paolini was already a New York Times bestselling author.  Read More
  • Lunar Landings: Adventures of Alan Bean and Pete Conrad on Apollo 12

    Fri, 14 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    While it was the Apollo 11 mission with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin that first landed on the moon, Apollo 12 marked several important advances in space travel and technology. Apollo 12 was a three-man mission. Its goals were to land on the moon, collect scientific samples and readings, and retrieve parts of the disabled Surveyor III spacecraft. Its launch on November 14, 1969 could easily have ended in disaster. In the midst of a rainstorm, lightning discharge caused some protective circuits to take the fuel cells offline. Almost every warning light signaled danger. Read More
  • Robert Louis Stevenson, A Life in Quotes

    Thu, 13 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    "Everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was."-- Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson Robert Louis Stevenson was supposed to follow in his father's engineering footsteps. Instead, he became a literary giant whose travels and adventures inspired his classic works Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Stevenson died in Samoa in 1894, far from his native Edinburgh. His dynamic life provided him with a wisdom that came across in his musings on the human experience. In appreciation for this legendary author, we have compiled some of his best quotations on life, travel, and Read More
  • The Extraordinary Adventures of Astrid Lindgren's Pippi Longstocking

    Wed, 12 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    When it comes to quirky, strong female role models for children, Pippi Longstocking certainly makes the list. Swedish author, Astrid Lindgren, created this beloved character in 1944 when her nine year old daughter asked for a story while staying home from school with pneumonia. Despite its humble beginning, Lindgren's Pippi stories went on to tremendous success. They have been translated into 64 languages and adapted into many movies and television series. Read More
  • Five Books to Include in Your Umberto Eco Collection

    Tue, 11 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Umberto Eco is a renowned author, philosopher, and academic who has made contributions across genres, from fiction and non-fiction to children’s literature, literary criticism, academic essays, and journalistic prose. Whatever style Eco pursues, his works are robust: filled with dense and layered information and compelling plot points. Eco’s genius has been inspired in part by his own collection of books. He uses his personal library, filled with over 50,000 titles and housed in two locations, as a personal reference center when composing works of his own. While many are familiar with Eco's classic novel, The Name of the Rose, some of Read More
  • Ten Things You Should Know About Kurt Vonnegut

    Mon, 10 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Kurt Vonnegut belongs to a generation of American writers whose work was strongly influenced by their service in World War II. Vonnegut was a soldier as well as a prisoner of war, and he suffered firsthand the horrors of combat. Inspired by his wartime anguish, Vonnegut's work is characterized by a humane sensitivity; indeed, his writing has established him as one of the finest paladins of compassion in twentieth-century literature. Here are ten facts you should know about this legendary author: Read More
  • Oliver Goldsmith: Not Quite a Goody Two-Shoes

    Sun, 09 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Despite his tendency to attract biting "compliments," such as Horace Walpole's description of "an inspired idiot," Oliver Goldsmith left his mark on the literary world as a poet, novelist, and playwright. He is not credited with starting a movement among his peers, but no one could label him as a follower. He is most famous for his novel The Vicar of Wakefield, one of the most widely read novels of the Victorian era. The book is widely referenced in British literature - from Charles Dickens' Tale of Two Cities to Jane Austen's Emma and George Eliot's Middlemarch - and continues to hold literary significance today.  Read More
  • Ten Facts You Should Know about Margaret Mitchell

    Sat, 08 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    On November 8. 1900, Margaret Mitchell was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Although Mitchell published only one novel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Gone with the Wind, she became one of the best known authors of the South. Gone with the Wind quickly became a bestseller and has remained both beloved and controversial ever since. The film adaptation, starring Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable, remains a classic. Check out these ten tidbits you might not know about Mitchell and her magnum opus. Read More
  • A Brief History of Bram Stoker and His Horror Classic, Dracula

    Thu, 06 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    In the history of the horror novel, some works have come alive in popular imagination. One of these is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) - almost everyone is familiar with the plot regardless of whether they've read the book. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is similarly ubiquitous. Although Stoker did not invent the vampire legend, his classic work has defined and popularized the myth across continents and generations. We all know who Dracula is, but what about Stoker? Who was the man who made "vampire" a household name? Read More
  • Sinclair Lewis' Nobel Prize: a Critique of the American Establishment?

    Wed, 05 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    In 1930, Sinclair Lewis became the first American to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. His won the prize “for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humour, new types of characters.” Some speculate, however, that Lewis won as much for the quality of his writing as for his harsh criticism of the American establishment.  Read More
  • Book Collecting Basics: Pirated Editions

    Tue, 04 Nov 2014 07:21:00 Permalink
    In July 2007, JK Rowling fans around the world anxiously awaited the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final book in Rowling's beloved Harry Potter series. The official release of the English-language version was scheduled to take place on July 21, 2007. But readers in China got their hands on the novel a full ten days earlier, when the book unexpectedly popped up in book stores. Thousands bought the early editions...unaware that the copies in their hands had virtually nothing in common with the authorized edition actually written by JK Rowling. Read More
  • Stephen King's Carrie in Literature and Film

    Mon, 03 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Carrie (1974) is Stephen King’s first novel, published when he was just 26 years old. The story was published to immediate commercial and critical success.  A movie adaptation was released two years later, solidifying King's reputation as well as that of director Brian de Palma. In a few short years, King had placed his imprint on the horror genre, forever changing the way audiences viewed horror films and literature.   Read More
  • Lady Chatterley's Lover on Trial: Literary Classic or Pornography?

    Sun, 02 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    The history books all agree that the 1960s were a period of enormous social upheaval in Great Britain. The psychedelic rock, mini-skirts, and hedonism of the post-war generation were inescapable. While there is no one event that can be identified as the tipping point for cultural change, some historians give credit to the public obscenity trial of D.H. Lawrence’s novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Previously banned by the British government, Lady Chatterley’s Lover divided people in opinion – was it a literary classic or was it thinly-veiled pornography? The trial, which was meant as a test case, did not go quite Read More
  • The Short, Full Life of Stephen Crane

    Sat, 01 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Author Stephen Crane, was born November 1, 1871  in Newark, New Jersey. Despite a severely religious upbringing--or perhaps because of it--Crane lived an unconventional life. He was first involved in scandal during his twenties, when he was called as a witness for the trial of Dora Clark: a prostitute and friend. Later, he began a long-term relationship with Cora Taylor, the owner of a brothel. The two lived in London where they became friends with writers including Joseph Conrad and H. G. Wells. Just a few years after writing his novel, The Red Badge of Courage, Crane died at the age of Read More
  • The Fascinating Inspiration Behind Favorite Horror Novels

    Fri, 31 Oct 2014 08:15:00 Permalink
    Halloween has finally arrived! Here's a look at the inspiration behind some of our all-time favorite horror novels.  Read More
  • Orson Welles and the "War of the Worlds" Broadcast: A Nation Duped?

    Thu, 30 Oct 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    In the decades since it first aired, Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds" broadcast has become infamous - even called the most notorious radio hoax in history. NPR reported, "The United States experienced a kind of mass hysteria that we’ve never seen before." But was the event really so shocking? Evidence points to a different hoax - one perpetuated not by Welles, but by newspapers attempting to discredit radio as a trustworthy news source.  Read More
  • Harry Houdini: From Vaudeville Performer to World-Class Magician

    Wed, 29 Oct 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    The feats of Harry Houdini amaze us even today. In his Chinese Water Torture trick, Houdini was suspended upside down in a locked glass-and-steel cabinet overflowing with water. In another stunt, he strapped himself into a straitjacket and then, suspended by his ankles, would escape before a crowd of onlookers. Sometimes he dislocated his shoulders in the process. Even now, nearly a century after his death, Harry Houdini remains the world's most well-known magician. Read More
  • Top 10 Reads for Halloween

    Tue, 28 Oct 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    It's that time of year again. Darkness falls earlier each night, bare tree branches creak in the sky, and the chill of winter creeps ever closer. As autumn chases away the vestiges of summer, Halloween and its ghosts and ghouls come out to play. So grab a cup of cider and enter into the season by reading our top ten creepy blog posts: Read More
  • How James Boswell Revolutionized Copyright Law

    Mon, 27 Oct 2014 06:09:08 Permalink
    Born on October 29, 1740 James Boswell is best remembered for his momentous Life of Johnson. Often regarded as the most important biography written in the English language, Boswell's masterpiece is certainly an incredible contribution to the world of literature and books. But during his own lifetime, Boswell was much better known for another contribution: his role in the establishment of new copyright law for the United Kingdom. Read More
  • A "Marriage of True Minds": Famous Author Pen Pals

    Sun, 26 Oct 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    On October 26, 1900, writer Henry James (The Portrait of a Lady) responded to a short note from Edith Wharton wishing him luck on a new play. This began a lifelong correspondence and friendship between a fledgling author and her literary idol. Later in life, Wharton reflected on her friendship with James that “the real marriage of true minds is for any two people to possess a sense of humour or irony pitched in exactly the same key.” We celebrate this meeting of artistic minds today with famous author pen pals. Read More
  • A Brief History of the Pop-Up Book

    Sat, 25 Oct 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Books contain tremendous power. They captivate our minds, change the way we look at the world, and transport us to faraway lands. It seems hardly possible to make books any richer than they already are. However, through the beauty of illustrations and the mechanics of pop-up books, readers of all ages can find an even greater appreciation for literature. Read More
  • How Pat Conroy's Writing Destroyed and Healed His Family

    Fri, 24 Oct 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Pat Conroy, best known for his novel The Prince of Tides, was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1945. His father was a Marine Corps fighter pilot, his mother loved books, and the two raised their children in a strict military home. Still, his childhood was tumultuous: the family moved nearly every year to different military bases throughout the South. Life at home was filled with aggression, tension, and hostility, due in most part to Conroy’s father. His childhood and educational experiences provided the fodder for some of his most famous works. Read More
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