Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • 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
  • Anne Tyler: The Pulitzer Prize, Bare Feet, and Index Cards

    Thu, 23 Oct 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    While Pulitzer Prize winner Anne Tyler has been writing books since the 60s, she has only recently emerged in the public eye. She long preferred keeping a low profile, granting few interviews and minimal photographs. Her reclusiveness, and the consequent curiousity of her readers, was reminiscent of J.D. Salinger. But a more accurate comparison would be to author John Updike, a companion in subject and in some ways, sensibility. Both are American writers who have rendered with care the lives of their average, but striking, characters. Read More
  • Case Studies in Collecting: Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven

    Wed, 22 Oct 2014 08:26:00 Permalink
    "I'd rather travel with that old portly, hearty, silly, boisterous, good-natured sailor...than with any other man I've ever come across." - Mark Twain, of Captain Edgar "Ned" Wakeman Read More
  • Five books That Brought Michael Crichton Fame and Fortune

    Tue, 21 Oct 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Michael Crichton was one of America's most popular science fiction writers, known not only for his books but also for many successful film adaptations. His novels have sold more than 200 million copies worldwide and the movies have grossed billions in revenue. Beyond working as a novelist, Crichton was also a physician, director, and screenwriter. Here we highlight five of Crichton's bestselling novels. Read More
  • Doris Lessing and the Power of Life-Long Learning

    Mon, 20 Oct 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Nobel laureate, Doris Lessing, is one of the great literary minds of the twenty-first century. Lessing's genius is undeniable: her writing merges staggering quantity with incredible quality. Perhaps what makes Doris Lessing such an interesting study, though, is the unique way in which she garnered the insights, lessons, and beliefs which seep into her writing. Read More
  • Out at First: The History of the World Series Novel

    Sun, 19 Oct 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    “(It) belongs as much to our institutions, fits into them as significantly, as our constitutions, laws: is just as important in the sum total of our historic life.” - Walt Whitman on baseball With this year’s World Series rapidly approaching, it is not difficult to see what Whitman means.  Even after falling behind football in popularity, baseball dominates America’s October conversations.  And, if we take a look at recent literary releases like Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding (2011), Michael Chabon’s Summerland (2002), and David James Duncan’s The Brothers K (1992), it is clear that baseball dominates not just our national attention, Read More
  • John le Carré: From Spy to Spy Novelist

    Sat, 18 Oct 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Bestselling spy novelist, David John Moore Cornwell—John le Carré—was born October 19, 1931, in Poole, England. He had a rough childhood characterized by betrayals and dishonesty. His mother abandoned the family when he was five and the family was frequently uprooted due to his father's penchant for fraud. As a child, his father actively discouraged reading. "Anyone caught reading a book," le Carré said, "was not being loyal." Read More
  • Philip Pullman, Impassioned Storyteller for All Ages

    Fri, 17 Oct 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Author Philip Pullman is a master of modern children's literature. His trilogy, His Dark Materials, is one of the most beloved fantasy series of the last twenty five years, although Pullman himself considers the books "stark realism" not fantasy. Writing for children, Pullman believes, enables him to engage his readers in ways he would otherwise be prohibited - he revels in intricate plots and characters. He has won the Carnegie Medal (1995), Guardian Prize (1996), and Astrid Lindgren Award (2005).  Read More
  • How Terry McMillan Got Her Groove Back

    Thu, 16 Oct 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Terry McMillan, author of bestselling novels Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back, was born October 18, 1951 in Port Huron, Michigan. She was the oldest of her four siblings and after her parents separated, she was left  to care for her brother and sisters. Although forced to grow up at an early age, she found solace in her personal retreat: the Port Huron library. There, she fell in love with reading—relishing the works of classic writers including Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. As much as she enjoyed their writing, she was discouraged that great works Read More
  • The Fickle Fortunes of Oscar Wilde

    Wed, 15 Oct 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Oscar Wilde is often remembered for his bright wit and lavish lifestyle as well as his works The Importance of Being Earnest and The Picture of Dorian Gray. Master of the epigram, he coined phrases such as "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken" and "Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much." He lived much of his life as an evangelist for the Aesthetic movement in art, believing that life should be beautiful. What life delivered him, however, was not so idyllic. Read More
  • The Princess Bride Back in the News

    Tue, 14 Oct 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Cult classic, The Princess Bride, is back in the news. Today—over forty years after the book was published and 27 years after the movie was released—star Cary Elwes has released his first-hand account of the making of the film. Titled, As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, Elwes shares behind-the-scenes anecdotes and photographs. When asked if it was as much fun to make the film as it looked, Elwes responded, “It was more fun than it looked.” Read More
  • The Impressive Levity and Longevity of P. G. Wodehouse

    Mon, 13 Oct 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    When it comes to comedic writing, P.G. Wodehouse was one of the greats. His body of work extends from novels and short stories to Broadway musicals. Yet, his legacy chiefly relies on two series of books series of books: “The Blandings Castle Saga” and stories about valet extraordinaire, Jeeves. Both worlds were created by Wodehouse in the 1910s, but he added to the stories for sixty years, until he passed away in 1975.  Read More
  • Libraries and Special Collections: The Folger Shakespeare Library

    Sun, 12 Oct 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Today, we kick off a series about the most exceptional libraries in the world. Focusing on everything from Shakespeare to botany, they hold some of the rarest books and print materials on earth.  For those of you who cannot physically visit these places, we hope our articles will provide a peek into the amazing breadth and richness of book collecting. There are three must-see vacation destinations for the Shakespeare lover: his home in Stratford-upon-Avon, the Globe Theatre in London, and the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.  Read More
  • Elmore Leonard Goes to Hollywood

    Sat, 11 Oct 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Writing Western novels hardly seems like an effective way to make it in Hollywood, but for Elmore Leonard it worked wonders. The 1940s through 1960s saw peak interest in Western dramas due to the affordability and availability of cinema and television. Leonard began his writing career during the 1950s producing a string of Westerns: five novels and thirty short stories. However, once the genre had peaked, Leonard moved on to a more contemporary interest—crime. Read More
  • Patrick Modiano, Winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature

    Fri, 10 Oct 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Yesterday, many were surprised when Patrick Modiano won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature. None more than the winner himself. “I wasn’t expecting this at all,” he confessed.So, who is this new Nobel laureate? It is a fair question, for while the Frenchman is beloved in his own country, he received little international recognition before yesterday’s bombshell. His quiet reputation was in part by design. A humble man, he avoids interviews and rejected his nomination to the Académie Francaise for fear that it would bring unwanted fame. Read More
  • Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: A Noble Fight and Nobel Prize

    Thu, 09 Oct 2014 06:00:00 Permalink
    It would be an understatement to say that Russian writer Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn had a complicated relationship with his motherland. Despite suffering constant persecution during his adult life, Solzhenitsyn remained faithful to his culture, language, and countrymen. He revealed the cruel reality of the Soviet system to the world in both his fiction and his memoirs, for which he received the 1970 Nobel Prize in Literature. The world applauded him; the USSR tried to ruin him. Read More
  • The Most Interesting Man You've Never Heard Of: Fridtjof Nansen

    Wed, 08 Oct 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Fridtjof Nansen was an explorer, scientist, sportsman, diplomat, and humanitarian as well as one of the most interesting people you’ve never heard of. He was the first man to traverse Greenland’s interior, traveled closer to the North Pole than anyone in his day, broke national cross-country skiing records, was a leading researcher of neuroanatomy, and created an internationally-recognized passport for stateless refugees. To top it all off, he had one fantastic mustache. Read More
  • For the Love of the Game: Collecting Golf Books

    Tue, 07 Oct 2014 12:39:40 Permalink
    Who'd have thought that one of the most accomplished figures in golf started playing with only a half-set of clubs? Born on October 9, 1970, legendary golfer Annika Sorenstam was always a talented athlete. She was a nationally ranked junior tennis player, and the coach of the Swedish national ski team suggested that she move to Northern Sweden to practice skiing year round. Read More
  • For the Love of the Game: Collecting Golf Books

    Tue, 07 Oct 2014 12:39:00 Permalink
    Who'd have thought that one of the most accomplished figures in golf started playing with only a half-set of clubs? Born on October 9, 1970, legendary golfer Annika Sorenstam was always a talented athlete. She was a nationally ranked junior tennis player, and the coach of the Swedish national ski team suggested that she move to Northern Sweden to practice skiing year round. Read More
  • Blurring Political Lines: Gabriel García Márquez

    Mon, 06 Oct 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Gabriel García Márquez won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982 "for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent's life and conflicts.” Affectionately referred to as “Gabo” by nearly everyone in the Spanish speaking community, García Márquez solidified his stature as a national icon with his Nobel Prize. Following his reception of the award, his Columbian countrymen reverently referred to García Márquez as “Nuestro Nobel,” or “our Nobel Prize winner.” Read More
  • Collecting Rare Books FAQ: Ex-Library Copies

    Sun, 05 Oct 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you've taken up rare book collecting, you've probably encountered the phrase “ex-library copy” or seen the shorthand “ex-lib” in a book description. Collectors have varied reactions to the ex-library copy, and it's important to make an informed decision before you add ex-library copies to your own personal library. Read More
  • Children's Book Week in the UK

    Sat, 04 Oct 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    You may have heard of Children’s Book Week in the United States, but did you know that the UK has its own week-long celebration in honor of children’s literature? While it has historically been held this first full week in October, it was moved this year to midsummer, June 30 – July 4, 2014. As you might expect, Children’s Book Week is an opportunity to celebrate the importance of books and reading for pleasure for all children, no matter their age or family income. Schools, libraries, and lots of other venues get in on the fun with book-themed activities, author Read More
  • Winston Churchill, Nobel Laureate in Literature?

    Fri, 03 Oct 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    We think of Winston Churchill as a consummate statesman and brilliant orator, and with great reason. He consistently distinguished himself as a key player in world politics and is frequently named one of the greatest world leaders of all time. Yet Churchill did not win the Nobel Prize  for his diplomacy or steadfast commitment to protecting fundamental human values; he won not the Nobel Peace Prize, but the Nobel Prize in Literature.  Read More
  • Anne Rice and Her Religious Struggles

    Thu, 02 Oct 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Anne Rice was born on October 4, 1941 with the unusual name, Howard Allen Frances O'Brien.  One of the most popular American writers today, her books have sold nearly 100 million copies; she is best known for her novels Interview with a Vampire (1976), The Queen of the Damned (1988), and The Wolf Gift (2012). Born in New Orleans to Roman Catholic parents, religion has always been an important force in her life.  Read More
  • The Audacious Gore Vidal: Novelist, Essayist, and Provocateur

    Wed, 01 Oct 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Gore Vidal saw himself as the last of a dying breed. Referring often to society's ineptitude, he believed he was part of a culture in decline. He had an attitude fit to rule as well, and admitted that if he hadn’t lived in Rome for so much of his life, he would have continued seeking office in the United States (Vidal ran for Congress twice, but lost both times). While he never became an elected official, his political interest and upbringing forever informed his life as a writer and intellectual. Read More
  • Wallace Stevens: Corporate Executive and Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet

    Tue, 30 Sep 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Pulitzer Prize winner, Wallace Stevens, published his first book of poetry when he was forty-four years old. He was awarded two National Book Awards for his poetry, both when he was a septuagenarian. Stevens won the 1955 Pulitzer Prize for Collected Poems, the same year of his death, at age 75. He lived one of those rare lives in which artistic and conventional success were intertwined. He graduated from Harvard Law School and after a career as a lawyer, became an executive at a Connecticut insurance company. He kept the position for the majority of his life, and readily defended his stable Read More
  • Laura Esquivel's Recipe for Success

    Mon, 29 Sep 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Laura Esquivel is a Mexican author and screenwriter recognized for her revolutionary contributions to Latin American literature. Influenced by writers Gabriel García Márquez and Isabel Allende, Esquivel is best known for her novel Like Water for Chocolate (1989). She was born on September 30, 1950 in Mexico City to parents, Julio Esquivel, a telegraph operator, and Josephina Esquivel, the third of four children.  Read More
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