Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • An Interview and Tribute to Caldecott Winners, Berta and Elmer Hader

    Tue, 09 Dec 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Joy Hoerner Rich is the niece and heir of Caldecott Award winners, Berta and Elmer Hader. Joy founded a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the Haders' legacy and recently co-authored the award-winning book Berta and Elmer Hader: A Lifetime of Art. In the following interview, Joy shares the charming story of the Haders--from their early careers and marriage, to winning the Caldecott Award for The Big Snow, creating the dust jacket for The Grapes of Wrath, and helping Laura Ingalls Wilder publish The Little House on the Prairie. Joy also describes Berta and Elmer Hader: A Lifetime of Art, from the challenges of publication to its awards and accolades. Read More
  • Charles van Sandwyk: Captivating Books of Exceptional Artistry

    Mon, 08 Dec 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    The work of Charles van Sandwyk is a delight for all book lovers, but especially enthusiasts of fine press, children's literature, and exceptional illustrations. Recalling an earlier age, his artwork portrays whimsical animals, fairies, and elves in unique, and sometimes magical settings. As a child, van Sandwyk immersed himself in the works of J. M. Barrie, Beatrix Potter, and J. R. R. Tolkien. These influences are evident in his own creations, as is his admiration for classic illustrator Arthur Rackham. Take a moment to delve into the world of Charles van Sandwyk. Be enchanted. Read More
  • Ten Facts About Caldecott Winner, James Thurber

    Sun, 07 Dec 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    James Thurber was a short story writer, cartoonist, and humorist. Much of his work was published in The New Yorker, where he began working as an editor in 1927. His most famous short story is The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, recently adapted to film. Combining his talents for writing and illustration, Thurber had a successful career writing children's books, and won the Caldecott Medal for the book Many Moons. Below, read ten facts about Thurber's fascinating life and career.  Read More
  • How to Collect Books in Foreign Languages

    Sat, 06 Dec 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    For most of us, reading world literature requires translation. Unless you’re fluent in the languages of the globe, from Arabic to Khmer to Zulu, you’ve probably picked up a novel or book of poems that has already been translated for you. What happens when we discover an author whose original works are not in English, and we’re interested in collecting? Collecting books in foreign languages can seem like a daunting task, particularly when we don’t speak the language. Yet one of the most exciting finds of, say, a Günter Grass novel, happens when we locate a German-language first edition. How Read More
  • Gifts and First Editions for $100 or Less

    Fri, 05 Dec 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    When you buy a good book, you become the owner of a cultural and historical artifact. As bibliophiles, we can't help but get close to our favorite works, putting our hands on those copies that first heralded the arrival a major creative effort in the world. It's an elevated experience, and an even better one to share in the form of a gift. And while it may seem that great books carry a significant price, there are deals to reward the most shrewd of book hunters. Below, we've compiled some volumes to please both the novice and seasoned collector alike. Read More
  • John Steinbeck: Marine Biologist?

    Thu, 04 Dec 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    In 1940, John Steinbeck undertook a fishing boat journey around the Gulf of California to collect marine specimens. That, in itself, is not so unusual. Afterall, Vladimir Nabokov worked as a lepidopterist and has several species of butterfly named after him. Indeed, many authors have dabbled in science. Somewhat more unusual, however, is that the journey led to a published collaboration between Steinbeck and famed marine biologist, Ed Ricketts. Read More
  • Charles Dickens and Christmas: The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain

    Wed, 03 Dec 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Charles Dickens published his final Christmas novella, The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain, A Fancy for Christmas-Time, in 1848. While it has been upstaged by the most famous of his yuletide stories, A Christmas Carol, both share a distinct similarity: a ghostly plot. While Dickens is often credited with inventing the modern idea of Christmas, that of trees and garlands and presents, he also cast a spooky, haunting mood over the holiday. To Dickens, Christmas was not only a time for festive warmth, but one for dark examination, too. Read More
  • Nine Caldecott Winners for the Winter Season

    Tue, 02 Dec 2014 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
  • An Interview with Sheree Nielsen: Author of "Folly Beach Dances"

    Mon, 01 Dec 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Sheree Nielsen is an award-winning writer and author of Folly Beach Dances: a collection of photography, poems, and prose. The book is more than just gorgeous photography and lyrical poems, it's an escape to the beach, and how every living being or thing dances with the rhythm of the sea and the changing tides. In the following interview, Sheree shares with us her inspirations for Folly Beach Dances, including her own fight with lymphoma. Read More
  • Eloise: Spunk & Spirit for the Holidays and Beyond

    Sun, 30 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Have you met Eloise? If not, allow me to introduce you. Eloise is a precocious little lady. She lives with her nanny and her pets - a dog and a turtle - at The Plaza Hotel in New York. Eloise is spunky and mischievous, and she spends her days adventuring in and around the hotel when she’s not traveling. Eloise is the epitome of a know-it-all, because, at six years old, she of course, knows it all. Her escapades are detailed in her own words over the course of four classic children's books.  Read More
  • Four Life Lessons from Winston Churchill

    Sat, 29 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    This week we honor the life and genius of Winston Churchill. We do so knowing our honorifics pale beside those of former President Gerald R. Ford, given in London during 1983 to the English-Speaking Union. That address, captured for posterity in a first edition signed by President Ford, represents a historical intersection of two pivotal political figures: Churchill – who preserved the British nation; Ford – who stabilized and reinvigorated the Presidency after the Nixon resignation. After striding as a Colossus through the British political landscape, Churchill is somewhat reduced in stature for many millennials. In 2010, a Royal Mint Read More
  • Ten Things You Might Not Know About Mark Twain

    Fri, 28 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Beloved for his humor and storytelling prowess, Mark Twain is one of America’s most famous literary figures. Ernest Hemingway summed it up best when he declared, “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called ‘Huckleberry Finn.’ All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since."  Listed below are ten facts about Mark Twain, including some of the lesser known facets of his fascinating life and legacy. Read More
  • The Pilgrim Press: From Illegal Printing to Thanksgiving

    Thu, 27 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    When I say “pilgrims,” what comes to mind? With Thanksgiving upon us, maybe you’d mention the holiday itself, or turkey and stuffing. Perhaps you would conjure up images of the Mayflower and Plymouth Rock. Maybe some of you would associate the term with a religious sect. While our understanding of the Pilgrims has been greatly shaped by the legend of Thanksgiving Day and our present customs surrounding the holiday, little attention is given to the real lives of the Pilgrims. They were a people displaced from their homeland for religious views, and as a result of their counter-cultural lifestyle, they Read More
  • Libraries and Special Collections: Treasures at Your Local Library

    Tue, 25 Nov 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Recently, the Cleveland Public Library unearthed a first edition copy of Charles Dickens’ holiday novella, A Christmas Carol that they didn’t even know they had.  The librarian was putting together a display of Christmas books, and when she pulled A Christmas Carol off the shelf, she realized it was, in fact, the original printing.  Read More
  • 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
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