Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • 10 Timeless Quotes from Pride and Prejudice (And Why They Still Matter)

    Thu, 28 Jan 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Today, we celebrate Jane Austen’s beloved novel, Pride and Prejudice, on the anniversary of its publication. How does one do such a book justice? It is nearly impossible. So, we thought we’d let Ms. Austen’s own words do most of the talking. After all, Pride and Prejudice is timeless, and the following quotes—and the lessons they teach us—will continue to inspire, chastise, encourage, and humor readers for generations to come. Read More
  • Five Important Canadian Writers You Should Know

    Wed, 27 Jan 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Canadian writers have made significant contributions to the landscape of North American letters. Without them, we'd have missed out on some of the most beloved characters of the last century, not to mention on important ideas and perspectives. We think rather highly of our literary neighbors to the north, and today, we spotlight five important Canadian writers you should know. Read More
  • A Brief History of Satire

    Tue, 26 Jan 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Satire is as old as folly. There have always been abuses of power, mad societies, blundering citizens, and flawed customs. And not far behind them, there has often been a clever observer with a pen. Satirists, as these people are called, use the palliative of humor to address the ills and errors of their time. It’s an impulse that’s as old as time, but just what is it for? Read More
  • Remaining Relevant: Top Ten Victorian Novels

    Mon, 25 Jan 2016 10:24:26 Permalink
    The Victorian Era, which corresponds to the reign of Queen Victoria beginning in 1837, gave birth to some of the best loved novels in literary history.  Like most eras, it produced works that both reflected and rebelled against the social mores of the time. Their characters and themes, however, seem to transcend time and place, and present us with stories worth revisiting years, decades, and even centuries later. Here is our list of the top ten Victorian novels. Read More
  • I'll Have the Haggis: A History of Burns Night

    Mon, 25 Jan 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Scots take their celebrations seriously. Food, drink, music, and dance are staples in almost all Scottish shindigs, and these elements of Scottish festivities are on no greater display than in the annual Burns Night gatherings to celebrate the life and work of famed Scottish poet, Robert Burns. Also referred to as Burns Suppers, Burns Night celebrations have been common across Scotland and Northern Ireland since the first Burns Night commemoration in the early 1800s, not long after Burns death in 1796. Burns Nights also became increasingly popular in the U.K. and New Zealand during the 19th Century in large part Read More
  • What Is Physica Sacra and Why Is It Important?

    Sun, 24 Jan 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    The Enlightenment was a period marked with so many innovations in art, science, and philosophy—not to mention all the political power-plays which took place the world over—that it can be difficult to fully unpack all that was accomplished. Book collectors interested in this period are often on the lookout for Daniel Defoe first editions such as the 1719 version of Robinson Crusoe, or the original works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. James Boswell’s The Life of Samuel Johnson, published in 1791, is another classic of the time. We mustn’t forget, however, that the 18th century gave rise to the field of natural Read More
  • Famous Manuscripts and the History of Handwriting

    Sat, 23 Jan 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Though it feels like nearly everything has its own holiday now, it might help to reflect on the subject of January 23, or National Handwriting Day. In the digital age, it is no secret that calligraphy is a dying art. Why work laboriously and imperfectly on something that takes days to cross the country, when the computer will set it in flawless text that can be transmitted instantly? Read More
  • Remaining Relevant: Top Ten Victorian Novels

    Fri, 22 Jan 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    The Victorian Era, which corresponds to the reign of Queen Victoria beginning in 1837, gave birth to some of the best loved novels in literary history.  Like most eras, it produced works that both reflected and rebelled against the social mores of the time. Their characters and themes, however, seem to transcend time and place, and present us with stories worth revisiting years, decades, and even centuries later. Here is our list of the top ten Victorian novels. Read More
  • The Mystery of Mummy Paper

    Thu, 21 Jan 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Paper. We grab a scrap to jot down a phone number, we see movie posters, exchange greeting cards, hold paper books in our hands. We come in contact with so much paper, it’s hard to keep track, and this is during a so-called “digital age” when we should be immersed in a nearly paperless world. And yet, it continues to be necessary, wanted, and part of the fabric of our routines and desires. Imagine now, a world in which we need paper even more, for nearly everything. From communication to profit, paper is necessary. It’s basically the internet of the Read More
  • Eight Short Story Writers You Should Be Reading Right Now

    Wed, 20 Jan 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Nobody cares about literature anymore. That’s the death-cry heard time and time again about the state of 21st Century reading. Sure, studies and surveys continually show the ways in which today’s average reader experiences literature are changing, from e-readers, smart phones, and tablets, to podcasts and other subscription-based audio book websites and services.  These advancements are designed to help readers immerse themselves into fictional characters and worlds with more ease and expediency as the pace and rigors of everyday life in today’s society make it more and more difficult to pull-back from reality and allow our imaginations to explore and Read More
  • Edwidge Danticat's "Other Haiti"

    Tue, 19 Jan 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Free of heavy snow and sharp winter winds, Haiti is a tropical nation that rests in the Caribbean Sea. Despite it’s picturesque location, life in Haiti in the 1900s was far from a vacation for its inhabitants. Political unrest, poverty, and loss were ever-present themes of daily life, laying a heavy burden on families across the country. Despite the harsh oppressions that taint Haiti’s past, the voice of one woman emerges through the despair and weaves poetry out of a broken history. Read More
  • Quiz: Which Winnie-the-Pooh Character Are You?

    Mon, 18 Jan 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Who doesn't love Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood? Whether you're an A. A. Milne purist or a fan of later Disney iterations, the charm of Pooh, Christopher Robin, Piglet, et al. is undeniable. Why not take a moment to enter into their world of honey, heffalumps, and hums? Answer six brief questions to determine which Winnie-the-Pooh character you would be.  Read More
  • The Story Behind Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography

    Sun, 17 Jan 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Benjamin Franklin is undoubtedly one of the largest looming figures in American history. His shadow rests on everything from politics to spirituality. And his biography is just as important to American literature as he was to American politics. However, the road to publication was not easy. Fittingly of such an unconventional figure, the story behind Franklin’s autobiography is filled with many twists and turns. Read More
  • I Love L.A.: Five Writers Who Call Los Angeles Home

    Sat, 16 Jan 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    It’s a town well-known for the Silver Screen—a place where dreamers flock in search of stardom, celebrity, fame, and fortune. But beyond the glitz and glam of Hollywood Boulevard, Rodeo Drive, and movie studio backlots, the City of Angels possesses a rich, complex literary history that transcends genres, styles, and aesthetics. While perhaps not quite the powerhouse of arts and letters as some of the city’s East Coast rivals, L.A. has been home to some of the most creative, interesting, and influential writers of the last century. Read More
  • Creative Expression, Controversy, and Classic French Literature

    Fri, 15 Jan 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    “It is a stupidity second to none, to busy oneself with the correction of the world.”  Le Misanthrope, I:1, 1666 Many of the minds and pens of those who have shaped society, discourse, and art hail from France, the birthplace of diplomacy. However, as Molière, born Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, and many of his kind discovered, those who take readers outside the status quo with their expression may find themselves paying pipers of all kinds. We celebrate Molière this week, the week of his birth, and observe his contribution and the company he kept in the spirit and tradition of French creativity. Read More
  • Author Yukio Mishima's Life and Legacy

    Thu, 14 Jan 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Yukio Mishima holds a prominent place in Japan’s rich literary history. Nominated three times for the Nobel Prize in Literature, Mishima's works explore ideas of sexuality, death, suicide, politics, Buddhism, Shintoism, atheism, innocence, corruption and aging to name a few. His Confessions of a Mask follows a young boy who realizes he is homosexual, and Mishima uses the boy’s internal monologue to explore what it’s like growing up gay in the conservative military society that was Japan before and during World War II. Read More
  • Five Things To Know About the Horatio Alger Myth

    Wed, 13 Jan 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you’re confused after reading the title of this article, odds are you’re not alone. Even the most savvy, in-tune reader might not be able to explain the Horatio Alger Myth or its significance in late 19th Century American literature. And that’s strange given how prevalent the Horatio Alger Myth is and how it managed to permeate modern American storytelling in ways that today ring as cliché, tired, and uninspired. Read More
  • Finding Winnie and Market Street: The 2016 Caldecott & Newbery Winners

    Tue, 12 Jan 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    For their outstanding artistic contributions to children’s literature, authors Lindsay Mattick and Matt de la Peña received the honor of having their books named the 2016 Caldecott Medal and Newbery Medal award winners, respectively, yesterday. Mattick’s Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear, illustrated by Sophie Blackall, and de la Peña’s Last Stop on Market Street, illustrated by Christian Robinson, may on the surface appear diametrically opposed in their aim and ambition, but both books hit on a fundamental truth about why we read, write, tell, and consume stories: the quest for a truth greater than ourselves that gives us Read More
  • Past Caldecott and Newbery Winners to Read and Collect Now

    Mon, 11 Jan 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Congratulations to the 2016 Caldecott Medal winner, Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear illustrated by Sophie Blackall and written by Lindsay Mattick, and to the 2016 Newbery Medal winner, Last Stop on Market Street written by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson. The Caldecott and Newbery Medals are awarded annually for the best American picture book for children and best contribution to American literature for children, respectively. They are widely considered the most esteemed awards for children's literature in the U.S. This year’s award presentation got us thinking about the Caldecott and Read More
  • Interesting Editions of The Wind in the Willows

    Sun, 10 Jan 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows has long been considered a classic; however, the author initially had a difficult time finding someone to publish the children's novel. Indeed, had it not been for Theodore Roosevelt—who wrote Grahame and said he had read it over and over again—encouraging the Scribner publishing house to give the book a chance, we may not have had the pleasure of acquainting ourselves with Mole, Toad, and company. Instead, The Wind in the Willows is a recognizable title to nearly everyone, and recently a first edition copy of the book owned by the daughter of Read More
  • Karel Čapek and the Origin of the Word Robot

    Sat, 09 Jan 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Karel Čapek’s Czech play RUR, (Rossum’s Universal Robots) is notable for numerous reasons. Written in 1920, the play's commentary on the politics of its day earned its author a spot on the Nazi most-wanted list. RUR details a robot revolution that would overthrow the dominant class, humans, and lead to their extinction. Above all, the play is most well known for introducing the world to the word, "robot." In fact, before Čapek’s play, what we think of as robots were mainly called "androids" or "automatons," with "automaton" meaning a self-operating machine. In Czech, "robota"translates to "forced labor." It’s associated with the Read More
  • William Morris and the Kelmscott Press

    Fri, 08 Jan 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    “Apart from the desire to produce beautiful things, the leading passion of my life has been and is hatred of modern civilization.” – William Morris In the late 1700s, the industrial revolution took root and quickly propelled society toward a future of consumerism and commoditization. Although this period in history brought about many positive changes in the lives of working class citizens, the era was not without its shortcomings. Beauty was exchanged for practicality, time was equated to money, and the jobs that once needed the skill of human hands could be replicated by machinery. One example of modernization was the Read More
  • Renaissance Women: Five Harlem Writers You Should Know

    Thu, 07 Jan 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    In the time between the First and Second World Wars there came a great outpouring of art, music, writing, and culture from Harlem. Works of art explored themes such as the cruel realities of institutionalized racism, race riots happening all over the country, the impact of slavery on African culture, Christianity, and the burgeoning urban culture brought on by industrialization in the North. Out of the Harlem Renaissance came artists like Langston Hughes, Rudolph Fisher, Cab Calloway, and Ella Fitzgerald. The following five women are just some of the writers that made up this amazing time in literary history. Read More
  • The Big Business of Winnie-the-Pooh

    Wed, 06 Jan 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    When writers began fighting for copyright protection around two hundred years ago, they were mostly trying to avoid getting ripped off by renegade printers. Sage as they were, not even the best of them could have predicted just how much money could be on the line. It’s unlikely that even A.A. Milne could have fathomed just how valuable his own intellectual property would become, in the forms of Winnie, Eeyore, Piglet, and the gang. Beginning as a children’s poem in the 1920s, Winnie-the-Pooh is now at the center of a merchandising and media empire that totals upwards of $5 billion a year. Read More
  • Lunatic Science: Umberto Eco's Library

    Tue, 05 Jan 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    If the 30,000 volume book collection housed in Umberto Eco’s Milan apartment can be said to inspire one response, it might well be awe. Lila Azam Zanganeh, who interviewed Eco for the Paris Review described Eco’s abode as “a labyrinth of corridors lined with bookcases that reach all the way up to extraordinarily high ceilings," and makes mention of the library as “a legend in and of itself.” Most commonly, when a visitor is first shown the veritable universe of books that expands throughout the author’s home, they can think of only one question: “have you read all of these?” Read More
  • Notable Speeches: The State of the Union and Nobel Lectures

    Mon, 04 Jan 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    As the first president of the United States, George Washington established the precedents for the office. One of the most enduring traditions he began was the delivery of a State of the Union address. The constitution required the president to update Congress on the nation’s progress, but didn’t specify how or when. It was Washington who decided those particulars. The State of the Union remains one of the major speeches of the year. Other notable annual speaking events are the Nobel lectures. Today, we present a sample of noteworthy public speaking moments from presidents and Nobel laureates. Read More
  • Ten Magnificent Tolkien Collectibles

    Sun, 03 Jan 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    Books are their own little world, and no writer has taken this to heart quite like J.R.R. Tolkien. Through Middle-Earth, the British author imagined a land of such history and vastness that, although he has many imitators, Tolkien still has no equal. Beyond the billion-dollar films and merchandise, Tolkien has left behind an expansive bibliography which can take even the most serious collectors time to navigate. It’s not quite as hard as learning Elvish, but building the perfect Tolkien library requires a bit of enthusiastic study. Here's a look at ten magnificent items for a Tolkien collection. Read More
  • Six Spot-On Predictions About the Future From Isaac Asimov

    Sat, 02 Jan 2016 08:00:00 Permalink
    The name Isaac Asimov is practically synonymous with science fiction. Throughout the course of his extraordinarily prolific career, the Boston University-based biochemist wrote and edited hundreds of novels and short story collections as well as an innumerable amount of letters. With such a background as his—and his finger on the pulse of so many scientific ideas in his day—it makes sense that Asimov would be a thought-leader. But how close did he come to predicting some of our modern day staples? It's almost unbelievable. Read More
  • Collecting Nobel Laureates: Hermann Hesse and Nelly Sachs

    Fri, 01 Jan 2016 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 (again, congratulations to the 2015 winner from Belarus, Svetlana Alexievich!); and your collection will be filled with the best of the best. We’ve recently been spotlighting Nobel laureates from Germany, and today, we’d like to continue by providing some collecting tips for Hermann Hesse and Nelly Sachs. Read More
  • The Best of 2015: Our 10 Most Popular Blog Posts

    Thu, 31 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    It is hard to believe that 2015 is drawing to a close. What a great year! The staff at Books Tell You Why would like to take a moment to thank all of you: the loyal readers who followed our work throughout the year. Your interest and enthusiasm are a constant reminder of why we do what we do. Before beginning festivities tonight and moving on to 2016 tomorrow, we thought we'd take a moment to revisit our ten most popular blog posts from 2015. Care to join us? Read More
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