Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • A Thousand Faces of Jane Smiley

    Sun, 21 Sep 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Jane Smiley may not be a household name, but she has certainly earned her place among the esteemed writers of today. The Pulitzer Prize winner  brings clarity and truth to any topic she touches, from the struggles of farm women to the history of the novel. Read More
  • H. G. Wells, Father of Science Fiction

    Sat, 20 Sep 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Herbert George Wells was born on September 21, 1866 in Bromley, England. His father was a professional cricket player who also ran an unsuccessful porcelain and cricket supply business. Wells was a bright child who began reading at a young age—kindling a life-long passion for literature. In 1874, he began schooling at Thomas Morley’s Commercial Academy where he learned trades specific for retail occupations. His education was cut short in 1880, however, when his father’s leg injury put an end to his cricket career and left the family financially unstable. Read More
  • Case Studies in Collecting: Stephen King

    Fri, 19 Sep 2014 10:27:00 Permalink
    Prolific author Stephen King has remained a favorite writer for decades, and interest in his work shows no sign of waning. Though primarily recognized as a horror author, King slides among genres, appealing to lovers of science fiction, the American Western, and others. It should be no surprise, then, that King is a popular figure among collectors of modern first editions. Building a single-author collection around King's vast oeuvre offers multiple valuable lessons for book collectors of all specializations. Read More
  • Ten Facts You Should Know about Jane Goodall

    Thu, 18 Sep 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Jane Goodall is the world’s foremost expert in chimpanzees. Born April 3, 1934, she spent 45 years studying wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania. In addition to being honored as Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, she was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace in 2002. She has received many awards including the French Legion of Honor, the Medal of Tanzania, the Kyoto Prize, and the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement. Yet, not only did Goodall make lasting contributions to science and environmentalism, she led a fascinating life. Learn ten interesting facts about Jane Goodall below: Read More
  • William Golding: From the Darkness of War to Man's Latent Evil

    Wed, 17 Sep 2014 09:44:01 Permalink
    Almost everyone who graduated from an American high school in the last few decades knows William Golding as the author of Lord of the Flies. However, his body of work - for which he was awarded the 1983 Nobel Prize for Literature - is much more extensive. He was a poet and a playwright, as well as the author of essays, short stories, and fifteen novels. Read More
  • Resources for Identifying First Editions

    Tue, 16 Sep 2014 10:39:24 Permalink
    Even if you're a novice collector of rare books, you've undoubtedly heard about the importance of identifying first editions. Generally first editions were printed in smaller numbers, making them more scarce. Furthermore, there's a certain allure to having the "very first" of something. Because first edition identification is critical to building a rare book collection, it's important to invest in at least a few useful resources.  Read More
  • Resources for Identifying First Editions

    Tue, 16 Sep 2014 10:39:00 Permalink
    Even if you're a novice collector of rare books, you've undoubtedly heard about the importance of identifying first editions. Generally first editions were printed in smaller numbers, making them more scarce. Furthermore, there's a certain allure to having the "very first" of something. Because first edition identification is critical to building a rare book collection, it's important to invest in at least a few useful resources.  Read More
  • Ken Kesey, Writer of the Counterculture and Beat Generation

    Mon, 15 Sep 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    American writer and counterculture leader, Kenneth Elton Kesey, was born on September 17, 1935 in La Junta, Colorado. His parents were dairy farmers and early in his life they moved to Springfield, Oregon. Kesey became a champion wrestler in college and nearly qualified for the Olympics until an injury brought his wrestling career to a premature end. Instead, Kesey turned to his other passion: writing. Read More
  • James Alan McPherson, First African American to win a Pulitzer Prize

    Sun, 14 Sep 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    In 1978, author James Alan McPherson became the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize. He won the award for his work Elbow Room, a compilation of short stories in which McPherson explored the haunting realities of race relations between blacks and whites. Read More
  • A Brief History of the Mystery Novel

    Sat, 13 Sep 2014 08:01:00 Permalink
    Take a guess: Who is the world's most translated author? One might assume that it's a literary titan, perhaps Shakespeare or Charles Dickens. But according to Index Translationium, UNESCO's database of book translations, the honor goes to none other than Agatha Christie, whose books have been translated into 103 languages. Read More
  • Make Way for Ducklings... and Robert McCloskey

    Fri, 12 Sep 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Caldecott Award-winning illustrator, John Robert McCloskey, was born September 15, 1914 in Hamilton, Ohio.  At an early age he exhibited a love for music - learning the piano, drums, harmonica, and oboe. Later, he developed a unique interest in mechanics and electrical devises. However, all else was forgotten when he began to draw pictures for his school paper. Read More
  • Roald Dahl: Beloved Children's Author and Spy

    Thu, 11 Sep 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Roald Dahl is known throughout the world as a beloved author of children’s books. What is less well known is that he also spent several years as a British spy during World War II.  When England declared war on Germany in 1939, Dahl enlisted in the Royal Air Force (RAF). On one of his first missions, he crash landed his plane in enemy territory and was rescued by a British patrol. Dahl soldiered on for a few more months, but when it became clear that his injuries were interfering with his ability to fly, he was sent back to England Read More
  • Who is Michael Ondaatje, Author of the English Patient?

    Wed, 10 Sep 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Born on September 12, 1943, Phillip Michael Ondaatje is best known for his novel, The English Patient. Winner of the 1992 Man Booker Prize and multiple Academy Awards, the book established Ondaatje as one of Canada’s most important contemporary writers and one of the country’s biggest cultural exports. Read More
  • Should O Henry Get a Presidential Pardon?

    Tue, 09 Sep 2014 09:00:00 Permalink
    Plenty of famous authors have written masterpieces from behind bars: Miguel de Cervantes began Don Quixote while doing time for tax irregularities in Algiers, while Fyodor Dostoyevsky narrowly missed his date with a firing squad, allowing him to write Notes from the Underground. Read More
  • The Short, Controversial Life of D. H. Lawrence

    Mon, 08 Sep 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    D. H. Lawrence, born September 11, 1885, is widely regarded as one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. He was a novelist, poet, and painter. Although he published a dozen novels and many short story collections, no single work brought him more fame or infamy than his book Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Read More
  • Leo Tolstoy: From Troubled Marriage to Contradictory Worldview

    Sun, 07 Sep 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Three facts:Leo Tolstoy was born on September 9th, 1828 in the Tula region of Russia.He was a prolific writer of political and social philosophy, plays, essays, novels, and short stories.His novel War and Peace is widely considered one of the greatest books ever written.Beyond these basic statements, however, there is almost nothing simple that can be said about the classic novelist. Tolstoy as a subject is almost as complicated as the novels he wrote. Read More
  • Download Free Guides about Rare Book Collecting

    Sat, 06 Sep 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Over the last several weeks, the staff at Books Tell You Why have been working hard to create the guides and ebooks requested by you, our readers. When you ask for something, we listen. Through your feedback, we've learned that readers want more than blog posts about rare books and collecting. They want high-quality, in-depth ebooks that they can download and peruse at their leisure. We are happy to announce that we've produced several such guides and they are available to any of our readers free of charge. More are on the way. Don't see what you're looking for? Let Read More
  • 10 Surprising Facts About Jennifer Egan: Proust, Steve Jobs & Twitter

    Fri, 05 Sep 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Jennifer Egan is a journalist and writer whose fame exploded with the publication of her unconventional work of fiction, A Visit from the Goon Squad, in 2010. The book was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award and the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2011. A Visit from the Goon Squad evades easy description. Is it a novel? Is it a collection of short stories? Each chapter follows a different character, branching out through time and space, in a messy yet elegant story that keeps readers hooked. Therefore, it only seems fitting to profile Egan and her work in Read More
  • Raymond Benson, the First American writer of James Bond

    Thu, 04 Sep 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Strong film screenplays provided the foundation for Sean Connery, Daniel Craig, and the five other actors to bring James Bond - or 007 - to life. These movies have captured the imaginations of movie-goers for decades. Of course, the screenplays derived from original James Bond books and short stories. Ian Fleming was the first James Bond author, the originator of the series. However, there have been seven other authorized James Bond authors; the first American writer was Raymond Benson. Read More
  • The Adventurous Life of Arthur Koestler

    Wed, 03 Sep 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    It was Spain, during the height of the Spanish Civil War, and Arthur Koestler - a Communist masquerading as a Fascist sympathizer - was in danger. He was writing about the conflict for a British newspaper, working in the city of Malaga. The Republican army had fled along with the other journalists in the area. It is unknown why Koestler stayed, but the decision was not anomalous in a life punctuated by audacity and adventure. Read More
  • Famous Figures in the History of Bookbinding, Part Two

    Tue, 02 Sep 2014 07:58:53 Permalink
    The way we present and preserve the written word has changed considerably over the millennia. When Johann Gutenberg introduced movable type, our concept of the book changed forever. Since then, famous figures like William Caxton, Jean Grolier, and Samuel Mearne introduced the concept of the book as an object of art. In more recent centuries, Roger Payne and William Morris paved the way for the modern private press movement.  Read More
  • Richard Wright and His "Native Son"

    Mon, 01 Sep 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Great American writer, Richard Wright, was best known for his novels Black Boy and Native Son. Wright was born on September 4, 1908 in Natchez, Mississippi. He was the grandson of slaves, and the son of a sharecropper. His father left the family when Wright was only five years old, leaving him in the sole care of his mother. Read More
  • Six Classic Novels Censored in the United States

    Sun, 31 Aug 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    As August draws to a close, we begin anticipating Banned Book Week - a time for celebrating the First Amendment and our freedom to read. Throughout history, people have recognized the transformative power of literature; governments, religious institutions, and even school districts have sought to contain that power by banning controversial books and —in some cases even ordering their destruction. Read More
  • Famous Figures in the History of Book Binding

    Sat, 30 Aug 2014 08:09:31 Permalink
    From the scroll to the codex to the modern volume, the form of the book has evolved considerably over the centuries. And alongside that, our methods for keeping the pages together have also changed considerably. Today we enjoy a thriving world of designer and art bindings, collectible in their own right. We can thank figures like William Caxton, Jean Grolier, and Samule Mearne for bringing innovation and beauty to the craft of bookbinding. Read More
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs, Controversial Author in Every Era

    Fri, 29 Aug 2014 08:01:34 Permalink
    For the entire first half of the twentieth century, Edgar Rice Burroughs was the most widely read American author. And contemporary readers seem just as enamored of Burroughs' books; over ten million copies of Burroughs' books sell each year, accounting for a full third of US paperback sales. While Burroughs' beloved tales are certainly popular for their fantastic plots and classic characters, interest in the books has been spurred by controversy.  Read More
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs, Controversial Author in Every Era

    Fri, 29 Aug 2014 08:01:00 Permalink
    For the entire first half of the twentieth century, Edgar Rice Burroughs was the most widely read American author. As per a 1963 statistic of Life Magazine, Burroughs' paperback books were runaway best-sellers; over ten million copies sold within just one year of their release, accounting for a full thirtieth of US annual paperback sales. While Burroughs' beloved tales are certainly popular for their fantastic plots and classic characters, interest in the books has been spurred by controversy.  Read More
  • Mary Shelley: From a Scandalous Affair to the Creation of a Monster

    Thu, 28 Aug 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Mistress of the Gothic novel, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley—née Godwin—was born August 30, 1797 in London, England. Her parents were famous intellectuals: writer and philosopher, William Godwin, and women’s rights activist, Mary Wollstonecraft. Sadly, complications from childbirth led to Wollstonecraft's death just days following Mary's birth. Read More
  • Tasha Tudor, Classic Children's Illustrator

    Wed, 27 Aug 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Twentieth-century woman, Tasha Tudor, lived her life as though she occupied a nineteenth-century world. Indeed, this Caldecott winner believed herself the reincarnation of a sailor’s wife from the 1800s. Her passion for the Victorian Era was a natural outpouring of this earlier existence--real or imaginary. Her appreciation for Victorian classics resonates in her illustrations and fosters a similar enthusiasm in all who enjoy her work. Read More
  • Robertson Davies, Would-Be Nobel Laureate

    Tue, 26 Aug 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Some have speculated that if Robertson Davies had been British, he might have won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature. But Davies was Canadian and for better or worse, the award went to Toni Morrison. Davies was one of Canada’s most important and talented writers—the author of over thirty works of fiction as well as a multitude of plays and essays. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 1986, Davies won the Stephen Leacock Medal in 1955, the Lorne Pierce Medal in 1961, the Governor-General’s Award in 1972, and 23 honorary degrees. During his life, he was a successful playwright, journalist, professor, Read More
  • Theodore Dreiser, Pioneer of Naturalism

    Mon, 25 Aug 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    American novelist Theodore Dreiser popularized naturalism in the United States during the early 1900s. Although the movement was begun by French writer Émile Zola, it was largely through the perseverance of Dreiser that it became a force in America. Emphasizing realism and accuracy in art, naturalism went beyond these qualities to reveal how humans are shaped by their circumstances and environment. Renowned literary critic Irving Howe described Dreiser as, "one of the very few American giants we have had." Read More
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