Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • Five Rare Rudyard Kipling Editions

    Wed, 30 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    With dozens of major works to his name, Rudyard Kipling was one of the most prolific writers of his time and a stalwart in the British literary landscape. Kipling was a master storyteller whose books transcended genre and audience, and his impact on the modern short story, children’s books, poetry, and long-form narratives like the novel still resonates with writers today. Read More
  • Five Beautiful Books by Nawakum Press

    Tue, 29 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Despite what critics and pundits have been warning for years, people like paper. Ebook sales have become stagnant. Everybody, even the college-aged, prefer to read tangible books. Print culture, for the moment, seems to be doing quite well. This environment has been of a particular benefit to one section of the publishing industry, one which has flourished in recent years. In a world of screens and immediate gratification, people are growing more and more attracted to books made by hand. One of the most impressive successes to emerge from this fine press revolution is the Santa Rosa-based Nawakum Press. Read More
  • Borges, Puig, Cortazar: Where to Start with Argentine Literature

    Mon, 28 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    One literature differs from another, either before or after it, not so much because of the text as for the manner in which it is read. - Jorge Luis Borges Argentina is country so literary that its name is said to be derived from a Latin poem, and it has had a vibrant literary culture since the first co-mingling of Spanish culture with native oral traditions more than four hundred years ago. So, where is a person to start on the task of unraveling a complex literary culture? Read More
  • Politics and Children's Literature

    Sun, 27 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    How might we introduce children to important issues of politics in literature? While such a premise might seem unlikely, a number of children's books have depicted geopolitical violence at various moments in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, suggesting that illustrated books perhaps contain more power within their pages than many of us would anticipate. From Linda Sue Park’s historical book about 12th-century Korea to Thanhha Lai’s illustrated poems of exile from Vietnam, children’s books have a lot to teach us and the children in each of our lives.  Read More
  • A Brief History of Banned Books in America

    Sat, 26 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Books encourage people to ask questions. They equip people to understand lives different from their own. They encourage people to seek the truth, to reject what is false and convenient. It is no surprise reading is a powerful thing. For this reason, paranoid governments have always been suspicious of what people might be learning from between the covers of a book. Men might become corrupted. Women might become unchaste. So censors have defamed and condemned them, burned them and banned them—but there will always be people who believe books to be worth fighting for. Read More
  • Ten Beautiful Christmas Poems

    Fri, 25 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    I would define, in brief, the poetry of words as the rhythmical creation of Beauty. —Edgar Allan Poe Merry Christmas, everyone! Truly, Christmas is a lyrical holiday—one that is experienced through the stories told from day’s past and hopes strung together for the future. Whether it be through bible verses, Christmas carols, or the written word, there's no better way to celebrate the beauty of today than with some classic Christmas poetry. Here, we’ve compiled excerpts from ten Christmas poems. Enjoy the “rhythmical creation of Beauty” on this Christmas Day. Read More
  • Five Little-Known Facts About Queen of Suspense, Mary Higgins Clark

    Thu, 24 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Mary Higgins Clark's name is now synonymous with the suspense genre. She's penned 35 suspense novels on her own, and she's worked in collaboration with friends and family on several more. Her books, including favorites like Before I Say Goodbye and He See's You When You're Sleeping, are bestsellers. In fact, her first suspense novel, Where Are The Children? (1975)—which was also made into a feature film—is in its 75th edition. So, we know her by her work, but what are some little-known facts about the reigning Queen of Suspense? Read More
  • Welcome to Beantown: A Literary Tour of Boston

    Wed, 23 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    The City on a Hill. The Cradle of Liberty. Beantown. No matter how you refer to it, there’s no doubting Boston’s place in the landscape of American culture and history. A city defined by its revolutionary spirit, ferocious attachment to its sports teams, and stock of hearty, stiff-lipped citizens, Boston has also served as a launching pad and home for some of the world’s finest literary minds. Read More
  • The First Day of Winter: Five Frosty Reads for a Celebration of Snow

    Tue, 22 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Snow. Day.  Are there two words in the English language that, when strung together, elicit more joy in the heart of a child? Back in the day, news of a snow day was carried over a staticky radio. Hopeful kids listened for their school’s name in the cancellation list while tucked in bed or sitting in a warm kitchen that smelled of toast and freshly brewed coffee. When it made its alphabetical appearance, a typically quiet and sleepy morning house would be transformed into a household filled with excitement as children threw off their blankets and threw on their winter Read More
  • Three Victorian Ghost Stories for a Spooky Christmas

    Mon, 21 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Imagine Christmas Eve: Snow sifts down from the night sky, the fireplace glows red and crackles with warmth, and a stately looking family gathers in the living room with food and drink to regale each other with tales of the undead coming to life and psychologically taunting characters until they are driven to madness from fear. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night? Yes indeed. Sweet dreams, little ones. For as odd as this scene might sound, the telling of ghost stories on the night before Christmas was and is a common tradition in England and throughout Read More
  • How Do Famous Authors Get Their Start?

    Sun, 20 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    There’s no clear-cut way to become a writer. A writer’s start, however, is almost always a small one. It takes a considerable amount of time to cultivate the talent that will amass attention, better pay, praise and prestige. That is, if those are the kind of things you’re into. But the road to artistic glory is necessarily a humble one. Few blossoming writers are in a position to turn down opportunities that pay and reach readers. And many times, a writer will settle for just the latter. In the end, these less glamorous ventures and gigs can prove essential to both the professional Read More
  • Announcing a New Scholarship for Rare Book School

    Sat, 19 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Here at Books Tell You Why, we're excited to announce a new scholarship for Rare Book School! Beginning in 2016, we will send one winner per year to a RBS course of his or her choosing.  Read More
  • Hector Hugh Munro: The Strange Ideology of Saki

    Fri, 18 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Saki was the pseudonym of short story writer Hector Hugh Munro. He adopted the name in 1900, and it's believed to have been taken from a character from the works of the Persian poet, Omar Khayyam. Most famous for his short stories, Saki also wrote novels and many articles of journalism. He remains an important figure in the tradition of modern English writers, although his politics and ideas may seem somewhat distant to us today. Read More
  • More Than Just A Beer in the Glass: An Interview with Brooklyn Brewery's Garrett Oliver

    Thu, 17 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    For Garrett Oliver, beer is not simply a fizzy, alcoholic beverage we pull from the back of the fridge after a hard day at the office, or something we guzzle on Sunday afternoons while watching our team battle it out against a rival opponent. Sure, beer can be both release and celebration, but in Oliver’s book – well, make that books – beer is a window into our history as human beings and a glimpse at the things in life we value and hold dear. Read More
  • Beatrix Potter: A Pioneer in Self-Publishing

    Wed, 16 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    When one thinks of Beatrix Potter and her literary legacy —her delicate illustrations and charming stories that have delighted children and parents alike for over one hundred years —one does not necessarily think also of writers like E.L. James, John Grisham, or Edgar Allen Poe. But these writers, though they differ greatly in genre and in time, all have something in common with the celebrated naturalist and storyteller. Each of these writers, like Potter herself, began their literary careers by self-publishing. From her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit , to Wag-by-Wall , the last of her stories published Read More
  • Edna O'Brien and Her Country Girls

    Tue, 15 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Today she’s known as the “doyenne” of Irish literature and a respected elder stateswoman of arts and letters throughout the English speaking world. Her awards are numerous and accolades esteemed, but when Edna O'Brien broke onto the international literary stage in 1960 with the publication of her novel The Country Girls, she was a struggling devotee of James Joyce working as a reader for a London-based publishing house. Read More
  • Black Sparrow Reissues Charles Reznikoff Works

    Mon, 14 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Are you familiar with the works of Charles Reznikoff? If you haven’t already encountered Reznikoff’s books of poetry, including Testimony (1965) and Holocaust (1975), we’d recommend visiting a bookstore and seeking out these texts as soon as possible. And because Black Sparrow Press recently reissued a number of Reznikoff’s poetry books, it’s easier than ever to obtain one of these books for your personal collection.  Read More
  • A History of Literary Fraud

    Sun, 13 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    It’s a writer’s job to play with the truth. We entrust the nonfiction writer with a little license: to render the real with a little flourish that the average eye doesn’t see. And, we trust the fiction writer to show us truth and beauty through a grand fabrication. Despite this understanding, we still hold our writers to delicate standards of integrity. We want engagement and artistry from memoirs and histories, but will not tolerate lies. Nor will we tolerate unoriginality or plagiarism from a writer of fiction. And, as a general rule, we like our books to be written by Read More
  • Collecting Nobel Laureates: Thomas Mann & Herta Müller

    Sat, 12 Dec 2015 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; and your collection will be filled with the best of the best. Today, we continue our efforts to spotlight Nobel laureates, and picking up where we left off last time, we’d like to feature two more German winners. Read on for tips and tricks for collecting the works of Thomas Mann and Herta Müller. Read More
  • The Fantastic Imagination of William Joyce

    Fri, 11 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    William Joyce is the multi-talented writer, illustrator, and genius behind some of the most beloved and well known children's stories, films, and characters of the past half century. Joyce's imagination has served him well, and his trademark style must be the fantastical ideas he portrays all while pushing boundaries and asking “what if?”. Read More
  • Emily Dickinson and Three Types of Reclusive Writers

    Thu, 10 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Henry David Thoreau would no doubt bristle at anyone questioning his credentials as the ultimate writerly recluse. His magnum opus, Walden (1854), presents a grand, philosophical vision of doing without and living a simple, self-reliant existence, far from the comforts of civilization. As Kathryn Schulz’s recent New Yorker article points out, however, the impression of seclusion the heralded poet tries to convey is not entirely accurate. Not only did Thoreau spend less than two years in his cabin on Walden Pond, said cabin could hardly be described as remote. Walden Pond itself was a popular spot for vacationers and picnickers Read More
  • Great Christmas Gift Ideas for Children

    Wed, 09 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Stories are to be found everywhere on this narrative-inclined Christmas holiday—in movies, songs, even in its decorations—but nothing endures quite like the stories that were read to us by family. As we age, it becomes our job to pass on that holiday cheer to the younger spirits in our lives. There is a rich selection of children’s literature to choose from, including classics like Eloise at Christmastime, and modern gems like Angela and the Baby Jesus. Here, we explore the many books available for parents and family members wishing to brighten a young child’s holiday. Read More
  • Illustrations and Woodcuts of Mary Azarian

    Tue, 08 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Renowned artist Mary Azarian has been working on woodcuts since the fourth grade. Now, she runs a one-woman woodcutting business, doing all of her own printing, painting, packaging, and distributing. Her woodcuts are inspired by the nature that surrounds her, and she says she's drawn much inspiration from her own life and experiences in the natural world. Azarian has illustrated over 50 books. Her most well known work is in the children's book Snowflake Bentley which won the 1999 Caldecott Medal. Read More
  • Hanukkah Traditions in Literature

    Mon, 07 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    In the Jewish faith tradition, Hanukkah is a beautiful remembrance of the miraculous supply of oil for the rededication of the Jewish Temple, and a victory over the Seleucid Empire. For eight days and nights, the Jewish people celebrate and reflect together with gifts, prayer, and the lighting of the menorah. In Hebrew, the word “Hanukkah” means “dedication.” Through the reflections and perspectives of Jewish authors and characters, we have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of what it truly means to be dedicated to one’s faith. Here are a few literary works that embody the spirit of Hanukkah. Read More
  • The Night Before Christmas: A Pop Culture Rundown

    Sun, 06 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    For some, it may be years since they’ve heard it recited. Others, on the other hand, may have never had the chance to hear the classic Christmas tale from start to finish. But this doesn’t mean The Night Before Christmas is in any way a relic of Christmas past—a poetic ghost clinging to some kind of existence in this world rather than passing on to another. In fact, as families gather together this Christmas season, the references and allusions to this 1823 work may be more prevalent than you think. Read More
  • How New is New? Tom Wolfe and the New Journalism

    Sat, 05 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    In the 1880s, the term "new journalism" was sometimes used to refer to the new yellow print newspapers that were being popularized at the time. In 1923, Robert E. Park referred to the penny-newspaper trend of the 1830s as the advent of "new journalism." In 1973, Bonfire of the Vanities (1987) author Tom Wolfe edited an anthology containing works by Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, and Joan Didion, fashioned as both a collection of admirable pieces of writing and as a sort of manifesto for what Wolfe saw as the a groundbreaking trend in American letters. Its title? The New Journalism Read More
  • Best Books from Russia

    Fri, 04 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Since the 19th century, Russian novelists have attained international fame and recognition. Indeed, Russia has produced some of the world's most legendary authors. If you’re traveling to Russia or are thinking about learning more about the country through works of fiction, what should you read? Beginning in the 19th century and moving through to the 21st century, we’ll discuss some of the best books from Russia that you should add to your reading lists. Read More
  • Is Heart of Darkness Racist?

    Thu, 03 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    During Joseph Conrad’s lifetime, little fuss was made over his 1899 novella Heart of Darkness. Of the three pieces of writing all bound into the single volume in which Heart of Darkness was sold, what would come to be the author’s most famous work received the least critical attention. It was initially passed over in favor of works like Youth: A Narrative (1902) and The End of the Tether (1902) that history has largely left to fester. Over the course of the past century, however, Conrad’s once-obscure work about a young man, Marlow, taking a trip down the Congo River, has Read More
  • David Macaulay's Books For All Age

    Wed, 02 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    David Macaulay's books and illustrations are as thought-provoking as they are whimsical. He first had his idea for a French gargoyle story, which became Cathedral: The Story of its Construction, in the early seventies. While the lovely gargoyle ladies of medieval France did not make the cut, he was left with a drawing of a cathedral. This inspired a trip to Europe for research and resulted in the aforementioned Cathedral: The Story of its Construction's publication in the spring of 1973. Macaulay was given the Caldecott Honor Award for his efforts. He had been an interior designer and a high Read More
  • Christmas Gift Ideas for Friends and Family

    Tue, 01 Dec 2015 08:00:00 Permalink
    Charles Dickens understood Christmas. No one knew better than him that this year-end holiday should do but one thing: lift our spirits. It's a celebration to keep us warm and merry in the short days and frigid winds of winter. We are to do this with good food and wine, lights, music, gifts, and company. A crucial element of this palliative recipe was stories, and Dickens both extended and innovated the cultural tradition of Christmas in his own novels and tales. It’s an age-old belief that no one should go through Christmas without a good book, and the gift ideas below will Read More
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