Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • Knut Hamsun: Nobel Laureate and Nazi Sympathizer

    Sun, 03 Aug 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    It’s hard to imagine the thoughts and feelings of those persecuted by Nazi Germany during the Second World War; it is even harder to understand one who would embrace Nazi atrocities. Knut Hamsun was a Norwegian novelist and poet who was honored with the 1920 Nobel Prize for Literature. He published over 20 novels, as well as short stories, plays, and a poetry collection. In addition to being a groundbreaking writer, Hamsun was also a Nazi sympathizer.  Read More
  • Dennis Lehane - Pushing Genre Limits Since 1994

    Sat, 02 Aug 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    There are some writers who live and breathe their hometown. Dennis Lehane is such a writer, whose love affair with the seedy underbelly of Boston comes through almost every time he puts pen to paper. Whether working in novels, screenplays, or television episodes, Lehane stands out as a dynamic storyteller whose talents rise above specific genres or mediums. Read More
  • Isabel Allende: The Interesting Life of a "Raging Feminist"

    Fri, 01 Aug 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Isabel Allende once said she “didn’t want a happy life but an interesting one.” Raised in Peru, Chile, Lebanon, and Bolivia, and eventually forced into exile when her cousin, Salvador Allende, was deposed as President of Chile, it is safe to say that she is achieving her goal. Read More
  • Civil Rights Activist and Author, James Baldwin

    Thu, 31 Jul 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    American writer, James Baldwin was born August 2, 1924, in Harlem, New York City. He was the oldest of nine; his younger siblings were all half-siblings and his stepfather was harsher on Baldwin than on the rest of the children. His unusual intelligence--combined with the persecution of his stepfather--caused Baldwin to spend much of his time alone in libraries. By the time Baldwin had reached age fourteen, he had discovered his passion for writing. During his young adult years, his talent for language did not go unnoticed. His educators deemed him gifted—and in 1937, at the age of thirteen, he Read More
  • Herman Melville: Literary Giant Who Died in Obscurity

    Wed, 30 Jul 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    When Herman Melville was seven years old, his father warned his teachers that he was “very backwards in speech and somewhat slow in comprehension.” Luckily for the rest of us, he appears not to have been daunted by this description. A prolific writer of both novels and poetry, he is now among the most renowned authors in the American canon. Read More
  • Ten Facts You May Not Know About J. K. Rowling

    Tue, 29 Jul 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    J. K. Rowling, author of the bestselling Harry Potter series and several crime fiction novels, celebrates her birthday July 31st. A real-life "rags to riches" story, Forbes ranked her as the forty-eighth most powerful celebrity in 2007. Take a look with us as we explore ten facts you might not know about the beloved author. Read More
  • Jane Eyre and Other Classic Bildungsromans

    Mon, 28 Jul 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    A bildungsroman is a novel which follows its protagonist during a significant period of maturation. The book focuses on the main character's childhood or adolescence over a span of years as she navigates the world and investigates her place in it. The bildungsroman became highly popular in 19th century British novels, particularly in the works of Charles Dickens, but still retains its popularity today. Discover more about this form and some essential bildungsromans in the following article.  Read More
  • Collector Spotlight: Enhancing a Collection with Signatures and Artwork

    Sun, 27 Jul 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Part two of our interview with David A. Williamson, one of the largest Stephen King collectors in the world. In 2009, he bought Betts Books and one of his greatest joys is helping other King collectors find that “special” collectible for their own collections. He lives in Fairfield, CT, is married and has three children. Read More
  • Six Famous Horror Novels Based on True Stories

    Sat, 26 Jul 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    On July 26, 1984, Edward Gein died in a state mental institution. Gein's case stole the headlines in November 1957, when police went to his farmhouse to investigate the disappearance of local hardware store clerk Bernice Worden. Gein had been the last customer at the store and had been seen loitering on the premises. Officers were horrified to find Worden's corpse hanging in the barn--along with a collection of household items and a suit made out of human skin, and bowls made from human skulls. It seemed that Gein was responsible for the deaths of countless victims, not just that of Worden.  Read More
  • Famous Authors Who Ventured into Screenwriting

    Fri, 25 Jul 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    On July 26, 1942, legendary author William Faulkner started a five-month stint as a screenwriter for Warner Brothers. By this time Faulkner had already made a name for himself as a prominent literary figure, thanks to The Sound and the  Fury (1929), Light in August (1932), and Absalom, Absalom! (1936). But Faulkner had yet to attain any financial stability from his writing, so he turned to screenwriting to generate additional income. He penned two screenplays: To Have and Have Not (based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway); and The Big Sleep (based on the eoonymous Raymond Chandler novel). Both movies starred Humphrey Bogart and met Read More
  • Franz Kafka: A Dark and Surreal Tale

    Wed, 23 Jul 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    With a name that has become synonymous with the complicated and the surreal, Franz Kafka had a distinctive voice that set him apart from his literary contemporaries. His knack for creating stories reminiscent of nightmares – both in terror and senselessness – resulted in a legacy that continues to ensnare new readers in each coming generation. Read More
  • A Retrospective on Suspense Novelist John D. MacDonald

    Tue, 22 Jul 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Crime and suspense novelist John D. MacDonald published more than 78 books, with more than 75 million copies in print by the time of his death in 1986. Among his varied achievements, his novel, The Executioners, was adapted into the Hollywood film Cape Fear. Novelist Stephen King called MacDonald "the great entertainer of our age, and a mesmerizing storyteller." Read More
  • Collector Spotlight: Acquiring an Authoritative Stephen King Collection

    Mon, 21 Jul 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    David A. Williamson began collecting Stephen King novels and memorabilia in the 1980s and has amassed a collection that ranks as one of the largest in the world. In 2009, he bought Betts Books and one of his greatest joys is helping other King collectors find that “special” collectible for their own collections. He lives in Fairfield, CT, is married and has three children. He has generously shared his collecting experience and expertise with Books Tell You Why in the following interview.  Read More
  • John Gardner and the Art of Fiction

    Sun, 20 Jul 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    John Champlin Gardner (not to be confused with the James Bond author John Edmund Gardner) was a successful American writer and academic. Born July 21, 1933, he is best known for Grendel, his retelling of Beowulf, and On Moral Fiction, his controversial volume of literary criticism. Read More
  • Ten Tidbits About Ernest Hemingway

    Sat, 19 Jul 2014 08:05:00 Permalink
    Born on July 21, 1899, Ernest Hemingway distinguished himself as a journalist and fiction writer. A winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize, he's considered a legendary author of the twentieth century. Also known as "Papa," Hemingway earned a reputation as a "man's man." He loved hunting, drinking, and women. But there's much more to Hemingway than you might think!  Read More
  • The Controversy Behind Neil Armstrong's Moon Landing Speech

    Fri, 18 Jul 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    On July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 crew left Kennedy Space Center and entered the Moon's orbit. On July 19, after spending a full day in lunar orbit, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr. boarded the lunar module. It was not an easy decent to the surface of the Moon, but when they landed, they made history. Read More
  • 5 Great Exploration Stories: From Everest to the Moon

    Thu, 17 Jul 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    What makes a great exploration story? Is it bold? Is it real? Or is it just something that makes you experience your very own adrenaline rush? Read More
  • Ten Things You Didn't Know About Cormac McCarthy

    Wed, 16 Jul 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Cormac McCarthy has been described as the best unknown novelist in America. Although lauded in literary circles as a "writer's writer" and the William Faulkner or James Joyce of this era, McCarthy became better known later in his career with his Pulitzer-Prize winning work All the Pretty Horses. Further notoriety came when his book No Country for Old Men was adapted for film by the Coen brothers. The movie won four Academy Awards. Read More
  • Ephemera and Your Rare Book Collection

    Tue, 15 Jul 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you'’ve chosen a theme or focus for your rare book collection, eventually you'’ll want to move beyond books and collect related items as well. These may include magazines, posters, or other paper objects. Known as ephemera, such items can add depth, interest, and value to a personal collection. Read More
  • Remembering Nobel Laureate, Nadine Gordimer

    Mon, 14 Jul 2014 12:01:31 Permalink
    Nadine Gordimer, Nobel Laureate and anti-apartheid activist, died peacefully in her home Sunday evening with her children at her side. Read More
  • Success in Private: Four Famously Reclusive Authors

    Mon, 14 Jul 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Author J.D. Salinger, is notable for many reasons, not the least of which is his reclusiveness.  His novel, Catcher in the Rye, was first published July 16, 1951 and has sold over 60 million copies worldwide. While Salinger's work has inspired people worldwide, from teenagers to criminals, it is perhaps the author's isolation that fascinates us the most. Read More
  • Merry Christmas... In July!

    Sun, 13 Jul 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    In the heart of summer, many of us are reeling from skyrocketing temperatures and thinking wistfully of the crisp days of winter. Cool down as we celebrate Christmas in July and browse the following collectible Christmas favorites. Read More
  • Gerald Ford, President by Accident

    Sat, 12 Jul 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    This week we celebrate the birth of Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States. Ford was born as Leslie Lynch King Jr. on July 14, 1913 in Omaha, Nebraska. While many presidents grew up under affluent circumstances, Ford succeeded through hard work—combined with very unusual circumstances. Indeed, he became the only President of the United States never elected to either the presidency or the vice presidency. Read More
  • Wole Soyinka, Irrepressible Nobel Laureate

    Fri, 11 Jul 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Born July 13, 1934, Akinwande Oluwole Soyinka was raised in Abeokuta, Nigeria—under British ownership at the time. He was raised in an Anglican family; however, he was constantly exposed to the Muslim religion and Yorùbá culture, allowing him to have a cultured childhood. His father’s position as a primary school headmaster gave Soyinka’s family access to electricity, a radio, and introducing him to great works of literature in addition to the Western world. Soyinka was an avid student, receiving a scholarship to attend one of the most prestigious secondary schools in Ibadan, and later studying at University College, where he Read More
  • Henry David Thoreau, Environmentalist and Abolitionist

    Thu, 10 Jul 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Beloved American poet, naturalist, and transcendentalist, Henry David Thoreau was born July 12, 1817. His philosophy on living naturally paved the way for modern environmentalist ideals. While Thoreau is known for writing Walden and embracing life in the woods, many are less familiar with his beliefs on civil disobedience and abolition. Read More
  • J. K. Rowling Writes New Harry Potter Story

    Wed, 09 Jul 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    J. K. Rowling has published a new short story about Harry Potter on her website, Pottermore.com. The story, entitled "Dumbledore's Army Reunites at Quidditch World Cup Final" is written as a gossip column by character Rita Skeeter and describes many of the Harry Potter characters as adults.  Read More
  • Celebrating Alice Munro, Nobel Laureate

    Tue, 08 Jul 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Canadian author Alice Munro, born July 10, 1931, won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature as "master of the contemporary short story." Indeed, she is widely acclaimed for transforming the way short stories are written today. Read More
  • Dean Koontz, A Collectible Writer with Staying Power

    Mon, 07 Jul 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    Dean Koontz is an American master of suspense and horror who has sold over 450 million copies of his books worldwide. His work has frequently appeared on The New York Times bestseller list and more than twenty of his novels reached the coveted number one position.   Read More
  • Philadelphia: Hotbed of Early American Politics--and Printing

    Sun, 06 Jul 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
     On March 4, 1681, William Penn was granted a large swath of land southwest of New Jersey. He named it "Sylvania," (Latin for "woods"), and King Charles renamed it Pennsylvania in honor of Penn's father. Within three years, Pennsylvania had its first printing press. The first American publication may have been printed in Massachusetts in 1639, but Philadelphia soon emerged as a major publishing center. By the time the Liberty Bell rang on July 8, 1776, the city was already a bustling center of both politics and printing.  Read More
  • The Dalai Lama, Spiritual Leader in Exile

    Sat, 05 Jul 2014 08:00:00 Permalink
    His Holiness the fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is a Buddhist monk and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. Born July 6, 1935 into a farming family in northeastern Tibet, Lamo Dhondup was designated as the reincarnation of the thirteenth Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso, when he was two years old. Read More
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