Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • Six Interesting Facts about the Nobel Prize in Literature

    Fri, 13 Apr 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    What does it mean to win a Nobel Prize in Literature? Some of the past winners have explained it better than we ever could. For example, Seamus Heaney declared, "I've said it before about the Nobel Prize: it's like being struck by a more or less benign avalanche. It was unexpected, unlooked for, and extraordinary." Doris Lessing, for her part, said, "As soon as I got the Nobel Prize, my back collapsed and I was in the hospital." Mario Vargas Llosa reminds us of the notoriety that comes with the title of Nobel laureate: "The Nobel prize is a fairy Read More
  • Mark Twain's Legendary Humor

    Thu, 12 Apr 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, is one of the most celebrated authors in all of American literature. Born in Florida, Missouri in 1835, Twain moved to Hannibal, the town that inspired the location for some of his most famous novels, when he was four years old. He began his career working as an apprentice printer before moving on to work as a typesetter. His brother Orion had recently purchased The Hannibal Journal, and Twain frequently contributed articles and sketches to the publication. He later went on to realize a lifelong ambition of working on steamboat, a vocation which provided Read More
  • VLOG: Long Stitch Bookbinding

    Wed, 11 Apr 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Medieval Germany: it brought us Otto the Great, the formation of the Hanseatic League, and the first stirrings of the Protestant Reformation. It also, as best as we can discern, brought us long stitch bookbinding, a non-adhesive form of bookmaking (meaning it eschews the use of glue or other adhesives) that gained some popularity in 18th and 19th century Europe. Read More
  • Must-Have Books for World War II Book Collectors

    Tue, 10 Apr 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    The events of World War II shaped the world we live in today, from economic and political alliances, to scientific advancements. Now a major field of scholarship as well as a frequent inspiration for both fiction and film, World War II has captivated our minds and imaginations. The heroism, sacrifice, and suffering of both soldiers and civilians all around the world make the war not only an important part of the history of the world, but a fascinating topic for book collectors to seek out. The following books represent just a small portion of the quality literature available today for Read More
  • The Top 11 T.S. Eliot Quotes

    Fri, 06 Apr 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Born in St. Louis, Nobel Prize winner T.S. Eliot remains one of America’s most treasured literary exports. The poet who famously authored “The Waste Land” (1922), “Four Quartets” (1943), and “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1915) also tried to revive the verse-drama genre (most notably with 1934's The Rock) and was an astute literary critic, giving advice to young writers who hoped to carry on the poetic traditions that Eliot himself reshaped. Though his social reputation was one of stuffiness and formality (Virginia Woolf liked to refer to Eliot as wearing a “four piece suit” to dinner), he was Read More
  • The First James Bond? John Dee Was the Original 007

    Thu, 05 Apr 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Centuries before Ian Fleming would write James Bond into existence, another man signed letters with "007." That man, John Dee, was a mathematician, astronomer, and (some say) magician. He was also a trusted member of Queen Elizabeth I's court. Some historians say that Dee was a spy for Elizabeth, thus making him an even more fitting inspiration for Ian Fleming's hero. Read More
  • Caldecott Winning Illustrators Series: Dorothy P. Lathrop

    Wed, 04 Apr 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    The Caldecott Medal has been awarded since 1937 to an “artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.” Naturally, the Caldecott Award is supremely important for everyone involved in the book making and book buying and selling processes: from illustrators and publishers to fans and book collectors. Today, we begin our Caldecott Winning Illustrators series. We’d like to examine these award-winning artists more closely. Who are they? What is their artistic style? What other works are they famous for? What about them and their work is helpful for collectors to know? We begin with the inaugural Caldecott Award-winning Read More
  • Tell-All Book Describes Clandestine 1967 Moon Mission

    Sun, 01 Apr 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    In 1969, with the rapt attention of a mystified global audience, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon—in fact, he became the first human being to set foot on any terrestrial object other than the earth. After years of training and buildup, Armstrong’s mission (which also included Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, who would stay in orbit during the moonwalk) represented a pinnacle of human exploration and achievement that has been unmatched in the ensuing decades. With his iconic declaration, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” Armstrong punctuated one of the most meaningful Read More
  • A Brief History of The Pickwick Papers

    Sat, 31 Mar 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    English novelist Charles Dickens is indisputably one of the most important figures in English literature and perhaps the most financially successful of his Victorian contemporaries. Dickens published most all of his novels serially with installments appearing monthly and, in some cases, weekly. His novels, including such standouts as A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, and A Christmas Carol, are counted among the great classics of English literature. His works have been adapted across multiple mediums. His influence on the language can be easily traced, with one notable example being his character Ebeneezer Scrooge, whose surname is a commonly-used sobriquet Read More
  • Charles Darwin's Literary Inspirations

    Fri, 30 Mar 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Charles Darwin's theory of evolution revolutionized the scientific world. An avid reader, Darwin built a personal library that included over 1,500 volumes of science, philosophy, and literature. Just as Darwin was influenced by what he read, he has also influenced generations of scholars and authors. A significant number of his letters, books, and papers belong to the Cambridge University Library. Read More
  • Philip Pullman: Teacher, Writer, and a Book Collector's Dream

    Thu, 29 Mar 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    “As a passionate believer in the democracy of reading, I don't think it's the task of the author of a book to tell the reader what it means…Anyway, I'm not in the message business; I'm in the "Once upon a time" business.” ~Philip Pullman The democracy of reading. The fact that every single person who picks up a Philip Pullman book (and the selection to choose from is a good one!) can and should form for him or herself the meaning and message between and within the lines. What a lovely thought! We like this idea. After all, it’s the Read More
  • Collecting Latin American Authors

    Wed, 28 Mar 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Latin American literature incorporates a variety of languages from Spanish and Portuguese to indigenous languages of Central and South America. Known for, but not exclusively devoted to, magical realism, Latin American literature came to worldwide notice in the 1960s an 1970s during a movement which is now known as the Latin American Boom. The boom, partially due to an exceptionally prosperous economic state throughout the continent, helped to a create an outpouring of literature that focused on the culture, language, people, and politics of a region that had not previously held a large place on the global stage. Since then, Read More
  • Muriel Wright: The Inspiration for Ian Fleming's James Bond Girls

    Fri, 23 Mar 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    The stories of James Bond have left readers and audiences mesmerized for decades, but the titular character can't take all the credit for their entertainment. Alongside the adventures of this daring and dangerous spy, there have always been supporting characters called the Bond Girls. They may be friend or foe, but no James Bond story would be complete without them. When author Ian Fleming first dreamed up the tales of Bond and his girls, was it all pure fantasy? Most speculate that a woman named Muriel Wright provided the inspiration for these legendary women. Read More
  • Five of the Best Western Novels

    Thu, 22 Mar 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    In place of Romulus and Remus, of Ra and Isis, Americans created two popular mythic heroes: the superhero and the cowboy. While the superhero has only grown in its capacity as one of the United States’ most recognizable cultural exports (and as cinema’s most lucrative subject), the Western genre has diminished in status, falling from the wide popularity on television it enjoyed as recently as 40 years ago. The shift has come with justifiable reason, as an increasingly skeptical audience finds it hard to identify heroism within a violent environment built on the deliberate extermination of the American Indian, and Read More
  • Five Works of Poetry You'll Never Get to Read 

    Wed, 21 Mar 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    In Jorge Luis Borges’ 1941 story "The Library of Babel", he describes an infinite library containing volumes that feature every possible combination of symbols. At one point, some of the inhabitants of this library go on a rampage, wantonly destroying many of the unique, unread books. While many of their fellow denizens are outraged that works with no copies have been expunged forever, they eventually reason that if the books really are infinite, then any particular destroyed volume will have an accompanying volume that is almost completely identical, and that, really, no harm can be done. I’m not sure whether Read More
  • The History of Children's Literature: 19th Century to Today

    Tue, 20 Mar 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    In part 1 of this series, we discussed how the history of children's literature can be traced back to the late 16th century. As time passed and more and more writers began to see the merit in writing books specifically for children, children's literature came into its own. The 19th century brought a whole new generation of writers to the field, and soon the golden age of children's literature was in full swing. Read More
  • Collecting Nobel Prize Winners: Seamus Heaney and George Bernard Shaw

    Sat, 17 Mar 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Despite being a country of fewer than 5 million people, Ireland boasts four Nobel Prize in Literature winners: W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Becket, and Seamus Heaney. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s the highest Literature Nobel Laureates per capita outside of St. Lucia, which counted the late poet Derek Walcott among its 150,000 or so residents, even without James Joyce (who was famously snubbed) to round out the list. (Sweden appears to be a close third, with 8 prizes and a population just under 10 million). In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we’ll be turning Read More
  • Hawthorne Heights: How John Updike Rewrote "The Scarlet Letter"

    Fri, 16 Mar 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Remember the film Easy A (2010), in which Emma Stone stars as a high-school student ostracized for her (invented) promiscuity? In the film, Stone’s character eventually takes to wearing a read letter “A” on her person in reference to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s seminal novel of adultery and Puritanism, The Scarlet Letter (1850), on which the film’s screenplay is partially based. In one sense, it’s amazing that Hawthorne’s novel, which was one of America’s first important literary works, continues to assert its cultural relevance in the 21st century. In another sense, though, we really oughtn’t be surprised. After all, there have been numerous Read More
  • John Steinbeck and the Nixon Novel that Never Was

    Thu, 15 Mar 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    John Steinbeck, born on February 27, 1902 in Salinas, California, would become one of American's most notable authors. Steinbeck established himself as an author in an era when accomplished authors held considerable clout. As a result, he one day found himself in a unique position: he held the upcoming United States presidential election in his hands. Read More
  • Why Travel Can Be an Important Part of Book Collecting

    Wed, 14 Mar 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    With so much book shopping and book collecting taking place on the internet these days, it might be difficult to imagine why travel can be an important part of building a rare or antiquarian book collection. We’ve become so reliant upon the internet for almost everything these days, and book buying is one of them. However, let me emphasize just how valuable it can be to travel to different parts of the United States and, indeed, different regions of the world, as you build your collection. When physical bookstores are available, not only can you engage with the book as Read More
  • 'March' and the National Book Award for Young People's Literature

    Fri, 09 Mar 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Whether you are searching for a new graphic novel to buy the kids or teenagers in your life, or if you are adding to an ever-expanding graphic novel collection of your own, we want to make sure you know about the March Trilogy. This three-book set from John Lewis, one of the key figures of the American Civil Rights Movement and current Georgia congressman, is a memoir about his “coming-of-age in the movement,” according to an article in The New York Times about the graphic memoir collection. The books are significant for anyone hoping to learn more about the history Read More
  • Twelve Women to Read on International Women's Day

    Thu, 08 Mar 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    International Women's Day is celebrated every year on March 8. It was inspired by a National Women's Day held in New York in 1909 as a response to a 1908 march for equal rights undertaken by 15,000 women. However, by the second year, the International Conference of Working Women decided that the holiday should expand worldwide. It was adopted by the United Nations in 1975 and declared an international holiday in all participating states. International Women's Day is dedicated to fighting for gender equality and to celebrating the social, political, and cultural achievements of women. While a common opinion today Read More
  • How To Begin Collecting History Books

    Wed, 07 Mar 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you’re a history buff, you know that on March 7, 1530, King Henry VIII, who had his annulment denied by Pope Clement VII, separated himself from the Catholic Church and declared himself the new head of the Church of England, spurring on the English reformation. What better day to talk about how to begin collecting history books? Have you considered beginning a history book collection? What should you know before you do? Here are a few questions to get you started, and to help guide your collecting efforts. Read More
  • The Books That Made Oscar-Winning Movies

    Sat, 03 Mar 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Every solitary professional novelist, whether she is aware of the fact or not, is a kind of trial balloon for the movie industry. Before studios spend millions of dollars—sometimes hundreds of millions—on actors, directors, crew, locations, distribution, and more, they prefer to have proof that a particular story resonates with an audience. Successful plays are often adapted, with movies like Driving Miss Daisy and Hamlet being notable Best Picture winners of this sort. But prose, in the form of memoirs, nonfiction books, novels, and short stories, appears to be the most fertile ground for Hollywood when it comes to seizing Read More
  • Ten Essential Dr. Seuss Quotes

    Fri, 02 Mar 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known by his pen name Dr. Seuss, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1904. He attended Dartmouth College where he wrote and drew for the Dartmouth Jack-o-Lantern. After he and his friends were caught with gin in the dormitories during prohibition, part of his punishment was being banned from all extracurricular activities. However, he continued to work for the magazine, using for the first time the pen name Seuss. Read More
  • Teju Cole and the Art of the Twitter Novel

    Wed, 28 Feb 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    What defines a novel or a short story? In the age of e-books, novels and short stories clearly don’t need to be physical objects with pages that you hold in your hands. But must these works take certain forms? Certainly, many writers from the early twentieth century and onward have pushed the boundaries of the literary form, from Jean Toomer’s Cane (1923), which was initially published as short-story pieces and poems in various journals, to a work like Italo Calvino’s If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler (1979) or Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves (2000). Of course, if we’re Read More
  • Four Interesting Facts About John Steinbeck

    Tue, 27 Feb 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    There were only two authors whose work I encountered in each year of high school: Shakespeare and John Steinbeck. His novellas like The Pearl and Of Mice and Men, his novels The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden, even his inspiring Nobel address, informed my burgeoning understanding of what an American writer sought to accomplish and examine. Steinbeck turned his attention and sympathy toward that majority of people—those who toil, who care for their family, who seek joy and exaltation in however rare supply those delights may be. His style, mixing the merits of both American plainspokenness and figurative Read More
  • Five Great Writers Who Burned Their Own Writing

    Sat, 24 Feb 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Maybe it’s confirmation bias, but it seems from a literary perspective that a writer’s request that her work be burned upon her death is ill-advised at best and disingenuous at worst. The prospect of a literary canon that fails to include Franz Kafka, for instance, is almost too sad to contemplate, but he instructed his literary executor to destroy his unpublished writings upon his death. Luckily, as we know, Max Brod flagrantly violated Kafka’s wishes, thereby earning the gratitude of a century of readers and writers. Vladimir Nabokov, too, wanted his unfinished works burned, but his wife and son found Read More
  • Anaïs Nin's Struggle for Success

    Wed, 21 Feb 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Anaïs Nin, born Angela Anaïs Juana Antolina Rosa Edelmira Nin y Culmell in 1903, was the daughter of Cuban expats living in France. Though her early life was spent in Spain and France, her family moved to the United States when she was young. All of Nin's work was written and published in English. As a diarist, novelist, short story writer, and critic, Nin was embraced by the feminist movement in the 1960s, bringing a renewed interest to the craft she had honed her entire life. But before this recognition, Nin struggled to achieve any kind of success, self-publishing four Read More
  • James Joyce's Dublin

    Tue, 20 Feb 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you’re traveling to Dublin anytime soon and are a James Joyce fan, you might want to set aside at least a couple of days for visiting the dozens of locations connected to some of Joyce’s most famous works. Most notably, visitors to Dublin can trace the path through the city that Leopold Bloom takes on June 16, 1904. In addition, visitors can walk by the house—which was listed for sale the last time we were in Dublin, if you’re in the market—that served as the setting for “The Dead,” Joyce’s last story in his famous collection Dubliners (1914). Are Read More
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