Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • 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
  • In Their Own Words: Books to Be Inspired by on President's Day

    Mon, 19 Feb 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    The British have had ripe occasion recently to appreciate a leader whose oratory and philosophy were integral to his ability to improve the world. With movies like Dunkirk and Darkest Hour and TV shows like The Crown, memories of Winston Churchill, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, sting all the more sharply as they are juxtaposed against what many view as the failures of some of our current leaders to live up to truly noble aspirations. It's always good to remember our presidents and statesmen who led with a certain moral obligation, integrity of character, humanistic concern, and displayed a talent for Read More
  • How Ian Fleming Began Writing His First James Bond Novel

    Fri, 16 Feb 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Perhaps Ian Fleming is being self-deprecating when he calls Casino Royale (1953), the first of more than a dozen Bond novels and stories he would write in his lifetime, his “dreadful oafish opus.” Or, perhaps his alliterative turn of phrase is a sincere appraisal of a work that sprung from surprisingly humble origins. After all, at the time of the book’s writing, Fleming was a newspaperman but hardly a writer in the more elevated sense. Rather than serving as a reflection of any sincere desire to become a beloved author, it seems that Fleming’s inaugural Bond installment was written primarily as Read More
  • Collecting Yoko Ono's Artist Books

    Thu, 15 Feb 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Collecting artist monographs and exhibition catalogues can be an especially exciting endeavor. In addition, many artists’ books are, themselves, pieces of art to be collected. For example, many artists created hand bound, limited editions that can be added to any discerning collector’s shelves (and, in most cases, can and should be displayed). Yoko Ono has an interesting personal history, as well as a fascinating role in the contemporary and conceptual art worlds. Prior to meeting John Lennon, Ono was involved in performance and conceptual art movements in New York City. Most notably, she participated in “happenings” involving many performers and Read More
  • Valentine's Day for Cynics: The 10 Worst Couples in Literature

    Wed, 14 Feb 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    For many people, Valentine's Day is a holiday filled with roses, romance, and affection. Giant teddy bears show up on people’s doorsteps, flower delivery services are swamped, and getting a reservation for two at a nice restaurant is nearly impossible. However, for us singletons and cynics, Valentine’s Day often causes more of a dull nausea in our stomachs than the sensation of little butterflies fluttering about. So if you, like me, take a Grinch-like approach to this fluffy pink holiday, I hope you find some solace reading about 10 of the worst couples in literature. Read More
  • The 2018 Caldecott and Newbery Award Winners Are...

    Mon, 12 Feb 2018 11:45:00 Permalink
    Every year, we anxiously await the selection of the Caldecott and Newbery Award-winning books. These titles are the best of the best, and every year, we can't wait to see if they're in our collection already or if we need to run out and grab a copy. The American Library Association announced the 2018 winners this morning. And the awards go to Read More
  • Graphic Novels About Irish Independence

    Thu, 08 Feb 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you’re interested in learning more about Irish independence and also love graphic novels, we have some exciting book recommendations for you. Gerry Hunt, an Irish artist, writer, and cartoonist who founded Dublin Comics, created a series of graphic novels depicting the Easter Rising of 1916 and the subsequent fight for independence from Britain. Have we piqued your interest? Let us tell you more. Read More
  • Ten of the Best Quotes from Charles Dickens

    Wed, 07 Feb 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Charles Dickens is widely considered to be the most important writer of the Victorian age. Dickens' success came, despite the odds being stacked against him. He had to work in a factory from a young age to support his family; his father was in debtors' prison. Dickens was eventually able to spend two years in school after which he worked at a law office. An interest in theater eventually led to a job as a freelance reporter. He published the majority of his novels as weekly or monthly serials, beginning with The Pickwick Papers in 1836. He was an immediate Read More
  • Don't Know Poet Rubén Darío? Here's Why You Should

    Tue, 06 Feb 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Jorge Luis Borges said that all writers create their own predecessors. Bold, new writing doesn’t simply reveal its own concerns, it reveals an entire literary history leading up to its creation, and sometimes that history involves works that might not otherwise be widely read. In American literature, Ernest Hemingway held up Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) as a kind of ur-novel to which all other American fiction can be traced. In Spanish-American poetry, that same considerable distinction is held by Rubén Darío. Read More
  • Nine Fascinating Facts About John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men

    Fri, 02 Feb 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    John Steinbeck’s timeless novella Of Mice and Men was published in 1937 to considerable acclaim, and the reading public’s appreciation of the text has hardly diminished since. What began as a perplexing work eyed warily by Steinbeck’s agents has gone from being a Book of the Month Club selection on its initial publication to one of the most widely read and assigned books on high school curricula throughout the country. Here are a few interesting facts about it. Read More
  • A Reader's Guide to Langston Hughes

    Thu, 01 Feb 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    In his seminal 1926 essay “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain,” then-burgeoning poet, essayist, novelist, playwright, and all-around giant of American letters Langston Hughes argued passionately that Black writers across the world should be proud of their racial and cultural heritage. He says, towards the essay’s conclusion, “The younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, it doesn't matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly, too.” Even then, at the height of the Harlem Renaissance, it’s hard Read More
  • Autobiography from the Civil Rights Movement

    Wed, 31 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Have you been following news about civil rights activism on social media and in your community? Are you wondering more about how current protests for equality have ties to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s in America, as well as similar movements in other parts of the world? We want to say up front that we couldn’t possible write about, in a short article, all of the significant biographies and autobiographies that concern leaders of civil rights and freedom movements in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. With that being said, we have selected a handful of texts Read More
  • A Brief History of the Library of Congress

    Tue, 30 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    The Library of Congress has been around nearly as long as the United States of America. Approve by President John Adams in 1800, the goal of the library was to solve a problem when the government moved from Philadelphia to Washington D.C. Namely, in Philadelphia, congressmen had access to the well-stocked Free Library of Philadelphia. Their concern was that the burgeoning new capital was still under development, and in D.C., members of Congress would lack access to books outside their own personal collection. The Act of Congress allocated $5,000 to stock the library, which today would be roughly $92,000. The Read More
  • Five Interesting Fact About Virginia Woolf

    Fri, 26 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    English writer Virginia Woolf is widely considered one of the most important modernist and feminist writers. She was successful in her own time with her writing as well as through her work for education reform. She and her husband, Leonard, also ran the publishing house Hogarth. But she gained her status as an icon in the 1970s during the third wave of feminism. Since then, her name has become synonymous with the movement and her work, including her most famous novel, Mrs. Dalloway, has been translated into over fifty languages. Here are some interesting facts about Woolf. Read More
  • Five Interesting Facts About Virginia Woolf

    Fri, 26 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    English writer Virginia Woolf is widely considered one of the most important modernist and feminist writers. She was successful in her own time with her writing as well as through her work for education reform. She and her husband, Leonard, also ran the publishing house Hogarth. But she gained her status as an icon in the 1970s during the third wave of feminism. Since then, her name has become synonymous with the movement and her work, including her most famous novel, Mrs. Dalloway, has been translated into over fifty languages. Here are some interesting facts about Woolf. Read More
  • A Brief History of Robots in Literature

    Thu, 25 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    The Czech writer Karel Čapek introduced the world to the word robot, by way of his play, RUR, (Rossum’s Universal Robots) in 1920. The name, deriving from robotnik, Czech for “forced worker,” has been used since by countless high-minded writers and storytellers to answer two principal questions: What would civilization look like if androids liberated humans from the work they perform today? And would these androids ever be exploited by their creators, or develop competing interests of their own? Though some authors, of course, have been less ambitious, answering the more simple question: What if a character happened to be Read More
  • New Poetry from Wesleyan University Press

    Wed, 24 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Many university presses across the country publish poetry collections, but few university presses are as notable for their poetry publications as Wesleyan University. The Wesleyan University Press began its work in 1957, and although it focuses on a relatively broad range of subjects—from poetry to music and dance to Connecticut history and culture—it is perhaps best known for its important contributions to new poetry and poetics. As the press explains, it has “published an internationally renowned poetry series, collecting five Pulitzer Prizes, a Bollingen, and two National Book Awards in that one series alone.” What books from the press should Read More
  • Collecting Editions of The Eve of St. Agnes by John Keats

    Sat, 20 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    John Keats is now largely considered one of the most influential poets of the early nineteenth century. He wrote poetry for only six years and published for only four years before his untimely death from tuberculosis in 1821. The final volume of poetry Keats lived to see published, Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems, is considered one of the most important collections of poems ever to be published, according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. What follows are some noteworthy editions to consider adding to your Keats collection. Read More
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