Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • Politics Aside: Robert Heinlein's Long Transformation

    Fri, 07 Jul 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Robert Heinlein left behind a body of work with a bewildering diversity of imaginings and ideas. It would be difficult to reconcile the free love, communal interests of the novel Stranger in a Strange Land, with say, the martial authoritarianism of Starship Troopers, or the anarchic libertarianism of The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. Indeed, doing so would be impossible. And there is little doubt this has much to do with why his readers appreciate his writing so much. Read More
  • Getting to Know Nobel Laureate Verner von Heidenstam

    Thu, 06 Jul 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    The Nobel committee is known for its “prize motivation” citations when it awards its coveted Prizes each year. We hear these short snippets in articles and press releases about each winner, and they serve their purpose well: they are brief snapshots of why the winner won. While Nobel Prize in Literature winners are chosen based on the entire body of their work, in some cases, the committee cites a specific example. For example, in 1954 when Ernest Hemingway won, the committee said it was “for his mastery of the art of narrative, most recently demonstrated in The Old Man and Read More
  • Five All-American Reads for Independence Day

    Tue, 04 Jul 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Happy 4th of July! Today marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, the event that triggered the American Revolution, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution. In honor of the festivities, here’s a look at five all-American reads to get you in the mood for some fireworks. Read More
  • Happy Birthday, Wisława Szymborska!

    Sun, 02 Jul 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    If Wisława Szymborska (pronounced vees-WAH-vah shim-BOR-ska) were still alive today, she would celebrate her 94th birthday on July 2. Symborska passed away in February 2012, but she remains a remarkably prominent poet both in her native Poland as well as in various translations throughout the world. She won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996, and her work has been translated into dozens of languages. To celebrate her birthday this summer, we thought we’d tell you a little bit more about the poet and introduce you to some of our favorite works. Read More
  • The Magnetic Charm of George Sand

    Sat, 01 Jul 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    George Sand knew how to make people talk. Ever since she strutted onto the French literary scene, everyone in Paris turned their eyes toward this charming, strangely dressed woman of veritable artistic talent. She had a two-pronged approach: her conduct would gain the immediate attention of her peers, and her talent would sustain it. Her strategy, buoyed by her robust and wise talent, has been successful to this very day. Read More
  • The Woman Behind Gone With the Wind

    Fri, 30 Jun 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Though Margaret Mitchell had only one book published in her lifetime, it remains one of the most popular books of all time. Gone With the Wind won the National Book Award as well as the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 1937. The story of Scarlett O'Hara's life in the aftermath of the Civil War, the changing nature of Atlanta, and her tumultuous relationship with Rhett Butler has intrigued generations of readers and movie fans. It's film adaptation, too, has endured as a classic and was a major influence on films for years after its release. Starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Read More
  • Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Author of "The Little Prince"

    Thu, 29 Jun 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    The Little Prince (1943) is one of the most popular children's books (or books of any kind, really) of all time. Combined, its child-centric worldview and its surprisingly subtle psychological and philosophical observations have led to decades of adoration and constant re-rereading from children and adults alike—all of this is quite remarkable given the fact that the book's author, French aviator and writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, was neither a children’s book author nor an illustrator of any standing. In fact, Saint-Exupéry began writing the book only at the suggestion of his publisher’s wife, who believed that the project might calm Read More
  • Collecting Books on Nordic Design

    Wed, 28 Jun 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Are you interested in Scandinavian design, or aesthetic forms that emerged from the Nordic countries, after World War II? Then you might be interested in learning more about collecting related design books. When we talk about Scandinavian design, we’re largely including Finland, too, although it’s not technically part of Scandinavia. Rather, it’s one of the Nordic countries, of which the Scandinavian nations of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark are also a part. However, when the popularity of design from the Nordic countries reached the United States in the 1950s, the common description was “Design in Scandinavia.” This depiction comes from a Read More
  • The Brilliance of Lucille Clifton

    Tue, 27 Jun 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    When Lucille Clifton died in 2010, it was as if the entire American poetry community went into mourning. Here was a woman whose brief, wise, and unmistakable verse had entranced and inspired countless readers. Her distinct style and voice surprised the world with its uniqueness, and one sensed there would never be another like her again. Read More
  • Lawrence Block, Writer of 150 Mysteries

    Sat, 24 Jun 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Crime writers have the strangest muses. For best-selling author Lawrence Block, it’s 1970s New York, with all of its grime, noise—and yes—crime. Today, Block still lives in the West Village, now replete with upscale shops and multimillion-dollar townhouses, but the gritty city of yesteryear is still sharp in his spirit, having already provided a compelling backdrop for many of his 150 mystery novels. Read More
  • A Collector's Guide to Andrew Lang

    Fri, 23 Jun 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    To collect Andrew Lang is to be something of a masochist. What else can be said about a man who left his name on over 175 books? Reflecting his encompassing tastes, Lang’s final output ranges from scholarship to poetry, fiction, collaborations, compilations, translations, and beyond. One does not need to be a completist to collect Andrew Lang (if such a goal is even possible), but it does help to have an idea of the author’s rich and vast oeuvre before diving in. Read More
  • Writers With Day Jobs: Anne Morrow Lindbergh

    Thu, 22 Jun 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    It’s not uncommon for writers to have day jobs entirely unrelated to writing. Wallace Stevens famously retained a job as an insurance executive throughout his illustrious career as a poet, reportedly dictating poems to his assistant during his lunch hour. William Carlos Williams, whose contributions to modernist verse can hardly be overstated, was a practicing doctor. Neither of these two, however, can touch the writer with perhaps the most impressive non-writing occupation: Anne Morrow Lindbergh, aviator. Read More
  • Collecting Advance Reading Copies

    Wed, 21 Jun 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Book collectors go crazy for first editions. But by the time a book is ready for the public market, it has been printed hundreds, perhaps thousands of times in the form of what is often called an “advance review copy.” These are primarily given to people in the media industry so they have time to review, reference, promote, or provide blurbs for the book ahead of its public release. These copies are the intermediary version between the author’s manuscript and the final, finished book, which is then printed and sold to the public. Read More
  • Vorticism: The Movement That Tried (and Failed) to Lead the Modern World

    Tue, 20 Jun 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    The beginning of any artistic movement is typically unclear and shaky. Few have ever announced themselves with the audacity and verve of Vorticism. Discontented with tradition and inspired by the avant-garde spirit spreading across Europe, a group of young English artists assembled to create their own movement. It was dedicated to dynamism, machinery, abstract art, movement, and everything exciting about the future. Read More
  • Five Facts About Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

    Sat, 17 Jun 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    “How do you think we can fight when our own brothers have turned against us? The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.”―Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart Read More
  • The Bond Dossier: Colonel Sun

    Fri, 16 Jun 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    There comes a time in many artistic endeavors when the torch is passed. Film franchises change directors. Television shows bring in new producers and writers. And wildly popular novel serializations employ different writers to help ferry the characters into new territory. This is perhaps evidenced most clearly in Ian Fleming’s James Bond series when the mantle was passed to a host of new writers following Fleming’s death in 1964. Read More
  • Visiting the Homes of Victor Hugo

    Thu, 15 Jun 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Planning a trip to France or the U.K. anytime soon? While many famous writers have called these places home, perhaps no author’s experiences living in both regions better reflect a life lived, in many ways, on the margins, as those of Victor Hugo. As you might know, Victor Hugo was a central figure in the Romantic movement, and he remains one of the most well-known French novelists and dramatists today. He published his first works in the 1820s, but it wasn’t until the publication of the novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame [Notre Dame de Paris] in 1831 that Hugo Read More
  • Libraries & Special Collections: Notable Private Libraries

    Wed, 14 Jun 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Ever since Alexandria, the library has been an institution engineered for the public good. Most major libraries belong to communities and to universities, places where one large group or another may borrow books and read them. But there are, of course, some spectacular libraries in private hands. Places where knowledge, and the sharing of it, are highly valued by the person who filled the shelves. Read More
  • Dorothy Sayers, Detective Fiction, and Dante's Divine Comedy

    Tue, 13 Jun 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Dorothy Sayers is often regarded as one of the top mystery writers of all time. Her detective stories continue to be read today, and her books' hero Lord Peter Wimsey is often mentioned among such fictional greats as Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, and Hercule Poirot. A prolific writer, Sayers published widely and not just the novels for which she is best known. Sayers also had considerable success as a playwright, short story writer, poet, and Dante scholar. If what you know of Sayers' work only includes Lord Wimsey, the breadth and scope of the rest of her work—and of her rather Read More
  • A Brief Guide to Collecting Maurice Sendak

    Sat, 10 Jun 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Why do collectors collect?  I imagine the answers to this question are as varied as the things they treasure. For some, it’s the classic affinity for coins and stamps connecting them to the past. For others it’s the acquisition of expensive art, building a portfolio along with a gallery, while for still others, it’s the nostalgia of scouring markets for marbles and action figures that remind them of their youth. Professor Slughorn in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince famously collected the famous. He lamented that he had taught the entire Black family save Sirius saying, “I got Regulus when Read More
  • VLOG: The Entrancing Art of Japanese Papermaking

    Fri, 09 Jun 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Centuries before Europe, and as early as the 800s, Japan hosted the best papermaking craftsmanship in the world. To this day, a few hundred businesses—often family-run and owned—continue the tradition of making superior-quality paper by hand. The process is labor intensive, slow, and requires years of expertise, but why expect anything less when it comes to manufacturing some of the best paper on earth? Read More
  • Best Books on Cuba

    Thu, 08 Jun 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    As you may know, former President Obama’s announcement of an opening of U.S. relations with Cuba occurred in December 2014. The United States had not had an embassy in the country since 1961, the year of the Bay of Pigs Invasion that occurred two years after the Cuban Revolution through which Fidel Castro came to power in the nation. Until former Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to the country during the Obama presidency, no U.S. secretary of state had traveled to Cuba for over 50 years. Now that it is more “open,” so to speak, for American visitors, we Read More
  • A Reader's Guide to Louise Erdrich

    Wed, 07 Jun 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    American author Louise Erdrich has been publishing novels, short stories, children's books, and poetry since 1984. Erdrich has been awarded in every genre in which she has published. Her novels Love Medicine and LaRose won the National Book Critics Circle Award while The Round House won the National Book Award. She received the World Fantasy Award for The Antelope Wife. Her children's book The Game of Silence won the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction. Her poetry has won the Pushcart Prize, and in 2005, she was the Associate Poet Laureate of North Dakota. She holds several honorary doctorates and Read More
  • Prohibition and the Writers Who Tried to Get America to Stop Drinking

    Tue, 06 Jun 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Part of the joy of being an proper, democracy-protecting American is getting to tell people what to do. The founders told the prominent how to govern, Evangelists told their parishioners how to behave, Emerson told his readers to be self-reliant, and Theodore Roosevelt told the nation’s men to be manly (whatever that may mean). Yet out of these many, bloviating camps, few have been more dedicated or influential than those who told us to be sober. Read More
  • Ginsberg & Sons: What Happens When Poetry is the Family Business?

    Sat, 03 Jun 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    "Like shoemakers and tailors turning out more second-generation shoemakers and tailors, my father, Louis Ginsberg, the poet, had poets." –Allen Ginsberg Artists and writers are sometimes thought of as being inherently rebellious—taking on low-paying professions and questionable lifestyles that inspire dread in the minds of their parents. But when your father is already a poet, just how rebellious can you be by comparison? If we ask Allen Ginsberg, the answer is obviously “very.” Read More
  • Getting to Know Nobel Laureate Karl Adolph Gjellerup

    Fri, 02 Jun 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    One of the highlights of my college years was the semester I spent abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. During my time there, I took a course titled “Danish Language and Culture.” While the language never found a home in me (I provided hours of free entertainment to my host family as I struggled through my homework each evening), the culture was absolutely fascinating. We learned about Danish contributors to art, design, philosophy, science, and literature, and examined their impact on the country as a whole. One of the cultural entrepreneurs briefly (and a bit harshly) discussed was Karl Adolph Gjellerup, Danish Read More
  • The Versions of Anne Frank's Diary Explained

    Thu, 01 Jun 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    In 1945, Otto Frank came to Amsterdam after surviving the torments and traumas of Auschwitz. His return home confirmed the unimaginable. He was the sole survivor of his family. His daughters, including 15-year-old Anne, who had been separated from him and transported to Bergen-Belsen, had died. But soon he was greeted by a glimmer of hopeful news: Miep Gies, a secretary and aid to the Franks during their hiding, had preserved Anne’s diary. Read More
  • Common Myths About Rarity in Book Collecting

    Wed, 31 May 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    The concept of rarity in book collecting is tricky. While many novice collectors might believe rarity is the most important element in assessing a book’s value or worth, seasoned collectors understand rarity is in fact one of the more insignificant elements in judging what a volume is worth or its place in the landscape of rare books. The murky nature of rarity in book collecting stems to some degree from the ill defined character of the term. Essentially, rarity is too nebulous and relative a term for book sellers and collectors to base any substantive, concrete value. However, because the Read More
  • From Fiction to Film: Movie Tie-Ins for Alain Robbe-Grillet

    Tue, 30 May 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    When most readers hear the name Alain Robbe-Grillet, they think about experimental fiction, or the reemergence of the avant-garde in novel form in France at mid-twentieth century. Indeed, Robbe-Grillet became famous for his narrative works of fiction, including the novels The Erasers (1953), The Voyeur (1955), Jealousy (1957), and In the Labyrinth (1959). These works made Robbe-Grillet famous as one of the “New Novelists” reinventing the forms of fiction. Others included writers such as Michel Butor and Nathalie Sarraute. Yet for cinema-goers, Robbe-Grillet’s name might not even sound familiar until there’s a mention of Alain Resnais’s film Last Year at Read More
  • A Herman Wouk Reading Guide

    Sat, 27 May 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Herman Wouk has been described as America’s Leo Tolstoy for the enduring power of his detailed, vividly imagined, and expertly researched historical epics. While that’s not a comparison to be taken lightly, it’s also worth noting that he has had more time than most in which to accomplish his various literary feats. Wouk, who turns 102 today, has published more than a dozen works of fiction and non-fiction alike over the course of an illustrious career dating back to the early 1940s. And, he's won a Pulitzer Prize in the process. For fans of historical fiction, it would be foolish Read More
< prev next >

Looks like you are ready to submit this application

If you are satisfied that your application is complete, go ahead and click "submit this application."
Otherwise, click "review this application" to review your answers or make additional changes.