Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • 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
  • Book Collecting: Taschen's Limited Letterpress Edition of The Fire Next Time

    Fri, 19 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time (1963) was published for the first time over 50 years ago. To commemorate its original publication, and to remind readers of its continued significance in the twenty-first century, Taschen released a letterpress edition of the book, which includes more than 100 photographs taken by Steve Schapiro. As a photographer for Life magazine, Schapiro traveled through the American South with Baldwin and captured images from the Civil Rights movement, including pictures from Selma and from the March on Washington. In addition to Baldwin’s texts and Schapiro’s photos, this letterpress edition of The Fire Next Time Read More
  • Collecting Rudyard Kipling? Don't Overlook These Titles

    Thu, 18 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Rudyard Kipling remains a polarizing figure. As we’ve written before, his favor among his countrymen and literary critics has ebbed and flowed as societal and cultural norms have shifted. A Nobel laureate who has been referred to as everything from “a complete man of genius” by Henry James to “morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting” by George Orwell, Kipling at least merits our study. And for many, his works are highly-sought after collectibles. Read More
  • Ten Books to Honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day

    Mon, 15 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    In the United States on the third Monday of every January, we have the opportunity to come together as a nation and celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. In the midst of the chaos and oppression that accompanied the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King Jr. rose above hate and violence to guide a broken nation toward a future where people “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” As our country once again navigates divisiveness, we are faced with two choices: to be silent, or to Read More
  • Boxcar Press, Letterpress, and Fine Press Bookmaking

    Fri, 12 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    For many authors and illustrators, the ability to make your own book is quite appealing. If you’re interested in collecting fine press objects or bookmaking through the art of letterpress, what are your options? One of the more interesting possibilities for contemporary authors who want to pursue letterpress comes from Boxcar Press. Unlike other presses, Boxcar Press isn’t always printing books (although it does have printing capabilities). Instead, it’s making polymer plates for letterpress bookmakers and broadside artists who are interested in modern fine press. We’ll tell you a little bit more about the polymer plates that Boxcar Press makes, Read More
  • Visiting the Charles Dickens House and Museum in London

    Thu, 11 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you’re traveling to London anytime soon and are an avid reader or collector of nineteenth-century British literature, why not plan a stop at the former home of Charles Dickens? We’re willing to guess that you’ve read at least one of Dickens’s novels, if not many of them. While he also wrote a number of works of nonfiction, drama, and poetry, Dickens is known best for his fiction (and largely his novels). You’ve probably read, or seen a film adaptation, of the novella A Christmas Carol (1843), in addition to reading novels such as The Pickwick Papers (1837), Oliver Twist Read More
  • 89 Years Ago Today Tintin Made His First Print Appearance

    Wed, 10 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Following their first appearance in Le Petit Vingtième on January 10, 1929, The Tintin comics (1929-1986), which were originally created by the Belgian illustrator Georges Remi under the pseudonym Hergé, grew from a work of kid-friendly anti-Soviet propaganda to a globally recognizable phenomenon. Today, the comics retain a strong cult following on the strength of their warm-hearted plot lines, gentle wit, and beloved characters, from the titular Tintin and his canine companion Snowy, to Captain Haddock, to the incompetent, barely distinguishable detectives Thomson and Thompson, and many others.   Read More
  • Philip Roth, Philip K. Dick, and the Man in the High Castle

    Sat, 06 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    What would our world look like if the Axis powers had won World War II? How would our daily lives have been transformed if the United States had been sympathetic to Nazi Germany? Posing “what if” questions about World War II and its aftermath has been popular among some of America’s most widely read authors. Notably, both Philip K. Dick and Philip Roth have imagined alternate histories in which Nazi Germany won the war. While the series The Man in the High Castle takes its title and storyline directly from Dick’s novel of the same name, we’d like to explore Read More
  • Waiting for Godot in Popular Culture

    Fri, 05 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    Nobel Prize winning poet, playwright and novelist Samuel Beckett was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1906. He studied English, French, and Italian at Trinity College before accepting a position at Campbell College where he taught for some years and also developed a friendship with fellow Irish writer James Joyce. It was at this time that be published his first work, an essay discussing Joyce's body of work. But his most famous work is undoubtedly the play, Waiting for Godot. If you haven't seen it, chances are you've seen it referenced in some unique ways. Read More
  • Beyond the Shire: Four Fun Facts About J.R.R. Tolkien

    Wed, 03 Jan 2018 08:00:00 Permalink
    J.R.R. Tolkien is widely considered the father of modern high fantasy. The Hob bit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy have captivated readers since their original publication and created a boom in popularity for the genre. Tolkien's influence could be seen in fiction published shortly after the release of his masterpiece trilogy, and it is still being felt today. With the popularity of Peter Jackson's film adaptations of both The Hobbit as well as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Tolkien's most famous works have reached an even larger audience. Even people who aren't fans of fantasy fiction have Read More
  • The Best of 2017: Our Ten Most Popular Blog Posts

    Sun, 31 Dec 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    As 2017 comes to an end, we wanted to take a moment to thank you for your readership and continued support of Books Tell You Why. We love that this corner of the internet has been a place for bibliophiles and readers to interact, share insights, and gain some helpful knowledge about rare books and book collecting. It is our pleasure to engage with you. Let’s take a look back at some of our highlights this year. In no particular order, here are the ten most-read posts on blogis librorum, written and published in 2017. Read More
  • Top Ten Rudyard Kipling Quotes

    Sat, 30 Dec 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    In 1942, as ever, George Orwell was bemused. He had spent the early decades of the century wondering how so many Britons could hold Rudyard Kipling’s “If—” (1896) so dearly without realizing that “(f)ew people who have criticized England from the inside have said bitterer things about her” than its author. In a way, Orwell’s outrage gets right to the heart of the questions begged by the man who remains the youngest (and first) English-language writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Of the writer dubbed a genius by Henry James and a unique master of verse by T Read More
  • Interview with Ulysses Rare Books in Dublin

    Fri, 29 Dec 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Earlier this year, we had the pleasure of visiting Ulysses Rare Books in Dublin, Ireland. We were so thrilled to see some of the most interesting rare first editions of the most significant works of Irish literature in the shop, from those of W.B. Yeats to James Joyce to Seamus Heaney. We were lucky enough to learn a bit more through an interview with one of the shop’s co-owners, Aisling Cunningham, who runs the bookstore with her brother, David. Read More
  • The Ten Best Literary Christmas Quotes

    Mon, 25 Dec 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    After weeks of preparation and anticipation, Christmas has finally arrived. As you spend time with loved ones, admire the holiday tree, and reflect on what matters most, we hope you’ll find a quiet moment to enjoy these festive book excerpts. From Dr. Seuss to Charles Dickens, here are ten of the best literary Christmas quotes. Read More
  • Christmas as Portrayed in the Harry Potter Series, Part II

    Sat, 23 Dec 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Last week, we left off discussing Harry’s Christmases in books 1-4 of Rowling’s hit series. If you missed it, read the discussion here. Now, let’s dive in to the holiday as experienced in books 5-7, complete with carols about magical creatures, a meddling Minister of Magic, and a near-death experience thanks to the darkest wizard the world has ever known. How’s that for Christmas spirit? Read More
  • Four Famous Self-Published Debuts

    Fri, 22 Dec 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    rtttgggv cxxzxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxcSelf-publishing has its detractors, and not without reason. For every success story like Andy Weir’s The Martian (2011) (now a major motion picture starring Matt Damon) or Sergio De La Pava’s PEN Debut Fiction-winning debut, A Naked Singularity (2008) (a sprawling postmodern masterpiece that was picked up by The University of Chicago Press four years after De La Pava’s wife convinced him to self-publish), there are thousands of self-published authors who will languish forever in obscurity. On the other hand, most of the works being published today by major presses will eventually go on to languish forever in their Read More
  • The Life and Impact of Heinrich Böll

    Thu, 21 Dec 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Writer Heinrich Böll was born in Cologne, Germany in 1917. His parents were devout Catholics and raised him to also passionately follow the faith, instilling in him a strong belief in pacifism. Not only did his faith guide his actions during Germany's Nazi regime and though Europe's post-war years, but these beliefs—which he often challenged and critiqued—also shaped his fiction, resulting in novels and short stories that renounced terrorism and the horrors of war while raising up the ordinary people of Germany. It is the personification of Böll's ideals that earned him the Nobel Prize in Literature and a reputation Read More
  • Oyster Pirates and Spies: Writers with Questionable Day Jobs

    Tue, 19 Dec 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    There are two kinds of writers: those who keep their day jobs, and those who can’t get to the door quickly enough. For every William Carlos Williams (who was a practicing physician during his career as a poet) or T.S. Eliot (who, on some level, seemed to really love being a bank clerk), there’s a whole of host of writers like Kurt Vonnegut, whose time spent working as a used car salesman would be woven into what is perhaps his most despairing novel, Breakfast of Champions (1973), or Franz Kafka, who never made enough money in his lifetime to abandon Read More
  • Learning More About the Coretta Scott King Book Award

    Fri, 15 Dec 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Each year, African American authors and illustrators are honored by the Coretta Scott King Book Award. These awards are “given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.” The awards are designed to commemorate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as the work of his wife, Coretta Scott King, for whom the awards are named. If you collect children’s books or illustrated books, or if you’ve been looking for some important new texts to buy for the Read More
  • Christmas as Portrayed in the Harry Potter Series, Part I

    Thu, 14 Dec 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    In each of the seven Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling treats us to a glimpse of Harry’s Christmas holiday. And, let’s face it, as Hogwarts is one of the best literary locations ever, then Hogwarts at Christmastime is really something special. Of course that’s not to say that Harry’s Christmases are always idyllic. However, they are always significant to the story. And what better way to get into the Christmas spirit than by diving into the holidays with Harry? Let’s explore Christmas as it is portrayed in each book of the Harry Potter series. Then, perhaps, you can pick which Read More
  • Sweet Melodies: What Famous Writers Have to Say About Music

    Wed, 13 Dec 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Kazuo Ishiguro, this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, pinned his hopes to music before he committed himself to the novel. He abandoned this ambition as a young man, but nonetheless managed to carve space for himself to write lyrics for musicians like Stacey Kent. “One of the key things I learnt writing lyrics—and this had an enormous influence on my fiction,” Ishiguro told The Guardian in 2015, “was that with an intimate, confiding, first-person song, the meaning must not be self-sufficient on the page. It has to be oblique, sometimes you have to read between the lines.” Read More
  • Beyond Madame Bovary: The Life of Gustave Flaubert

    Tue, 12 Dec 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    French novelist Gustave Flaubert is remembered for his influence on literary realism and for his debut novel Madame Bovary. Flaubert was born in France in 1821. He began writing at an early age and published his first novella in 1842, though he went on to school to study law. In 1846, however, Flaubert quit school and devoted himself to writing. While not nearly as prolific as his contemporaries, he published over ten novels in his life, and his letters to writer George Sand, among others, have been collected and published numerous times. Here are some things you might not know Read More
  • The Devil's Party: A Readers' Guide to John Milton

    Sat, 09 Dec 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    John Milton, a blind civil servant who narrowly escaped execution after the re-ascension of the English monarchy following the death of Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, was one of 17th century England’s most daring public advocates for freedom of the press and non-monarchical government. He also, occasionally, wrote poetry. Read More
  • Norway's National Poet: Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson

    Fri, 08 Dec 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Poet Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson is considered one of the "Four Greats" of Norwegian writers. Besides writing the lyrics to the Norwegian national anthem, his peasant stories are renowned and well loved for their devotion to presenting the peasant class in a new light. Chief among his numerous honors is the Nobel Prize in Literature, which he was awarded in 1903. Interestingly, Bjørnson was one of the original Nobel Prize Committee members and was serving on the committee at the time he was given the award. Read More
  • Best Books on Tunisia

    Wed, 06 Dec 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Like many other North African countries, Tunisia has a long history of colonialism but also a rich literary and cultural history. Just after the turn of the twentieth century, the painter Paul Klee traveled to Sidi Bou Said, a Tunisian town on the coast just outside the capital city of Tunis. In the same place, decades later in the late 1960s, the enormously influential philosopher Michel Foucault lived while teaching at the University of Tunis. Tunisia has been a place of inspiration for writers from outside the country while also producing incredible novelists, poets, and playwrights from within. We have Read More
  • Give the Gift of Children's Books This Holiday Season

    Tue, 05 Dec 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Children’s books go with the Christmas holiday just like cookies and milk, flannel sheets, and a dusting of fresh snow. There’s something magical about a child getting lost in the pages of a brand new (or well-loved) story. Whether you’re hoping to start them off on the journey of building their own book collection or hoping to inspire a love for reading, a perfectly selected children's book makes a great gift for the kids on your list. Here’s our 2017 gift guide for children. Read More
  • Visiting the Richard Wright Papers at the Beinecke

    Sat, 02 Dec 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    The Richard Wright Papers at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library is an enormous collection. It’s one of the collections that’s actually stored on-site, so you don’t need to request access days in advance as you may find with certain other papers owned by the library. The papers contain 143 boxes, along with additional materials. Researchers have access to Wright’s manuscripts, correspondence, journals, travel documents, photographs, and even the novelist’s screen test for the film version of Native Son, his 1940 novel. We’ll tell you a little bit more about the collection. Read More
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