Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • Lars Bo's Literary Engravings

    Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Have you seen the literary engravings of Lars Bo? While you may not be familiar with Lars Bo’s name, we’re willing to bet that you’ve seen his work in some of your favorite books. Bo was a Danish artist who was born on May 29, 1924 and lived until October 21, 1999. He studied design in Denmark until 1943, and later traveled through Europe before moving to Paris, where he would remain until his death. During his early years in Paris, Bo wrote a novel entitled The Wonderful House in Paris [Det vidunderlige hus i Paris]. Yet most literary enthusiasts aren’t Read More
  • Collecting Limited Editions Club Publications

    Tue, 28 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    As book collectors, we know the importance of the book as a physical object. From marginalia to dust jackets, numerous factors come in to play when determining what to collect and how much any given collectible is worth. Indeed, the condition of the physical book goes a long way in determining its value to collectors, and in many case the look of a book—from its illustrations to its binding and everything in between—charts the course for collectors. Many ‘groupings’ of collectible books exist, and they often direct the collecting ways of interested bibliophiles. For example, some collectors focus on collecting Read More
  • Visiting Ralph Ellison's Papers at the Library of Congress

    Sat, 25 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Are you interested in learning more about the life and literary work of Ralph Ellison? If you find yourself in Washington, D.C., there are many reasons to plan a visit to the Library of Congress. One of those reasons, though, should certainly be to explore the Ralph Ellison papers, which include materials from 1890-2005. There are a total of 74,800 items in the collection, such as correspondence, drafts for essays, short stories, novels, lectures given by and about Ellison, a wide variety of resources documenting his literary career, and Ellison’s final unfinished novel, Juneteenth. Read More
  • Five Famous Hawaiian Authors

    Fri, 24 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Sand. Surf. Sun. All of it in seemingly endless supply. It’s the pinnacle of a dreamy, island vacation: Hawaii. The last of the 50 U.S. states to enter the Union, Hawaii has long been a melting pot of its own when it comes to the cultures, traditions, and people who make these chains of islands such a destination for vacationers and dreamers alike. Japanese, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Europeans. All these influences and more are part of a great cultural fabric that makes Hawaii such a vibrant place. What about famous authors from the islands? Read More
  • Yasunari Kawabata, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

    Thu, 23 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    There are many authors who have won the Nobel Prize in Literature whose works enjoy continued success throughout the United States and in many parts of the world. Some Nobel laureates, however, have not remained as well-known as others. In the event that you have not been introduced to the lyrical, lonely writings of Yasunari Kawabata, we’d like to present you with some background information about this writer, who was also the first Japanese winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. In brief, he was born in Osaka, Japan in 1899 and committed suicide in 1972. Much of his most Read More
  • The Bond Dossier: You Only Live Twice

    Wed, 22 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    It’s perhaps tragically ironic Ian Fleming’s eleventh James Bond novel is titled You Only Live Twice. That irony stems from the fact it was the last Bond novel Fleming completed before his death in August 1964. While a handful of other Fleming-conceived novels were published after his death, You Only Live Twice was the final 007 story Fleming saw from start to finish. He passed away just five months after the novel’s publication. Read More
  • Libraries and Special Collections: The Geisel Library at UC San Diego

    Tue, 21 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Everyone loves a beautiful, old library with oak desks, cozy chairs, and tall windows. Libraries built during the economic boom of the mid-20th century, however, were often used as a playground for architectural experimentation, particularly on college and university campuses. Sometimes the result was instantly regrettable; at other times, it was intriguing and other-worldly. The Geisel Library at the University of California, San Diego falls in the latter category. Read More
  • Five of the Best Books on India

    Sat, 18 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    The Indian subcontinent is extremely large, including the nations of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Yet those nations have not always been separate. To be sure, the subcontinent was divided during the India-Pakistan Partition of 1947, and years later in 1971, Bangladesh (which was, at the time, East Pakistan), gained its independence. Given the complicated modern political history, it’s especially difficult to select only a handful of texts to represent the best books on India. As such, we’re beginning with an early twentieth-century work and then jumping immediately to the period following Bangladeshi independence, and we’re also offering the following books Read More
  • Collecting Nobel Laureates: Saul Bellow

    Fri, 17 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Since Saul Bellow won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1976, only a few other American writers (the inimitable Toni Morrison, who earned the sought-after medal in 1993 and most recently, Bob Dylan, come to mind) have accomplished the same feat. This fact speaks to a number of phenomena, but it chiefly indicates the way that Bellow’s fiction represented a sort of capstone in American fiction. Born in Quebec to Lithuanian-Jewish immigrants, Bellow soon moved to Chicago, a city he would come to immortalize in his works. Perhaps more than any other writer, Bellow brought the modernist and intellectual traditions Read More
  • Celebrating the Life of Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott

    Fri, 17 Mar 2017 02:22:27 Permalink
    "for what else is there but books, books and the sea, verandahs and the pages of the sea, to write of the wind and the memory of wind-whipped hair in the sun, the colour of fire!" -- Derek Walcott,  Collected Poems 1948-1984   Caribbean writer and Nobel Prize in Literature winner Derek Walcott passed away early this morning. He was 87 years old. We thought we'd take a moment today to celebrate Walcott's life and influence. Read More
  • The History Behind William Styron's Fictional Nat Turner

    Thu, 16 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    William Styron's account of The Confessions of Nat Turner differs significantly from the original Confessions of Nat Turner garnered by Turner's lawyer while he awaited his trial and impending execution. Because of this, the fact of whether it is historical-fiction or historical-fiction, is not an irrelevant minutia. Cries of controversy—that Styron is a racist or that he minimizes the genuineness of the Nat Turner Rebellion—depend wholly on how the reader approaches the text through the lens of it's emphasis.  Read More
  • Buying Rare and Antiquarian Books in Finland

    Wed, 15 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Are you planning a trip to the Nordic countries anytime soon? If you’ll find yourself in Finland, there are dozens of rare and antiquarian bookstores to keep you busy as you explore Helsinki on foot, and there are more shops scattered north of the capital city. There are nineteen members of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) in the country, and fifteen are located in Helsinki. Many have storefronts with regular hours if you’re planning to wander around the city, while some others require an appointment to visit the shop. And if you decide to take a quick ferry Read More
  • Win the Man Booker Prize, Sell More Books!

    Tue, 14 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    The Man Booker Prize was created in 1969 with the aim of promoting the finest in fiction by a citizen of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, or the Republic of Ireland written during the preceding year. Prize winners are chosen by judges who make the selections for the best novel based on personal opinion alone. The cash value of this Prize is relatively low, with winners receiving only £50,000. However, the Man Booker Prize draws attention to works of fiction which might otherwise have gone unnoticed. As Ion Trewin, the late Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation stated, the Read More
  • Family Endurance: The Vicar of Wakefield

    Sat, 11 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Published in 1766, The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith became one of the most widely read novels of the Victorian era. It is widely referenced in British literature—from Charles Dickens' Tale of Two Cities to Jane Austen's Emma and George Eliot's Middlemarch. A book about family endurance, the drama surrounds the characters of the Primrose family: Dr. Primrose as the Vicar of Wakefield, his wife, and their many children. The Primrose's idyllic country life is turned upside down when they lose their financial footing and a daughter is abducted. Read More
  • What Exactly Is Young Adult Literature? A Brief History

    Fri, 10 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you ask a book lover what they read during their young, formative years, the conversation will inevitably turn to how “we didn’t have books like The Hunger Games when I was growing up.” And it’s true: young adult literature as a genre only began to take root in the 1970s and ‘80s, but boy, has it ever gone through a growth spurt since then. Books for teens are dominating book sales and box offices these days. Where did this phenomenon begin? Read More
  • Five Fun Facts About Winston Churchill

    Thu, 09 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Winston Churchill is a universally recognized name. Even if you don't know his entire back story, it is most likely you've studied him and his role in British politics in a history class somewhere along the line. Today, we thought it would be interesting to dig up a couple facts about the great leader that may be lesser known. Here are five things we found that don't necessarily come to mind when you picture Winston Churchill. Read More
  • Collecting Nobel Laureates: Gabriela Mistral and Mario Vargas Llosa

    Wed, 08 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Since its inception in the early part of the 20th century, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to a Latin American author on six different occasions. While all Nobel laureates are worthy of our study, praise, and, in many cases, collecting efforts, there is a special place in our hearts for these six from Latin America. Over the course of the next few months, we’d like to detail for you book collecting information and ideas for these Nobel Prize winners. Today, we spotlight the first Latin American winner, Gabriela Mistral, and the most recent winner from Latin America, Read More
  • Writers Who Have Published Both Comic Books & Novels

    Tue, 07 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Most novelists find satisfaction is housing their ideas exclusively in books. Novels often seem to be the perfect medium to flesh out a story based solely on words. For others, however, that’s not enough, and another layer of art is required to tell their stories. Here are three writers who have used both novels and comics to let their imaginations run wild. Read More
  • Researching in the J.M. Coetzee Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

    Sat, 04 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    In 1969, the Nobel Prize-winning South African novelist J.M. Coetzee received his Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin after writing a dissertation on the early work of the Irish writer Samuel Beckett. That same year, Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. More than forty years after earning his Ph.D.—and after having written nearly a dozen novels and numerous works of criticism—in 2011 the University of Texas at Austin acquired the author's papers to be held in the Harry Ransom Center. The archive contains nearly 160 boxes of material, including drafts of his novels and of his autobiography, personal Read More
  • Arthur Miller: Writing During the Red Scare

    Fri, 03 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    The Cold War was an era clouded by persistent paranoia, not only between the United States and the Soviet Union. When it came to its own citizens, the U.S. government was, in some cases, just as fearful as it was about foreign threats—especially when it came to the Hollywood crowd. Indeed, in October 1947, members of a congressional committee, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), began investigating members of the movie industry who they suspected were communist sympathizers. They banned the work of 325 screenwriters, actors, and directors*. Among those blacklisted were composer Aaron Copland, writers Dashiell Hammett, Lillian Hellman, Read More
  • Collecting Patricia Cornwell, Master of Mystery and Suspense

    Thu, 02 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Patricia Cornwell is a contemporary American suspense author who has made her mark writing medical thrillers primarily featuring medical examiner, Dr. Kay Scarpetta. Scarpetta, her niece Lucy, and her friend, investigator Pete Marino, have become such an international phenomenon that Cornwell has earned numerous accolades including the Sherlock Award, the Gold Dagger Award, and the RBA Internation Prize for Crime Writing, among others. What should collectors know if they're hoping to build a Patricia Cornwell collection? Read More
  • Rainer Maria Rilke: Travel, Poetry, and the Search for Morality

    Wed, 01 Mar 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Rainer Maria Rilke was a Bohemian-Austrian born in Prague in 1875. Throughout his life, Rilke searched for a way to reconcile religion, philosophy, and art. The closest he came was when he traveled to Russia with Lou Andreas-Salomé, his close friend and confidant. Rilke glorified Russian peasant life. To him it seemed that Russians were inherently more moral than their European equivalents. What led Rike to this determination? What were the greatest influences on arguably one of the most adept lyrical poets the German language has to offer? Read More
  • Famous Writers Who Lived in New York City's Chelsea Hotel

    Tue, 28 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    If you are interested in New York’s twentieth-century literary history, it’s likely that you already have some familiarity with the Chelsea Hotel. Since the hotel’s opening in 1884, it has served as the home for many different famous American and British writers, from Mark Twain to Dylan Thomas to the infamous Sid Vicious of Sex Pistols fame. Many other musicians also lived in the rooms at the Chelsea, including dozens of those who are also recognized poets, such as Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. In 1974, Leonard Cohen wrote and performed “Chelsea Hotel No. 2,” a song about a love Read More
  • Happy Birthday, John Steinbeck!

    Mon, 27 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Since its inception, the criteria for the Nobel Prize in Literature have always been slightly fuzzy. Some have taken Alfred Nobel’s assertion that the prize should determine "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction" as suggesting a kind of preference of idealism in the awarded work, and recent picks like Bob Dylan and Svetlana Alexievich have tended to bear out that reading. If one is wont to understand the award in those terms, then 1962 Nobel Laureate John Steinbeck, who would have turned 115 today, is perhaps one of the most auspicious picks of Read More
  • David Hockney's Illustrations of the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales

    Fri, 24 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    David Hockney is an English artist who is well known for his portraits, photocollages, and etchings, as well as for his connection to the Pop Art movement of the 1950s and 1960s. His works are owned by museums across the globe, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Australia, the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, the Tate Gallery in London, and Paris’s Centre Georges Pompidou. In short, Hockney’s paintings and photocollages are featured in the permanent collections Read More
  • VLOG: Five Videos on the Art of Gilding

    Thu, 23 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Gilding is an overarching term that can be used to describe the art of applying a thin layer of gold leaf or powder to surfaces such as stone, wood, or metal. Gilding was used by the early Egyptians, and, according to Pliny the Elder, it became common in Rome following the fall of Carthage. Gilding today can be found in woodworking, ceramics, architectural and interior designs, and of course, book binding. Book sellers and collectors use the terms gilding and, commonly, gilt, when referencing a book’s decorative gold appearance. Often we see book sellers describe their books as having all Read More
  • Literary Giants and the Nobel Prize Museum in Stockholm

    Wed, 22 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    We recently visited the Nobel Prize Museum in Stockholm, Sweden, hoping to catch a glimpse of some objects or rare first editions by some of our favorite Nobel Prize-winning authors. Despite awarding more than 100 prizes to literary giants alone over the last century or so, the museum is actually a bit smaller than you might expect. As a result, you’ll find most literary objects on display at the museum as part of temporary or traveling exhibitions. There are a handful of what we suspect are permanent exhibits—including Maya traje belonging to Rigoberta Menchú Tum and a small hippopotamus figurine belonging Read More
  • Three of the Best Books from Poland

    Tue, 21 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    The twentieth century was a complicated and often tragic one for Poland. The years leading up to Polish independence and the Second Republic were characterized by uprisings against the partitioning powers surrounding the region, and that independence was short-lived. During World War II, Poland was invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany, and many of the most notorious concentration camps were located within Poland’s borders. Once the war came to an end, Communist Poland, within the Soviet sphere of influence, became a repressive state. In the decades that followed, Polish citizens waged acts of resistance against various regime policies, culminating in Read More
  • Visiting the Newberry Library in Chicago

    Sat, 18 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    We love visiting many different libraries in the United States and across the globe, but one of our favorites might be the Newberry Library in Chicago. With its diverse collections, fantastic exhibits, and emphasis on public programs, we believe the Newberry has something to offer to anyone and everyone. The library’s collection of manuscripts is vast, housing more than 800 Modern Manuscript collections that make up, in total, about 15,000 linear feet. The manuscript collection ranges in time from medieval works to those of the twentieth century. The Newberry has numerous other core collections, including those on local Chicago histories Read More
  • The Bond Dossier: On Her Majesty's Secret Service

    Fri, 17 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    It’s early 1962 and James Bond author Ian Fleming is hard at work on his next Bond adventure. At his Goldeneye estate in Jamaica, Fleming artfully plots Bond’s next move, how his foes will oppose him, and the romances at stake. At the same time, just down the beach a film crew is working on the first big screen adaptation of Fleming’s work, Dr. No, with Scottish actor Sean Connery in the title role. It must have been a surreal moment, but one that cemented Fleming’s place as one of the most popular crime/adventure writers of his time. Still, even Read More
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