Member Blogs > Books Tell You Why

  • 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
  • Read More Poetry: The Langston Hughes Edition

    Thu, 16 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    We're a little over one month into the new year. How are your new year's resolutions shaping up? One of our promises for 2017 was (and is!) to read more poetry. You should make it a habit to do so, too. Today, we’ll help the poetry cause by presenting poems from legendary poet and author, Langston Hughes. Read More
  • Visiting Thomas Wolfe's Old Kentucky Home in Asheville, NC

    Wed, 15 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Thomas Wolfe lived a very brief life. He was born in 1900 and lived only until 1938, dying of tuberculosis in his family’s stately home in Asheville, North Carolina. Although Wolfe was only 37 years old at the time of his death, he produced some of the greatest American modernist novels, including Look Homeward, Angel: A Story of the Buried Life (1929). In that novel, Thomas Wolfe celebrated his “Old Kentucky Home”—the house in Asheville where he was raised. If you’re interested in learning more about the writer, we recommend taking a trip to Asheville and touring the Wolfe family Read More
  • Five of the Best Couples in All of Literature

    Tue, 14 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Valentine's Day is a chance to celebrate love in all its forms. What better way to do so than to consider some of the best couples, and arguably the most famous couples, in literature? Whether they fell in love at first sight or took a little while longer to work their way into each other's hearts, the following literary couples have one thing in common: people keep coming back to their stories again and again, to see both the best and the worst love has to offer.  Read More
  • Buying Rare and Antiquarian Books in Costa Rica

    Sat, 11 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Buying used, rare, and antiquarian books in Costa Rica’s capital city of San Jose can be quite a challenge, but not because of a dearth of bookstores. Rather, unlike many cities in various parts of the world packed that are packed with bookshops, San Jose streets don’t have numbers that allow visitors unfamiliar with the city’s directional methods to locate with ease their intended destinations. Instead, directions are developed almost entirely on landmarks. As such, rather than receiving a specific address for a bookstore, you’ll get directions based on distance to or from a nearby restaurant, church, or coffee shop Read More
  • Charles Lamb vs. Bob Dylan: Rereading and Retelling Shakespeare

    Fri, 10 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Controversial Nobel Prize in Literature winner Bob Dylan admitted to being flabbergasted when he learned of the honor that’s lately been bestowed on him—but at least he managed to compare himself to Shakespeare in the process. The comparison, though, was an interesting one, and one that takes up the question of how we should approach the Bard’s writing. Dylan’s assertion was that he has never thought about whether his songs are ‘literature’ and that Shakespeare probably would have been in the same boat regarding his plays. Dylan says, imagining Shakespeare’s thoughts leading up to the original production of Hamlet (1599), Read More
  • Sam Shepard's Wildly Varied Literary Career

    Thu, 09 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Just two years ago, Sam Shepard’s now-famous play True West (1980) was revived on the London stage at the tricycle theatre. About fifteen years ago now, the seminal work was revived for the first time in New York City on a stage starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly. For many theatregoers and movie viewers today, we know Sam Shepard best for his own performances as an actor, in films such as Days of Heaven (1978), The Right Stuff (1983), and All the Pretty Horses (2000). Yet Shepard has a long and interesting literary career that began years before Read More
  • Kate Chopin's Personal and Literary Awakening

    Wed, 08 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Sometimes it takes an outsider to see our strengths and put us on the road we are destined to travel. And so it was for Kate Chopin in the late 1880s. She is now well-known for her short stories and one famous novel. In the late nineteenth century, however, she was not an author at all, but a widow and mother of five saddled with an enormous debt left by her late husband. Shortly after her husband’s death, her mother died as well, leaving Kate in a state of depression. Read More
  • How the Iowa Writers' Workshop Proves the Value of an MFA

    Tue, 07 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Six years ago, author Chad Harbach wrote an essay about the two cultures producing the glut of literary fiction writers today: that of New York City media and publishing, and that of the university MFA program. New York City has long been the hotbed of American cosmopolitan culture, and many of the country’s great writers from the very beginning, like Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, and Edith Wharton helped ossify New York as the closest thing the nation would have to a literary epicenter. Yet in the past few decades, a new titan has emerged, coming from the halls of higher Read More
  • Seven Famous Literary Cafés

    Sat, 04 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    The idea of the writer in a café is so prominent it has become almost cliché. Depicted in books and movies for decades, it's likely something you have even seen for yourself: young men and women working diligently on their laptops in the local coffee shop. Next time you find yourself irritated by the writer hogging the power outlet for hours while your cell phone dies, consider the fact that these writers are part of a time-honored literary tradition. Businesses all over the world offer up stories of their famous patrons as a means to draw in new customers. These Read More
  • Best Books on Canada

    Fri, 03 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    In many ways, writing a short article listing the best books on Canada is an impossible task. The nation is a particularly diverse one filled with prolific First Nations indigenous writers, novelists who are descendants of European settlers, and immigrant authors from Southern and West Africa, Southeast Asia, Central Europe, and other parts of the world. In short, we can’t imagine any kind of singular classification of Canadian literature. We can, however, offer you some of our more recent favorites that make up at least one list of the best books on this country. Read More
  • How Ulysses Got Published

    Thu, 02 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    The past few years have been big for small presses. The two most recent Man Booker Award-winning novels were published by the same small press in England: London’s Oneworld Publications put out both Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings (2014) and the British edition of Paul Beatty’s The Sellout (2015). Meanwhile, in the United States, Coffee House Press in Minneapolis put out the first American edition of Eimear McBride’s acclaimed debut tour-de-force, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing (2013) which won the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. Anyone who claims that we are entering a golden era of Read More
  • Saving Langston Hughes' Home

    Wed, 01 Feb 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    The slow and ever-increasing gentrification of New York neighborhoods isn't breaking news to anyone. Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Chinatown are full of newly renovated apartments and upscale restaurants, and those are just a few examples. Yet the transformation of these neighborhoods is a cultural and emotional loss to the generations of people who have called them home. In the wake of these changes, they are faced with the prospect of being displaced due to increasing costs. In some cases, even city landmarks aren't safe. Read More
  • Thomas Merton and the Dalai Lama: Spiritual Brothers

    Tue, 31 Jan 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    In an era where people all over the world are feeling increasingly divided by matters like race and religion, we can take solace in the knowledge that, recently, Pope Francis rated Thomas Merton alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, and Dorothy Day as his most admired Americans. This after years of certain Catholics in the United States tried to downplay the importance of Merton’s work as a champion of interfaith understanding. Of course, the Pope is not the only Thomas Merton fan who holds a high religious office today. Merton also boasts the regard of His Holiness the Dalai Read More
  • Read More Poetry: The Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Edition

    Sat, 28 Jan 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    As we continue to encourage the world to read more poetry, today, we’d like to highlight one American poet in particular whose work did much to shape the landscape of U.S. thought and history. Indeed, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is remembered for the sincerity with which he wrote. He was firmly entrenched in the American story he was living, and his poetry helped to preserve it for the future. Read More
  • Reimagining Detroit: The Fiction of Jeffrey Eugenides

    Fri, 27 Jan 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Since when has Detroit been an important setting for works of fiction? Sure, if you look to cinema, you might be able to name a number of movies set in Detroit that emphasize characteristics of the city, such as Alex Proyas’s The Crow (1994) or Curtis Hanson’s 8 Mile (2002). But in all honesty, Detroit really wasn’t seen by most readers as a productive literary space until Jeffrey Eugenides depicted the city in new and interesting ways for readers. Detroit, it turns out, is more than just Motown when it comes to artistic production. In both The Virgin Suicides (1993) Read More
  • Thomas Bewick's Most Noteworthy Engravings

    Thu, 26 Jan 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    Thomas Bewick, an English naturalist and woodcut engraver working during the 18th and 19th centuries, was by all accounts at the top of his field during his lifetime. He combined tools originally developed for metal engraving and innovative techniques that introduced the gray scale into what was previously a black-and-white medium with tremendous wit and artistic talent. In doing so, he created engravings that still delight audiences today. His devotion to the natural world (birds in particular) as well as his interest in fairy tales led to the creation of images so intricate and detailed that they often had to Read More
  • South African Literature in the Early Days of Apartheid

    Wed, 25 Jan 2017 08:00:00 Permalink
    After World War II ended in 1945, the de facto racism that had plagued Black South Africans for decades became institutionalized when the National Party came to power in 1948. The all-white Afrikaner government instituted the system of apartheid, which produced laws that required racial segregation and imposed severe penalties for those who opposed the regime. Through the 1960s, Black South Africans were forced into segregated townships outside the major cities of South Africa, such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban. For fiction writers and authors of creative nonfiction who sought to speak out against the policies of apartheid, publication 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.