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Ten Patriotic Reads for Memorial Day

By Andrea Diamond. May 30, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, World War II

For many in the U.S., Memorial Day is the calendar date that marks the beginning of sweet summertime. Students become restless at their desks, pontoon boats are pulled out of winter storage, and Dads across the Midwest poke their head outside and casually suggest “throwing something on the grill" for dinner. In the midst of sunny afternoons spent living the American Dream, it is easy to forget that our freedom has never been free. Memorial Day is a time to honor those fallen in service to our country.

Unless one has served in the military, it can be difficult to equate those who've served and especially those who've made the ultimate sacrifice with real people. Both fiction and non-fiction accounts of war have the power to put a name and a face with the often anonymous heroes of our past and present. Should you find yourself with an opportunity to sit outside with a good book this Memorial Day, we would suggest one of these ten patriotic titles:

     
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The Loneliness of T.H. White, the Man Who Wrote of Kings

By Abigail Wheetley. May 29, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature

T.H. White is the man best known for writing the King Arthur books; the ones about the young boy who pulls a sword from a stone and creates Camelot with his wizard mentor Merlin. These stories are beloved, retold, and have been reinvented as animated films and full scale musicals, even defining the time in America before the assassination of President Kennedy.

Camelot, it seems, is a perfect place, one where there is no trouble, life is easy, and love is pure. White’s life, however, bore no resemblance to such a place, and his battle with alcohol, emotion, and his own natural tendencies influenced his work and led him to live a truly lonely yet remarkable life.

     
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Rachel Carson: Mother of the Environmental Movement

By Brian Hoey. May 27, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Science

For those of you who believe that climate change is the most significant threat facing the world right now, Rachel Carson should be your patron saint. A noted nature writer and a marine biologist by trade, Carson helped to usher in the modern environmentalist movement with her 1962 book Silent Spring, an indictment of pesticide overuse that is at once scathing and deeply unsettling to read. More than 50 years after her death, the deeply-held concern over the fate of the planet that she so scorchingly exemplified is a more powerful (and arguably much more urgent) force than ever.

     
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Alexander Pushkin & the Beginning of Russian Literature

By Matt Reimann. May 26, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Tolstoy

Russia holds a distinguished place in the vast world of modern literature. Insulated from the larger cultural trends of mainland Europe, it exploded onto the scene in the nineteenth century. It has produced some titanic names—Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov—and a string of others that will endure through the ages. What caused this impressive boom is unclear, but its origin is far easier to trace. Russia, that powerhouse of modern literature, begins with the poet Alexander Pushkin.

     
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Six Surprising Facts About Ralph Waldo Emerson

By Abigail Wheetley. May 25, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Poetry

Ralph Waldo Emerson is a figure that speaks of New Hampshire, poetry, and a deep understanding of the world and nature. A man of great thought, deep contemplation, and vivid humor, Emerson has lived and existed within the canon of great literature for generations. Though he is an iconic figure, there a few interesting facts that might surprise you about the great poet.      
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The Persistent Voice of Mikhail Sholokhov

By Andrea Diamond. May 24, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Nobel Prize Winners

“Good things take time” is an old adage that has been issued to almost everyone at one point or another in their lifetime. It flows from the mouths of professors as they warn their students not to wait until the night before to start their 15-page research paper, from coaches of disgruntled beginner athletes, and from parents attempting to convince their child to be more diligent in practicing their piano notes. With the boom of technology and the drive for convenience, it seems being patient grows more difficult with each passing day. Waiting for the Wi-Fi connection at a local coffee shop feels like eternity, and we suffer extreme indignation when the pizza delivery man takes more than 30 minutes to arrive. While the art of efficiency and the drive for productivity is not without its benefits in the world today, it is often best ignored by the creative mind. Good bookslike many things in lifetake time. In the case of Nobel Prize winner Mikhail Sholokhov, it took fourteen years.

     
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Arnold Lobel: The Anatomy of a Fable

By Connie Diamond. May 22, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, Literature

The genesis of the fable is unclear, but its legacy is far-reaching. The name "Aesop" is synonymous with fables, although the stories themselves and their corresponding lessons had been handed down for generations before he recorded them several hundred years B.C. They made their first appearance in printed English in 1484. It is safe to say, then, that fables are an integral part of our collective literary and cultural history. Their lessons are universal and timeless. Who among us has not been exhorted to heed the lesson of the Hare and the Tortoise and remember that “slow and steady wins the race,” or to mistrust appearances and beware of “the wolf in sheep’s clothing.” These morals were just one component of the fable formula, and they happened to be the component that Arnold Lobel disliked.

     
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Home On the Range: Five Writers from the American Southwest

By Nick Ostdick. May 21, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, American Southwest

Deserts. The Mojave. The Sonoran. The Chihuahuan. Vast, barren, dusty landscapes with skies that seem to stretch forever, and towering, jagged rock formations cut from the scorched earth. Cacti. Heat. Sun. In other words, tough country, both in terms of its topography and culture and politics.

Conflict between American settlers and Native American Indians looms large in the history of this place, as does the often tortured relationship its inhabitants experience between calling this region home and striving to get out. But as we’ve seen time and time again with this series, great conflict often breeds great beauty, and writers from the American Southwest are no stranger to conflictboth in terms of the region’s geography and politicsand, as it turns out, the wealth of artistic expression born from it, particularly in the literary arts.

     
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Collecting Books with Woodcuts

Since the eighth century in Japan, woodcuts have been used for printing textiles and paper, and later for creating illustrations in books. According to an article* from the Metropolitan Museum of Art's website, “woodcuts are produced by inking a raised surface against which a piece of paper is pressed, either manually or by running it through a press, to create an image on the paper.”

Beginning in the fifteenth century, woodcuts served as illustrations in printed books, and many scholars attribute the first successful black-and-white woodcuts as book illustrations to Albrecht Dürer. By the mid-sixteenth century, woodcuts were replaced largely by engravings as a method for illustrating books. Still, numerous artists and writers have revived this method. If you’re thinking about collecting books with woodcuts, where should you start?

     
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The Bond Dossier: Live and Let Die

By Nick Ostdick. May 18, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book History, James Bond, Dust Jackets

The saying goes that an artist has his or her entire life to create their first major work, but only a few years to finish their second. It’s an adage often used to rationalize a drop-off in quality or ambition between an artist’s first two major pieces, which is an all too common occurrence. But Ian Fleming is perhaps the shining exception to this rule.

Fleming’s second James Bond novel, Live and Let Die, was published April 5, 1954 and was completed just a few months before the release of the debut Bond novel, Casino Royale—in fact, some Bond scholars contend portions of Live and Let Die were actually composed before Casino Royale was written. Live and Let Die defied the expectations of diminishing returns in following up such a massive success with great critical acclaim in both the U.K. and U.S., coupled with brisk sales in Great Britain and throughout Europe.

     
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How can I identify a first edition? Where do I learn about caring for books? How should I start collecting? Hear from librarians about amazing collections, learn about historic bindings or printing techniques, get to know other collectors. Whether you are just starting or looking for expert advice, chances are, you'll find something of interest on blogis librorum.

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