Did you know?  Check our Rare Books Page

Collecting Nobel Prize Winners: Seamus Heaney and George Bernard Shaw

By Brian Hoey. Mar 17, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Nobel Prize Winners, Drama

Despite being a country of fewer than 5 million people, Ireland boasts four Nobel Prize in Literature winners: W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Becket, and Seamus Heaney. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s the highest Literature Nobel Laureates per capita outside of St. Lucia, which counted the late poet Derek Walcott among its 150,000 or so residents, even without James Joyce (who was famously snubbed) to round out the list. (Sweden appears to be a close third, with 8 prizes and a population just under 10 million). In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we’ll be turning the attention to two of the Emerald Isle’s most gifted writers: George Bernard Shaw and Seamus Heaney.


Hawthorne Heights: How John Updike Rewrote "The Scarlet Letter"

By Brian Hoey. Mar 16, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature

Remember the film Easy A (2010), in which Emma Stone stars as a high-school student ostracized for her (invented) promiscuity? In the film, Stone’s character eventually takes to wearing a read letter “A” on her person in reference to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s seminal novel of adultery and Puritanism, The Scarlet Letter (1850), on which the film’s screenplay is partially based. In one sense, it’s amazing that Hawthorne’s novel, which was one of America’s first important literary works, continues to assert its cultural relevance in the 21st century. In another sense, though, we really oughtn’t be surprised. After all, there have been numerous instances of artists updating The Scarlet Letter for contemporary audiences. In one particular such instance, “contemporary” meant 1988, and the artist was the revered John Updike. 


John Steinbeck and the Nixon Novel that Never Was

John Steinbeck, born on February 27, 1902 in Salinas, California, would become one of American's most notable authors. Steinbeck established himself as an author in an era when accomplished authors held considerable clout. As a result, he one day found himself in a unique position: he held the upcoming United States presidential election in his hands.


Why Travel Can Be an Important Part of Book Collecting

By Audrey Golden. Mar 14, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Literary travel

With so much book shopping and book collecting taking place on the internet these days, it might be difficult to imagine why travel can be an important part of building a rare or antiquarian book collection. We’ve become so reliant upon the internet for almost everything these days, and book buying is one of them. However, let me emphasize just how valuable it can be to travel to different parts of the United States and, indeed, different regions of the world, as you build your collection. When physical bookstores are available, not only can you engage with the book as a physical object, but you can also discover out-of-print or even self-published titles that you didn’t know existed.

If you want to build a truly unique collection, consider traveling to new places and visiting bookshops that can help you to unearth new and never-before-seen titles to add to your bookshelves. The resources available from the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA) and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) can help you to locate shops, but in addition, there may be hidden treasures just around the corner with no internet presence at all. Let me tell you a bit more about the pleasures of book-buying travel and some tips for the globetrotting book collector.


'March' and the National Book Award for Young People's Literature

By Audrey Golden. Mar 9, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Children's Books, Awarded Books

Whether you are searching for a new graphic novel to buy the kids or teenagers in your life, or if you are adding to an ever-expanding graphic novel collection of your own, we want to make sure you know about the March Trilogy. This three-book set from John Lewis, one of the key figures of the American Civil Rights Movement and current Georgia congressman, is a memoir about his “coming-of-age in the movement,” according to an article in The New York Times about the graphic memoir collection. The books are significant for anyone hoping to learn more about the history of the Civil Rights Movement and Lewis’s experiences, and they are also important guidebooks for future leaders who are willing to make “necessary trouble,” as Lewis has described the act of protest.


Twelve Women to Read on International Women's Day

International Women's Day is celebrated every year on March 8. It was inspired by a National Women's Day held in New York in 1909 as a response to a 1908 march for equal rights undertaken by 15,000 women. However, by the second year, the International Conference of Working Women decided that the holiday should expand worldwide. It was adopted by the United Nations in 1975 and declared an international holiday in all participating states. International Women's Day is dedicated to fighting for gender equality and to celebrating the social, political, and cultural achievements of women. While a common opinion today is that all the battles for women have been won, International Women's Day urges women to fight to close the pay gap, to end violence against women, and to push for more visibility for women both in the workplace and in national and international leadership positions. The following 12 women writers exemplify the goals of International Women's Day in their writing and activism.


How To Begin Collecting History Books

By Leah Dobrinska. Mar 7, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, History

If you’re a history buff, you know that on March 7, 1530, King Henry VIII, who had his annulment denied by Pope Clement VII, separated himself from the Catholic Church and declared himself the new head of the Church of England, spurring on the English reformation. What better day to talk about how to begin collecting history books?

Have you considered beginning a history book collection? What should you know before you do? Here are a few questions to get you started, and to help guide your collecting efforts.


The Books That Made Oscar-Winning Movies

By Matt Reimann. Mar 3, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Movie Tie-Ins

Every solitary professional novelist, whether she is aware of the fact or not, is a kind of trial balloon for the movie industry. Before studios spend millions of dollars—sometimes hundreds of millions—on actors, directors, crew, locations, distribution, and more, they prefer to have proof that a particular story resonates with an audience. Successful plays are often adapted, with movies like Driving Miss Daisy and Hamlet being notable Best Picture winners of this sort. But prose, in the form of memoirs, nonfiction books, novels, and short stories, appears to be the most fertile ground for Hollywood when it comes to seizing the next big idea.


Ten Essential Dr. Seuss Quotes

Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known by his pen name Dr. Seuss, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1904. He attended Dartmouth College where he wrote and drew for the Dartmouth Jack-o-Lantern. After he and his friends were caught with gin in the dormitories during prohibition, part of his punishment was being banned from all extracurricular activities. However, he continued to work for the magazine, using for the first time the pen name Seuss.


Teju Cole and the Art of the Twitter Novel

By Audrey Golden. Feb 28, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Literature, Book History

What defines a novel or a short story? In the age of e-books, novels and short stories clearly don’t need to be physical objects with pages that you hold in your hands. But must these works take certain forms? Certainly, many writers from the early twentieth century and onward have pushed the boundaries of the literary form, from Jean Toomer’s Cane (1923), which was initially published as short-story pieces and poems in various journals, to a work like Italo Calvino’s If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler (1979) or Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves (2000). Of course, if we’re being honest, books like Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1759) pushed similar formal boundaries decades earlier. Yet those texts share at least one thing in common: if you want to buy a hard copy, you can still do so. What about novels that require social media platforms in order to exist? We’re thinking specifically about Teju Cole’s “Hafiz” (2014), a work published in its entirety on Twitter, one tweet at a time.



Get our communications?

* required information

About this blog

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.

Get blog notifications per email:

Download the James Bond Dossier

Recent Posts

Book Glossary
Get your free Guide to Book Care

Blog Archive

> see older posts
A Guide to Historic Libraries Part I