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Civil Rights Activist and Author, James Baldwin

By Lauren Corba. Jul 31, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Literature

American writer James Baldwin was born August 2, 1924 in Harlem, New York City. He was the oldest of nine; his younger siblings were all half-siblings and his stepfather was harsher on Baldwin than on the rest of the children. His unusual intelligence--combined with the persecution of his stepfather--caused Baldwin to spend much of his time alone in libraries. By the time Baldwin had reached age fourteen, he had discovered his passion for writing. During his young adult years, his talent for language did not go unnoticed. His educators deemed him gifted—and in 1937, at the age of thirteen, he wrote his first article titled, “Harlem—Then and Now” which was published in the school’s magazine, The Douglass Pilot


Ten Facts You May Not Know About J. K. Rowling

By Matt Reimann. Jul 29, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, Literature

J. K. Rowling, author of the bestselling Harry Potter series and several crime fiction novels, celebrates her birthday July 31st. A real-life "rags to riches" story, Forbes ranked her as the forty-eighth most powerful celebrity in 2007. Take a look with us as we explore ten facts you might not know about the beloved author.


Jane Eyre and Other Classic Bildungsromans

By Matt Reimann. Jul 28, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature

A bildungsroman is a novel which follows its protagonist during a significant period of maturation. The book focuses on the main character's childhood or adolescence over a span of years as she navigates the world and investigates her place in it. The bildungsroman became highly popular in 19th century British novels, particularly in the works of Charles Dickens, but still retains its popularity today. Discover more about this form and some essential bildungsromans in the following article. 


Collector Spotlight: Enhancing a Collection with Signatures and Artwork

By Andrea Koczela. Jul 27, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting

Part two of our interview with David A. Williamson, one of the largest Stephen King collectors in the world. In 2009, he bought Betts Books and one of his greatest joys is helping other King collectors find that “special” collectible for their own collections. He lives in Fairfield, CT, is married and has three children.


Famous Authors Who Ventured into Screenwriting

By Kristin Masters. Jul 25, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Movie Tie-Ins

On July 26, 1942, legendary author William Faulkner started a five-month stint as a screenwriter for Warner Brothers. By this time Faulkner had already made a name for himself as a prominent literary figure, thanks to The Sound and the  Fury (1929), Light in August (1932), and Absalom, Absalom! (1936). But Faulkner had yet to attain any financial stability from his writing, so he turned to screenwriting to generate additional income. He penned two screenplays: To Have and Have Not (based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway); and The Big Sleep (based on the eponymous Raymond Chandler novel). Both movies starred Humphrey Bogart and met with critical acclaim. 


Franz Kafka: A Dark and Surreal Tale

By Kristin Wood. Jul 23, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors

With a name that has become synonymous with the complicated and the surreal, Franz Kafka had a distinctive voice that set him apart from his literary contemporaries. His knack for creating stories reminiscent of nightmares – both in terror and senselessness – resulted in a legacy that continues to ensnare new readers in each coming generation.


A Retrospective on Suspense Novelist John D. MacDonald

By Claudia Adrien. Jul 22, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Mystery, Suspense & Crime

Crime and suspense novelist John D. MacDonald published more than 78 books, with more than 75 million copies in print by the time of his death in 1986. Among his varied achievements, his novel, The Executioners, was adapted into the Hollywood film Cape Fear. Novelist Stephen King called MacDonald "the great entertainer of our age, and a mesmerizing storyteller."


Collector Spotlight: Acquiring an Authoritative Stephen King Collection

By Andrea Koczela. Jul 21, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting

David A. Williamson began collecting Stephen King novels and memorabilia in the 1980s and has amassed a collection that ranks as one of the largest in the world. In 2009, he bought Betts Books and one of his greatest joys is helping other King collectors find that “special” collectible for their own collections. He lives in Fairfield, CT, is married and has three children. He has generously shared his collecting experience and expertise with Books Tell You Why in the following interview. 


John Gardner and the Art of Fiction

By Andrea Koczela. Jul 20, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Literature

John Champlin Gardner (not to be confused with the James Bond author John Edmund Gardner) was a successful American writer and academic. Born July 21, 1933, he is best known for Grendel, his retelling of Beowulf, and On Moral Fiction, his controversial volume of literary criticism.


Ten Tidbits About Ernest Hemingway

By Kristin Masters. Jul 19, 2014. 9:05 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Nobel Prize Winners

Born on July 21, 1899, Ernest Hemingway distinguished himself as a journalist and fiction writer. A winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize, he's considered a legendary author of the twentieth century. Also known as "Papa," Hemingway earned a reputation as a "man's man." He loved hunting, drinking, and women. But there's much more to Hemingway than you might think! 


5 Great Exploration Stories: From Everest to the Moon

By Anne Cullison. Jul 17, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Science

What makes a great exploration story? Is it bold? Is it real? Or is it just something that makes you experience your very own adrenaline rush?


Ten Things You Didn't Know About Cormac McCarthy

By Claudia Adrien. Jul 16, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Movie Tie-Ins

Cormac McCarthy has been described as the best unknown novelist in America. Although lauded in literary circles as a "writer's writer" and the William Faulkner or James Joyce of this era, McCarthy became better known later in his career with his Pulitzer-Prize winning work All the Pretty Horses. Further notoriety came when his book No Country for Old Men was adapted for film by the Coen brothers. The movie won four Academy Awards.


Remembering Nobel Laureate, Nadine Gordimer

By Andrea Koczela. Jul 14, 2014. 1:01 PM.

Topics: Nobel Prize Winners, Book News

Nadine Gordimer, Nobel Laureate and anti-apartheid activist, died peacefully in her home Sunday evening with her children at her side.


Success in Private: Four Famously Reclusive Authors

By Anne Cullison. Jul 14, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature

Author J.D. Salinger, is notable for many reasons, not the least of which is his reclusiveness.  His novel, Catcher in the Rye, was first published July 16, 1951 and has sold over 60 million copies worldwide. While Salinger's work has inspired people worldwide, from teenagers to criminals, it is perhaps the author's isolation that fascinates us the most.


Merry Christmas... In July!

By Anne Cullison. Jul 13, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, Christmas Books

In the heart of summer, many of us are reeling from skyrocketing temperatures and thinking wistfully of the crisp days of winter. Cool down as we celebrate Christmas in July and browse the following collectible Christmas favorites.


Wole Soyinka, Irrepressible Nobel Laureate

By Lauren Corba. Jul 11, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Nobel Prize Winners

Born July 13, 1934, Akinwande Oluwole Soyinka was raised in Abeokuta, Nigeria—under British ownership at the time. He was raised in an Anglican family; however, he was constantly exposed to the Muslim religion and Yorùbá culture, allowing him to have a cultured childhood. His father’s position as a primary school headmaster gave Soyinka’s family access to electricity, a radio, and introducing him to great works of literature in addition to the Western world. Soyinka was an avid student, receiving a scholarship to attend one of the most prestigious secondary schools in Ibadan, and later studying at University College, where he took interest in numerous subjects including English Literature, Greek, and Western Studies.


Henry David Thoreau, Environmentalist and Abolitionist

By Lauren Corba. Jul 10, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, American Literature

Beloved American poet, naturalist, and transcendentalist, Henry David Thoreau was born July 12, 1817. His philosophy on living naturally paved the way for modern environmentalist ideals. While Thoreau is known for writing Walden and embracing life in the woods, many are less familiar with his beliefs on civil disobedience and abolition.


J. K. Rowling Writes New Harry Potter Story

By Andrea Koczela. Jul 9, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, Book News

J. K. Rowling has published a new short story about Harry Potter on her website, Pottermore.com. The story, entitled "Dumbledore's Army Reunites at Quidditch World Cup Final" is written as a gossip column by character Rita Skeeter and describes many of the Harry Potter characters as adults. 


Celebrating Alice Munro, Nobel Laureate

By Kristin Masters. Jul 8, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Nobel Prize Winners

Canadian author Alice Munro, born July 10, 1931, won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature as "master of the contemporary short story." Indeed, she is widely acclaimed for transforming the way short stories are written today.


Philadelphia: Hotbed of Early American Politics--and Printing

By Kristin Masters. Jul 6, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book History, History

 On March 4, 1681, William Penn was granted a large swath of land southwest of New Jersey. He named it "Sylvania," (Latin for "woods"), and King Charles renamed it Pennsylvania in honor of Penn's father. Within three years, Pennsylvania had its first printing press. The first American publication may have been printed in Massachusetts in 1639, but Philadelphia soon emerged as a major publishing center. By the time the Liberty Bell rang on July 8, 1776, the city was already a bustling center of both politics and printing. 


The Dalai Lama, Spiritual Leader in Exile

By Claudia Adrien. Jul 5, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Biographies

His Holiness the fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is a Buddhist monk and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. Born July 6, 1935 into a farming family in northeastern Tibet, Lamo Dhondup was designated as the reincarnation of the thirteenth Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso, when he was two years old.


Famous Authors Who Changed Their Names

By Claudia Adrien. Jul 3, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors

We know Nathaniel Hawthorne best as the author of The Scarlet Letter, The Marble Faun, and other classics in American literature. What you probably didn't know was that "Hawthorne" wasn't the author's real surname. Born on July 4, 1804 as Nathaniel Hathorne, he added the "W" to his name so he wouldn't be associated with his ancestor John Hathorne, who was the only judge involved in the Salem witch trials.


Nobel Laureate Wislawa Szymborska's Poetry of Contradiction

By Matt Reimann. Jul 2, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Nobel Prize Winners

Wislawa Szymborska won the Nobel Prize in 1996 "for poetry that with ironic precision uncovers the laws of biology and historical mechanisms in fragments of human reality." Indeed, irony is a point of distinction in her work. Her poems are at once simple and yet complex. They are told engagingly from diverse perspectives, and are consistently endowed with her distinguished wit and cleverness.


A Cup of Chocolat with Joanne Harris

By Lauren Corba. Jul 1, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Movie Tie-Ins

“You don't write because someone sets assignments! You write because you need to write, or because you hope someone will listen or because writing will mend something broken inside you or bring something back to life.”


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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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