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Six Classic Novels Censored in the United States

By Kristin Masters. Aug 31, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Book History

As August draws to a close, we begin anticipating Banned Book Week - a time for celebrating the First Amendment and our freedom to read. Throughout history, people have recognized the transformative power of literature; governments, religious institutions, and even school districts have sought to contain that power by banning controversial books and —in some cases even ordering their destruction.


Famous Figures in the History of Book Binding

By Kristin Masters. Aug 30, 2014. 9:09 AM.

Topics: Book History, Learn About Books

From the scroll to the codex to the modern volume, the form of the book has evolved considerably over the centuries. And alongside that, our methods for keeping the pages together have also changed considerably. Today we enjoy a thriving world of designer and art bindings, collectible in their own right. We can thank figures like William Caxton, Jean Grolier, and Samule Mearne for bringing innovation and beauty to the craft of bookbinding.


Edgar Rice Burroughs, Controversial Author in Every Era

For the entire first half of the twentieth century, Edgar Rice Burroughs was the most widely read American author. As per a 1963 statistic of Life Magazine, Burroughs' paperback books were runaway best-sellers; over ten million copies sold within just one year of their release, accounting for a full thirtieth of US annual paperback sales. While Burroughs' beloved tales are certainly popular for their fantastic plots and classic characters, interest in the books has been spurred by controversy. 


Mary Shelley: From a Scandalous Affair to the Creation of a Monster

By Lauren Corba. Aug 28, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Horror, Legendary Authors, Literature

Mistress of the Gothic novel, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley—née Godwin—was born August 30, 1797 in London, England. Her parents were famous intellectuals: writer and philosopher, William Godwin, and women’s rights activist, Mary Wollstonecraft. Sadly, complications from childbirth led to Wollstonecraft's death just days following Mary's birth.


Tasha Tudor, Classic Children's Illustrator

By Lauren Corba. Aug 27, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Illustrators, Caldecott Medal

Twentieth-century woman, Tasha Tudor, lived her life as though she occupied a nineteenth-century world. Indeed, this Caldecott winner believed herself the reincarnation of a sailor’s wife from the 1800s. Her passion for the Victorian Era was a natural outpouring of this earlier existence--real or imaginary. Her appreciation for Victorian classics resonates in her illustrations and fosters a similar enthusiasm in all who enjoy her work.


Robertson Davies, Would-Be Nobel Laureate

By Andrea Koczela. Aug 26, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature

Some have speculated that if Robertson Davies had been British, he might have won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature. But Davies was Canadian and for better or worse, the award went to Toni Morrison. Davies was one of Canada’s most important and talented writers—the author of over thirty works of fiction as well as a multitude of plays and essays. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 1986, Davies won the Stephen Leacock Medal in 1955, the Lorne Pierce Medal in 1961, the Governor-General’s Award in 1972, and 23 honorary degrees. During his life, he was a successful playwright, journalist, professor, and writer as well as the first Canadian inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.


Theodore Dreiser, Pioneer of Naturalism

By Lauren Corba. Aug 25, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Literature

American novelist Theodore Dreiser popularized naturalism in the United States during the early 1900s. Although the movement was begun by French writer Émile Zola, it was largely through the perseverance of Dreiser that it became a force in America. Emphasizing realism and accuracy in art, naturalism went beyond these qualities to reveal how humans are shaped by their circumstances and environment. Renowned literary critic Irving Howe described Dreiser as, "one of the very few American giants we have had."


The Inflammatory Martin Amis: An Accomplished Author with a Sharp Tongue

By Anne Cullison. Aug 24, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature

English novelist, Martin Louis Amis was born on August 25, 1949. Works such as his bestselling novel Money and his memoir Experience, have brought Amis both critical acclaim and awards. However, his life and works have not been without controversy.


A. S. Byatt, Acclaimed Writer and Grieving Mother

By Ellie Koczela. Aug 23, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Awarded Books, Literature

Possession is A. S. Byatt’s most widely read novel; it won the Man Booker Prize in 2009 and made Byatt famous. This doesn’t surprise the British author who claims, “I knew people would like it. It's the only one I've written to be liked, and I did it partly to show off. I thought, Why not pull out the stops, why do this painstaking observation . . . why not write about the 19th century! I actually paced it for the first time with the reader's attention span in mind. There is very little life in 'Possession': it's all art."


The Legacy of Jorge Luis Borges

By Matt Reimann. Aug 22, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature

The work of Jorge Luis Borges has inspired countless writers while remaining unsurpassed; this accomplishment speaks to his distinct and important legacy. Borges is sometimes compared to Samuel Beckett, with whom he shared the first Prix International, an award which was instrumental to bringing fame and wide translation to the Argentinian author and his work. Borges was recognized for his collection Ficciones (1944), and Beckett for his Molloy Trilogy - works that are similarly influential and inimitable. 


Exploring British History: The Jacobites' Last Stand

By Kristin Masters. Aug 21, 2014. 2:54 PM.

Topics: History

On August 22, 1746, three men were executed for high treason at Kennington Common. They wore Highland costume. The government showed some mercy, allowing the bodies to hang for fifteen minutes (instead of the usual three) before they were desecrated. The execution of Donald MacDonald, Jack Nicholson, and Walter Ogilvie in many ways represented the demise of the Jacobite movement, which had begun many decades earlier. 


The Many Hats of Science Fiction Author Ray Bradbury

By Kristin Masters. Aug 20, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Science Fiction

We remember and celebrate Ray Bradbury as the author of Farenheit 451, Dandelion Wine, and other science-fiction classics. But Bradbury was more than an author of novels and short stories; he delved into other disciplines, from screen writing to urban planning. 


Why Annie Proulx Dislikes Literary Awards

By Matt Reimann. Aug 19, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Pulitzer Prize, American Literature

Edna Annie Proulx was born August 22nd, 1935, in Connecticut. She spent a significant portion of her early life in the rural American Northeast. As an author, she found inspiration throughout pastoral North America, including Newfoundland, New Mexico, and Wyoming. The agrarian landscape she inhabited - filled with farmers, ranches, and the general frontier spirit - thoroughly characterizes her work.


How Nabokov Wrote His Masterpiece, Lolita

By Katie Behrens. Aug 18, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature

Lolita – the simple, one-word title carries so much weight. The nickname that narrator Humbert Humbert gave to 12-year-old Dolores Haze now drips with sex, sin, and shame. The novel by Vladimir Nabokov, published during the 1950s, still causes controversy today. Although Lolita has never been formally banned in the United States, it’s the kind of book that mothers warn their teenage children about. And yet Lolita has become a classic in its own right. In the hands of a different author, the story of Humbert and Dolores could have been a racy, flash-in-the-pan fad success like today’s Fifty Shades of Grey. In the artful hands of Nabokov, Lolita stands as one of the best novels of the 20th century.


Jonathan Franzen vs. Oprah Winfrey

By Katie Behrens. Aug 16, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Pulitzer Prize, American Literature

Jonathan Franzen is no stranger to the fickle nature of literary fame. His novel The Corrections earned the 2001 National Book Award and in 2002 he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He appeared on the cover of TIME magazine with the title "Great American Novelist" after the release of his novel, Freedom. But even as literary critics praise his talent, there many who call Franzen elitist, egotistical, and arrogant.


Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of The Wizard of Oz

By Leah Dobrinska. Aug 14, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, Movie Tie-Ins

August 16 marks the 75th Anniversary of the film premiere of The Wizard of Oz. Both the film and the novel on which it is based - The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum - have a timeless appeal beloved by children and adults alike.


Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and the Byron Scandal

On August 24, 1869, an unsigned editorial appeared in the Buffalo Express. Written by none other than Mark Twain, the short piece defended Harriet Beecher Stowe, who had recently published a scandalous exposé on George Gordon, Lord Byron. Twain defended Stowe not once, but seven times, illustrating his intense interest in Stowe's literary career. 


Steve Martin: Comedian, Musician, and Writer

By Matt Reimann. Aug 11, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Movie Tie-Ins

Few celebrities are renowned for their sheer variety of talent like Steve Martin. We all know him as an exuberant Hollywood comedian whose career spans five decades, famous for performing in films such as The Jerk and Three Amigos. His stand up acts reveal his many skills, including everything from juggling to music. Aside from comedy, Martin is a Grammy-winning banjo player and an advocate of Americana music and bluegrass. He is an astute art collector, and once sold an Edward Hopper painting for $26 million. And finally, he is a talented writer and author.


Harold Pinter and The Proust Screenplay

By Leah Dobrinska. Aug 10, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Nobel Prize Winners, Movie Tie-Ins

Harold Pinter (October 10, 1930 - December 24, 2008) was a British playwright, screenwriter, actor, director, poet, and political activist. He won the 2005 Nobel Prize in Literature for being a writer “who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression’s closed rooms.”


Doyle Brunson- Poker Legend!

By Anne Cullison. Aug 8, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Biographies

If anyone has a poker face, it is Doyle Brunson. Born on August 10, 1933, he was the first player to earn $1,000,000 in poker tournaments and has won ten World Series of Poker tournaments throughout his career. A master of the game, Brunson is ranked second for all time in poker play.


Jonathan Kellerman's Journey from Psychologist to Bestselling Author

"I would never have been a novelist without working as a psychologist...it was a great education in human nature." -Jonathan Kellerman


Alex Haley, Best-Selling Author and Embellisher?

By Matt Reimann. Aug 6, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Pulitzer Prize, American Literature, Literature

Alex Haley was born August 11th, 1921, and grew up in upstate New York and Henning, Tennessee. He withdrew from college at age eighteen and served in World War II and Korea. After working twenty years for the US Coast Guard, Haley changed careers and became the best-selling African-American writer in history. His writing is marked by captivating stories that unite Americans from all backgrounds around the African-American experience, gaining him praise, posterity, and a fair share of critics, too.


General John Wool: From Bookseller to War Hero

By Kristin Masters. Aug 5, 2014. 2:55 PM.

Topics: American History, Biographies, History

How does a bookseller become a decorated general in the United States Army? General John Ellis Wool did exactly that, distinguishing himself in three consecutive wars: the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, and the American Civil War. By the time he began service in the Civil War, General Wool was already 77 years old.


Top Ten Spacey Posts: From Astronauts to Science Fiction

By Anne Cullison. Aug 4, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Science

On August 5, 1930, the day Neil Alden Armstrong was born, the stars were still a distant object of wonder. No one could have possibly imagined that the little boy born that day would one day be the first of only a handful of men to walk on the moon. The stars, the moon, and space exploration have remained objects of fascination for people the world over. Take a moment and be fascinated yourself with our ten best articles about space.


Knut Hamsun: Nobel Laureate and Nazi Sympathizer

By Lauren Corba. Aug 3, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Nobel Prize Winners

It’s hard to imagine the thoughts and feelings of those persecuted by Nazi Germany during the Second World War; it is even harder to understand one who would embrace Nazi atrocities. Knut Hamsun was a Norwegian novelist and poet who was honored with the 1920 Nobel Prize for Literature. He published over 20 novels, as well as short stories, plays, and a poetry collection. In addition to being a groundbreaking writer, Hamsun was also a Nazi sympathizer. 


Dennis Lehane - Pushing Genre Limits Since 1994

By Katie Behrens. Aug 2, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Movie Tie-Ins, Mystery, Suspense & Crime

There are some writers who live and breathe their hometown. Dennis Lehane is such a writer, whose love affair with the seedy underbelly of Boston comes through almost every time he puts pen to paper. Whether working in novels, screenplays, or television episodes, Lehane stands out as a dynamic storyteller whose talents rise above specific genres or mediums.


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