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Famous Friendships of Legendary Author Mark Twain

By Stephen Pappas. Nov 30, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Mark Twain

Mark Twain, the father of American Literature, captured the limelight of his age in a way that no writer has since. The stories that surround him are the stuff of myths and legends. His influence as America’s greatest “funnyman” has lasted for over a century. Twain’s relationships are just as interesting as Twain himself. From presidents to inventors, Twain brushed shoulders with many of history’s giants. Today, we explore some of Twain's many famous friendships.

     
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A Reading Guide to Sue Miller

By Adrienne Rivera. Nov 29, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Movie Tie-Ins

Finding time to write can be difficult for anyone with a job and other commitments. Add to that the increased responsibilities that come with having children and images come to mind of single-mother J.K. Rowling writing away on dinner napkins on a train to and from work—savoring the few precious hours of alone time after she put her eldest daughter to bed, before she too had to go to sleep. That she managed to turn those stolen hours and ink-filled scraps of paper into the Harry Potter series, arguably seven of the most beloved and influential books in contemporary literature, is no small feat. She was thirty-two years old when her first book was published. For author Sue Miller, it took a little more time.

     
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A Quick Guide to the Works of Arthur Miller

By Connie Diamond. Nov 28, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Drama

In an interview with the Paris Review, Arthur Miller spoke of his admiration for the Greek tragedies when he was young. He had had little classical background at the time, but as to their form he said, “the architecture was clear.” A quick glance at the dictionary reveals the definition of architecture is "the complex or carefully designed structure of something." Interestingly, on the day of his interview, the playwright had greeted the visiting journalist* from a ladder in an old barn that he was converting into a guesthouse. The conversation eventually moved to a one room study at a desk that Miller himself had built. In dramatic fashion, Miller seemed to be demonstrating his affinity for sound structure created by using the tools of one’s trade. When he applied this principle to his writing, the result was the creation of award winning literature across several genres.

     
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Interesting Editions of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book

By Leah Dobrinska. Nov 27, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Dust Jackets

Numerous authors have taken their cues from the great Rudyard Kipling. Readers, too, find him to be incredibly compelling, and as we’ve said before, the man had a gift in that he was able to speak to individuals who hailed from vastly different sides of the social spectrum. And he still does so. Perhaps that’s what makes the works of Rudyard Kipling so highly sought after for the collector. Today, we hope to help the Kipling collector by detailing some of the interesting editions of one of Rudyard Kipling’s most famous works, The Jungle Book.

     
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On Gratitude: Ten Quotes for a Literary Thanksgiving

By Nick Ostdick. Nov 26, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States, and that means friends and families are coming together to give thanks and express gratitude for what and whom they have in their lives. A day focused on gathering around a shared table to indulge in extravagant food and drink, one could argue Thanksgiving is the purest of all holidays where the pressures of a commerce-driven culture are set aside in favor of breaking bread, telling stories, and celebrating a communal moment of peace and good will—that is, at least until the Black Friday sales begin. 

     
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All I Want for Christmas Is a Book: An Early Gift Guide

By Leah Dobrinska. Nov 25, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Rare Book Gift Ideas

Christmas is only one month away! As you think about what sorts of gifts you’d like to give and receive this year, we’re confident books are at the top of your list. You are reading this blog, after all! And it’s true, a book makes a timeless gift—one that can be enjoyed over and over again, and for generations to come. So, we thought we’d break down some ideas for you, in an effort to make your shopping a little easier and free up some time in this busy holiday season for you to do some reading or collecting of your own. If you have serious book collectors on your list, then first, signed, or limited editions of any of these titles would make a valuable and meaningful gift. For the casual book connoisseur, perhaps a fine reading copy would fit the bill. In either case, and without further ado, we give you some gift ideas for every different kind of book-lover on your list.      
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The Birth of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species

By Stephen Pappas. Nov 24, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Science

Today, we celebrate the 156th birthday of Charles Darwin's most famous work: On the Origin of Species. Darwin's depiction of evolution and natural selection was groundbreaking. And it remains one of the most important books of scientific thought in all of history. We'd like to use the anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species to dig deeper into its author and the work itself.

     
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Shel Silverstein: Five Lessons for Grown Ups

By Connie Diamond. Nov 23, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Children's Books

Every once in a while the literary world produces a creative genius who, despite initial impressions, defies definition. Shel Silverstein was such a genius. One can find his poetry collections artfully and prominently displayed in the children’s section of any bookstore or library and stacked on pint-sized carts in kinder classes everywhere. Read any one of them with a listening child, and watch the “light in the attic” go on as she discovers a kindred spirit who is full of dreams and fond of silly.

Little ones relish the absurdity in his poems and lean in for more, as with the fun uncle who pulls quarters from behind their ears. The simple pen and ink drawings hearken back to Silverstein’s early career as a cartoonist, and his rhythmic language to his early success as a musician and lyricist. Both of these creative endeavors shed light on his ability to use simple forms to express complex and profound lessons—lessons that children should be taught for the first time and adults should be reminded of again, and as many times as necessary. Let's explore these lessons for grown-ups with the help of excerpts from some of Silverstein's most renowned writings.

     
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Sweet Home Chicago: A Literary Tour of the Windy City

By Nick Ostdick. Nov 22, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature

Though often referred to as the Second City, Chicago is second to none in terms of its rich cultural heritage, iconic architecture, sports fandom, and inventive takes on comfort food staples like the pizza hotdog and the red hot. But The Windy City is also home to a literary tradition rivaled by very few cities across the country, with some of America’s most renowned writers calling Chicago their home.

     
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Mystery Writers of America at the Lilly Library

Do you have an interest in crime writing and detective novels? You’re not alone. From the novels of Agatha Christie to the films of Alfred Hitchcock, Americans love a good detective story. The Mystery Writers of America, Inc. (MWA) is, according to the association itself, the “premier organization for mystery writers, professionals allied to the crime writing field, aspiring writers, and those who are devoted to the genre.” In other words, MWA promotes crime fiction, from those who write it to the readers who support it. Where can you go to check out the myriad of documents connected to this organization? The Lilly Library Manuscript Collections at Indiana University-Bloomington holds the complete papers of the organization, from correspondence to photographs to financial documents. If you’re interested in the modern history of crime fiction, you may not need to look any further than Bloomington, Indiana.

     
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Don DeLillo and the Power of Marginalia

By Stephen Pappas. Nov 20, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature

The act of reading is the act of exchanging ideas, but more often than not, it’s a one way export. A book is a means through which the author impresses thoughts upon his readers. The idea of a passive readership has been drilled into our heads, but there are authors who challenge this assumption. Most notably, Billy Collins, in his poem, "Marginalia," recalls a message scrawled in the corners of Catcher in the Rye, among other marginal jots. Other authors have taken up arms against the idea that a book is an immutable altar of knowledge, but few are as interesting as Don DeLillo.   

     
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Quiz: What Type of Book Should You Collect?

By Andrea Koczela. Nov 19, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Quizzes

For the indecisive bibliophiles among us, help has arrived! We have put together a quiz to determine your ideal collecting area. Answer our six penetrating questions and discover new bookish horizons. You may even realize that you've been hunting the wrong books for years. There's only one way to find out.

     
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The Musical and Satirical Legacy of W.S. Gilbert

By Matt Reimann. Nov 18, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Drama

As a genre of literature, few forms are as likely to be neglected as musical theatre. Musicals are meant to be seen live. Or, if you are barred from that option, you may listen to the cast recording. But who reads the libretto of a musical? It contains neither performance nor music, none of the elements we are drawn to the theatre for. It’s a common dismissal, and it's one often made unconsciously. It's one that also ignores the contribution musical theatre makes to the grand scope of literature. Among the greatest writers in this important tradition is English author, W.S. Gilbert.

     
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Collecting Pop Up Books

By Leah Dobrinska. Nov 17, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Children's Books

For children and adults alike, the magic in turning the pages of a pop up book to see what creation awaits is second to none. Pop up books have a long and storied history, and their variety and construction make them fascinating collectibles. Truly, they have the power to transport readers to different worlds, and the intricacy of the mechanisms used for the "pop" is an art form in and of itself. Today, we want to discuss some different starting points for the pop up book collector and offer several tips and ideas for those interested in this form of collecting.
     
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The Politics of José Saramago

By Stephen Pappas. Nov 16, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Nobel Prize Winners

José Saramago was born to landless peasants in Azinhaga, Portugal in 1922. He grew up and spent his formative years under the Estado Novo (New State) regime. Estado Novo was a fascist, corporatist, and conservative government. The exploitation or Portuguese peasants by the ruling class lead Saramago to become a staunch communist and an atheist. In what may be a rather large understatement, the politics of Saramago's time greatly influenced his life and work.

     
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Collecting Nobel Laureates: Gerhart Hauptmann & Günter Grass

By Leah Dobrinska. Nov 15, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Nobel Prize Winners

Collecting Nobel Prize in Literature winners makes sense: there’s a list to follow; a new author is chosen each year from all around the globe, allowing for an eclectic reach; and your collection will be filled with the best of the best. Today, we continue our efforts to spotlight Nobel laureates as we feature two German winners. Read on for tips and tricks for collecting the works of Gerhart Hauptmann and Günter Grass.

     
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Walking the Tightrope: Five Must-Read Biographies

By Nick Ostdick. Nov 14, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Biographies

Memoir? Science fiction? Fantasy? Sure, these genres of writing present their own unique challenges. But ask any number of writers about the most troublesome and potentially problematic genre and you’ll hear the same response time and time again: biography.

Setting about the task of capturing the life and essence of an individual in a few hundred pages is daunting, especially the more complicated, convoluted, and complex the subject. Biographers are often faced with a number of difficult decisions in terms of what events and moments are crucial to the biography, and those that can be discarded in service of painting a compelling and accurate portrait.

     
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Collecting Rare Books by Robert Louis Stevenson

By Leah Dobrinska. Nov 13, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Collecting

Robert Louis Stevenson, the Scottish writer and thinker best known for works like Treasure Island and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, has an influence that’s stretched to envelop readers, writers, and collectors for over a century. To be sure, collecting his works is not for the faint of heart (or pocketbook), especially if you’re going after rare and limited editions. Here, we’ve compiled a list of information on some of the rarest editions of books from Mr. Stevenson’s illustrious hand. These make for splendid collectibles.

     
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A Guide to Ten Classic Children's Illustrators

By Andrea Diamond. Nov 12, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Illustrators

A picture is worth a thousand words, and the illustrations in children’s books are no exception. While the author weaves enchanting tales that ignite our curiosity, the illustrator brings the story to life. Here are ten classic children's illustrators who have made their mark on literary history.

     
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Thomas Bailey Aldrich: Father of "Bad Boy" Literature

By Brian Hoey. Nov 11, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Literature, Mark Twain

"Lord, I loathe that woman so! She is an idiot—an absolute idiot—and does not know it ... and her husband, the sincerest man that walks...tied for life to this vacant hellion, this clothes-rack, this twaddling, blethering, driveling blatherskite!"
-Mark Twain, referring to Thomas Bailey Aldrich’s wife, Lillian

To be called "the sincerest man that walks" by Mark Twain, one of the fathers of American fiction and whose contributions still loom after more than a century and a half, is certainly a rare honor. You have to imagine, however, that New England-born poet, novelist, travel writer, and editor Thomas Bailey Aldrich would have preferred the compliment couched in slightly less venomous language. Indeed, given only that quotation, you would have gleaned very little about a writer whose influence has outlived his name recognition.

     
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The Vicar of Wakefield: Edition by Edition

By Nick Ostdick. Nov 10, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Illustrators, Book Collecting

As a great song is covered once and again by a multitude of bands spanning musical genres and aesthetics; a great story is illustrated time over time by a variety of visual artists, each imbuing the work with their sensibilities and vision. Nothing short of a true classic can inspire generations of artists to revisit a piece—to dig deep into its inner workings in an attempt to unearth some hidden meaning glossed over by previous editions or iterations.

And this principle is most certainly true with Oliver Goldsmith’s Victorian novel, The Vicar of Wakefield, first published in 1766, which has since seen numerous editions and reissues and artist interpretations by some of the English world’s most highly-regarded illustrators.

     
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Ivan Turgenev and Eight Other Essential Russian Authors

By Matt Reimann. Nov 9, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Modern First Editions

This month marks the 197th anniversary of Ivan Turgenev’s birthday. It's as good a time as ever to reflect on the contributions of this important figure of Russian literature's Golden Age. He rubbed shoulders with the classic authors of his time and brought the eye of the West to one of the world's great literary nations. Turgenev holds a remarkable legacy, and it is strengthened even more when one considers the other voices of his country he helped to amplify. Today, we explore Turgenev and eight other essential Russian authors.

     
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Kazuo Ishiguro: Surprising User of Spontaneous Prose

By Brian Hoey. Nov 8, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature

“That’s not writing, that’s typing”
-Truman Capote on Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (1957)

Writers and readers alike are taught to be dubious of first drafts. “The first draft of anything,” Ernest Hemingway said, “is sh*t.” By that same reflex, many seem to find themselves wary of anything written too quickly. Detractors of National Novel Writing Month tend to express their disapproval by way of this wariness. They intimate, or sometimes say outright, that nothing of value could possibly be written that quickly.

     
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Deception and Sinister Moments in Children’s Literature

By Nick Ostdick. Nov 7, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books

A snapshot of 19th Century children’s literature and one of modern day children’s literature would make for a very interesting before-and-after photo. In the time before children’s lit giants like Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak, or Shel Silverstein, children’s literature often defaulted to mortality or cautionary tales designed to teach children the dangers of greed or gluttony—think of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, as their takes on Little Red Riding Hood and Beauty and the Beast are far afield from the Disney versions.

While these tales relied heavily on the use of irony, sardonic humor, grim imagery, and violence, forays into the sinisterparticularly through the vehicle of deceptionwere commonplace as both thematic strains and devices to advance plot and character. Whether at the expense of the reader or the characters themselves, the use of sinister elements such as deception are most prominent in the following three classic examples of 19th Century children’s literature. Each removes the kid gloves when it comes to setting up expectations and then subverting those expectations for deeply-felt, visceral results.

     
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James Bond in Film: Past, Present, and Future

By Matt Reimann. Nov 6, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: James Bond, Movie Tie-Ins, Modern First Editions

James Bond will never die. This is true not only in the narratives of his books and movies, but in our world as well. Fifty years after Ian Fleming’s death, the world-famous secret agent continues to live on with the help of a gamut of actors, novelists, and directors. Even in the last two months, the world has seen two significant additions to the 007 canon — first with the September release of the most recent Bond novel, Trigger Mortis, and now with the debut of the franchise’s latest movie, Spectre. Our desire for all things Bond is stronger than ever, and there is no sign of it slowing down.

     
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Ten of the Most Beautiful Sentences in Literature

By Andrea Diamond. Nov 5, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature

Letters become words, words become sentences, and sentences come together to fill the chapters of literature all over the world. While some passages run through our minds for only a moment before we turn the page, others have the power to stay with us for a lifetime. As an avid reader, I have found that beautiful sentences are beautiful not only because they are poetic, but also because they express a truth we crave to understand. Whether you are reading in a quiet house, on a crowded bus, or sitting on a park bench on a warm summer’s day, beautiful sentences give us the language to share our most powerful human experiences and the knowledge that we are never alone. In one humble reader’s opinion, here are ten of the most beautiful passages in literature.

     
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C.K. Williams: A Social Poet

By Stephen Pappas. Nov 4, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry

Renowned poet C.K. Williams passed away on September 20, 2015. Today, we hope to honor his legacy as we explore the makings of the man who the Academey of Arts and Letters described as an "esteemed colleague, whose compassionate poems move consistently toward sympathy and moral enlightenment."

Williams started writing poetry when he was 19 years old. His work was heavily influenced by the political environment at the time; thus, much of his writing centered on the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement. As he wrote, his poetry grew more introspective and personal. Many of his poems explore the relationship between individuals and society. His societal focus earned him the reputation of a “social poet.” Beyond that, though, C.K. Williams wrote in a special way, one that shines a light on emotions we've all experienced and can relate to.

     
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Karl Ove Knausgaard's Revolution in Norwegian Fiction

By Audrey Golden. Nov 3, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Book History

On the whole, not a lot of recent Scandinavian fiction has made its way into the hearts of English-language readers. This isn’t to say that a lot of great novels aren’t out there waiting to find a translator, but rather that these translations just don’t happen with too much frequency. Many American readers have heard of and possibly read the works of Knut Hamsun, the Norwegian Nobel Prize winner from the first half of the twentieth century who died a Nazi sympathizer. And perhaps you picked up a copy of Lars Saabye Christensen’s The Half Brother (2001), a modern epic that delighted and excited European readers. But by and large, Scandinavian fiction hasn’t been a steady source of the bestseller. Until, that is, Karl Ove Knausgaard came onto the scene.

     
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Ten Things You Didn't Know About The Lord of the Rings

By Brian Hoey. Nov 2, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: J. R. R. Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (1954, '55) stands today, more than fifty years after its initial publication, as one of the most popular and influential works of all time. Though Tolkien was dedicated to the notion that his sweeping, Beowulf-inspired epic was more akin to history than fantasy, it has effectively shaped the face of modern fantasy in both literature and film, seeping into the broader culture in ways that even Tolkien himself could hardly have foreseen. Here are ten surprising facts about The Lord of the Rings.

     
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Eloise at 60: The Illustrator Behind the Beloved Character

By Matt Reimann. Nov 1, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, Modern First Editions

Creating a good children’s book is hard, creating one that endures for half a century is even harder. Yet that’s exactly what Hilary Knight and Kay Thompson did with the creation of their famous character, Eloise. For sixty years, the exuberant six year old has captivated generations of fans in a way few children’s books ever do. There should be magic in every children's book, and Eloise's magic comes from her sheer relatability. So many people see themselves in the character's enduring weirdness and audacity. In the end, it is doubtful this would have ever happened were it not for the personality of her illustrator, Hilary Knight.

     
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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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