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From Gogol's Overcoat: Nikolai Gogol's Life and Legacy

By Adrienne Rivera. Mar 31, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature

Nikolai Gogol's name has become synonymous with Russian literature. In fact, Fyodor Dostoyevsky said that all Russian realist writers had "come out from Gogol's 'Overcoat,'” a reference to one of Gogol's most beloved stories, “The Overcoat.” But this influence over Russian works and on the larger literary community almost did not happen. Though Gogol achieved success at a young age, his career was marked with a variety of failures. Despite this, his remarkable literary legacywhich includes works such as Dead Souls, Arabesques, and The Fair at Sorochyntsishines on.


Buying Antiquarian Books in Spain

By Audrey Golden. Mar 30, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Collecting, Literary travel

If you’re planning a trip to Spain and you like to think of yourself as a book collector, then you’re in luck. The International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) lists more than 40 shops selling rare and antiquarian books in various parts of the country, from storefronts in Sevilla in the southern part of Spain to those in Bilbao in the north. Depending on where you travel in the country, the makeup of the cities—from language to culture—varies widely. Anyone who has been to Catalonia will tell you that Catalan, as opposed to Spanish, is the primary language spoken. And in towns with close proximity to the Strait of Gibraltar, the architecture reveals influences from North Africa. But these regions do have one thing in common: a commitment to the preservation and sale of the book as physical object.


Conrad, Madox, and Hemingway: Uncommon Commonalities

By Nick Ostdick. Mar 29, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature

The world was a much bigger place in the early part of the 20th Century. Communication was slower, transportation was relegated primarily to ships and trains, and the odds of connecting and interacting with like-minded creatives were much slimmer in an age without text messages and email. 

Yet even with massive geographical and cultural obstacles, three literary titans managed to influence each other, cross paths, and even collaborate to create some of the most vibrant and interesting contributions to the literary arts. 


The Remarkable Life and Work of Mario Vargas Llosa

By Abigail Wheetley. Mar 28, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Nobel Prize Winners

Mario Vargas Llosa may be one of the finest writers of his generation, but that is not all the man does. His passion for language is coupled with his passion for book collecting and a desire to do great works as well as write them. Among numerous other endeavors, he is finding his place on the stage, and he has recently donated two massive collections to the Arequipa Regional Library. Along with his ongoing commitment to donate further from his personal collection, this donation brings the total number of volumes into the tens of thousands.  


The Rewards of Louis Simpson's Poetry

By Matt Reimann. Mar 27, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, American Literature

Wislawa Szymborska, winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature, said poetry is something only two in a thousand people really care about. It may have been the poet’s invented statistic, but it doesn’t sound far off the mark. When was the last time, after all, you saw someone in the cafe invested in a collection of verse? A poetic debut tends not to generate the same buzz as a novel or new biography. What gives? Why has the preferred mode of Homer, Dante, and Shakespeare come to be so...neglected?


Nine Interesting Facts About Tennessee Williams

By Brian Hoey. Mar 26, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Drama

Tennessee Williamsalong with Arthur Miller and Eugene O’Neillwas one of the most well-respected American playwrights of the 20th century. His seminal works, like The Glass Menagerie (1944) and A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), helped to redefine the standards not just of drama but of film and television. After all, A Streetcar Named Desire famously helped to launch Marlon Brando’s illustrious career.

Though many are aware of the generally tragic trajectory that took the great artist through depression and alcoholism, his personal life hasn’t always drawn the same sort of interest as that of other writers. Here are nine interesting facts about him.


Hello, Mr. Bond: 10 James Bond Villains You Should Know

By Nick Ostdick. Mar 25, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: James Bond

It’s often said you can’t have a hero without a villain. Throughout so many of our most beloved stories, novels, and series, what shines just as brightly as the hero is the counterpoint he or she must reckon with and ultimately defeat. These conflicts between the good guy and the bad guy are the meat and potatoes of much of action-adventure literature, and it’s no understatement to say that the James Bond series contains some of the meatiest, most diabolical villains in the spy novel genre.


How to Make a Living as a Writer, According to Jack London

By Matt Reimann. Mar 24, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature

America has a long history of great writers, but a rather shorter history of paying them. Herman Melville, not unlike Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, died with practically no money from his work. One of the first people to make a writer’s living in this country was Jack London. Most famous for his novel, The Call of the Wild, London was a diverse writer, and he was decidedly prudent in aligning himself with America’s booming periodical industry.


Morocco in the Literary Imagination

By Audrey Golden. Mar 23, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Literary travel

Morocco is a place that has long captivated the Western imagination, both for good and for bad. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine classical Hollywood cinema without thinking of Casablanca, Michael Curtiz’s 1942 wartime screen gem starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. While none of the film was actually shot on location in the country (in fact, the entire city of Casablanca depicted in the film was created at the Warner Brothers studio), it continues to introduce audiences to the city of the same name on the Moroccan coast. And just over a decade later, Alfred Hitchcock actually shot The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) on location in Marrakech, bringing that city’s old medina to American viewers with the help of Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day.

But there’s a lot more to twentieth-century Morocco and its hold on our imaginations. We’d like to take a look at some of the literary works that have reshaped the ways we think about Casablanca, Marrakech, and other cities in the North African country.


Randolph Caldecott: The Man Behind the Medal

By Matt Reimann. Mar 22, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books

We all know the name, but few know the person. Behind the Caldecott Medal is the legacy of a man named Randolph Caldecott, born in England in 1846. By the end of his life he was a world-famous illustrator whose work sold in the hundreds of thousands. Children loved his drawings, especially adoring the color and energy of his work. Today, the Caldecott Medal honors illustrators who bring joy to children with stories, just as Randolph did 150 years ago. Yet the Caldecott Medal also commemorates what we have been deprived of—Randolph Caldecott had a too-brief career, passing away at the age of only 39.


World Poetry Day: Ten Poets You Should Read

By Andrea Diamond. Mar 21, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry

Before sitting down to write this article, I tried to imagine a world without poets. I envisioned Romeo explaining his love to Juliet with a pie chart, and Maya Angelou’s gaze passing over a caged songbird with resigned indifference. Indeed, a world without poets would be a world painfully absent of artists who are fully awake to the human experience, allowing raw emotion to course through their veins and manifest itself through the ink of their pen. To honor their literary contributions on World Poetry Day, here are ten poets you should read.


The Rhythm of a Writer: The Unlikely Journey of Bill Martin Junior

By Abigail Wheetley. Mar 20, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, Biographies

Most of us who have children, or have been children, can find ourselves murmuring, “A told B and B told C, I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree” the way others absentmindedly hum a song from the radio. The knowledge that he once wanted his work to be compared to jazz music is no great surprise, as Bill Martin Jr. penned many books like Chicka Chicka Boom Booma story about an alphabet made up of naughty lowercase letters who climb up a coconut tree and are sent crashing down only to be rescued by their uppercase parentsall geared towards the inquisitive, rhythm-hungry minds of children.


Collecting Winnie-the-Pooh

By Leah Dobrinska. Mar 19, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Collecting, Children's Books

To know Winnie-the-Pooh is to love Winnie-the-Pooh. And thanks in large part to Disney and the commercialization of the beloved classic children’s literature character, almost everyone knows Winnie-the-Pooh. Walk into any store and you’ll see Pooh pajamas, Pooh placemats, Pooh picture frames, and countless other Pooh-inspired paraphernalia. It’s safe to say the image of Pooh is a familiar one.

But what about the original A.A. Milne books that contain the stories and poetry that inspire the still-going-strong Pooh parade? They are what dedicated Winnie-the-Pooh collectors are seeking, and they are our focus today. Looking to add to or begin your own Winnie-the-Pooh library? Read on for collecting tips and ideas for the Pooh collector.      

Why You Should Read the Works of Bohumil Hrabal

By Audrey Golden. Mar 18, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Literary travel

Bohumil Hrabal was a Czech novelist and essayist whose work perhaps best depicts the tragicomedies of politics and everyday life. He was born in Brno, the second-largest city in the Czech Republic (after Prague), on March 28, 1914. At the time of Hrabal’s birth, however, Brno was one of many Eastern European cities within the Austro-Hungarian empire. And during Hrabal’s lifetime, he’d see those national borders that defined his urban life continue to shift as both Brno and Prague became part of Czechoslovakia (1918-1993) and later the Czech Republic. His fiction has been adapted for the screen on more than one occasion to much critical praise, and if you have a chance, you shouldn’t hesitate to start reading his work, which redefines the boundaries of magical realism at several significant moments in twentieth-century history.


Something Like Poetry: Harold Budd’s (Beautifully Bound) Verse

By Brian Hoey. Mar 17, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Fine Press

In the literary world, talented people are always poised to surprise you. Winston Churchill, for instance, on top of being a tremendous statesman, also won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his historical and biographical writings. Legendary basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is in the midst of developing a literary name for himself. And while there are plenty of musicians, like Bob Dylan and John Lennon, whose literary forays didn’t stand the test of time, it’s not uncommon for the reverse to be true. John Darnielle from the Mountain Goats, for example, was recently long-listed for the National Book Award for his novel Wolf in White Van. Given all of this, it might not be too shocking to learn that sui generis composer/musician Harold Budd is also a noteworthy poet.


Practically Magic: The Works of Alice Hoffman

By Adrienne Rivera. Mar 16, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Movie Tie-Ins

The genre of magical realism is a favorite for many because it taps into the reality of what it means to be human while also immersing readers in magical elements that capture the imagination. One contemporary master of this well-loved genre is Alice Hoffman.

Hoffman earned a Master of Arts in creative writing at Stanford University. During her time there, she published her first short story, At the Drive-In, in Fiction magazine. The story caught the eye of editor Ted Solotaroff and ultimately led to the publication of her first novel, Property Of, in 1977. Hoffman has been writing prolifically for young and adult readers ever since.


Five Influential Books by Nadine Gordimer

By Audrey Golden. Mar 15, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature, Nobel Prize Winners

One of the most prominent literary voices for political freedom and racial equality in South Africa, Nadine Gordimer wrote fifteen novels, more than two hundred short stories, and numerous other essays and works of criticism. Gordimer resided in Johannesburg, South Africa, a city that features prominently in her fiction. After her death in 2014, literary magazines across the world published tributes to the writer and her role in the anti-apartheid movement. Gordimer’s literature remains essential to any consideration of the relationship between fiction and politics. With so many works to choose from, where should a reader begin? Tracking a career that spans more than sixty years, here are five of the most influential books of Nadine Gordimer.


Welcome to Middle Earth: Collecting Unusual Tolkien Publications

By Nick Ostdick. Mar 14, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Literature, J. R. R. Tolkien

When you hear the name of certain authors, you immediately draw associations with a style or idea. Hemingway = ex-patriotism. Fitzgerald = The Jazz Age. Kerouac = The Beats and their nomadic existence. And J.R.R. Tolkien = bringing the fantasy and science-fiction genres into the mainstream consciousness.


The Fitting Friendship of Kazuo Ishiguro and Caryl Phillips

By Matt Reimann. Mar 13, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Modern First Editions

A reader is commonly excited by a friendship between great authors. If only one could have eavesdropped on the conversations of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville. Or to have been a fly on the wall in Geneva, as Lord Byron and Shelley chatted the night away (Percy Shelley, that is—Mary Shelley maintained a polite dislike for the Don Juan poet). These friendships, naturally, have perished with their authors. But that does not mean our age is without its own. One of today’s most remarkable literary alliances is to be found in the friendship between novelists Kazuo Ishiguro and Caryl Phillips.


Six Things You Didn’t Know About Virginia Hamilton

By Nick Ostdick. Mar 12, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, American Literature, Newbery Award

Children’s book author Virginia Hamilton was a writer of firsts. She was the first to win several major awards and distinctions as a children’s book author, woman, and African American. She was the first person in her family to receive a proper post-secondary education. She was the first writer to chronicle the adolescent African American experience. And she is the first in the minds of many when it comes to black, female writers who have ascended to the top of American literary landscape.


Caldecott Winners You Don't Know About...But Should

By Abigail Wheetley. Mar 11, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Caldecott Medal, Children's Books, Awarded Books

The list of Caldecott Award Winnersthose books that have been recognized by the Association of Library Service to Children for being the most distinguished American picture book for childrenis long and varied. The Little House, Madeline, Where the Wild Things Are, Frog Went A-Courtin’, and many more famous books might come to mind when thinking of the Caldecott honor. However, there are more than a few unusual treasures that you’ve probably never heard of. Now we bring them off the shelves, clear some dust, and introduce you to these winners of one of the highest honors in children’s book publishing.


The Origins and History of the American Short Story

By Nick Ostdick. Mar 10, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Literature

The short story and jazz music have taken quite the similar journey through the cultural consciousness of American society. Now relegated to niche art forms, both flourished in the early and mid-parts of the 20th Century, reaching a level of popularity that transcended age, race, and regionalism. Simply put, everyone listened to jazz and everyone read short stories, and everyone talked about them as important exports of American culture.


Five British Journalists Who Made a Difference

By Abigail Wheetley. Mar 9, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: History

The role of journalist is a multifaceted one. Between investigating, thinking, writing, and trying to be heard, journalists have the propensity to make a huge impact on society and their readers. This is a list of five such British journalists whothrough actions, words, and a desire to shape the minds of the citizens they wrote forchanged the world. 


Robert Sabuda and the Art of Pop-Up Books

By Connie Diamond. Mar 8, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Illustrators, Children's Books

Nothing holds so little interest and yet so much possibility as a blank piece of paper. It is a canvas for the written word, to be sure, but in its original state, it lacks dimension, texture and movement. With a few simple folds, however, it can be transformed. It can become an airplane and soar, taking one’s imagination with it. Accomplishing even this rudimentary task requires that one respect the limitations of the material and simultaneously coax out its potential.  Pop-up book artist Robert Sabuda is a master at doing just that.  


Collecting Nobel Laureates: Giosué Carducci and Grazia Deledda

By Leah Dobrinska. Mar 7, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Nobel Prize Winners

We’ve recently been offering collecting tips and ideas for those looking to acquire the works of German Nobel laureates. Now, we’d like to make an Italian pit-stop. After all, Italy and the arts go hand-in-hand. From Ancient Roman times to Michelangelo to modern-day thought leaders like Umberto Eco, it’s safe to say that a huge amount of artistic work is produced in and pours forth from Italy. For those who may be interested in collecting the works of Italian Nobel Prize in Literature winners—there have been six Italian authors awarded the prize in total—today, we spotlight and present book collecting information on Giosué Carducci and Grazia Deledda.


Familial and Literary Influences: The Making of Gabriel García Márquez

By Brian Hoey. Mar 6, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Nobel Prize Winners

Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez is undoubtedly Colombia’s best known and best loved literary export. His novels, often placed under the umbrella of Magical Realism, bring an unmatched blend of styles and ideas to the rendering of love, death, and loss in his native South America. Though his worksincluding One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967), Love in the Time of Cholera (1985), and many other internationally acclaimed novelsare unmistakably his own, much of his success has come from the inimitable ways he draws on his literary influences.


'Great Santini' Author, Pat Conroy, Dies at Age 70

By Leah Dobrinska. Mar 5, 2016. 9:34 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature, Movie Tie-Ins

Pat Conroy, best known for his novels The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini, has died. Conroy's books are filled with memorable characters and compelling story-lines. His stormy childhood and strained relationship with numerous family members were often the inspiration for his relatable brand of Southern Literature. In 2009, Conroy was admitted to the South Carolina Hall of Fame.


A Brief Introduction to Howard Pyle

By Andrea Diamond. Mar 5, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Illustrators

 As a college student, I have once again found myself reacting to illustrations with the same partiality that I had as a child. In addition to cultivating strong academic habits and earning a degree, being at a University has challenged me in the lost art of doodling. Three-dimensional flowers curl their way around my history lecture notes, thriving on the lightly-shaded raindrops that pour down from the upper right hand corner of my loose–leaf paper. My work is mediocre at best, but it brings an element of zest to the notes that cling to the page in flat obedience.

If an unprofessional flower sketch can bring beauty to a History notebook, imagine the power of intricate illustrations tucked into well-written books: lifelike depictions of heroes and villains dancing across the pages of stories written throughout history, where words and pictures come together to create a different world in which readers can dwell for hours on end. One such uniquely talented illustrator is Howard Pyle.


Why Are We So Obsessed with Sherlock Holmes?

By Matt Reimann. Mar 4, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Modern First Editions, Mystery, Suspense & Crime

As far as popular entertainment goes, we modern folk can have rather nineteenth century tastes. Our love of vampires can be traced to the vision of Bram Stoker. Our Christmas traditions are heavily indebted to the stories of Charles Dickens. Sherlock Holmeskept alive by a menagerie of TV shows, films, memorabilia, and readersis no different. But what is it about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous character that endures so well?


Join Us at the 2016 Florida Antiquarian Book Fair!

By Andrea Koczela. Mar 3, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Book News

We are rapidly approaching the 35th annual Florida Antiquarian Book Fair and it promises to be a good one! It's the oldest book fair in the Southeastern United States and can be relied upon for fascinating books and literary conversation. If you find yourself in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area between March 11-13, be sure to stop by. We'll even provide you with free tickets.


What Influenced Dr. Seuss?

By Brian Hoey. Mar 2, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books

“Most authors will not disclose their source for fear that other, less successful authors will chisel in on their territory. However, I am willing to take that chance. I get all my ideas in Switzerland, near the Forka Pass” –Dr. Seuss, on where he got his ideas.

No one can question the influence of Dr. Seuss. But questioning minds have always wondered, what influenced the man himself? Today, we'd like to dive in and explore a couple of theories.


The Life and Art of Ralph Ellison

By Adrienne Rivera. Mar 1, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Awarded Books, American Literature

Ralph Ellison was born in 1914 in Oklahoma City. He was named after poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. His father was a voracious reader and often read to Ellison and his younger brother, Herbert. When Ellison was only three years old, his father was killed in a work-related accident after shards from a fallen ice block pierced his abdomen. Although his mother eventually remarried, Ellison grew up knowing how much his father loved him, and as an adult, he learned his father had wished for him to grow up to be a poet, like his namesake.


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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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