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Remembering the Legacy of Elie Wiesel

By Matt Reimann. Sep 30, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, History

When Elie Wiesel passed away over the summer, the world entered a state of collective mourning. Rarely was there a public figure so universally respected and missed. Schoolchildren grew up reading his books. World leaders bore witness to his eloquence and message. Wiesel had seen humanity plunge to its worst, and his life was devoted to fight against that ever happening again.

     
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Book It: Five of the Most Interesting U.S. Libraries

Let’s face it: Visiting a library while traveling to a new city is not always atop everyone’s must-do list. Even for the most bookish or literary-minded traveler, libraries as destinations often get lost in the fray when whipping up itineraries or sightseeing spots. Museums. Parks. Skyscrapers. Food markets. Sporting events. These activities more times than not reign supreme over buildings of archaic texts and decaying books where most travelers feel ‘You’ve seen one library, you’ve seen them all.’

But there are a number of libraries across the country that not only warrant serious investigation but also reward visitors with insight into our nation’s history and heritage. Whether simply marveling at the architectural wonders of these buildings or getting lost in the sheer number of volumes they offer, the U.S. plays host to some of the most aesthetically stunning, comprehensive, and interactive libraries the world over.

     
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Interview with Mónica Montes at the Library of David Alfaro Siqueiros

By Audrey Golden. Sep 28, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Libraries & Special Collections, Literary travel

In May, we had the opportunity to visit the Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros, the former studio of the famous Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros, located in Mexico City. In addition its continuing function as a gallery space, the Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros also contains the archives and personal library of the painter. We were thrilled to get a chance to visit the muralist’s preserved library and to examine some of the books contained within it. We also had the opportunity to speak with Mónica Montes, one of the primary archivists at the space. She agreed to an interview with us about Siqueiros’s library, and we are excited to share her knowledge, thoughts, and insights. 

     
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Polite Society and the Novel: Finding Heirs to Jane Austen & Edith Wharton

By Brian Hoey. Sep 27, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature

In Nancy Armstrong’s Desire and Domestic Fiction (1987), the literary critic discusses the role of writing in reproducing cultural norms and mores. By reading novels, citizens internalize the rules of polite society; they learn how they ought to act. While Armstrong’s argument does implicate novelists themselves in whatever happens to be wrong with a given society, she also establishes the novel as a potential space for resistance. That is, while books reproduce their current cultures, they also shape them. Perhaps this is why some of the most incisive critics of polite society over the centuries have by writers. Case in point: Jane Austen, Edith Wharton, Louis Auchincloss. In fact, it’s not just writers, but a very specific type of novelist.

     
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Read More Poetry: The Rudyard Kipling Edition

By Leah Dobrinska. Sep 24, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry

We’ve often argued that the world needs to read more poetry. After all, without poetry we wouldn’t consider how “Good fences make good neighbors” (Robert Frost), or ponder how “Success is counted sweetest/ By those who ne’er succeed./ To comprehend a nectar/ Requires sorest need.” (Emily Dickinson), or to remember to “Talk less/Smile more/ Don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for.” (Lin Manuel Miranda).

Truly, the list of great poetic works is a lengthy one, and one that is still being added to. Today, we’d like to spotlight some of the best quotes from Rudyard Kipling’s poems. Kipling, a world renowned English poet, novelist, and short story writer, won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907. We’ve noted before how he was an icon in his day, but also how his work continues to be talked about today. Let’s keep the conversation going.

     
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Learning About the International Prize for Arabic Fiction

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

Topics: Literature, Literary travel

For those who don’t have the ability to read Arabic literature before its translation, information about the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) might not have made its way to you yet. However, in the past several years, we have been incredibly excited about the books that have won this prize and that have been translated into English for western readers. While we wish we could read many of these texts in their original language, for now, we’re thrilled to see that writers from Iraq, Jordan, and other regions of the Middle East are receiving international recognition for their glorious works of fiction.

     
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Seven of the Best Reads for Autumn

By Andrea Diamond. Sep 22, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature

Autumn: the glowing Midwest season of colorful leaves, fresh air, and crockpot dinners. Swimsuits are exchanged for sweatshirts, kindling is collected for the fire pit, and baristas across the country race outside to write “Pumpkin spice latte” on their sidewalk café menus in scrolling orange calligraphy. Should you find yourself with some quiet time between the football games and hayrides, consider settling in with one of these great Autumn reads.

 

     
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Stephen King: Modern Literature's Master Craftsman

By Adrienne Rivera. Sep 21, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Horror, Literature, Movie Tie-Ins

It is no exaggeration to say that Stephen King is likely one of the most well-known writers working and publishing today. Few other contemporary writers (save possibly fellow speculating fiction master J.K. Rowling) have written books and created creatures and worlds that have captivated such a large worldwide audience. Words and phrases from his novels have seeped into the pop culture, inspiring film, television, and even graphic novel adaptations.

Since publishing his first novel, Carrie, in 1974 (though he had already been publishing short stories in magazines for many years), King has managed to hook millions of readers with his numerous bestsellers. He's won accolades not just for the horror novels which he is most often associated, but also for his short stories, nonfiction, suspense novels, and fantasy novels. His work has earned him such awards as the National Medal of Arts, the Bram Stoker Award, a Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, among others. While most people can probably name a few books by Stephen King, here are some other interesting facts about the horror master.

     
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Why Donald Hall Only Gets Wiser with Age

By Matt Reimann. Sep 20, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Pulitzer Prize

A few years ago, writer and poet Donald Hall was awarded the National Medal of Arts for his lifetime of work. Aside from the respectful tribute, some in the media gawked at just how old the octogenarian writer looked. He came to the platform with bushy eyebrows, an unkempt beard, and stood in a few unflattering snapshots beside President Obama. He was subject to such ridicule as the nickname “yeti,” as well as a “photo caption contest” in the comments below. All this for a former poet laureate of the United States.

     
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Five Interesting Facts About Ken Kesey

By Audrey Golden. Sep 17, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature

If you’ve heard of Ken Kesey but don’t know a lot about his life, chances are you’ve read his novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962). Just a few years ago, the novel celebrated its 50th anniversary, more than 10 years after its author passed away. As an article* in NPR explained of the book, it “would make its author a literary celebrity, inspire a movie that won the Best Picture Oscar, and help change the way we think about mental health institutions.” The novel depicted a group of patients in an Oregon mental health hospital. The narrative arose out of Kesey’s own experiences as a nurse’s aide in a hospital psychiatric ward in Northern California.

Yet there’s a lot more to know about Kesey than simply his role in creating one of the most widely read novels of the second half of the twentieth century. Since today is the anniversary of his birthday, we wanted to provide you with some more information about the famous novelist. Read on to discover five interesting facts about Ken Kesey.

     
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Why Adults Shouldn't be Embarrassed to Read YA Literature

By Brian Hoey. Sep 16, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Mark Twain

In a Slate article in 2014*, Ruth Graham argued that adults who read young adult fiction should feel embarrassed. For her, YA meant simplistic story-telling, straightforward characters, and satisfying, unambiguous endings—all things that readers should, for her, outgrown before graduating to the moral, thematic, and structural ambiguity of adult literary fiction. Those who stick with YA ostensibly miss out on these things, as well as all the other benefits that adult literary fiction offers. These claims are not uncommon, and many readers who associate young adult fiction with the likes of Twilight (2005) are inclined toward a certain sort of knee-jerk agreement; but are they borne out by the history of YA literature?

     
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Collecting Signed Books with Movie Tie-Ins

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

Topics: Book Collecting, Literature, Movie Tie-Ins

Books inscribed by their authors are exciting additions to any collection. Yet signed books with movie tie-ins can be particularly interesting when they have connections to award-winning films. If you’re lucky, you might find a signed copy of a novel adapted for the cinema by the original author. And in some cases, you might even find a book that’s signed by one of the actors or actresses who brought characters from works of written fiction to the screen. For example, you might seek out a signed first edition of Charles Portis’s True Grit (1968), which has been adapted into two famous films starring John Wayne and Jeff Bridges, respectively. There are far too many novels with interesting film tie-ins for us to mention in just one article, but we’d like to highlight just a few for you to consider adding to your collection.

     
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William H. Armstrong's Newbery Legacy

By Adrienne Rivera. Sep 14, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, Newbery Award

Along with the Caldecott, the Newbery Medal is the most prestigious children's book award in the United States. Created in 1921 and named after children's writer John Newbery, the award is given every year by the Association for Library Service for Children to a book that exemplifies excellence and is a worthwhile contribution to American children's literature. For some authors, the Newbery Medal is career changing, leading to countless interviews, inclusion in school curriculum and reading lists, and encouraging post-graduate study of the work at author. In 1970, the winner of this prestigious award was William H. Armstrong for his book Sounder.

     
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VLOG: Seven Videos On the Art of Making Books By Hand

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

Topics: Fine Press, Book History, Book Making, Book Care

Some historians consider the printing press the most important invention of the first millennium. Still, the march of technology has since made the innovative device obsolete. Spreading the written word is easier and cheaper than ever before. And it is for this natural and understandable reason we have grown distant from the remarkable labor and beauty involved in printing by hand.

     
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J.M. Coetzee on Literature and Psychoanalysis

By Audrey Golden. Sep 10, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature, Nobel Prize Winners

What is the relationship between storytelling and clinical psychology? That’s a question the South African Nobel Prize-winning novelist J.M. Coetzee recently attempted to explore through an extended conversation with British clinical psychologist Arabella Kurtz. According to an article in the New Republic*, Kurtz invited Coetzee to engage in this written dialogue despite Coetzee being “notoriously publicly averse.” Yet Coetzee did end up joining in correspondence with Kurtz for around five years, and those letters were published in a book entitled The Good Story: Exchanges on Truth, Fiction and Psychotherapy. The correspondence began back in 2008, and it concluded only a few years ago. The text became available just last year through Viking, and we urge any readers interested in Coetzee to pick up a copy today.

     
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The Bond Dossier: From Russia with Love

By Nick Ostdick. Sep 9, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, James Bond

There comes a point in every artistic endeavor when an artist grows tired of the very creation that once thrilled them, that took them from struggling nobody into the stratosphere of fame and fortune. For James Bond creator and author Ian Fleming, that moment of doubt, frustration, and uncertainty finally reared its ugly head with the fifth novel in the James Bond 007 series, From Russia with Love.

Published in April 1957, the novelwidely considered to be one of Fleming most interesting and captivating Bond novelrepresents a moment in Fleming's career where he seriously considered giving up the Bond mantle. In writing to friend and fellow crime writer Raymond Chandler, Fleming lamented his perceived lack of originality and staleness with where the Bond series had gone and his desires to end the series with From Russia with Love in favor of moving on to other novels, stories, or projects.

     
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Buying Rare and Antiquarian Books in Seoul

By Audrey Golden. Sep 8, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Literature, Literary travel

If you’re traveling to Korea and are considering some rare book shopping, we recommend dedicating at least one full day in Seoul to explore the city’s bookstores and rare books market. While most of the antiquarian bookstores specialize in Korean-language texts—in other words, you’ll need to know some Korean, either written or verbal, to have a good chance of locating an author you’ve set out to find—several of the book-buying options in South Korea’s capital city also have books written in other East Asian languages, as well as in English and other Western languages. Earlier this year, we spent a week tracking down the best rare book shopping options that the city had to offer.

     
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Malcolm Bradbury's Personal and Literary Legacy

By Matt Reimann. Sep 7, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Modern First Editions

When Sir Malcolm Bradbury died in 2000, it seemed the entirety of London literary culture mourned. Here was a man who had written a trove of delightful novels, taught countless students, and advocated tirelessly for the advancement of the written word. His death sparked something different from the usual public grieving process. Where many authors are lamented because there will be no more books, this man was mourned because there would be no more Bradbury.

     
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A Brief History of Woodcut Illustrations

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

Topics: Book History, Book Making

Though illustrations are today mostly synonymous with children’s literature, techniques for printing illustrations were developed and employed at almost the very moment the printing press entered use. And while contemporary publishers have a variety of methods at their disposal for mixing images and text, in the 15th century it was all about the woodcuts.

     
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Tortilla Flat: A Little Book and a Big Controversy

By Matt Reimann. Sep 3, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, American Literature

On May 28, 1935, the world saw the release of Tortilla Flat. It would become John Steinbeck’s first truly successful book, heralding the arrival of a truly distinguished American voice. Steinbeck later went on to write more ambitious novels like East of Eden and The Grapes of Wrath, ultimately leading the author to a Nobel Prize in Literature. But before all that pomp and regard, there was a slim, comic novel about jolly laborers passing time in California.

     
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Best Books from Postcolonial Sudan

By Audrey Golden. Sep 2, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Literary travel

With the relatively recent creation of South Sudan and the redrawing of national borders in Eastern Africa, many of us might not immediately think of literary fiction when we hear a reference to this part of the world. Yet Sudanese literature has played—and continues to play—an important role in reshaping the ways we thinking about postcolonial fiction and its impact on world politics. According to an article* in The Guardian, Sudan is one of the many places on the globe that has become a victim of the “single story,” so to speak: “the one-note depiction of Sudan merely as a place of war and atrocities.” However, as the article highlights, a project entitled “Literary Sudans” for the magazine Warscapes depicts “the two Sudans as sites of literature and culture.” If you’re interested in exploring some of the literature of the two Sudans, which books might you select?

     
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Six Interesting Facts About Edgar Rice Burroughs, the Author of Tarzan

By Matt Reimann. Sep 1, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Modern First Editions

Recently, popular culture saw Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan resurrected once again for the silver screen. But The Legend of Tarzan, a blockbuster treatment of the much-cinematized hero, was received overall to mild acclaim. The problem seemed for both critics and audiences that the story itself was old. And in this moment, it pays to remember the time, place, and person the story came from.

     
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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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