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Lies, Damned Lies, & Quotations: The Quotable Mark Twain

By Brian Hoey. Nov 30, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Mark Twain

The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it. —Mark Twain, How to Tell a Story (1897)

At the beginning of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), Mark Twain presents a notice that recalls the book curses of old: “Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot. BY ORDER OF THE AUTHOR.” Looking at this quote today, one might think that it is meant to apply not just to his most famous work, but to his whole corpus and public persona alike. After all, Twain has been alternately canonized and deputized not just by enthusiasts of American Literature but by whole swaths of the populace, from humorists to skeptics to golf-haters, with the result being a profusion of quotations erroneously attributed to the great novelist. In honor of his 181st birthday, let’s dwell a while on some quotations that actually do belong to Mark Twain.

     
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The Many Joys of Gardening Books

By Matt Reimann. Nov 29, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Science

“If you have a garden and a library,” said the Roman philosopher Cicero, “you have everything you need.” These are wise conditions under which to live a life: With books to connect you to humanity, and plants to connect you to nature. And as reading is a lifetime joyone at which we get better with agegardening is the same. To cultivate a garden for food or for beauty is a skill one can employ into the farthest reaches of old age. And, it is our luck that we may turn to our library, and peer through the pages of a gardening book, to bolster this passion.

     
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Visiting Literary Homes in Moscow, Russia

By Audrey Golden. Nov 26, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Literary travel

If you’re planning a trip to Moscow, Russia and are interested in visiting authors’ homes, you’re in great luck. We only had a handful of days to spend exploring the many literary haunts and homes of some of Russia’s greatest writers, so we packed in as much as we could. While visitors to Russia often think of St. Petersburg as the place to go to visit the homes of Fyodor Dostoevsky and Vladimir Nabokov, we can’t recommend a trip to Moscow enough. In addition to the magnificence of Red Square and St. Basil’s Cathedral, where else in the world can you pack in visits to the former addresses of six of the world’s greatest writers?

     
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7 Videos to Take You Inside the Craft of Paper Making

By Matt Reimann. Nov 25, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Fine Press, Book Making

No matter how far the digital age encroaches, nothing will ever replace the joys of paper. The pleasures of underlining words with pen or of feeling the page in your hand are hard to beat. Some even argue memory-retention is better when one reads on paper than on the screen. From Ancient Egypt, to Han Dynasty China, to Gutenberg’s Europe, paper has long been a treasured object. Here are seven videos to renew your admiration for the incredible craft of papermaking.

     
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A History of Book Ownership in the American Colonies

By Brian Hoey. Nov 24, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book History

The Puritans who settled New England were, for their part, a bookish lot. A component of their schismatic position regarding the church derived from the fact that they believed that the Bible ought to be translated into (and read in) the vernacular. So, one would expect them on the whole to be a group of thorough readers. As a result of these tendencies, in its era, colonial New England boasted the highest rate of book ownership in the world. Thus began the history of book ownership in the American colonies. And while in the early days of the settlement most books had to be imported from London, it was not long before America’s first printing press was established in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

     
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Three Book-Inspired Recipes for Thanksgiving Day

By Matt Reimann. Nov 23, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History

Tomorrow, the United States celebrates Thanksgiving, a holiday of family—and yes—food. We know the usual staples—turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy—but there’s always room for some creativity to enliven an old tradition. Here are some delicious, literary-inspired dishes to impress your entire guest list, or at least make you excited for a festive and hearty meal.

     
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Toni Morrison Papers Now Open to Students and Researchers

For students, faculty members, and scholars across the globe, the papers of Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison are now open at the Princeton University Library. Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for her novel Beloved (1987), and she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. Morrison taught at a number of colleges and universities during her career, including at Howard University, Bard College, and Rutgers University. From 1989 until 2006, Morrison taught at Princeton University as the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities. Since 2014, Princeton has owned the writer’s collected papers, and archivists have been working to organize and catalogue them. Now, if you’re interested in exploring drafts of Morrison’s eleven novels, along with other significant materials, the Manuscripts Division of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at Princeton has what you’re looking for.

     
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A Brief History of Typography

By Adrienne Rivera. Nov 19, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book History, Book Making

In 1984, Steve Jobs mistakenly referred to typefaces as fonts on Apple computers thereby perpetuating a misnomer that effectively erased much knowledge of typesetting for generations of young people. While creating new typefaces has become easier than ever before, it is likely that many people creating typefaces and fonts today are unaware of the amazing history, traditions, and standards of a specialization that are becoming increasingly rare as technology evolves.

     
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Collecting and Preserving Broadsides

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

Topics: Poetry, Fine Press, Book Collecting

Are you considering expanding your current book collection to include paper ephemera? If so, you might want to learn more about collecting and preserving broadsides. Sometimes you will also see broadsides described as “broadsheets.” Now that you know the terminology, you might be asking: what in the world is a broadside? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it is “a sheet of paper printed on one side only, forming one large page.” But this definition doesn’t fully explain the significance of these items. Broadsides are among the most sought-after items for collectors: from those interested in sixteenth-century political ephemera to those putting together collections of twentieth-century poetry. No matter what era or genre your collection spans, you might be interested in adding some of these materials to your library.

     
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Read More Poetry: The Maya Angelou Edition

By Leah Dobrinska. Nov 17, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry

We’ve long made a case that the world needs to read more poetry. And we’ve been thrilled to see poetry making its way into mainstream media. If you’ve tuned in to any network television programming lately (the recent Summer Olympics come to mind), you’ve likely heard commercials featuring the poetry of one of the great poets of the twentieth century: Maya Angelou.

Today, we’d like to take a turn spotlighting some of Angelou’s most poignant poetic efforts. The list of her works is a long one, and one that it would be difficult to cover in one blog post. Her work spans several genres, from essays to memoirs to poetry. Angelou has been honored with over fifty honorary degrees, served as an influential civil rights activist, won three spoken word Grammy Awards, and recited an original poem during President Clinton's inauguration in 1993, among countless other accolades. But truly, her poetry speaks for itself. That’s all the more reason we should read it. Let’s start now.

     
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Christa Wolf, Awarded Authors, and the Deutscher Bücherpreis

By Audrey Golden. Nov 16, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Awarded Books, Literature

Christa Wolf may just be one of the greatest novelists to come out of Germany. Yet despite her popularity and critical recognition in Europe, the East German novelist remains largely outside the purview of many contemporary American readers. We’d like to change that. Whether you’re reading her novels in German or in English translation, you should recognize that you’re consuming works of fiction that helped to define, in many ways, the divided postwar Germany. In honor of her life’s work, Wolf was awarded the Deutscher Bücherpreis [German Book Prize] in 2002—the first year in which the prestigious prize was given. Since her death in 2011, Wolf’s fiction has received some renewed attention, but perhaps not quite enough given the author’s significance in helping to depict East Germany and politics of partition during the Cold War.

     
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The Importance of Condition in Rare Book Collecting

By Nick Ostdick. Nov 15, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Collecting

Condition. Condition. Condition. It’s something of a mantra heard from the novice rare book collector to book collecting experts and everyone in between. Perhaps just as important as whether a book is a first edition or the first of its kindprimacythe condition of a book is crucial in helping assess its value and place in the rare book collecting universe. This is especially true when looking at modern classics such as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby where the number of original copies is quite large compared with other classic American novels published just 10 or 20 years before. For example, copies of Gatsby in prime condition can significantly differ in value from copies in fair or poor condition published during the same era.

Given the importance placed on condition by collectors, it’s critical to understand the key elements that define the term. What should collectors look for when considering condition? What are the prime factors that determine the condition of a given book? And how do these elements work together in both large and small ways to help collectors accurately assess the value of a certain book?

     
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Pablo Larraín’s Film About Pablo "Neruda”

By Audrey Golden. Nov 12, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Literature, Nobel Prize Winners

Many readers of Pablo Neruda’s work are familiar with the cinematic depiction of the Chilean Nobel Prize winner in the 1994 film Il Postino, set on an Italian island. Since the release of Il Postino, the poet has maintained a loyal following among readers and academics, yet his fictional likeness hasn’t appeared in another film—until now! A new film, simply entitled Neruda, has been making its way through the festival circuit. The movie reimagines Neruda’s exile from Chile in the 1940s due to his politics, helping viewers to think through the continued relevance of political refugeeism and forced migration in the twenty-first century. We’re entirely too excited to see it, and you should be, too.

     
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The Bond Dossier: Goldfinger

By Nick Ostdick. Nov 11, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: James Bond

It’s a central question in the journey of any artist: How do you bounce back from a project that didn’t meet audience expectations? For novelist Ian Fleming, the answer lies in the publication of his seventh James Bond novel, Goldfinger.

Coming off a somewhat tepid response to his previous novel, Dr. No, Fleming was determined to turn out a Bond story that would not only further the development of the series and its central character, but also give readers what they had come to know and love in the Bond seriesaction, adventure, thrills, romance, and style. And Fleming’s efforts to write a ‘return-to-form’ novel paid off handsomely.

     
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A Brief Guide to Collecting the Works of Eric Gill

By Leah Dobrinska. Nov 10, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Illustrators, Fine Press

Eric Gill was a sculptor and engraver who is now best known for his scandalous personal behavior alongside his spiritual art. Gill remains a controversial artist. As his biographer Fiona MacCarthy so aptly puts it, “Does consciousness of artists' reprehensible behaviour (Gill, [today,] would no doubt be in prison) put up a barrier between the viewer and the work? Or does knowledge of the artist's life, fallibilities included, amplify and enrich our understanding of the art?”* While that question may be one each individual must answer for him or herself, for those interested in the work of Eric Gill, what collectibles should you seek out?

     
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Visiting the New Zealand Home of Katherine Mansfield

By Audrey Golden. Nov 9, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Literary travel

If you’re interested in modernism and in the works of important women writers, you should familiarize yourself with the work of New Zealand short-story writer Katherine Mansfield. There’s no better way to get excited about this author than to visit her childhood home in Wellington, New Zealand if you happen to find yourself on the other side of the world.

     
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What to Read on Election Day

By Andrea Diamond. Nov 8, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Literature

Presidential election season; the high-stakes political race that comes around once every four years and determines the leader of the United States, the future of the American people, and the mood of our relatives at Thanksgiving dinner. When faced with such a big decision, it can often be helpful to first take a look into the past. As you head to the polls this November day, consider checking out one of these seven presidential books.

     
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Buying Rare and Antiquarian Books in Sydney, Australia

By Audrey Golden. Nov 5, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Literature, Literary travel

If you’re interested in rare books from Australia or New Zealand, one of the best cities for searching just might be Sydney. In particular, many of the bookstores in the city specialize in fiction and poetry by local writers, including Aboriginal novelists and poets. While Melbourne, a city located to the south, is known for its literary history, there are many reasonably priced and exciting rare bookshops scattered across Sydney. And given that this city is immensely walk-able, we’d recommend picking up a map and heading out on the town.

     
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Collecting Legendary Works of Psychology

By Leah Dobrinska. Nov 4, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature

The name “Sigmund Freud” is synonymous with psychology. And for good reason. Freud did much to propel the study of psychology. He developed psychoanalysis, the theory of the Oedipus complex, and the model of the id, ego, and super-ego, among countless other contributions. He is still one of the most studied figures in the field’s history as well as in the humanities. Today marks the anniversary of the publication of Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams, one of his most famous works. There’s much to know if you’re seeking to collect a copy of The Interpretation of Dreams. Likewise, along with Freud, what other authors and books should you look for if you’re collecting legendary works of psychology?

     
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Saving the French Home of James Baldwin

By Audrey Golden. Nov 3, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Literature, Literary travel

If you’re a book collector or an avid reader, chances are you’ve visited the home of at least one notable writer. In all likelihood, if you’re like us, you seek out authors’ homes whenever you’re on vacation or traveling to a new city. What do you gain from visiting the home of a writer? Trips like these give us unparalleled access to the ambiences in which works, both small and great, arose. After all, what can be more intimate—other than, perhaps, immersing yourself in the literary worlds created by great masters of fiction—than standing in the office, kitchen, or bedroom of a writer whose work you’ve found refreshing, inspiring, life-affirming, and all of the other adjectives that are particular to our own individual experiences? We hope you agree that such literary travels are important, and on that note, we need to tell you that the French home of the author and activist James Baldwin is set for demolition.

     
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Aurora Teardrops: An Interview with Author Harold Budd and Artist Jane Maru

By Leah Dobrinska. Nov 2, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Fine Press, Interviews

Heavenly Monkey is set to release its latest fine press publication: Aurora Teardrops. The booka collection of poems by legendary musician Harold Budd and batik paintings by artist Jane Maruhas been in production for over two years, but the collaboration between author and illustrator is something that’s existed for longer still. Indeed, the entirety of Aurora Teardrops proves to be the perfect melding of different parts—each shining bright on its own but glowing when combined.

Rollin Milroy and Heavenly Monkey worked closely with Harold and Jane to hone the overall concept and ensure the final product was the right combination of materials, methods, and presentation. Both Harold and Jane were kind enough to sit down and answer some questions about Aurora Teardrops, their work as individuals, and their collaborative efforts. We hope you enjoy this extra insight into a truly phenomenal work. As a limited edition, we’d encourage you to reserve your copy today.      
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Favorite Children's Books of Famous Authors

By Connie Diamond. Nov 1, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books

E.L. Konigsburg once said that children’s books are “the key to the accumulated wisdom, wit, truth, myth, history, philosophy, and recipes for salting potatoes during the past 6,000 years of civilization.” In those earliest days of civilization stories were told around small fires and were illustrated on cave walls. But I imagine, even then, they dispelled shadows and illuminated ideas—the best stories always do. Authors who write children’s books contribute to this canon, but also draw upon it. Let’s take a look at the favorite children’s books of these famous authors.      
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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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