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Rethinking Form: Musician Lou Reed's Short Stories

By Audrey Golden. Mar 31, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Biographies

It has now been more than three years since Lou Reed’s death, yet fans across the globe continue to listen to his music, and musicians cover his songs in homage. We’re willing to bet that you’re at least somewhat acquainted with the Velvet Underground, the band fronted and formed by Reed in the 1960s that was once managed by Andy Warhol, and you might even be a fan of Reed’s later solo work. But what do you know about the connections between his music and the world of literature? There are more links between famous fiction and Reed’s songwriting process than you might guess.

     
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Novelist Ken Kesey's Life and Work

By Adrienne Rivera. Mar 30, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Movie Tie-Ins

Novelist Ken Kesey was an important member of the 1960s counterculture movement. His home served as a meeting place for some famous, like-minded friends. Indeed, he fostered and befriended a community of artists that included such important Beat and counterculture figures as Allen Ginsburg and Tom Wolfe. Likewise, Kesey's own work remains an important reflection of counterculture ideas, the treatment of the mentally ill, and life in the American Northwest. His novels One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962) and Sometimes a Great Notion (1964) are considered modern classics. Let's learn a bit more about Kesey's life and work.

     
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Lars Bo's Literary Engravings

By Audrey Golden. Mar 29, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Illustrators, Literature

Have you seen the literary engravings of Lars Bo? While you may not be familiar with Lars Bo’s name, we’re willing to bet that you’ve seen his work in some of your favorite books. Bo was a Danish artist who was born on May 29, 1924 and lived until October 21, 1999. He studied design in Denmark until 1943, and later traveled through Europe before moving to Paris, where he would remain until his death. During his early years in Paris, Bo wrote a novel entitled The Wonderful House in Paris [Det vidunderlige hus i Paris]. Yet most literary enthusiasts aren’t familiar with Bo because of his writing. Rather, Bo has become known for his marvelous illustrations and aquatints, which provided illustrations for a number of works of twentieth-century literature. According to an article in The Paris Review, the artist preferred to think of his engravings as “illuminations . . . in the tradition of the medieval Books of Hours".

     
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Collecting Limited Editions Club Publications

By Leah Dobrinska. Mar 28, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Collecting

As book collectors, we know the importance of the book as a physical object. From marginalia to dust jackets, numerous factors come in to play when determining what to collect and how much any given collectible is worth. Indeed, the condition of the physical book goes a long way in determining its value to collectors, and in many case the look of a book—from its illustrations to its binding and everything in between—charts the course for collectors.

Many ‘groupings’ of collectible books exist, and they often direct the collecting ways of interested bibliophiles. For example, some collectors focus on collecting the leather-bound Franklin Library editions. Others have a special place in their hearts for the Penguin Classics, either the Deluxe Editions or the familiar black-spine series. Still others look to fine-press operations for their aesthetic outputs. One of the most important and valuable ‘groupings’ of collectible books is the Limited Editions Club and its publications.

     
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Visiting Ralph Ellison's Papers at the Library of Congress

Are you interested in learning more about the life and literary work of Ralph Ellison? If you find yourself in Washington, D.C., there are many reasons to plan a visit to the Library of Congress. One of those reasons, though, should certainly be to explore the Ralph Ellison papers, which include materials from 1890-2005. There are a total of 74,800 items in the collection, such as correspondence, drafts for essays, short stories, novels, lectures given by and about Ellison, a wide variety of resources documenting his literary career, and Ellison’s final unfinished novel, Juneteenth.

     
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Five Famous Authors Who Called Hawaii Home

By Nick Ostdick. Mar 24, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Literary travel

Sand. Surf. Sun. All of it in seemingly endless supply. It’s the pinnacle of a dreamy, island vacation: Hawaii. The last of the 50 U.S. states to enter the Union, Hawaii has long been a melting pot of its own when it comes to the cultures, traditions, and people who make these chains of islands such a destination for vacationers and dreamers alike. Japanese, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Europeans. All these influences and more are part of a great cultural fabric that makes Hawaii such a vibrant place. What about famous authors who lived on the islands?

     
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Yasunari Kawabata, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

By Audrey Golden. Mar 23, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Nobel Prize Winners

There are many authors who have won the Nobel Prize in Literature whose works enjoy continued success throughout the United States and in many parts of the world. Some Nobel laureates, however, have not remained as well-known as others. In the event that you have not been introduced to the lyrical, lonely writings of Yasunari Kawabata, we’d like to present you with some background information about this writer, who was also the first Japanese winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. In brief, he was born in Osaka, Japan in 1899 and committed suicide in 1972. Much of his most famous fiction is set just before and after World War II. In total, he wrote more than one dozen novels and short stories, although not all of them were finished. If you’re interested in reading more about this Japanese writer, where should you start?

     
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The Bond Dossier: You Only Live Twice

By Nick Ostdick. Mar 22, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, James Bond

It’s perhaps tragically ironic Ian Fleming’s eleventh James Bond novel is titled You Only Live Twice. That irony stems from the fact it was the last Bond novel Fleming completed before his death in August 1964. While a handful of other Fleming-conceived novels were published after his death, You Only Live Twice was the final 007 story Fleming saw from start to finish. He passed away just five months after the novel’s publication.

     
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Libraries and Special Collections: The Geisel Library at UC San Diego

By Katie Behrens. Mar 21, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Libraries & Special Collections

Everyone loves a beautiful, old library with oak desks, cozy chairs, and tall windows. Libraries built during the economic boom of the mid-20th century, however, were often used as a playground for architectural experimentation, particularly on college and university campuses. Sometimes the result was instantly regrettable; at other times, it was intriguing and other-worldly. The Geisel Library at the University of California, San Diego falls in the latter category.

     
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Five of the Best Books on India

By Audrey Golden. Mar 18, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Nobel Prize Winners, Literary travel

The Indian subcontinent is extremely large, including the nations of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Yet those nations have not always been separate. To be sure, the subcontinent was divided during the India-Pakistan Partition of 1947, and years later in 1971, Bangladesh (which was, at the time, East Pakistan), gained its independence. Given the complicated modern political history, it’s especially difficult to select only a handful of texts to represent the best books on India. As such, we’re beginning with an early twentieth-century work and then jumping immediately to the period following Bangladeshi independence, and we’re also offering the following books with the caveat that we haven’t even really scratched the surface of the literary offerings of the large Indian subcontinent.

     
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Celebrating the Life of Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott

By Lauren Corba. Mar 17, 2017. 3:22 PM.

Topics: Literature, Nobel Prize Winners

"for what else is there
but books, books and the sea,
verandahs and the pages of the sea,
to write of the wind and the memory of wind-whipped hair
in the sun, the colour of fire!"
-- Derek Walcott,  Collected Poems 1948-1984  

Caribbean writer and Nobel Prize in Literature winner Derek Walcott passed away early this morning. He was 87 years old. We thought we'd take a moment today to celebrate Walcott's life and influence.

     
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Collecting Nobel Laureates: Saul Bellow

By Brian Hoey. Mar 17, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Book Collecting, Nobel Prize Winners

Since Saul Bellow won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1976, only a few other American writers (the inimitable Toni Morrison, who earned the sought-after medal in 1993 and most recently, Bob Dylan, come to mind) have accomplished the same feat. This fact speaks to a number of phenomena, but it chiefly indicates the way that Bellow’s fiction represented a sort of capstone in American fiction. Born in Quebec to Lithuanian-Jewish immigrants, Bellow soon moved to Chicago, a city he would come to immortalize in his works. Perhaps more than any other writer, Bellow brought the modernist and intellectual traditions in 20th century fiction into conversation, crafting unforgettable characters in the process.

     
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The History Behind William Styron's Fictional Nat Turner

By Alex Marcondes. Mar 16, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: History

William Styron's account of The Confessions of Nat Turner differs significantly from the original Confessions of Nat Turner garnered by Turner's lawyer while he awaited his trial and impending execution. Because of this, the fact of whether it is historical-fiction or historical-fiction, is not an irrelevant minutia. Cries of controversy—that Styron is a racist or that he minimizes the genuineness of the Nat Turner Rebellion—depend wholly on how the reader approaches the text through the lens of it's emphasis. 

     
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Buying Rare and Antiquarian Books in Finland

By Audrey Golden. Mar 15, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Literature, Literary travel

Are you planning a trip to the Nordic countries anytime soon? If you’ll find yourself in Finland, there are dozens of rare and antiquarian bookstores to keep you busy as you explore Helsinki on foot, and there are more shops scattered north of the capital city. There are nineteen members of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) in the country, and fifteen are located in Helsinki. Many have storefronts with regular hours if you’re planning to wander around the city, while some others require an appointment to visit the shop. And if you decide to take a quick ferry trip across the Baltic like so many in southern Finland do, you can even add an Estonian used, rare, and antiquarian bookstore to your itinerary. 

     
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Win the Man Booker Prize, Sell More Books!

By Anne Cullison. Mar 14, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Awarded Books, Literature

The Man Booker Prize was created in 1969 with the aim of promoting the finest in fiction by a citizen of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, or the Republic of Ireland written during the preceding year. Prize winners are chosen by judges who make the selections for the best novel based on personal opinion alone. The cash value of this Prize is relatively low, with winners receiving only £50,000. However, the Man Booker Prize draws attention to works of fiction which might otherwise have gone unnoticed. As Ion Trewin, the late Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation stated, the true prize for the winners is the “significant increase in the sales of the winning book.” With a prize that is based wholly on opinion, it should come as no surprise that there have been more than a few controversies surrounding the Man Booker Prize over the years.

     
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Family Endurance: The Vicar of Wakefield

By Claudia Adrien. Mar 11, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Literature

Published in 1766, The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith became one of the most widely read novels of the Victorian era. It is widely referenced in British literaturefrom Charles Dickens' Tale of Two Cities to Jane Austen's Emma and George Eliot's Middlemarch. A book about family endurance, the drama surrounds the characters of the Primrose family: Dr. Primrose as the Vicar of Wakefield, his wife, and their many children. The Primrose's idyllic country life is turned upside down when they lose their financial footing and a daughter is abducted.

     
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What Exactly Is Young Adult Literature? A Brief History

By Katie Behrens. Mar 10, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, Book History

If you ask a book lover what they read during their young, formative years, the conversation will inevitably turn to how “we didn’t have books like The Hunger Games when I was growing up.” And it’s true: young adult literature as a genre only began to take root in the 1970s and ‘80s, but boy, has it ever gone through a growth spurt since then. Books for teens are dominating book sales and box offices these days. Where did this phenomenon begin?

     
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Five Fun Facts About Winston Churchill

By Anne Cullison. Mar 9, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Nobel Prize Winners, History

Winston Churchill is a universally recognized name. Even if you don't know his entire back story, it is most likely you've studied him and his role in British politics in a history class somewhere along the line. Today, we thought it would be interesting to dig up a couple facts about the great leader that may be lesser known. Here are five things we found that don't necessarily come to mind when you picture Winston Churchill.

     
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Collecting Nobel Laureates: Gabriela Mistral and Mario Vargas Llosa

By Leah Dobrinska. Mar 8, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Nobel Prize Winners

Since its inception in the early part of the 20th century, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to a Latin American author on six different occasions. While all Nobel laureates are worthy of our study, praise, and, in many cases, collecting efforts, there is a special place in our hearts for these six from Latin America. Over the course of the next few months, we’d like to detail for you book collecting information and ideas for these Nobel Prize winners. Today, we spotlight the first Latin American winner, Gabriela Mistral, and the most recent winner from Latin America, Mario Vargas Llosa.

     
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Writers Who Have Published Both Comic Books & Novels

By Ben Keefe. Mar 7, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Science Fiction

Most novelists find satisfaction is housing their ideas exclusively in books. Novels often seem to be the perfect medium to flesh out a story based solely on words. For others, however, that’s not enough, and another layer of art is required to tell their stories. Here are three writers who have used both novels and comics to let their imaginations run wild.

     
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Researching in the J.M. Coetzee Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

In 1969, the Nobel Prize-winning South African novelist J.M. Coetzee received his Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin after writing a dissertation on the early work of the Irish writer Samuel Beckett. That same year, Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. More than forty years after earning his Ph.D.—and after having written nearly a dozen novels and numerous works of criticism—in 2011 the University of Texas at Austin acquired the author's papers to be held in the Harry Ransom Center. The archive contains nearly 160 boxes of material, including drafts of his novels and of his autobiography, personal and business correspondence, family photographs, and recorded interviews. While the novelist was born in South Africa and recently has become an Australian citizen, it seems to make sense that his literary archive would be housed at the location that helped to shape his understanding of literature and its role in politics.

     
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Arthur Miller: Writing During the Red Scare

By Claudia Adrien. Mar 3, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: History, Drama

The Cold War was an era clouded by persistent paranoia, not only between the United States and the Soviet Union. When it came to its own citizens, the U.S. government was, in some cases, just as fearful as it was about foreign threats—especially when it came to the Hollywood crowd. Indeed, in October 1947, members of a congressional committee, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), began investigating members of the movie industry who they suspected were communist sympathizers. They banned the work of 325 screenwriters, actors, and directors*. Among those blacklisted were composer Aaron Copland, writers Dashiell Hammett, Lillian Hellman, and Dorothy Parker, playwright Arthur Miller, and actor and filmmaker Orson Welles.

     
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Collecting Patricia Cornwell, Master of Mystery and Suspense

By Anne Cullison. Mar 2, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Mystery, Suspense & Crime

Patricia Cornwell is a contemporary American suspense author who has made her mark writing medical thrillers primarily featuring medical examiner, Dr. Kay Scarpetta. Scarpetta, her niece Lucy, and her friend, investigator Pete Marino, have become such an international phenomenon that Cornwell has earned numerous accolades including the Sherlock Award, the Gold Dagger Award, and the RBA Internation Prize for Crime Writing, among others. What should collectors know if they're hoping to build a Patricia Cornwell collection?

     
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Rainer Maria Rilke: Travel, Poetry, and the Search for Morality

By Stephen Pappas. Mar 1, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Poetry

Rainer Maria Rilke was a Bohemian-Austrian born in Prague in 1875. Throughout his life, Rilke searched for a way to reconcile religion, philosophy, and art. The closest he came was when he traveled to Russia with Lou Andreas-Salomé, his close friend and confidant. Rilke glorified Russian peasant life. To him it seemed that Russians were inherently more moral than their European equivalents. What led Rike to this determination? What were the greatest influences on arguably one of the most adept lyrical poets the German language has to offer?

     
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About this blog

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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