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Common Myths About Rarity in Book Collecting

By Nick Ostdick. May 31, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Collecting

The concept of rarity in book collecting is tricky. While many novice collectors might believe rarity is the most important element in assessing a book’s value or worth, seasoned collectors understand rarity is in fact one of the more insignificant elements in judging what a volume is worth or its place in the landscape of rare books. The murky nature of rarity in book collecting stems to some degree from the ill defined character of the term. Essentially, rarity is too nebulous and relative a term for book sellers and collectors to base any substantive, concrete value.

However, because the idea of rarity has a certain cache or currency in book collecting, a number of myths have arisen and been propagated throughout the book collecting industry about the intrinsic value of rarity and its influence on accurately judging a volume’s value. These myths can be quite detrimental to the book collecting experience and can lead collectors down hazardous paths in their book collecting journey.

     
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From Fiction to Film: Movie Tie-Ins for Alain Robbe-Grillet

By Audrey Golden. May 30, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Movie Tie-Ins

When most readers hear the name Alain Robbe-Grillet, they think about experimental fiction, or the reemergence of the avant-garde in novel form in France at mid-twentieth century. Indeed, Robbe-Grillet became famous for his narrative works of fiction, including the novels The Erasers (1953), The Voyeur (1955), Jealousy (1957), and In the Labyrinth (1959). These works made Robbe-Grillet famous as one of the “New Novelists” reinventing the forms of fiction. Others included writers such as Michel Butor and Nathalie Sarraute. Yet for cinema-goers, Robbe-Grillet’s name might not even sound familiar until there’s a mention of Alain Resnais’s film Last Year at Marienbad (1961), a definitive piece of French New Wave cinema. It was Robbe-Grillet who wrote the screenplay for the film, and the experience ultimately tied the New Novel writer to the history of modern cinema for the rest of his life. What else should you know to understand movie tie-ins for Alain Robbe-Grillet?

     
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A Herman Wouk Reading Guide

By Brian Hoey. May 27, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Pulitzer Prize, History

Herman Wouk has been described as America’s Leo Tolstoy for the enduring power of his detailed, vividly imagined, and expertly researched historical epics. While that’s not a comparison to be taken lightly, it’s also worth noting that he has had more time than most in which to accomplish his various literary feats. Wouk, who turns 102 today, has published more than a dozen works of fiction and non-fiction alike over the course of an illustrious career dating back to the early 1940s. And, he's won a Pulitzer Prize in the process. For fans of historical fiction, it would be foolish to ignore the writer who NPR described as “a man who made American literature a kinder, smarter, better place.”

     
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Visiting the Home of William Faulkner

By Audrey Golden. May 26, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Nobel Prize Winners, Literary travel

Whether you’re simply visiting Oxford, Mississippi and the University of Mississippi (“Ole Miss”), or you’ve plotted out a road trip to the Deep South to visit the home of William Faulkner, we’d like to tell you more about “Rowan Oak,” the home of the Nobel Prize-winning writer. Located a short drive off I-55 in Mississippi, Rowan Oak is now owned by the University of Mississippi and is open to the public as a museum space. Faulkner owned the home for much of his adult life. Visitors to the home can learn more about Faulkner’s private life, his working space, and the area of the country that inspired the writer’s fictional Yoknapatawpha County in which many of his works were set.

     
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The Bond Dossier: Octopussy and The Living Daylights

By Nick Ostdick. May 25, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, James Bond

At some point in their careers, most great bands release a collection of B-sides. Songs that were recorded but were deemed not quite appropriate for official release on a record or CD. These songs often stray from the band’s usual sound and find the musicians experimenting with style, genre, length, instrumentation, and so on. With an author as prolific as Ian Fleming, it stands to reason there would be some B-side material with the world-renowned James Bond stories, which is where we find the 1966 volume, Octopussy and The Living Daylights.  

     
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The Recent Translations of Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky

By Audrey Golden. May 24, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Science Fiction, Literary travel

Any lovers of twentieth-century Russian literature should learn about—and purchase as soon as possible—the recently translated works of Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky. The Soviet author was born in Ukraine and studied law before traveling across much of Western Europe. In 1922, when he was thirty-five years old, he moved to Moscow, where he wrote most of his works in that same decade and shortly thereafter. His fiction was never published during his lifetime, likely due to the threat of Soviet censorship. Some have called him a postmodernist, trapped in the post-Revolutionary world of the Soviet Union in which literary dissent was unwelcome. Others describe his work in terms of science-fiction, fantasy, and even the magically real. Yet we don’t know that Krzhizhanovsky’s fiction is capable of being packaged so neatly. His works are at once reminiscent of postmodern novelists and short-story writers, true, yet they’re also some of the few works of fiction that seem to be truly unique.

     
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The Short Life of Feminist Margaret Fuller

By Adrienne Rivera. May 23, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors

American writer Margaret Fuller is well known for her roles as a journalist, novelist, critic, and feminist. Her untimely death in 1850 resulted in the loss of the manuscript that by all accounts would have been her masterpiece, but the legacies she left behind in women's history, feminism, and transcendentalism are more than enough to cement her place as one of the most important writers of the early 19th century.

 

     
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Revisiting Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon

By Audrey Golden. May 20, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Book History, History

In 1940, Arthur Koestler’s novel Darkness at Noon appeared in English. While Koestler, a Hungarian-born author and journalist who later immigrated to Britain, wrote in German early on, he later began writing and publishing in English. The novel has an interesting backstory to it. Koestler wrote the novel in German (indeed, the last novel that he wrote in German), yet for decades, readers, scholars, and other interested parties had only known the novel in its English translation. While attempting to escape to the U.K. during the early years of World War II, Koestler convinced his lover, Daphne Hardy, to translate the novel into English. Everyone assumed that the original German-language version of the novel had been lost, and the English translation became the first edition of the text for all intents and purposes.

However, in 2015, a researcher in Switzerland discovered an original German-language version of the novel, reopening the background to Koestler’s famous twentieth-century work and to numerous political issues surrounding translation, wartime violence, and totalitarianism.

     
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Books that Medaled: Lesser Known Caldecott Winners

By Connie Diamond. May 19, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Awarded Books

When my girls had library day at school or took home a book order form in their oversized backpacks, they were always excited to make their book choice. When you consider it, children actually have a fairly small number of things in their life on which they get to make the final decision. In their quest, I’m certain they carefully circled the library shelves at school as well as the pictures and descriptors in the fliers—usually with brightly colored hi-lighters if memory serves. I’m not sure when or how this happened, but nothing tipped the scales more or caused greater excitement than when a book had a medal on its cover. I can now point to this as an early sign of a lifetime of good decision-making. The Randolph Caldecott Medal is awarded yearly for the most distinguished American picture book for children. Among its recipients are titles with which many of us are familiar. However, since its inception in 1938, I’m certain there are a number of books that flew under or eventually fell off of our literary radar. Here are a few medalists worth rediscovering.

     
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Top Five Memorable Ian Fleming Characters (Who Are Not James Bond)

By Brian Hoey. May 18, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: James Bond

There's nothing like a good spy thriller to get your imagination running wild. And perhaps no one was better able to give his readers such a trip as the legendary Ian Fleming. Indeed, the titular hero of his James Bond series of books started out as an intentionally flat character, someone onto whom readers could project a more complex identity. And project they did. 26 film adaptions (and original reimaginings of the character) later, James Bond is one of the most well-known and well-loved characters in Western film and literature, his exploits having evolved over the years into a full-fledged mythology. The other characters who populate Ian Fleming’s literary universe, seemingly to compensate for a milquetoast Bond, were frequently more colorful and memorable, developing their own cults of admiration among readers. Here are five of Ian Fleming’s most memorable characters (who are not James Bond).

     
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Visiting Jack London's Ranch

By Audrey Golden. May 17, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literary travel

Are you interested in learning more about the natural spaces that inspired Jack London? Were you under the impression that you’d need to travel to the Yukon Territory in Canada to connect with the author? If you happen to find yourself in Northern California and can make your way to Glen Ellen, you can visit the Jack London State Historic Park, also known as the Jack London Home and Ranch. There’s not exactly a house to tour, but you can visit the remnants of London’s dream house, which was destroyed during a fire and never rebuilt. And this is also the site of the author’s grave, which you can visit on your own or through a guided tour. The wilds of Northern California are not quite those of the Yukon Territory, but you can nonetheless get a sense of how wilderness and solitude helped to define the writer.

     
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Ten of the Best Quotes About Mothers in Literature

By Andrea Diamond. May 14, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature

Though there are many prestigious job titles in the world, none should be as highly regarded as “mother.” Mothers are the ones who love unconditionally, who support us enthusiastically, and who never let us go rollerblading without wearing our wrist-guards. To the women we cannot possibly repay, here are ten of the best quotes about mothers in literature:

     
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Best Books on Indonesia

By Audrey Golden. May 13, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, History, Literary travel

Like many other countries in South and Southeast Asia, Indonesia’s modern history is one marked by colonization and the harms of imperialism. While some of the most frequently read books on Indonesia focus on the colonial period or postcolonialism in the country, we think it is important to make sure that you don’t think the region’s history begins with its colonization by the Dutch. Indonesia has a widely diverse cultural, social, and religious makeup, with parts of the country still governed by pre-colonial monarchy and others the democratic state. It is often described as one of the most heavily populated Muslim countries in the world, yet many religions beyond Islam are practiced, including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity.

Given’s the region’s diversity, there are many exciting books on Indonesia to discover. Below we have just a few of our picks for the best books on Indonesia.

     
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The History of Children's Literature: Part 1

By Adrienne Rivera. May 12, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, Book History, Newbery Award, History

Children's literature today is as celebrated and lauded as literature for adult audiences. Entire sections of libraries are dedicated to it. Scholarly publications are dedicated to giving it advanced critical thought. Distinguished panels are put together annually to award the year's best and most important examples of literature for children. In recent years, it has become so popular that entirely separate best seller lists have been established in order to accommodate all of the worthy books being published for children. In short, it is hard to imagine a world in which children's books are not a large part of childhood. However, books written specifically for children are actually a rather new development in the greater history of literature.

     
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Collecting the Poetry of Leonard Cohen

By Audrey Golden. May 11, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Book Collecting

A Rolling Stone article* about Leonard Cohen which appeared just after his death in November 2016 described Cohen as a “song poet.” As many of you might know, Cohen’s music made him famous, with songs such as “Suzanne,” “So Long, Marianne,” and “Hallelujah.” The article cited Nick Cave, who depicted Cohen as “the greatest songwriter of them all,” defining him by his undefinable status of “utterly unique and impossible to imitate no matter how hard we tried.” Indeed, Leonard Cohen was a “song poet,” as the Rolling Stone article declares, but he was also a published poet whose early books, in particular first editions, are now highly collectible—and quite expensive! If you’re interested in learning more about collecting the poetry of Leonard Cohen, you’ve come to the right place. Just like you, we’re not only fans of collecting poetry, but we’re also enormous fans of Leonard Cohen.

     
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VLOG: Paper Marbling

By Brian Hoey. May 10, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Fine Press, Book Making

Paper marbling is an art form that may well date back more than a thousand years. The technique involves creating paint patterns on top of a container of water and transferring those patterns to paper, usually paper of high quality. The result is stunning, unique designs that can be used for covering leather-bound books or simply as decorative art in its own right. At the very latest, it first appeared in 12th century Japan before spreading across Asia. In the 15th century, it had either made its way from East Asia or been re-invented independently in Turkey, where a new, more sophisticated version of the practice (called ebru) would gain popularity. This spread throughout the Islamic world and eventually reached England around the 17th century. There, marbling was used not just on books but also for wrapping gifts and lining drawers and shelves. Want to see the process for yourself? We've compiled some videos of paper marbling.

     
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A Snapshot of J.M. Barrie

By Andrea Diamond. May 9, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books

Once upon a time, there was no Neverland. The Lost Boys weren’t fighting with Captain Hook, Wendy wasn’t flying past Big Ben with Peter, and nobody took a second look at a firefly to check if it was Tinkerbelle. The world was a little less magical and a little less excitinguntil J.M. Barrie changed everything.

     
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The Lasting Legacy of Athol Fugard’s Dramatic Works

By Audrey Golden. May 6, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: History, Drama

For most American readers, references to South African literature conjure the names of the country’s two Nobel Prize winners: Nadine Gordimer and J.M. Coetzee. While the essays and works of fiction by these Nobel laureates are enormously important for understanding the politics of and modes of resistance to apartheid in South Africa, we want to highlight the significance of another genre for you today. Born in 1932 in a remote region of South Africa to an Afrikaner father and English-speaking mother, Athol Fugard has become one of the more prominent names in South African theatre. He often co-wrote plays with Black South Africans during the heights of the apartheid regime, and the plays involved Black actors, as well. Given that co-authorship during apartheid meant that many of the Black South Africans who contributed equally to the plays could not be named as collaborators in print, it is perhaps more important than ever for us to acknowledge the collective work of Fugard’s playwriting.

     
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Authors As Both Novelists & Screenwriters

By Adrienne Rivera. May 5, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Movie Tie-Ins

Every year, thousands of readers look forward to film adaptations of their favorite novels. Often the screenplays for these films are adapted by independent screenwriters, but there are also many cases when the screenplays are actually written by the author of the source material. For lovers of the original books, it's comforting to know their favorite stories are being treated respectfully and with consideration to the author's original intentions. Many authors also work as screenwriters and not just on adaptations of their own works, but on movies based on novels by other authors or on the scripts for entirely original movies. Here are some writers who split their time between work on novels and work on screenplays.

     
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The Witty Textbook Parody Jane Austen Wrote at 15

By Matt Reimann. May 4, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books

Lovers of Jane Austen are lucky. Few other authors have left behind a greater wealth of juvenalia. From the ages of 11 to 18, Austen filled three notebooks with stories, parodies, mini-plays, and more, all displaying the shrewd wit and intelligence that would later blossom into genius. Among the shining examples of her earliest work is a short, satirical piece titled The History of England, written when the author was only 15 years old.

     
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Four Phenomenal Editions from Arion Press

By Adrienne Rivera. May 3, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Fine Press, Book Collecting

Twentieth century San Francisco was a hotbed for creative thinking and artistic pursuits, including those of fine press printers. Robert Grabhorn and his brother Edwin had the most heralded press in the city for nearly half a century. Indeed, Grabhorn Press set the standard for typographic ingenuity and artistic mastery. When the press closed in 1965, younger brother Robert joined forces with a printer by the name of Andrew Hoyem who had worked for Grabhorn in the 1960s. Together, the two continued their fine press efforts, publishing impressive limited edition books including an edition of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl". When Grabhorn passed away, Andrew Hoyem continued their press and in 1974, he renamed it Arion Press. Today, Hoyem is considered one of the most distinguished printers of our time. He has published over 100 illustrated fine press books, all limited-edition, and most published on letterpress. Arion Press books are highly sought after by collectors due to their quality and limited release.

     
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Famous Lost and Destroyed Manuscripts

By Andrea Diamond. May 2, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book History

Some of the most thrilling stories I’ve ever heard are those of treasure hunts. Explorers, pirates, and detectives alike all strike out on a mission to obtain the objects of their desireswhether the value be monetary or sentimental. Within the literary world, we have our own lost treasures: famous manuscripts misplaced by time or destroyed at the hands of frustrated writers or natural disasters. Here are five of the most famous missing or destroyed manuscripts.

     
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Worker's Influence: The Literature of May Day

By Adrienne Rivera. May 1, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Poetry, Literature

Traditionally speaking, when you think of May Day one of the first things that comes to mind is dancing around a maypole wearing flower crowns. While this spring festival version of the holiday certainly has its place in literature (part of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream takes place on May Day), May Day is more commonly celebrated worldwide today as International Workers Day, or in some places, Labor Day. What is the history of May Day? And how has May Day influenced literature?

     
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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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