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Best Books on Ireland

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

Topics: Literature, Nobel Prize Winners, Literary travel

Are you visiting Dublin or the Irish countryside anytime soon? Do you want to learn more about the history of modern Irish literature? Are you traveling to Belfast in the near future? If you answered with an emphatic 'yes!' to any of our questions, or if you’re interested in literary travel from the comfort of your sofa through a well-written novel, then we have some reading recommendations for you.

     
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Why Ernest Shackleton's Thrilling Story Still Captivates Us

By Matt Reimann. Aug 30, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: History

As Ernest Shackleton left to explore a new land, a new world was being formed. A few days before the Endurance left England, on August 8, 1914, Europe had entered the Great War. Shackleton volunteered his ship and his men for service, but he was told to proceed on his voyage to the Antarctic. His crew reached Buenos Aires, then the south Atlantic island of South Georgia. By New Year’s Eve, Shackleton and his crew of 28 reached the continent. They were met by conditions that would have probably killed anyone else.

     
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Five 20th-Century Writers Who Went to Law School

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

Topics: Poetry, Literature, Learn About Books

The study of the law often is viewed in opposition to careers requiring creativity. Yet many notable novelists and poets actually have attended law school, and even more have actually graduated and practiced law in some capacity. While it might sound strange to think of fiction or poetry writing and the study of law being interwoven, we believe there’s a close relationship between the thinking and reading practices that occur in both fields. To give you a sense of some of the distinct and varied writers who went to law school, we’d like to provide some information about a handful of poets and novelists and their experiences studying the law.

     
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Guillaume Apollinaire: Master of le Mot Juste

By Brian Hoey. Aug 26, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Art

Like Walt Whitman, Guillaume Apollinaire contains multitudes. While he is largely known to English speaking readers as a important modernist poet, he was also a noted art critic and a writer of novels and plays. And while his poetic imagination was best displayed in his actual poems, one can’t help but wonder if it was also at work when it came to his success in that most fickle of businesses: the naming of artistic movements.

     
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The Bond Dossier: Zero Minus Ten

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

Topics: James Bond

A respect for the past, a glimpse toward the future. One could argue any relevant piece of art (be it a piece of music, a poem, a painting, or even an adventure/spy novel) must straddle this delicate line in order to pay homage to the traditions that came before while at the same time pushing the boundaries of what is possible within any given medium. After 14 years of Bond novels at the hand of British author John Gardner, the 007 baton was finally passed to American author Raymond Benson whose debut, Zero Minus Ten (1997), walked a tightrope between respecting the Bond canon and ushering the literary world’s most famous spy into the 21st Century.

     
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Four Contemporary Cuban American Writers You Should Be Reading

By Adrienne Rivera. Aug 24, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Awarded Books, American Literature, Movie Tie-Ins

One of the most well-known Cuban American writers today is Oscar Hijuelos. Interestingly, as a result of a year long hospital stay in his childhood, Hijuelos lost his fluency in Spanish, the language his family spoke at home, but he gained fluency in English. This imbued him with a sense of separation from his culture, a feeling that he imparts in all of his novels. Are you interested in Latin American literature? If so, Hijuelos should definitely be on your list. But what other contemporary Cuban American writers should you be reading?      
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Buying Rare and Antiquarian Books in Central Italy

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

Topics: Rare Books, Book Collecting, Literary travel

Are you traveling to Italy and planning to add to your book collection? The number of cities in Italy with rare and antiquarian bookstores is overwhelming. Indeed, the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) lists 110 booksellers in the country. As such, we’ve limited this particular article to rare and antiquarian shops in Central Italy, focusing primarily on stores in Rome and Florence.

     
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Four Interesting Facts About Annie Proulx

By Matt Reimann. Aug 22, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Awarded Books

It’s no easy feat to top yourself at age 80. But this is exactly what Annie Proulx did last year with the release of her latest book, Barkskins. The novel tells a multigenerational tale, beginning with two pioneers in New France and the natural environment that supports them, which grows diminished and defaced with time. Even more staggering was the novel’s reception: reviewers called it “the masterpiece Proulx was meant to write,” and “perhaps the greatest environmental novel of all time.” With each passing book, Proulx proves herself to be an indispensable voice in American letters.

     
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Master of Light Verse: Ogden Nash

By Adrienne Rivera. Aug 19, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry

Poet Ogden Nash was born in 1902 in New York. However, due to his father's business work, the family moved often, and Nash never considered himself a New Yorker. He once wrote the verse “I could have loved New York had I not loved Balti-more.” He completed one year of his Harvard education before quitting to move to New York City where he first worked selling bonds, then as a writer at various jobs, including a stint on the editorial staff of The New Yorker. Nash moved to Baltimore in 1931 where he lived and wrote until his death in 1970 due to complications from Crohn's disease. Here are some interesting facts about one of the foremost writers of humorous verse.

     
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Immigrant Fiction in England

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

Topics: Awarded Books, Literature, History

Britain has a very long literary history, indeed. Yet when we think about British literature, the recent and rich supply of British immigrant fiction doesn’t immediately jump to mind for most readers. We’d like to change that. What does British literature in the twenty-first century look like? In large part, it reflects the harms of British imperialism and the effects of decolonization in the twentieth century. At the same time, works of immigrant literature from England also reflect the advantages of a globalizing world and the possibilities of movement to, from, and around the metropole of London.

     
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When Dr. Seuss Went to War

By Matt Reimann. Aug 17, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Illustrators, Children's Books

Before he wrote the bulk of the books that would make him a giant of children’s literature, Theodor Seuss Geisel took a stand. Fascism had spread across Europe, and the Third Reich was bringing war and slaughter to its neighbors and citizens. Congress and the press debated what role America should play in the growing conflict, but Geisel was sure of what had to be done. Nazism, he knew, had to be fought.

     
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Major Modern Literature First Published in Periodicals

By Brian Hoey. Aug 16, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature

In Charles Dickens’ day, periodicals were the center of literary life. Many of Dickens’ novels, beginning with The Pickwick Papers (1837), were serialized in popular periodicals. The same is true of authors like William Makepeace Thackeray, George Eliot, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (who first developed Sherlock Holmes as a character in serial format). At the height of the serial novel’s popularity, the anticipation over Little Nell’s fate in the final installment of Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop (1841) caused American readers to riot while waiting for the new volumes to be shipped. With the rise of television and radio as venues for storytelling, the serialized novel quickly lost its prominence, but print periodicals would remain an important part of literary life. In fact, many of the most important works of modern literature first appeared in magazines like The New Yorker and Rolling Stone. Let's explore some modern literature first published in periodicals.

     
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Why Don't We Read Sir Walter Scott Anymore?

By Matt Reimann. Aug 15, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature

When I think of a book by Sir Walter Scott, it is handsome and old. This is not an accident. In truth, it reflects my physical relationship with his classic novels, which are admittedly less popular than they were even 50 years ago. In my memory (and on my bookshelf), Walter Scott’s novels, like Waverley and Ivanhoe, are in brown hardcovers, purchased secondhand or inherited from grandparents. I can’t recall the last time I saw a Scott novel on a bookstore table, or in a hip new redesign like those an Edith Wharton or Charles Dickens title might receive. In fact, he seems barely read at all. It raises the question: What happened to the pioneer of the historical novel?

     
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Eileen Chang and Chinese Modernist Fiction

By Audrey Golden. Aug 12, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, History, Literary travel

Why hasn’t Eileen Chang become a household name in modern literary studies? We’re not entirely sure, and we want to remedy that. She was born in 1920 in Shanghai, China, and passed away in her Los Angeles apartment in 1995. Chinese readers know the novelist and short-story writer as Chang Ai-Ling. In The New York Times obituary*, the newspaper described Chang as “a giant of modern Chinese literature.” She enrolled at the University of Hong Kong in 1939, but was unable to continue her studies as a result of the Japanese invasion during World War II. In 1941, following the Japanese invasion, the University of Hong Kong shut down. Chang’s experiences in Hong Kong during the war played a part in shaping one of her best-known texts in the West, “Lust, Caution,” made into a film of the same name by Ang Lee in 2007. In 1952, Chang returned to Hong Kong only to leave a few years later for the United States. She spent the remaining years of her life in Los Angeles, and largely as a recluse. We love her fiction, and we want you to discover it, too.

     
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The History and Importance of Women's Literature

By Adrienne Rivera. Aug 11, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, History

Women's literature has often been defined by publishers as a category of writing done by women. Though obviously this is true, many scholars find such a definition reductive. What makes the history of women's writing so interesting is that in many ways it is a new area of study. The tradition of women writing has been much ignored due to the inferior position women have held in male-dominated societies. It is still not unheard of to see literature classes or anthologies in which women are greatly outnumbered by male writers or even entirely absent. The onus of women's literature, then, is to categorize and create an area of study for a group of people marginalized by history and to explore through their writing their lives as they were while occupying such a unique sociopolitical space within their culture.

     
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VLOG: The Evolution of the Printing Press

By Matt Reimann. Aug 10, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Fine Press, Book Making

As early as the year 1040, the Chinese had made movable type out of clay and earthenware. The innovation, for a variety of reasons, did not catch on in the East, but four centuries later it became the center of a revolution in Europe. In 1439, the craftsman Johannes Gutenberg used movable type in his shop in Mainz. His screwpress method was so effective that for three and a half centuries little was done to improve its design. But evolve it did, becoming ever more complex and efficient, bringing the written word to ever greater swaths of the population.

     
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John Dryden: (Literal) Poet Laureate of Political Upheaval

By Brian Hoey. Aug 9, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry

The great English poets of the 17th century did not always fare especially well. John Milton, following the Restoration in May 1660, had to go into hiding until a royal pardon was issued exonerating him for the civic and poetic work he did during Oliver Cromwell’s reign (some of his poems in that era were seen as condoning Cromwell’s regicide of King Charles I). Even after the pardon was issued, Milton found himself imprisoned until Andrew Marvell convinced the monarchy not to execute him. Marvell himself, another poetic luminary of the era, had only narrowly avoided prison himself on the occasion of the Restoration. John Dryden, too, managed to escape the wrath of the restored monarchy, but a few decades later the Glorious Revolution would find him less fortunate. After he refused to swear the oaths of allegiance to newly-crowned protestant monarchs William and Mary, he lost his position as Poet Laureate and the comforts of a position at court.

     
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A Brief Introduction to the Works of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

By Andrea Diamond. Aug 8, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books

A few days ago as my family was unloading groceries in the kitchen, some movement along the edge of the tree line caught our eyes. To our delight, we spotted the first fawn of the season, wobbling close to her mother in the dappled sunlight of our backyard. After a few minutes of awed observation, we saw the doe take off, and the fawn curl up behind a tree just off the side of our house. It is not uncommon for mothers to leave their newborn fawns unattended for hours at a time, as fawns do not yet carry a scent that can be picked up by a predator’s nose. After snapping a few pictures at a safe distance from the baby, we left her in peace in her hiding spot. My mind also wandered to a well-known young adult book about a boy and a fawn.

     
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Why We Need Wendell Berry More Than Ever

By Matt Reimann. Aug 5, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Awarded Books

For a healthy discourse, voices from all across the country are needed. These distinctions occur not just along the lines of race and gender, but class and region as well. Much of literature and cultural taste, like the forces of political change and economics, are dictated by those in the cities, leaving behind those in rural and farming counties. One of the most important literary voices of rural America today, telling the stories and bringing to light the issues of a forgotten region, is Wendell Berry, an author of poetry, fiction, essays, and more.

     
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Four Writers Inspired by Beatrix Potter

By Adrienne Rivera. Aug 4, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Illustrators, Children's Books

Beatrix Potter's charming stories and enchanting illustrations have captivated children for generations. Indeed, ever since her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, was published in 1902, children have learned valuable lessons from Peter and his cohorts, all while being delightedly entertained. All of Potter's books are still in print today, and in 2016 a previously unreleased book was publishedThe Tale of Kitty-in-Boots. Beyond her endurance as a much-loved children's writer, Beatrix Potter has served as an inspiration to many writers and illustrators. She was a woman who not only forged a path for herself in literature when the field of publishing was unfortunately dismissive of women, but in science as well. Her mycology illustrations have only begun to receive the recognition they deserve. Here are some writers who were inspired by Beatrix Potter and her enduring legacy.

     
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Libraries & Special Collections: Notable College Libraries

By Matt Reimann. Aug 3, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Libraries & Special Collections

The international library system would be sorely lacking without universities. Where government and private interests (and resources) fail, academic ones pick up the slack, snapping up the archives of major authors and collecting volumes on specialized and specific topics. They prove vital assets to researchers and professors. They provide working space for students and writers (I happened upon Zadie Smith, headphones in her ears, in New York University’s Bobst Library one afternoon). They are essential to the health of literature and education. And they are often very beautiful.

     
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Ten of the Best Books for Summer

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

Topics: Legendary Authors

There's a book for every season, it's true. We've written about the best winter reads, great books for Halloween, and patriotic titles that are sure to delight. But today, we want to focus on sweet summertime reads. Because nothing says summer like a good book. Whether you're by the pool, on the porch, or sitting in your favorite chair, here are ten of the best books for summer.

     
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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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