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The Best of 2017: Our Ten Most Popular Blog Posts

By Leah Dobrinska. Dec 31, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting

As 2017 comes to an end, we wanted to take a moment to thank you for your readership and continued support of Books Tell You Why. We love that this corner of the internet has been a place for bibliophiles and readers to interact, share insights, and gain some helpful knowledge about rare books and book collecting. It is our pleasure to engage with you.

Let’s take a look back at some of our highlights this year. In no particular order, here are the ten most-read posts on blogis librorum, written and published in 2017.      
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Top Ten Rudyard Kipling Quotes

By Brian Hoey. Dec 30, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Nobel Prize Winners

In 1942, as ever, George Orwell was bemused. He had spent the early decades of the century wondering how so many Britons could hold Rudyard Kipling’s “If—” (1896) so dearly without realizing that “(f)ew people who have criticized England from the inside have said bitterer things about her” than its author. In a way, Orwell’s outrage gets right to the heart of the questions begged by the man who remains the youngest (and first) English-language writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Of the writer dubbed a genius by Henry James and a unique master of verse by T. S. Eliot, are we as 21st century readers meant to see a sententious imperial-minded jingoist, or a sharp social critic and astute wordsmith? Very probably, the answer is a lot of both—which may account for why works like The Jungle Book (1894), The Second Jungle Book (1895), The Seven Seas (1896), and, yes, “If—” remain widely read and widely loved. Here are ten of the most pointed and enduring Rudyard Kipling quotes.

     
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Interview with Ulysses Rare Books in Dublin

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

Topics: Book Collecting, Literature, Interviews

Earlier this year, we had the pleasure of visiting Ulysses Rare Books in Dublin, Ireland. We were so thrilled to see some of the most interesting rare first editions of the most significant works of Irish literature in the shop, from those of W.B. Yeats to James Joyce to Seamus Heaney. We were lucky enough to learn a bit more through an interview with one of the shop’s co-owners, Aisling Cunningham, who runs the bookstore with her brother, David.

     
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The Ten Best Literary Christmas Quotes

By Andrea Diamond. Dec 25, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, Charles Dickens

After weeks of preparation and anticipation, Christmas has finally arrived. As you spend time with loved ones, admire the holiday tree, and reflect on what matters most, we hope you’ll find a quiet moment to enjoy these festive book excerpts. From Dr. Seuss to Charles Dickens, here are ten of the best literary Christmas quotes.

     
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Christmas as Portrayed in the Harry Potter Series, Part II

By Leah Dobrinska. Dec 23, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Children's Books

Last week, we left off discussing Harry’s Christmases in books 1-4 of Rowling’s hit series. If you missed it, read the discussion here. Now, let’s dive in to the holiday as experienced in books 5-7, complete with carols about magical creatures, a meddling Minister of Magic, and a near-death experience thanks to the darkest wizard the world has ever known. How’s that for Christmas spirit?

     
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Four Famous Self-Published Debuts

By Brian Hoey. Dec 22, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Rare Books, Children's Books

Self-publishing has its detractors, and not without reason. For every success story like Andy Weir’s The Martian (2011) (now a major motion picture starring Matt Damon) or Sergio De La Pava’s PEN Debut Fiction-winning debut, A Naked Singularity (2008) (a sprawling postmodern masterpiece that was picked up by The University of Chicago Press four years after De La Pava’s wife convinced him to self-publish), there are thousands of self-published authors who will languish forever in obscurity. On the other hand, most of the works being published today by major presses will eventually go on to languish forever in their own slightly more prestigious obscurity. Both great and terrible works of literature can (and do) come from anywhere, and there’s no way to know what’s still going to be read a hundred years from now. For proof, here are four famous self-published debuts from literary history.

     
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The Life and Impact of Heinrich Böll

By Adrienne Rivera. Dec 21, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Nobel Prize Winners

Writer Heinrich Böll was born in Cologne, Germany in 1917. His parents were devout Catholics and raised him to also passionately follow the faith, instilling in him a strong belief in pacifism. Not only did his faith guide his actions during Germany's Nazi regime and though Europe's post-war years, but these beliefs—which he often challenged and critiqued—also shaped his fiction, resulting in novels and short stories that renounced terrorism and the horrors of war while raising up the ordinary people of Germany. It is the personification of Böll's ideals that earned him the Nobel Prize in Literature and a reputation as the man responsible for a renaissance in German literature.

     
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Oyster Pirates and Spies: Writers with Questionable Day Jobs

By Brian Hoey. Dec 19, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Drama

There are two kinds of writers: those who keep their day jobs, and those who can’t get to the door quickly enough. For every William Carlos Williams (who was a practicing physician during his career as a poet) or T.S. Eliot (who, on some level, seemed to really love being a bank clerk), there’s a whole of host of writers like Kurt Vonnegut, whose time spent working as a used car salesman would be woven into what is perhaps his most despairing novel, Breakfast of Champions (1973), or Franz Kafka, who never made enough money in his lifetime to abandon his bureaucratic position (despite his and Max Brod’s various get-rich-quick schemes, like their dreamed-of series of European travel guides). In both categories, some writers certainly stand out for the, shall we way, unsavory nature of their day jobs.

     
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Learning More About the Coretta Scott King Book Award

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

Topics: Children's Books, Awarded Books, illustrations

Each year, African American authors and illustrators are honored by the Coretta Scott King Book Award. These awards are “given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.” The awards are designed to commemorate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as the work of his wife, Coretta Scott King, for whom the awards are named. If you collect children’s books or illustrated books, or if you’ve been looking for some important new texts to buy for the kids in your life, we highly recommend looking into the authors and illustrators who have been honored with this award.

     
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Christmas as Portrayed in the Harry Potter Series, Part I

By Leah Dobrinska. Dec 14, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Rare Book Gift Ideas

In each of the seven Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling treats us to a glimpse of Harry’s Christmas holiday. And, let’s face it, as Hogwarts is one of the best literary locations ever, then Hogwarts at Christmastime is really something special. Of course that’s not to say that Harry’s Christmases are always idyllic. However, they are always significant to the story. And what better way to get into the Christmas spirit than by diving into the holidays with Harry? Let’s explore Christmas as it is portrayed in each book of the Harry Potter series. Then, perhaps, you can pick which book suits your mood this season, and either read it again or find a particular edition to add to your collection. Grab a glass of butterbeer, pull on your coziest, hand-knit sweater, and read along as we present Christmas with Harry.

     
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Sweet Melodies: What Famous Writers Have to Say About Music

By Matt Reimann. Dec 13, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Music

Kazuo Ishiguro, this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, pinned his hopes to music before he committed himself to the novel. He abandoned this ambition as a young man, but nonetheless managed to carve space for himself to write lyrics for musicians like Stacey Kent. “One of the key things I learnt writing lyricsand this had an enormous influence on my fiction,” Ishiguro told The Guardian in 2015, “was that with an intimate, confiding, first-person song, the meaning must not be self-sufficient on the page. It has to be oblique, sometimes you have to read between the lines.”

     
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Beyond Madame Bovary: The Life of Gustave Flaubert

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

Topics: Literature

French novelist Gustave Flaubert is remembered for his influence on literary realism and for his debut novel Madame Bovary. Flaubert was born in France in 1821. He began writing at an early age and published his first novella in 1842, though he went on to school to study law. In 1846, however, Flaubert quit school and devoted himself to writing. While not nearly as prolific as his contemporaries, he published over ten novels in his life, and his letters to writer George Sand, among others, have been collected and published numerous times. Here are some things you might not know about one of France's most important writers.

     
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The Devil's Party: A Readers' Guide to John Milton

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

Topics: Poetry

John Milton, a blind civil servant who narrowly escaped execution after the re-ascension of the English monarchy following the death of Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, was one of 17th century England’s most daring public advocates for freedom of the press and non-monarchical government. He also, occasionally, wrote poetry.

     
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Norway's National Poet: Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson

By Adrienne Rivera. Dec 8, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Nobel Prize Winners, Drama

Poet Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson is considered one of the "Four Greats" of Norwegian writers. Besides writing the lyrics to the Norwegian national anthem, his peasant stories are renowned and well loved for their devotion to presenting the peasant class in a new light. Chief among his numerous honors is the Nobel Prize in Literature, which he was awarded in 1903. Interestingly, Bjørnson was one of the original Nobel Prize Committee members and was serving on the committee at the time he was given the award.

     
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Best Books on Tunisia

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

Topics: Literature, Literary travel

Like many other North African countries, Tunisia has a long history of colonialism but also a rich literary and cultural history. Just after the turn of the twentieth century, the painter Paul Klee traveled to Sidi Bou Said, a Tunisian town on the coast just outside the capital city of Tunis. In the same place, decades later in the late 1960s, the enormously influential philosopher Michel Foucault lived while teaching at the University of Tunis. Tunisia has been a place of inspiration for writers from outside the country while also producing incredible novelists, poets, and playwrights from within. We have a few suggestions for some of the best books on Tunisia.

     
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Give the Gift of Children's Books This Holiday Season

By Leah Dobrinska. Dec 5, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Book Gift Ideas

Children’s books go with the Christmas holiday just like cookies and milk, flannel sheets, and a dusting of fresh snow. There’s something magical about a child getting lost in the pages of a brand new (or well-loved) story. Whether you’re hoping to start them off on the journey of building their own book collection or hoping to inspire a love for reading, a perfectly selected children's book makes a great gift for the kids on your list. Here’s our 2017 gift guide for children.

     
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Visiting the Richard Wright Papers at the Beinecke

By Audrey Golden. Dec 2, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Libraries & Special Collections, Libraries

The Richard Wright Papers at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library is an enormous collection. It’s one of the collections that’s actually stored on-site, so you don’t need to request access days in advance as you may find with certain other papers owned by the library. The papers contain 143 boxes, along with additional materials. Researchers have access to Wright’s manuscripts, correspondence, journals, travel documents, photographs, and even the novelist’s screen test for the film version of Native Son, his 1940 novel. We’ll tell you a little bit more about the collection.

     
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A New Detective: The Early Response to Sherlock Holmes

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

Topics: Literature, Movie Tie-Ins

Sherlock Holmes is without a doubt literature's most famous and well-loved detective. His deductive reasoning skills and unique personality have garnered a following that has kept the novels and short stories in continuous print since their publication. The original four novels and fifty-six short stories have spawned numerous adaptations including television shows, movies, radio programs, video games, and cartoons. In fact, Guinness World Records lists Sherlock Holmes as the most portrayed character in history. Since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's detective entered into the public domain, even more derivative works featuring Holmes and other characters from his world have seen publication. It's safe to assume that nearly everyone has at least a cursory familiarity with Sherlock Holmes, who continues to captivate and entertain over one hundred years after his first appearance. But how was Holmes received by 19th century readers?

     
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