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A Brief History of The Pickwick Papers

By Adrienne Rivera. Mar 31, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Movie Tie-Ins

English novelist Charles Dickens is indisputably one of the most important figures in English literature and perhaps the most financially successful of his Victorian contemporaries. Dickens published most all of his novels serially with installments appearing monthly and, in some cases, weekly. His novels, including such standouts as A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, and A Christmas Carol, are counted among the great classics of English literature. His works have been adapted across multiple mediums. His influence on the language can be easily traced, with one notable example being his character Ebeneezer Scrooge, whose surname is a commonly-used sobriquet for the stingy and ungenerous. And the novel that kicked off this legendary career was The Pickwick Papers.

     
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Charles Darwin's Literary Inspirations

By Kristin Masters. Mar 30, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Biographies, History, Science

Charles Darwin's theory of evolution revolutionized the scientific world. An avid reader, Darwin built a personal library that included over 1,500 volumes of science, philosophy, and literature. Just as Darwin was influenced by what he read, he has also influenced generations of scholars and authors. A significant number of his letters, books, and papers belong to the Cambridge University Library.

     
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Philip Pullman: Teacher, Writer, and a Book Collector's Dream

By Leah Dobrinska. Mar 29, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Book Collecting

“As a passionate believer in the democracy of reading, I don't think it's the task of the author of a book to tell the reader what it means…Anyway, I'm not in the message business; I'm in the "Once upon a time" business.” ~Philip Pullman

The democracy of reading. The fact that every single person who picks up a Philip Pullman book (and the selection to choose from is a good one!) can and should form for him or herself the meaning and message between and within the lines. What a lovely thought! We like this idea. After all, it’s the books that tell you why. And Philip Pullman is a master of writing a good story for readers to consume and enjoy. Do you know much about this modern-day legendary author? If not, here’s a brief introduction to Philip Pullman.

     
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Collecting Latin American Authors

Latin American literature incorporates a variety of languages from Spanish and Portuguese to indigenous languages of Central and South America. Known for, but not exclusively devoted to, magical realism, Latin American literature came to worldwide notice in the 1960s an 1970s during a movement which is now known as the Latin American Boom. The boom, partially due to an exceptionally prosperous economic state throughout the continent, helped to a create an outpouring of literature that focused on the culture, language, people, and politics of a region that had not previously held a large place on the global stage. Since then, Latin American literature has been internationally recognized for the culturally rich and important work of its authors. For those hoping to expand their collections to include some of the most notable Latin American literary pieces, the following authors and selections are a great starting point.

     
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Muriel Wright: The Inspiration for Ian Fleming's James Bond Girls

By Kristin Wood. Mar 23, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: James Bond, Movie Tie-Ins

The stories of James Bond have left readers and audiences mesmerized for decades, but the titular character can't take all the credit for their entertainment. Alongside the adventures of this daring and dangerous spy, there have always been supporting characters called the Bond Girls. They may be friend or foe, but no James Bond story would be complete without them. When author Ian Fleming first dreamed up the tales of Bond and his girls, was it all pure fantasy? Most speculate that a woman named Muriel Wright provided the inspiration for these legendary women.

     
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Five of the Best Western Novels

By Matt Reimann. Mar 22, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History

In place of Romulus and Remus, of Ra and Isis, Americans created two popular mythic heroes: the superhero and the cowboy. While the superhero has only grown in its capacity as one of the United States’ most recognizable cultural exports (and as cinema’s most lucrative subject), the Western genre has diminished in status, falling from the wide popularity on television it enjoyed as recently as 40 years ago. The shift has come with justifiable reason, as an increasingly skeptical audience finds it hard to identify heroism within a violent environment built on the deliberate extermination of the American Indian, and other historical crimes.

     
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Five Works of Poetry You'll Never Get to Read 

By Brian Hoey. Mar 21, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Rare Books, Book History

In Jorge Luis Borges’ 1941 story "The Library of Babel", he describes an infinite library containing volumes that feature every possible combination of symbols. At one point, some of the inhabitants of this library go on a rampage, wantonly destroying many of the unique, unread books. While many of their fellow denizens are outraged that works with no copies have been expunged forever, they eventually reason that if the books really are infinite, then any particular destroyed volume will have an accompanying volume that is almost completely identical, and that, really, no harm can be done. I’m not sure whether that should make us feel better or worse when we think about all of the lost and destroyed works of art throughout the literary millennia, but in honor of World Poetry Day, let’s take a look at some works of poetry that we’ll never be able to read.   

     
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The History of Children's Literature: 19th Century to Today

In part 1 of this series, we discussed how the history of children's literature can be traced back to the late 16th century. As time passed and more and more writers began to see the merit in writing books specifically for children, children's literature came into its own. The 19th century brought a whole new generation of writers to the field, and soon the golden age of children's literature was in full swing.

     
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Collecting Nobel Prize Winners: Seamus Heaney and George Bernard Shaw

By Brian Hoey. Mar 17, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Nobel Prize Winners, Drama

Despite being a country of fewer than 5 million people, Ireland boasts four Nobel Prize in Literature winners: W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Becket, and Seamus Heaney. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s the highest Literature Nobel Laureates per capita outside of St. Lucia, which counted the late poet Derek Walcott among its 150,000 or so residents, even without James Joyce (who was famously snubbed) to round out the list. (Sweden appears to be a close third, with 8 prizes and a population just under 10 million). In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we’ll be turning the attention to two of the Emerald Isle’s most gifted writers: George Bernard Shaw and Seamus Heaney.

     
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Hawthorne Heights: How John Updike Rewrote "The Scarlet Letter"

By Brian Hoey. Mar 16, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature

Remember the film Easy A (2010), in which Emma Stone stars as a high-school student ostracized for her (invented) promiscuity? In the film, Stone’s character eventually takes to wearing a read letter “A” on her person in reference to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s seminal novel of adultery and Puritanism, The Scarlet Letter (1850), on which the film’s screenplay is partially based. In one sense, it’s amazing that Hawthorne’s novel, which was one of America’s first important literary works, continues to assert its cultural relevance in the 21st century. In another sense, though, we really oughtn’t be surprised. After all, there have been numerous instances of artists updating The Scarlet Letter for contemporary audiences. In one particular such instance, “contemporary” meant 1988, and the artist was the revered John Updike. 

     
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John Steinbeck and the Nixon Novel that Never Was

John Steinbeck, born on February 27, 1902 in Salinas, California, would become one of American's most notable authors. Steinbeck established himself as an author in an era when accomplished authors held considerable clout. As a result, he one day found himself in a unique position: he held the upcoming United States presidential election in his hands.

     
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Why Travel Can Be an Important Part of Book Collecting

By Audrey Golden. Mar 14, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Literary travel

With so much book shopping and book collecting taking place on the internet these days, it might be difficult to imagine why travel can be an important part of building a rare or antiquarian book collection. We’ve become so reliant upon the internet for almost everything these days, and book buying is one of them. However, let me emphasize just how valuable it can be to travel to different parts of the United States and, indeed, different regions of the world, as you build your collection. When physical bookstores are available, not only can you engage with the book as a physical object, but you can also discover out-of-print or even self-published titles that you didn’t know existed.

If you want to build a truly unique collection, consider traveling to new places and visiting bookshops that can help you to unearth new and never-before-seen titles to add to your bookshelves. The resources available from the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA) and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) can help you to locate shops, but in addition, there may be hidden treasures just around the corner with no internet presence at all. Let me tell you a bit more about the pleasures of book-buying travel and some tips for the globetrotting book collector.


     
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'March' and the National Book Award for Young People's Literature

By Audrey Golden. Mar 9, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Children's Books, Awarded Books

Whether you are searching for a new graphic novel to buy the kids or teenagers in your life, or if you are adding to an ever-expanding graphic novel collection of your own, we want to make sure you know about the March Trilogy. This three-book set from John Lewis, one of the key figures of the American Civil Rights Movement and current Georgia congressman, is a memoir about his “coming-of-age in the movement,” according to an article in The New York Times about the graphic memoir collection. The books are significant for anyone hoping to learn more about the history of the Civil Rights Movement and Lewis’s experiences, and they are also important guidebooks for future leaders who are willing to make “necessary trouble,” as Lewis has described the act of protest.

     
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Twelve Women to Read on International Women's Day

International Women's Day is celebrated every year on March 8. It was inspired by a National Women's Day held in New York in 1909 as a response to a 1908 march for equal rights undertaken by 15,000 women. However, by the second year, the International Conference of Working Women decided that the holiday should expand worldwide. It was adopted by the United Nations in 1975 and declared an international holiday in all participating states. International Women's Day is dedicated to fighting for gender equality and to celebrating the social, political, and cultural achievements of women. While a common opinion today is that all the battles for women have been won, International Women's Day urges women to fight to close the pay gap, to end violence against women, and to push for more visibility for women both in the workplace and in national and international leadership positions. The following 12 women writers exemplify the goals of International Women's Day in their writing and activism.

     
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How To Begin Collecting History Books

By Leah Dobrinska. Mar 7, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, History

If you’re a history buff, you know that on March 7, 1530, King Henry VIII, who had his annulment denied by Pope Clement VII, separated himself from the Catholic Church and declared himself the new head of the Church of England, spurring on the English reformation. What better day to talk about how to begin collecting history books?

Have you considered beginning a history book collection? What should you know before you do? Here are a few questions to get you started, and to help guide your collecting efforts.

     
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The Books That Made Oscar-Winning Movies

By Matt Reimann. Mar 3, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Movie Tie-Ins

Every solitary professional novelist, whether she is aware of the fact or not, is a kind of trial balloon for the movie industry. Before studios spend millions of dollars—sometimes hundreds of millions—on actors, directors, crew, locations, distribution, and more, they prefer to have proof that a particular story resonates with an audience. Successful plays are often adapted, with movies like Driving Miss Daisy and Hamlet being notable Best Picture winners of this sort. But prose, in the form of memoirs, nonfiction books, novels, and short stories, appears to be the most fertile ground for Hollywood when it comes to seizing the next big idea.

     
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Ten Essential Dr. Seuss Quotes

Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known by his pen name Dr. Seuss, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1904. He attended Dartmouth College where he wrote and drew for the Dartmouth Jack-o-Lantern. After he and his friends were caught with gin in the dormitories during prohibition, part of his punishment was being banned from all extracurricular activities. However, he continued to work for the magazine, using for the first time the pen name Seuss.

     
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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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