Did you know?  Check our Rare Books Page

Mark Twain and the First Great American Novel

By Kristin Wood. Nov 30, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, American Literature, Mark Twain

It's hard to overstate the influence of Mark Twain. Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn," and many critics now cite this work as the first "Great American Novel."

While the majority of those in the English-speaking world have heard of Mark Twain, and his two most famous novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, they may not know as much about this classic American author as they may think. To start with, Mark Twain is not even his real name.

     
Read more...


Four of Louisa May Alcott's Lesser Known Novels

By Abigail Bekx. Nov 29, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors

Louisa May Alcott is best known for Little Women and its sequels. The different adaptations of the March family’s adventures all too often overshadow Alcott’s other work. All of her work possesses well written, intricate plots that often—in a manner similar to Jane Austen—promote a feminist ideal of women’s role in society. She shows the importance of more wholesome, old-fashioned values rather than the opulent lifestyle free of responsibility and traditional morals many of the wealthy were participating in. All this Alcott accomplishes in her novels without sounding preachy or alienating her audience. Here are four of her lesser known works.

     
Read more...


The Quintessential Swiss-ness of Johanna Spyri's Heidi

By Matt Reimann. Nov 28, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books

As of this writing, some 50 million copies of Johanna Spyri’s Heidi have been sold. A precursor to children’s book heroines from Pippi Longstocking to Eloise, Heidi has earned herself a place in countless childhood memories. Intelligent, caring, effervescent, often in the face of considerable challenges, it is not so hard to see why Heidi continues to be beloved by millions. Amid such artful successes, it can be easy to forget what its author Johanna Spyri contributed to the culture and posterity of her native Switzerland.

     
Read more...


Cyber Monday: Your Rare & Antiquarian Book Buying Guide

By Leah Dobrinska. Nov 26, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Book Gift Ideas

After the whirlwind of Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Small Business Saturday last week, today gives feasters and shoppers a chance to sit back and get some holiday shopping taken care of online. Everyone is offering deals of the century, but we have some items that you can’t find on Amazon. If you’re still in the market for a good book for anyone on your list, take some time on this Cyber Monday to browse our site. In this post, we’ve included several great titles and categories to get you started.

     
Read more...


A Reading Guide to William F. Buckley, Jr.

By Abigail Bekx. Nov 24, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: History

William F. Buckley, Jr. is well known for his conservative political views and witty writing style. With over 75 published works, it can be difficult to determine where to start when first discovering his writing. If leaning towards fiction, Buckley’s Blackford Oakes series follows a CIA operative as he fights against Communism in a style reminiscent of James Bond. His travel books tend towards the philosophical hidden in a more upfront topic. One aspect all of his books have in common is the total command of language and wit that immediately identifies Buckley’s work. 

     
Read more...


Six Books You Should Give as Gifts This Holiday Season

By Leah Dobrinska. Nov 23, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Christmas Books, Rare Book Gift Ideas

Happy Black Friday, shoppers! We hope you all enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving Day here in the United States. If you are hitting the sales early this morning or easing in to the day, we have compiled a brief list of classic Christmas books that make for stellar gifts. Put one (or several) in your virtual shopping cart, and start checking names off your list. In case you missed it, last Friday, we rounded up all sorts of books that we think make excellent gifts. You can find that post here. Enjoy!

     
Read more...


Ten of the Best Children's Books for Thanksgiving

By Abigail Bekx. Nov 22, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books

Thanksgiving is known for many things: turkey, parades, football, and, of course, Pilgrims and Native Americans. With all of the distractions and celebrations, it can be easy to forget the meaning and history of the holiday. An easy, fun way to remember why we celebrate, for both old and young, is through children’s books. The simple presentation of facts and intriguing illustrations allow readers to remember what Thanksgiving means and why we celebrate. 

     
Read more...


John Gardner: James Bond Books and Beyond

By Leah Dobrinska. Nov 20, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, James Bond

Today is the birthday of John Gardner. Gardner, in most circles, is not so much of a household name as James Bond or Ian Fleming, but he was responsible for keeping the intrigue and excitement of the legendary spy and his author alive in the hearts and minds of fans for nearly two decades. Indeed, from 1981 to 1996, John Gardner penned 16 original James Bond novels. In honor of his birthday, let’s take a look at several of his titles.

     
Read more...


Raymond Benson: The Fourth Man behind James Bond

By Kristin Masters. Nov 17, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, James Bond, Movie Tie-Ins

Though the James Bond films were originally based on the novels by Ian Fleming, more recent movies are written in the spirit of Fleming's work. After Fleming's death, other writers have been invited to take up the James Bond mantle. First was Kingsley Amis, who wrote one Bond novel under the pseudonym Robert Markham. John Gardner penned the next 14 novels, along with two film novelizations. Raymond Benson was the next author to continue the Bond legacy, writing from 1996 to 2003.

     
Read more...


An Early Holiday Gift Guide

By Leah Dobrinska. Nov 16, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Book Gift Ideas

Black Friday is one week away. Are your shopping plans made? Or are you still puzzling over the perfect gift for someone in your life? Maybe you won’t even think about the holiday shopping rush for another month. In any case, we’ve put together a list of some lovely collectible books as well as some stellar reading copies that might prove to be the solution to even the trickiest of gift-giving cases. From art books to fine press titles, sports stories to suspense, we’ve got something for everyone on your list. Be sure to follow the links for more information on each book. Happy shopping to you, and happy collecting and reading to your gift recipients!

     
Read more...


Astrid Lindgren: Pioneer of Children's Literature

By Kristin Masters. Nov 14, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Children's Books, Awarded Books

Today marks the birthday of Astrid Lindgren, the talented children's author who created Pippi Longstocking, and who is the namesake of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA). Her books have sold over 145 million copies around the world, and she's earned a place as one of the most distinguished children's authors of the twentieth century.

     
Read more...


Caldecott Winning Illustrators Series: Elizabeth Orton Jones

By Adrienne Rivera. Nov 13, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Caldecott Medal, Children's Books, Awarded Books

Each year, the Caldecott Medal is given to a children's book of exceptional quality that exhibits the highest level of artistic excellence. The illustrators given the award are known for their illustrations, whether it be for their beauty, humor, realism, innovation, or any other number of qualities. To be awarded a Caldecott medal is the highest honor an American children's book illustrator can receive. Continuing our Caldecott Medal Winning Book Series, we take a look at Elizabeth Orton Jones, an author who missed out on the award as a runner up in 1944, only to win the award the following year in 1945.

     
Read more...


Veterans Day Spotlight: The Life & Works of Tim O'Brien

"I carry the memories of the ghosts of a place called Vietnamthe people of Vietnam, my fellow soldiers. More importantly, I carry the weight of responsibility and a sense of abiding guilt." Tim O'Brien, in an interview with NPR.

Tim O’Brien, most notably acclaimed for his stories on the War in Vietnam, was born on October 1, 1947. Today, as the United States celebrates Veterans Day, we thought we'd take a closer look at O'Brien's life and work.

     
Read more...


Ten More Facts You Should Know About Jane Goodall

By Brian Hoey. Nov 10, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Science

Dame Jane Morris Goodall DBE, more affectionately known as Dr. Jane, is the world’s foremost expert on Chimpanzees, a United Nations Peace Ambassador, and an inspiration to budding ethologists the world over. Since making the discovery that chimps make and use tools while studying their behavior in the field more than half a century ago, she has become one of the most recognizable and beloved figures in the global scientific community. A few years back, we penned a post titled Ten Facts You Should Know About Jane Goodall. Here are ten more facts about her you may find of interest.

     
Read more...


Happy Birthday, Kay Thompson!

By Adrienne Rivera. Nov 9, 2018. 4:00 PM.

Topics: Children's Books

Kay Thompson is perhaps today best known for her work on the beloved children's book series Eloise and for her role in the equally famous film adaptation of the musical Funny Face. Both her literary, film, and music careers represent a bygone sort of old Hollywood glamour. From the music she arranged for MGM studios to her night club acts to the ritzy penthouse apartment that served as home to Eloise, Thompson's life and work serve as a glimpse into a exciting age of New York and Tinsel Town that now exists only in pop culture and memories. But it's the human heart of her work and the precocious spirit of Eloise that makes for an enduring classic. Today would have been Kay Thompson's 109th birthday, so let's take a look at the career of this Hollywood and children's literature icon.

     
Read more...


Things to Consider Before Adding a Signed Book to Your Collection

By Brian Hoey. Nov 3, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting

In his famous essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” (1935) Walter Benjamin describes the “aura” that exists around a work of art that hasn’t been mechanically reproduced (i.e. printed off on a printing press, copied onto a DVD, etc.). The aura, he says, is the element of the work that can’t be replicated outside of its definite location in time and space, giving a ritualistic, almost mystical element that changes the way that we engage with it. This, it seems, in a nutshell, is why we like signed books, and why we often treat them as precious objects of almost totemic significance. After all, you can get the text of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) off the internet and print out as many copies as you want, but a signed edition can’t be copied in the same way. If it gets damaged or destroyed, there’s no way of replacing it in the world.

     
Read more...


Caldecott-Winning Books Perfect For Fall

By Adrienne Rivera. Nov 2, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Caldecott Medal, Children's Books

The Caldecott Medal is the most prestigious award for children's book illustration in America. Books awarded the medal are widely sought by libraries, children, and collectors alike. Though these books make for an excellent read any time of the year, we've picked out a few winners that are perfect to read during the fall. In some particular way, each of these books conjure up the feeling of autumn. Whether it be in their depiction of cool weather and changing leaves or by the way they evoke the feelings of the Thanksgiving season, these titles are perfect for this time of year. So curl up under a blanket with some hot apple cider, and check out our Caldecott recommendations for fall.

     
Read more...


Hilary Knight Outside of Eloise

By Abigail Bekx. Nov 1, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Illustrators, Children's Books

Illustrator Hilary Knight has brought joy to many children through his work. Despite his large collection of work, Eloise, easily his most popular series, tends to overshadow all of his other books. Understandably, the characters and stories in the Eloise books have been loved by many readers, allowing for the lesser known works to be overshadowed. Both original works and collaborations are often glossed over in favor of the incorrigible Eloise. Many of Knight’s works outside of Eloise are still well loved and receive high praise from readers. Let's examine some of them today.

     
Read more...


    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.

    Get blog notifications per email:

    Download the James Bond Dossier

    Recent Posts

    Book Glossary
    Get your free Guide to Book Care

    Blog Archive

    > see older posts
    A Guide to Historic Libraries Part I