Did you know?  Check our Rare Books Page

The Best of 2018: Our Ten Most Popular Blog Posts

By Leah Dobrinska. Dec 31, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors

It's New Year's Eve which means another year has come and gone. Today is a perfect day for reflection. As such, we wanted to revisit some of our most popular blog posts of the year and thank you, our readers, for returning to our site and engaging with us about all things books and book collecting. We love this community, and we're thankful for you. Here's to another great year of bookish posts in 2019! For now, enjoy a review of these great articles from the past year. Happy New Year!

     
Read more...


Rudyard Kipling: A Retrospective

Today marks the anniversary of the birthday of Rudyard Kipling, the world renowned author who brought a new (and often controversial) perspective to British imperialism. During his lifetime Kipling would cross continents, win a Nobel Prize, and befriend the celebrated authors of his day.

     
Read more...


Five Books That'll Teach Your Kids Important Life Skills

By Katherine Lutz. Dec 27, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books

We all want our kids to be ready for this upcoming year and the future as a whole. One great way to help children gain and develop skills is through reading. This can be done through fiction books with characters who possess important qualities like bravery or empathy as well as through books specifically geared toward a certain skill. What follows are some important titles and themed books that could help your child develop a number of skills to use in 2019 and beyond.

     
Read more...


How Julia Child Transformed American Cooking

By Ellie Koczela. Dec 26, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History

In terms of impact on American culture,  Mastering the Art of French Cooking is one of the most influential books written in the last several decades. Published when the United States was immersed in TV dinners and green bean casserole, Julia Child’s first and most famous book taught Americans to view food through a lens of pleasure and art rather than convenience. Written in tandem with two French authors, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, it sold over 100,000 copies its first year.      
Read more...


Ten (More) of the Best Literary Christmas Quotes

By Leah Dobrinska. Dec 25, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Christmas Books

Merry Christmas to our readers! Wherever you are reading this blog post from today, we hope you are filled with good cheer and the merriment that only the holiday season can bring. Take some time to enjoy the following beautiful literary Christmas quotes (and if you're looking for more, check out our post on this subject from last year). These we've taken from our favorite books and poems as well as from other holiday-based writings. We hope they warm your heart and bring a smile to your face as you enjoy Christmas day. 

     
Read more...


Childhood Classics: The Night Before Christmas

By Katharina Koch. Dec 24, 2018. 9:00 AM.

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

It's Christmas Eve! As adults, sometimes we can lose sight of the joy, wonder, and magic of this season. But one book that has always encapsulated those emotions is The Night Before Christmas. This childhood classic has enraptured generations, so much so that some rare book collectors even focus all their efforts on this single title.

     
Read more...


Jolabokaflod: Iceland’s Christmas Book Flood

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

Topics: Christmas Books, Rare Book Gift Ideas

In the United States, there is some disagreement about when, precisely, the Christmas season starts. Extremely conservative estimates might say it starts at the beginning of Advent, some might declare the first of December to be the official start of the season, while increasingly many of us seem to have settled on the discount-fueled pandemonium of Black Friday as our starter pistol. In Iceland, on the other hand, there is no such ambiguity. The Christmas season begins with the annual November distribution of the Bokatidindi—the catalog that lists almost all of the books that will be published in Iceland during the coming two months. 

     
Read more...


Ten of the Best Quotes from East of Eden

By Abigail Bekx. Dec 20, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors

Born February 27, 1902, John Steinbeck is best known for being a prolific American writer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962. One of his best known works is 1952’s East of Eden. The novel follows two families, the Trasks and the Hamiltons, through their lives in the Salinas Valley in Central California. Often considered the best of his work, Steinbeck explores themes of love, good, and evil, enrapturing and inspiring readers through his characters and philosophy. His insight into human nature twines throughout the novel, showing the importance of “thou mayest.” Though it's difficult to choose just ten, here are ten of the best quotes from East of Eden. 

     
Read more...


Five Lesser-Known Books to Read This Christmas

Christmas is a time for traditions. From singing carols to hanging stockings, every family has their own way to celebrate the season. For many people, that includes reading their favorite Christmas stories, like A Christmas Carol or A Visit From St. Nicholas. This year, why not try something new? The following books are a somewhat less well known. Maybe your family's newest Christmas tradition is somewhere on this list.

     
Read more...


Caldecott Winning Illustrators Series: Maud and Miska Petersham

Part of what makes Caldecott-winning books so desirable for both children and collectors is that the illustrations accompanying the stories are at the highest level found in children's literature. Whether honoring traditions, putting a new spin on a method of illustration, or pushing the boundaries of what is commonly seen in books for children, Caldecott winning-illustrators represent the best of what books can be. Continuing our Caldecott-winning illustrators series, we look now at married writer and illustrator duo Maud and Miska Petersham, who are known in the industry for their skill and dedication to the craft that helped drive the direction of modern children's book illustration.

     
Read more...


Top 10 Children's Books for the Holiday Season

By Katie Behrens. Dec 14, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, Christmas Books

Whether you’re eight years old or eighty, there’s something magical about receiving a children’s book as a holiday gift. Whether it's a story you knew and loved as a child, or one you're passing on to a new generation, children's books stir old memories and create new. You open up the wrapping paper to find a beautiful story that transports you to a different place and time.  It is also a meaningful experience for the gift giver, wanting to pass along a character or story that they loved as a child. And for those merely ‘young at heart’, what a joy to receive a rare copy of a book that you haven’t seen in years!

     
Read more...


Collecting Saul Bellow

By Audrey Golden. Dec 13, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Awarded Books

During his long writing career, Saul Bellow wrote 17 books that were reviewed in The New York Times over a period of six decades. Many of those reviews were written by prominent writers in their own right, such as Cynthia Ozick, Irving Howe, and Alfred Kazin. Even earlier, Bellow himself was writing articles for the newspaper on other authors’ works and questions about his own texts. And that’s not all. He also wrote a play, and he was interviewed hundreds of times over the years in which he wrote. He also began editing a literary magazine, News from the Republic of Letters, when he was 81 years old. During his lifetime, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1976, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction the same year, and the National Book Award on three separate occasions. All of this to say that Bellow not only was extremely well-reviewed and prolific over the course of his career, but that it’s not really a surprise that his books have become so collectible. Bellow was born in Quebec in 1915, spent most of his adult life in Chicago, and died in 2005 in Brookline, Massachusetts. We want to give you some advice for building a collection of Bellow’s work.

     
Read more...


Book Spotlight: Wag-by-Wall by Beatrix Potter

Beloved children's book author and illustrator Beatrix Potter was a staple in many childhoods. Perhaps best known for her Peter Rabbit stories, Potter was a prolific writer with familiar, enchanting illustrations. In 1944, Wag-by-Wall, originally intended for The Fairy Caravan, was published for the first time in The Hornbook Magazine. When published as a book, illustrations were omitted since Potter did not include them in any drafts. The setting of the book is based on the Lake District Potter lived in and loved. Her detailed descriptions of the setting and characters serve as an excellent example of Potter’s skill as a storyteller and her magical ability to enrapture readers of all ages.  

     
Read more...


Cornelia Funke: Fantasy for All Ages

By Adrienne Rivera. Dec 10, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Children's Books, Movie Tie-Ins

German writer Cornelia Funke was born in 1958 in Dorsten in what was formerly West Germany. She studied pedagogy at the University of Hamburg and after graduation, worked for three years as a social worker. She married book printer Rolf Frahme in 1979 and shortly after, left social work to briefly pursue illustration. However, she quickly turned to writing her own books, and her efforts have been supremely successful. Her first books, which in English were titled Ghosthunters and the Incredibly Revolting Ghost and C.H.I.X., were published in 1993, and each were the the first book in a series for elementary-aged readers. She published her first novel, The Thief Lord, in 2000 and has gone on to write many successful novels for young adults, including Dragon Rider and the Inkheart trilogy, and most recently the MirrorWorld novel The Golden Yarn and picture book The Book No One Ever Read.

     
Read more...


Remembering James Thurber

By Lauren Corba. Dec 8, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Caldecott Medal

On December 8, 1894, James Thurber was born in Columbus, Ohio to Charles and Mary Thurber. His father was a clerk and minor politician with bigger dreams of being a lawyer or actor. Thurber was the middle child and while playing a game of “William Tell” with his brothers, he was shot in the eye with an arrow and from the accident, lost sight in one of his eyes. Although sight remained in the uninjured eye, he had various vision problems throughout his life. His wound left him unable to participate in normal activities for children his age, which left him to pursue indoor activities and enhance his imagination.

     
Read more...


The Real Man Behind Santa Claus (And the Books That Made Him Famous)

By Leah Dobrinska. Dec 6, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Christmas Books

At this time of year, it is common to hear cheery adults ask wide-eyed children, “What do you want from Santa Claus?” In the lead-up to Christmas day, one can find a white-beard wielding, red suit wearing, rosy-faced man at most every shopping center and holiday event, and whether the young children are excited to tell him their Christmas wishes or run screaming in terror at the thought of sitting upon his lap, imagining Christmas without Santa Claus is incredibly difficult. Indeed, Santa has become so intertwined with the Christmas holiday that for many, he takes center stage on December 24 and 25. What are the origins of the modern day Santa Claus? Who was the real St. Nicholas? And who helped bring the image of the man in the red suit into popular culture?

     
Read more...


Hugo vs. Disney: The Changing Case of Notre-Dame

By Abigail Bekx. Dec 5, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Movie Tie-Ins

Walt Disney and his successors have a long tradition of retelling famous stories. Their history of changing the original work is usually rationalized as making the content more suitable for children, but, in some cases, the changes go past small edits. As with most books changed into movies, in order to condense a long work into only 90 minutes, certain more unnecessary plot points must be cut. When remaking The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, however, Disney did more than simplify and streamline. Some elements were removed by necessity, such as much of the violence and many attempted seductions of Esmeralda, to make it appropriate for children, but some of the changes drastically altered characters and plot elements present in Victor Hugo’s original novel. 

     
Read more...


David Macaulay's Books For All Age

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

Topics: Legendary Illustrators, Children's Books

David Macaulay's books and illustrations are as thought-provoking as they are whimsical. He first had his idea for a French gargoyle story, which became Cathedral: The Story of its Construction, in the early seventies. While the lovely gargoyle ladies of medieval France did not make the cut, he was left with a drawing of a cathedral. This inspired a trip to Europe for research and resulted in the aforementioned Cathedral: The Story of its Construction's publication in the spring of 1973. Macaulay was given the Caldecott Honor Award for his efforts. He had been an interior designer and a high school teacher before, but after receiving such a prestigious award, he devoted himself to teaching illustration at his alma mater, the Rhode Island Institute of Design, and to writing and illustrating.

     
Read more...


Four of Jan Brett's Snowy Stories

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

Topics: Legendary Illustrators, Children's Books

As winter approaches, it is nice to curl up with a book and a blanket, or, if one is lucky enough to live someplace warm, to pretend it is cold. One author and illustrator especially suited for snowy day reading is Jan Brett. Due to her extensive research, Brett’s illustrations hold an element of realism, which helps readers connect to the characters and settings. With over 30 books, readers are presented with many options to choose from when finding a snowy story. Enjoyable by adult and child readers, Brett’s books provide a perfect winter read.   

     
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