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The Birth of the Harry Potter Phenomenon

By Katie Behrens. Jul 31, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, Book History

July 31 may seem an unremarkable day to some, but not to fans of Harry Potter. It’s Harry’s birthday as well as that of his creator, J.K. Rowling. The publication of the Harry Potter books has unquestionably changed children’s literature and arguably the world. How did this genre-busting phenomenon even begin?

     
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Five of Beatrix Potter's Best Books

By Abigail Bekx. Jul 28, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Children's Books

Beatrix Potter’s 23 original tales include her works published between 1902 and 1930. All of the tales take place in the same fictional universe, sometimes referred to as The World of Peter Rabbit. While all of Potter’s work is wonderfully skilled and serves as a paragon of children’s stories, her 23 original publications are the best known and tend to hold the most sentimental value for readers. Here's our selection of five of Potter's best efforts.

     
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Caldecott Winning Illustrators Series: Lynd Ward

By Adrienne Rivera. Jul 25, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Caldecott Medal, Children's Books

Every year the Caldecott Medal is awarded to the children's book that best displays a new level of excellence and creativity in the field. These books often come to represent a gold standard for children's book illustration and become favorites of not only children but also of collectors. Sometimes, as in the case of the 1953 winner, the illustrator is not just a major figure in children's book illustration, but in other artistic fields as well. Join us as we continue our Caldecott Medal Winning Illustrators series by exploring the life and career of legendary illustrator Lynd Ward, who not only left behind an impressive legacy in the world of children's book illustration but also was a trail blazer in the field of graphic novels, a genre he is credited with bringing to the U.S. in its earliest form.

     
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Zelda Fitzgerald's Fascinating Novel

By Abigail Bekx. Jul 24, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors

Written in the first weeks of Zelda Fitzgerald’s stay at John Hopkins University’s Phipps Clinic, Save Me the Waltz is a fictional autobiographical telling of Fitzgerald’s life and marriage. First published in 1932 by Charles Scribner’s & Sons, the novel did not sell and was heavily criticized by her husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and professional critics. It was not until recent years that focus has returned to Zelda Fitzgerald’s work and an effort has been made to examine her work without her husband’s negative influence.      
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Raymond Chandler: Making Pulp Serious

Raymond Chandler is one of those rare authors who reminds the literary establishment that genre has no bearing over a book’s quality. Chandler bridged gaps in his career. His work helped bring crime fiction to academics, and the serious novel to Hollywood studios. He considered himself an intellectual snob and loved Charles Dickens, Henry James, and Ernest Hemingway. He was a man who studied Greek and Latin, but Chandler emphasized that his own strange preferences brought him to the world of the detective story.

     
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Ernest Hemingway, Famous Author or Failed Double Agent?

By Andrea Koczela. Jul 21, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Nobel Prize Winners

During World War II, Ernest Hemingway was determined to be a spy. He spoke to no less than four governmental entities on the matter. Three were American: the American embassy in Cuba, the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), and the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). One was Russian: the NKVD, a forerunner of the KGB. He accepted positions from three—the American embassy in Cuba, the ONI, and the NKVD—and worked simultaneously for the Americans and Russians from 1941-1943.

     
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Five Interesting Books About the Moon Landing

By Abigail Bekx. Jul 20, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, History, Science

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing! On July 20, 1969, NASA successfully landed the Apollo 11 astronauts on the moon. Eight years earlier in 1961, President Kennedy kicked the Space Race into overdrive when he called for more efforts and resources to be put into the space programs with the goal of reaching the moon by the end of the decade. July 16, 1969, found Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins boarding the Saturn V rocket at the Kennedy Space Center and being launched into Earth’s orbit. After three days Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the moon in Eagle, the mission’s lunar module. They spent two and a half hours outside of Eagle exploring the surface, taking samples and photographs, and planting the American Flag. On July 24, Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins splashed down off Hawaii, marking the end of the Apollo 11 mission.

     
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What Were Americans Reading When We Landed on the Moon?

By Brian Hoey. Jul 19, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Movie Tie-Ins

Sometime around Thanksgiving 1862, Harriet Beecher Stowe, author Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), met sitting-president Abraham Lincoln. Upon the initial introduction, Lincoln famously quipped, “So you're the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!” Accounts of the exact wording vary, and in fact the whole story may be apocryphal, but it still speaks to the way that art and media help us make sense of history as it unfolds around us. Uncle Tom’s Cabin (or, if not Stowe’s novel, then perhaps works like Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1961) or 1845's The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass) gave 19th century readers new ways of understanding the “peculiar institution” over which the Civil War would be fought. As the war progressed, books like these continued to act as touchstones for anyone seeking to understand the conflict, the nation, and the world.

     
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Making History: A Tribute to John Glenn

By Kristin Masters. Jul 18, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Book Collecting, Biographies, Science

When John Glenn became the first man to orbit around the earth, he reawakened a hope and patriotism in the citizens of the United States. Today would have been Glenn's 98th birthday, fittingly falling only a couple days before the anniversary of the first lunar landing. In his honor, we're remembering what the world was like all those years ago when he rose up and inspired a nation.

     
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Famous Astronauts and Their Lives After NASA

By Adrienne Rivera. Jul 17, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 successfully landed on the moon and for the first time, mankind took its first physical steps out in the universe. The 50th anniversary of the lunar landing is fast approaching. The things NASA has learned from that first landing and the numerous following expeditions into space have changed the face of scientific understanding. To celebrate  NASA and the brave astronauts who have made history throughout the years, let's take a look at the lives of some of the most famous astronauts after they ended their careers in space exploration.

     
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Collecting Clement Clarke Moore's The Night Before Christmas

By Anne Cullison. Jul 15, 2019. 9:00 AM.

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

For many families, Christmas wouldn't come around without a Christmas Eve reading of the ultimate holiday poem, Clement Clarke Moore’s The Night Before Christmas. Originally known as A Visit from St. Nicholas, Twas the Night Before Christmas has been a part of the Christmas tradition for over a century and a half. Who was the author behind this famous Christmas poem? What are some valuable editions of  The Night Before Christmas to add to your collection? We thought we'd give you a taste of Christmas in July and explore this popular holiday title.

     
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Gerald Ford, President by Accident

By Anne Cullison. Jul 14, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History

This week we celebrate the birth of Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States. Ford was born as Leslie Lynch King Jr. on July 14, 1913 in Omaha, Nebraska. While many presidents grew up under affluent circumstances, Ford succeeded through hard work—combined with very unusual circumstances. Indeed, he became the only President of the United States never elected to either the presidency or the vice presidency.

     
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Ten Inspiring Quotes From Henry David Thoreau's Walden

By Abigail Bekx. Jul 12, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature

Born in 1817, Henry David Thoreau spent most of his life in Concord, Massachusetts. He was sent to Harvard, where he did very well and in 1837, graduated in the top half of his class. Despite his high placement and due to the economic depression, lack of job opportunities, and Thoreau’s disinterest in available careers, he began teaching at the Concord public school. He left after two weeks due to a disagreement over how to discipline students. From there, he started working at his family’s pencil factory. In 1838, Thoreau and his brother John opened and operated a school until it closed in 1841. A second stint in the pencil factory ended when Thoreau was invited to work for and live with his mentor and friend Ralph Waldo Emerson, which led to aspirations of writing.

     
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Famous Authors and Their Pseudonyms (Part One)

By Kristin Masters. Jul 11, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Book News

When J.K. Rowling, author of the famous Harry Potter series, admitted that she wrote The Cuckoo's Calling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, the world was in uproar. It should come as no surprise that Rowling would choose to write under a false name, though. After all, she originally hid her identity by writing as J.K. Rowlingrather than using her full name, Joanne Rowlingand she's not the first legendary author to use a pseudonym.

     
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O.J. Simpson's If I Did It: The Road to Publication

By Leah Dobrinska. Jul 9, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Book History

Born on July 9, 1947, O.J. Simpson is 72 years old today. We thought his birthday was a fitting day to revisit the interesting publication history of his notorious "tell-all", If I Did It, so we're republishing our post on it here.

We are always fascinated by a book’s road to publication. From its author’s efforts to get his or her story on paper, to its editor’s work, to the actual publishing of the book, it’s a nuanced process, filled with highs and lows. O.J. Simpson—the most notorious subject in a criminal trial in the last century—penned If I Did It (with the help of a ghost writer), and the book’s publication history is an interesting one, making first editions highly collectible.

     
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Defining Science Fiction: Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, and Isaac Asimov

By Brian Hoey. Jul 7, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Science Fiction

Defining science fiction has always been a tricky proposition. It has been suggested that "you know it when you see it," but that hardly seems a sufficient rule. Still less helpful is the notion that the science fiction moniker applies to any fiction dealing imaginatively with concepts borrowed from science. The fact of the matter remains that select staples of the literary cannon have displayed an interest in science from Shakespeare’s work through the likes of Thomas Pynchon. This does little to change the fact that when we speak of science fiction we hardly ever mean The Tempest (1610), and we usually don’t mean Gravity’s Rainbow (1973) either.

     
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Nancy Reagan: Some of the Books

By Shelley Kelber. Jul 6, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History

The media seemed pleased to have Ronald and Nancy Reagan in the White House. They lauded the glamour they brought from Hollywood, and Nancy’s style was compared favorably with Jacqueline Kennedy. She was always perfectly coiffed and dressed in designer gowns the mass media reading public could never dream of affording. The list of books depicting Nancy Reagan's life is a lengthy one. Many depict Mrs. Reagan in an unflattering light, while others paint the picture of a love story between her and President Ronald Reagan. We've compiled several titles and descriptions here for your reading and collecting pleasures. 

     
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The Founding Fathers: Authors and Revolutionaries

By Kristin Masters. Jul 4, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book News

When you think of controversial authors, what names come to mind? Perhaps Karl Marx and Charles Darwin, or maybe Ayn Rand and J.D. Salinger. But the original "kings of controversy" came much earlier. America's founding fathers penned two of the most influentialand revolutionarydocuments in history: the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution.

     
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Edgar Allan Poe, Impoverished Literary Genius

By Andrea Koczela. Jul 3, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature

Today we celebrate Edgar Allan Poe, master of the short story and inventor of detective fiction. Although best remembered for his sinister tales and mysteries, during his life Poe was known for his scathing literary reviews. Poe lived most of his life on the brink of poverty and was the first well-known American author to live solely on his writing. Although his work initially received mixed reviews, Poe has since emerged as one of America’s most beloved writers.

     
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Top Books by State: Colorado

By Adrienne Rivera. Jul 2, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Books collecting

This month we are continuing our literary road trip through the United States by taking a look at some of the great books set in Colorado. Now there are many amazing writers that come from Colorado, but a surprising few of them set their books in their home state. While only one of the authors mentioned on this list hails from the Centennial State, all of them embody something of the beauty of Colorado. The western state is known for its amazing geographical features. Within its borders are mountains, plains, and deserts. In Colorado, you can experience the bustle of a busy city or the majestic isolation of a snowy mountain. There is history and beauty there, and the books on this list all showcase that, even if one of the selections may surprise you. Check out these books to see some of what makes Colorado so special.      
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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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