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Audrey Golden
World literature scholar and erstwhile lawyer. Lover of international travel, outdoor markets, and rare books.

Recent Posts:

Literary Giants and the Nobel Prize Museum in Stockholm

By Audrey Golden. Feb 22, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Nobel Prize Winners

We recently visited the Nobel Prize Museum in Stockholm, Sweden, hoping to catch a glimpse of some objects or rare first editions by some of our favorite Nobel Prize-winning authors. Despite awarding more than 100 prizes to literary giants alone over the last century or so, the museum is actually a bit smaller than you might expect. As a result, you’ll find most literary objects on display at the museum as part of temporary or traveling exhibitions. There are a handful of what we suspect are permanent exhibits—including Maya traje belonging to Rigoberta Menchú Tum and a small hippopotamus figurine belonging to Mario Vargas Llosa. What are some of the recent temporary exhibits that gave visitors access to other objects and books of winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature? Let’s take a look. 

     
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Three of the Best Books from Poland

By Audrey Golden. Feb 21, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, History, Literary travel

The twentieth century was a complicated and often tragic one for Poland. The years leading up to Polish independence and the Second Republic were characterized by uprisings against the partitioning powers surrounding the region, and that independence was short-lived. During World War II, Poland was invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany, and many of the most notorious concentration camps were located within Poland’s borders. Once the war came to an end, Communist Poland, within the Soviet sphere of influence, became a repressive state. In the decades that followed, Polish citizens waged acts of resistance against various regime policies, culminating in some ways with the Solidarity movement in the early 1980s. Yet despite—or perhaps due to—its tumultuous political past, Poland has produced some of the most notable writers of the modern period. Are you interested in learning more about Poland and its writers of imaginative literature? We have some suggestions for you.

     
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Visiting the Newberry Library in Chicago

By Audrey Golden. Feb 18, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Libraries & Special Collections

We love visiting many different libraries in the United States and across the globe, but one of our favorites might be the Newberry Library in Chicago. With its diverse collections, fantastic exhibits, and emphasis on public programs, we believe the Newberry has something to offer to anyone and everyone. The library’s collection of manuscripts is vast, housing more than 800 Modern Manuscript collections that make up, in total, about 15,000 linear feet. The manuscript collection ranges in time from medieval works to those of the twentieth century. The Newberry has numerous other core collections, including those on local Chicago histories and American Indian and indigenous studies. Yet the reach of the library goes far beyond its research collections. To be sure, the Newberry also hosts exhibits and presentations, all open to the public. What else should you learn about the Newberry Library?

     
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Visiting Thomas Wolfe’s Old Kentucky Home in Asheville, NC

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

Topics: American Literature, Literature, Literary travel

Thomas Wolfe lived a very brief life. He was born in 1900 and lived only until 1938, dying of tuberculosis in his family’s stately home in Asheville, North Carolina. Although Wolfe was only 37 years old at the time of his death, he produced some of the greatest American modernist novels, including Look Homeward, Angel: A Story of the Buried Life (1929). In that novel, Thomas Wolfe celebrated his “Old Kentucky Home”—the house in Asheville where he was raised. If you’re interested in learning more about the writer, we recommend taking a trip to Asheville and touring the Wolfe family home. But before you go, don’t forget to read (or re-read, as the case may be) Look Homeward, Angel so that you can be sure to recognize the house that Wolfe painstakingly depicted in his novel. 

     
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Buying Rare and Antiquarian Books in Costa Rica

By Audrey Golden. Feb 11, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Literary travel

Buying used, rare, and antiquarian books in Costa Rica’s capital city of San Jose can be quite a challenge, but not because of a dearth of bookstores. Rather, unlike many cities in various parts of the world packed that are packed with bookshops, San Jose streets don’t have numbers that allow visitors unfamiliar with the city’s directional methods to locate with ease their intended destinations. Instead, directions are developed almost entirely on landmarks. As such, rather than receiving a specific address for a bookstore, you’ll get directions based on distance to or from a nearby restaurant, church, or coffee shop. For example, if you’d like to find your way to the bookstore Librería Expo 10, these are the directions you’ll need to take with you: travel 225 meters to the east of the “Biblical Clinic.” Or, for instance, if you’re hoping to browse the book selection at Librería El Ahorro, you’ll need to go 200 meters to the south of the church “La Merced.” As you might imagine, it can take a little while to grow accustomed to such directions. But once you get acclimated, there are many rare and antiquarian bookstores to discover.

     
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Sam Shepard's Wildly Varied Literary Career

By Audrey Golden. Feb 9, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Literature, Drama

Just two years ago, Sam Shepard’s now-famous play True West (1980) was revived on the London stage at the tricycle theatre. About fifteen years ago now, the seminal work was revived for the first time in New York City on a stage starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly. For many theatregoers and movie viewers today, we know Sam Shepard best for his own performances as an actor, in films such as Days of Heaven (1978), The Right Stuff (1983), and All the Pretty Horses (2000). Yet Shepard has a long and interesting literary career that began years before he ever appeared in cinematic features. Between 1966 and 1968, Shepard won six Obie Awards for his playwriting, and he ultimately went on to win a Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his 1979 play Buried Child. He has published more than 40 plays to date, along with nine collections of plays and short stories.

     
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Best Books on Canada

By Audrey Golden. Feb 3, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Awarded Books, Literature, Literary travel

In many ways, writing a short article listing the best books on Canada is an impossible task. The nation is a particularly diverse one filled with prolific First Nations indigenous writers, novelists who are descendants of European settlers, and immigrant authors from Southern and West Africa, Southeast Asia, Central Europe, and other parts of the world. In short, we can’t imagine any kind of singular classification of Canadian literature. We can, however, offer you some of our more recent favorites that make up at least one list of the best books on this country.

     
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Reimagining Detroit: The Fiction of Jeffrey Eugenides

By Audrey Golden. Jan 27, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Pulitzer Prize, Literature, Literary travel

Since when has Detroit been an important setting for works of fiction? Sure, if you look to cinema, you might be able to name a number of movies set in Detroit that emphasize characteristics of the city, such as Alex Proyas’s The Crow (1994) or Curtis Hanson’s 8 Mile (2002). But in all honesty, Detroit really wasn’t seen by most readers as a productive literary space until Jeffrey Eugenides depicted the city in new and interesting ways for readers. Detroit, it turns out, is more than just Motown when it comes to artistic production. In both The Virgin Suicides (1993) and Middlesex (2002), Eugenides portrays sides of Detroit that are at once full of nostalgia while also being sites of sadness and great change.

     
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South African Literature in the Early Days of Apartheid

By Audrey Golden. Jan 25, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Awarded Books, Literature, Nobel Prize Winners

After World War II ended in 1945, the de facto racism that had plagued Black South Africans for decades became institutionalized when the National Party came to power in 1948. The all-white Afrikaner government instituted the system of apartheid, which produced laws that required racial segregation and imposed severe penalties for those who opposed the regime. Through the 1960s, Black South Africans were forced into segregated townships outside the major cities of South Africa, such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban. For fiction writers and authors of creative nonfiction who sought to speak out against the policies of apartheid, publication possibilities became very limited. In many instances, writers were severely censored, and numerous authors saw their work banned in their home country of South Africa. Yet works of both nonfiction and fiction survive to help depict for us the early years of apartheid and the ways in which the government perpetrated irreparable harms upon many citizens of South Africa.

     
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Politics & the Nobel Prize: The Works of Naguib Mahfouz

By Audrey Golden. Jan 21, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Nobel Prize Winners

Who is Naguib Mahfouz, and why should you read his works of fiction? Mahfouz was born in Cairo, Egypt in 1911, and he wrote ten novels within a span of just over a decade. However, the reason that most of us know Mahfouz’s work has to do with a series of works he wrote in the late 1950s which ultimately led to him winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1988. In 1957, the “Cairo Trilogy” appeared, which included three texts: Between-the-Palaces, Palace of Longing, and Sugarhouse. According to the Nobel Prize committee, these narratives “made him famous throughout the Arab world as a depictor of traditional urban life.” In the years that followed, Mahfouz’s writing became more political, critiquing systems of governance in Egypt and intimating a deep-rooted need for freedom of expression. By the time he was awarded the Nobel Prize, he had written thirty novels and over one hundred short stories. When we think about Mahfouz today, what should we remember?

     
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