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Brian Hoey
Writer and all around book nerd, Brian puts his English degree to good use turning words into magic. A great lover of beer, baseball, and books, he can write on Baltic Porter and Katherine Anne Porter with equal ease.

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James Joyce and Company: Sylvia Beach's Literary Table

By Brian Hoey. Feb 2, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Book History

Imagining literary Paris between the wars is almost too much.Many of us delight in the knowledge that, say, James Joyce and Henrik Ibsen exchanged some letters, or that C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were fast friends. The prospect of a single time and place that contained the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and others has the trappings of a literary meeting of the minds unrivaled by any setting in human history.If you think that you’d be almost irrecoverably star struck in such a setting, you’re in good company.In fact, you’re in the same boat as F. Scott Fitzgerald himself.

     
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The Origin of Donaldists: How Micky Maus Became a Bestselling Magazine

By Brian Hoey. Jan 23, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, Movie Tie-Ins

In Germany, to this day, there are so-called Donaldists: men and women who apply rigorous scientific and anthropological methods to understanding the world of Donald Duck and Duckburg, his hometown. That’s right, in Germany, Donald Ducknot Mickey Mouseis the star. He’s the reason that Micky Maus, the German-language Disney comic magazine, is the fourth best-selling comic magazine of all time, surpassing a billion sales over the course of its 60+ year run. Considering that no other Disney comics rank so highly in their respective formats, the tremendous ongoing success of Micky Maus warrants some explanation. How did these magazines become best-sellers—and how did Donald Duck surpass the world’s most iconic small rodent in popularity?

     
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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. 

     
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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.

     
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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.

     
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The Man With Many Names: Collecting Stephen King

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

Topics: Horror, Book Collecting

Even the task of summing up Stephen King’s career and body of work is daunting. The New England-based literary giant has published more than 50 books, including acclaimed works of sci-fi, fantasy, suspense, horror, supernatural fiction, literary fiction, and, no doubt, other genres as well. He is so famous that even his pseudonyms are household names, and his works have been adapted for the screen more times than it would be in any way reasonable to recount in this space. 

     
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Book Collecting Basics: What is Collation?

By Brian Hoey. Aug 28, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Book History

The study of Shakespeare has, historically, thrived off of small inconsistencies in the great playwright’s printed editions. When you pick up a Folger edition of the Bard’s work and find that your favorite soliloquy out of the Pelican Shakespeare is ever so slightly altered, you experience the fruits of a literary labor that is as much a science as it is an art. The foundation of this science is called collation. 

     
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Eight Fascinating Facts About Jaws Author Peter Benchley

By Brian Hoey. Jul 18, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Movie Tie-Ins

Many readers only know Peter Benchley, if they know him at all, as the author of Jaws (1974), the novel upon which Steven Spielberg’s acclaimed blockbuster film was based—but Benchley was more than a one hit wonder (or a one trick pony). In a career spanning decades and media, Benchley would go on to write a number of acclaimed novels like Beast (1991) and The Deep (1976), not to mention screenplays and television programs, in addition to working as an ocean conservationist. Here are a few interesting facts about him.

     
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McSweeney's Publishing Company: Notable Titles

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

Topics: Awarded Books, American Literature, First Editions

The brainchild of acclaimed author and philanthropist Dave Eggers, McSweeney’s has been publishing vibrant, frequently off-kilter writing in various forms for more than 20 years. While for many the name McSweeney’s primarily conjures up images of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, (i.e. the good people who brought us “It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherf*ckers”), the publisher also puts out a quarterly literary magazine as well as standalone books. Though these various concerns may seem disparate, there is certainly a unity to the various Eggers-run projects, and readers can expect anything with the McSweeney’s stamp to showcase an often wry (though sometimes quite serious), literary sense of adventure.

     
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In Memoriam: Elie Wiesel and the Myth of Sisyphus

By Brian Hoey. Jul 2, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Nobel Prize Winners

In 1978, a four part miniseries called Holocaust aired on NBC. It featured Meryl Streep as a cast member, and it portrayed all of the horrors that we have since come to expect from depictions of the Holocaust (to enumerate them would, perhaps, defeat the purpose). Though it was one of the earliest examples of this particular historical atrocity being adapted for prime time, in the ensuing decades it undoubtedly blurred together in the minds of its viewers with similar media like Schindler’s List (1993) and Sophie’s Choice (1982). Though the miniseries, which was ostensibly fictionalized from true events, would garner critical acclaim, Elie Wiesel, who remained one of the world’s foremost chroniclers of the Shoah until his death two years ago, hated it. 

     
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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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