Did you know?  Check our Rare Books Page

Stephen Pappas
Reader, writer, and political windbag. There’s nothing I love more than finding new research to illuminate the well known or unknown.

Recent Posts:

Rainer Maria Rilke: Travel, Poetry, and the Search for Morality

By Stephen Pappas. Mar 1, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Poetry

Rainer Maria Rilke was a Bohemian-Austrian born in Prague in 1875. Throughout his life, Rilke searched for a way to reconcile religion, philosophy, and art. The closest he came was when he traveled to Russia with Lou Andreas-Salomé, his close friend and confidant. Rilke glorified Russian peasant life. To him it seemed that Russians were inherently more moral than their European equivalents. What led Rike to this determination? What were the greatest influences on arguably one of the most adept lyrical poets the German language has to offer?

     
Read more...


The Story Behind Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography

By Stephen Pappas. Jan 17, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Biographies

Benjamin Franklin is undoubtedly one of the largest looming figures in American history. His shadow rests on everything from politics to spirituality. And his biography is just as important to American literature as he was to American politics. However, the road to publication was not easy. Fittingly of such an unconventional figure, the story behind Franklin’s autobiography is filled with many twists and turns.

     
Read more...


Author Yukio Mishima's Life and Legacy

By Stephen Pappas. Jan 14, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, History

Yukio Mishima holds a prominent place in Japan’s rich literary history. Nominated three times for the Nobel Prize in Literature, Mishima's works explore ideas of sexuality, death, suicide, politics, Buddhism, Shintoism, atheism, innocence, corruption and aging to name a few. His Confessions of a Mask follows a young boy who realizes he is homosexual, and Mishima uses the boy’s internal monologue to explore what it’s like growing up gay in the conservative military society that was Japan before and during World War II.

     
Read more...


Karel Čapek and the Origin of the Word Robot

By Stephen Pappas. Jan 9, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Science Fiction

Karel Čapek’s Czech play RUR, (Rossum’s Universal Robots) is notable for numerous reasons. Written in 1920, the play's commentary on the politics of its day earned its author a spot on the Nazi most-wanted list. RUR details a robot revolution that would overthrow the dominant class, humans, and lead to their extinction. Above all, the play is most well known for introducing the world to the word, "robot." In fact, before Čapek’s play, what we think of as robots were mainly called "androids" or "automatons," with "automaton" meaning a self-operating machine. In Czech, "robota"translates to "forced labor." It’s associated with the type of work done by serfs during the feudal ages.

     
Read more...


Notable Speeches: The State of the Union and Nobel Lectures

By Stephen Pappas. Jan 4, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Nobel Prize Winners

As the first president of the United States, George Washington established many precedents for the office. Indeed, he began one of the country's most enduring traditions: the delivery of a State of the Union address. The Constitution required the president to update Congress on the nation’s progress, but didn’t specify how or when. It was Washington who decided those particulars. The State of the Union remains one of the major speeches of the year, both nationally and internationally. The annual Nobel lectures are also notable on a global scale. Today, we present a sample of noteworthy public speaking moments ranging from United States presidents to Nobel laureates.      
Read more...


The Fantastic Imagination of William Joyce

By Stephen Pappas. Dec 11, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Illustrators, Children's Books

William Joyce is the multi-talented writer, illustrator, and genius behind some of the most beloved and well known children's stories, films, and characters of the past half century. Joyce's imagination has served him well, and his trademark style must be the fantastical ideas he portrays all while pushing boundaries and asking “what if?”.

     
Read more...


Illustrations and Woodcuts of Mary Azarian

By Stephen Pappas. Dec 8, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Illustrators, Children's Books

Renowned artist Mary Azarian has been working on woodcuts since the fourth grade. Now, she runs a one-woman woodcutting business, doing all of her own printing, painting, packaging, and distributing. Her woodcuts are inspired by the nature that surrounds her, and she says she's drawn much inspiration from her own life and experiences in the natural world. Azarian has illustrated over 50 books. Her most well known work is in the children's book Snowflake Bentley which won the 1999 Caldecott Medal.

     
Read more...


Famous Friendships of Legendary Author Mark Twain

By Stephen Pappas. Nov 30, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Mark Twain

Mark Twain, the father of American Literature, captured the limelight of his age in a way that no writer has since. The stories that surround him are the stuff of myths and legends. His influence as America’s greatest “funnyman” has lasted for over a century. Twain’s relationships are just as interesting as Twain himself. From presidents to inventors, Twain brushed shoulders with many of history’s giants. Today, we explore some of Twain's many famous friendships.

     
Read more...


The Birth of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species

By Stephen Pappas. Nov 24, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Science

Today, we celebrate the 156th birthday of Charles Darwin's most famous work: On the Origin of Species. Darwin's depiction of evolution and natural selection was groundbreaking. And it remains one of the most important books of scientific thought in all of history. We'd like to use the anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species to dig deeper into its author and the work itself.

     
Read more...


Don DeLillo and the Power of Marginalia

By Stephen Pappas. Nov 20, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature

The act of reading is the act of exchanging ideas, but more often than not, it’s a one way export. A book is a means through which the author impresses thoughts upon his readers. The idea of a passive readership has been drilled into our heads, but there are authors who challenge this assumption. Most notably, Billy Collins, in his poem, "Marginalia," recalls a message scrawled in the corners of Catcher in the Rye, among other marginal jots. Other authors have taken up arms against the idea that a book is an immutable altar of knowledge, but few are as interesting as Don DeLillo.   

     
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