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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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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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The History of May Day and May Day in Literature

By Nick Ostdick. May 1, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Literature, Book History, History

For many bibliophiles, the month of May means the beginning of summerlonger days, warmer weather, and the unofficial start of “beach read” season. But May 1 packs a much more significant historical and cultural punch, the essence of which many authors have tried to capture in their stories and novels during the last 100 years.

     
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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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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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Northwestern University Press’s Writings from an Unbound Europe

By Audrey Golden. Jul 24, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Book History, Book News

Where do you go to find literature in translation from Central and Eastern Europe? For much of the 1990s and early 2000s, readers could rely on Northwestern University Press for contemporary fiction translated from various languages within the former communist countries. While the series came to an end in 2012, Northwestern University Press’s Writings from an Unbound Europe remains one of the most significant series for a wide range of works from Central and Eastern Europe. We want to highlight its remaining significance several years after the series’ end, and we also want to highlight some of our favorite texts that wouldn’t have been possible for English-language readers to devour without the help of the series.

     
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Collecting Franz Kafka's The Trial

By Audrey Golden. May 30, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Literature, Book History

If you haven’t read Franz Kafka’s 1914 masterpiece The Trial, we recommend picking up a copy today. But if you have read the work and have considered its significance not only as a piece of modernist fiction but also as a literary work that comments upon the bureaucratic idiocy of government and the perceived rule of law, then you might want to do more than just read this book. Indeed, you might want to start a collection of various editions and translations of the novel. Collecting copies of the book, as well as ephemera related to it, won’t be an inexpensive task. But if you’re willing to invest in a new collection, bringing together materials connected to The Trial could turn out to be an extremely interesting and rewarding experience.

     
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“Bulgakov Diplomacy” and Redesigning the Contemporary Russian Literature Canon

By Audrey Golden. May 2, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Book History

Generally speaking, 19th-century Russian novels have been read in literature classes across the globe for many decades. From Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Anna Karenina to Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov, lists of classic literature would not be complete without numerous additions from the Russian “canon.” But what do most of us know about contemporary Russian literature? That’s the question that was posed in an article that appeared in Foreign Policy Magazine. In short, literature from the Cold War era and the fiction from the years following the disintegration of the Soviet Union has not been circulated globally in the same manner as works of Russian literature from the previous decade. To be sure, “Doctor Zhivago, published nearly 60 years ago, was the last Russian novel to become a genuine American sensation.” So if you do in fact want to read more contemporary Russian fiction, where should you start?

     
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A May Day Round-Up

By Leah Dobrinska. May 1, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book History, History

May 1, commonly known as "May Day", is upon us. For many, this is an unofficial start to the warm weather season, a chance to get outdoors and celebrate, maybe even dance around a traditional maypole. For many others, this day symbolizes much more and is spent remembering or participating in labor protests and worker's rights movements. After all, May 1 is not only May Day but also International Worker's Day in many locations. We've written in the past about literature that deals with this particular day in history, and we thought we'd share some noteworthy articles and titles with you today.

     
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Five Works of Poetry You'll Never Get to Read 

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

Topics: Poetry, Rare Books, Book History

In Jorge Luis Borges’ 1941 story "The Library of Babel", he describes an infinite library containing volumes that feature every possible combination of symbols. At one point, some of the inhabitants of this library go on a rampage, wantonly destroying many of the unique, unread books. While many of their fellow denizens are outraged that works with no copies have been expunged forever, they eventually reason that if the books really are infinite, then any particular destroyed volume will have an accompanying volume that is almost completely identical, and that, really, no harm can be done. I’m not sure whether that should make us feel better or worse when we think about all of the lost and destroyed works of art throughout the literary millennia, but in honor of World Poetry Day, let’s take a look at some works of poetry that we’ll never be able to read.   

     
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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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