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Five of the Best Books on India

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

Topics: Literature, Nobel Prize Winners, Literary travel

The Indian subcontinent is extremely large, including the nations of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Yet those nations have not always been separate. To be sure, the subcontinent was divided during the India-Pakistan Partition of 1947, and years later in 1971, Bangladesh (which was, at the time, East Pakistan), gained its independence. Given the complicated modern political history, it’s especially difficult to select only a handful of texts to represent the best books on India. As such, we’re beginning with an early twentieth-century work and then jumping immediately to the period following Bangladeshi independence, and we’re also offering the following books with the caveat that we haven’t even really scratched the surface of the literary offerings of the large Indian subcontinent.

     
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Buying Rare and Antiquarian Books in Finland

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

Topics: Poetry, Literature, Literary travel

Are you planning a trip to the Nordic countries anytime soon? If you’ll find yourself in Finland, there are dozens of rare and antiquarian bookstores to keep you busy as you explore Helsinki on foot, and there are more shops scattered north of the capital city. There are nineteen members of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) in the country, and fifteen are located in Helsinki. Many have storefronts with regular hours if you’re planning to wander around the city, while some others require an appointment to visit the shop. And if you decide to take a quick ferry trip across the Baltic like so many in southern Finland do, you can even add an Estonian used, rare, and antiquarian bookstore to your itinerary. 

     
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Famous Writers Who Lived in New York City's Chelsea Hotel

By Audrey Golden. Feb 28, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Literary travel

If you are interested in New York’s twentieth-century literary history, it’s likely that you already have some familiarity with the Chelsea Hotel. Since the hotel’s opening in 1884, it has served as the home for many different famous American and British writers, from Mark Twain to Dylan Thomas to the infamous Sid Vicious of Sex Pistols fame. Many other musicians also lived in the rooms at the Chelsea, including dozens of those who are also recognized poets, such as Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. In 1974, Leonard Cohen wrote and performed “Chelsea Hotel No. 2,” a song about a love affair inside one of the rooms. Now, the hotel is closed to guests, allegedly undergoing renovations.

     
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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 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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Seven Famous Literary Cafés

By Adrienne Rivera. Feb 4, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literary travel

The idea of the writer in a café is so prominent it has become almost cliché. Depicted in books and movies for decades, it's likely something you have even seen for yourself: young men and women working diligently on their laptops in the local coffee shop. Next time you find yourself irritated by the writer hogging the power outlet for hours while your cell phone dies, consider the fact that these writers are part of a time-honored literary tradition. Businesses all over the world offer up stories of their famous patrons as a means to draw in new customers. These places have become a part of literary history in their own right. If the idea of sitting in the same cafépotentially even in the same spotas your favorite writers did when they wrote the books taking pride of place on your shelves, then the following destinations need to be added to your list of essential locations to visit.

     
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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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Saving Langston Hughes' Home

By Adrienne Rivera. Feb 1, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, American Literature, Literary travel

The slow and ever-increasing gentrification of New York neighborhoods isn't breaking news to anyone. Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Chinatown are full of newly renovated apartments and upscale restaurants, and those are just a few examples. Yet the transformation of these neighborhoods is a cultural and emotional loss to the generations of people who have called them home. In the wake of these changes, they are faced with the prospect of being displaced due to increasing costs. In some cases, even city landmarks aren't safe.

     
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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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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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