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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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Washington Irving: Champion of American Literature at Home and Abroad

By Matt Reimann. Apr 2, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Literature

When "The Legend of Sleep Hollow" was published in 1820, the United States of America was a young nation. American-born authors were decades away from producing central classics like Leaves of Grass and Moby-Dick, and the cultural direction of this brave new world was anyone’s guess. The country was in need of a strong and talented writer to steer her on the right course. This author was Washington Irving.

     
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John Fowles, A Solitary Non-Conformist

By Andrea Koczela. Mar 31, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Movie Tie-Ins

"What interests me about novelists as a species is the obsessiveness of the activity, the fact that novelists have to go on writing. I think that probably must come from a sense of the irrecoverable. In every novelist's life there is some more acute sense of loss than with other people, and I suppose I must have felt that. I didn't realize it, I suppose, till the last ten or fifteen years. In fact you have to write novels to begin to understand this. There's a kind of backwardness in the novel…an attempt to get back to a lost world." ~John Fowles, 1977 BBC interview

This week we celebrate author John Fowles, named by The Times as one of Britain's greatest writers. Best known for his novels The Collector (1963), The Magus (1966), and The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1969), Fowles' work is most often categorized between modernism and postmodernism. 

     
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Victor Hugo: An Influential Life of Political Passion

By Kristin Wood. Feb 26, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, History

All is a ruin where rage knew no bounds:
Chio is levelled, and loathed by the hounds,
For shivered yest'reen was her lance;
Sulphurous vapors envenom the place

Where her true beauties of Beauty's true race
Were lately linked close in the dance. ~The Greek Boy, 1828

When it comes to French literature, one name is frequently the first to come to mind: Victor Hugo. While he is known internationally for his famous novels, Les Misérables and Notre Dame de Paris (better known to many by its English translation and Disney-popularized title, The Hunchback of Notre Dame), he is widely known in his home country as a leading poet during the Romantic movement.

     
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Top Ten Movies Inspired By Great Books

By Kristin Masters. Feb 22, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Movie Tie-Ins

The 91st Academy Awards are set to take place on February 24, 2019. Of course, this got us thinking about book-to-movie adaptations. Here's a look at some of our favorites, in no particular order. What would you add to the list?

     
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Ten Quotes from Amy Tan

By Adrienne Rivera. Feb 19, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature

First generation American writer Amy Tan was born In Oakland, California on February 19, 1952 to Chinese immigrant parents. She studied at San Jose State University where she received both her BA and Masters degree. She pursued a doctoral degree at UC Berkley but eventually dropped out. Before breaking out as a writer, she worked a variety of jobs, including switchboard operator, pizza chef, and bartender. In 1989, Tan published her first novel, The Joy Luck Club, and she became an immediate and massive success. Her book was adapted into a hit film in 1993. Like much of her body of work, this first novel was partially inspired by her real life experiences: the interaction between a Chinese mother and her American daughter and the burden of family tragedy.

     
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Six Books About Love (From Authors Who Aren't Your Typical Romance Writers)

By Kristin Masters. Feb 14, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature

Valentine's Day is upon us, and while modern day readers often associate authors like Nicholas Sparks and Nora Roberts with romance, these writers aren't the only ones to deliver tales of love and passion. Here's a look at a few authors who aren't your typical romance writers, but who have written delightful, poignant love stories. 

     
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Five Legendary Authors Who Wrote Through Their Experiences with Cancer

By Brian Hoey. Feb 4, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature

“Illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use only the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify as citizens of that other place.”

These are the opening lines of Susan Sontag’s seminal exploration of cancer’s mythology in modern life, Illness as Metaphor (1978). The book’s most enduring impact has been to shed light on the victim-blaming nature of many of the narratives that surround the disease, but her opening bout of lyricism reminds us of a much more obvious truth: that cancer and other illnesses don’t just touch, but envelope our lives, whether through our own experiences or the experiences of loved ones. For World Cancer Day, let’s take a look at some of the authors whose experiences with cancer have yielded important works of literature. 

     
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Isabel Allende: The Interesting Life of a "Raging Feminist"

By Ellie Koczela. Jan 24, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Awarded Books, Literature

“She sowed in my mind the idea that reality is not only what we see on the surface; it has a magical dimension as well and, if we so desire, it is legitimate to enhance it and color it to make our journey through life less trying.” ~Isabel Allende, Eva Luna

Isabel Allende once said she “didn’t want a happy life but an interesting one.” Raised in Peru, Chile, Lebanon, and Bolivia, and eventually forced into exile when her cousin, Salvador Allende, was deposed as President of Chile, it is safe to say that she is achieving her goal. 

     
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A Brief History of Bram Stoker and His Horror Classic, Dracula

By Lauren Corba. Oct 31, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Horror, Literature

In the history of the horror novel, some works have come alive in popular imagination. One of these is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818); almost everyone is familiar with the plot regardless of whether they've read the book. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is similarly ubiquitous. Although Stoker did not invent the vampire legend, his classic work has defined and popularized the myth across continents and generations.

We all know who Dracula is, but what about Stoker? Who was the man who made "vampire" a household name?

     
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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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