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Best Books on New Zealand

By Audrey Golden. Apr 19, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Literary travel

New Zealand writers largely emerged on the global scene in the mid-twentieth century (although writers from the country existed long before). Some critics cite the government’s decision in 1946 to establish a literary fund as one of the primary catalysts for publishing literature within the country, while others cite events such as the creation of a publishing house at the University of New Zealand.* That this country is a prominent space for literary production shouldn’t come as a surprise to most twenty-first century readers, many of whom are well-acquainted with the internationally renowned Auckland Writers Festival, which brings acclaimed writers and thinkers from the world over to the South Pacific each year. But what about writers from the country itself? We’d like to recommend a couple of books for your initial literary foray into this part of the world.

     
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Ezra Pound and Mentally Ill Writers

By Brian Hoey. Apr 18, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Literature

Of the great writers of the 20th century there were a tremendous number battling serious mental illness. Virginia Woolf struggled with bipolarity throughout her life, eventually killing herself in 1941; Hemingway was beset by a crippling depression that led to alcoholism and eventually suicide; Robert Lowell spent time in a mental hospital, as did Sylvia Plath and David Foster Wallace, both of whom famously committed suicide after producing works of monumental importance dealing with, among other things, the horrors of depression. As we go back further, we encounter the likes of Leo Tolstoy and Thomas Hardy. Everyone on this list is rightly idolized by modern writers and readers, but do we risk simultaneously idolizing the diseases that ultimately killed many of them?

     
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Salman Rushdie's Novels on Film

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

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature, Movie Tie-Ins

Readers of Salman Rushdie’s novels know that he has been a prolific writer over the last few decades. Not only have his books received heaps of international critical acclaim, but they have also been loved by readers across the globe. So here’s where we have to tell you that the title of this article is a bit of a misnomer: only one of Rushdie’s novels has ever been adapted for the silver screen. In all these years, Rushdie’s works simply have not been remade as feature films. And it took more than 30 years for his novel, Midnight’s Children (1981), to reach the cinema. When we learned that Midnight’s Children was to become a film directed by Deepa Mehta, we were excited! But at the same time, we wondered: how might anyone turn a novel so immersed in the magical realism tradition into a work of cinema?

     
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Esther Forbes: First Female Member of the American Antiquarian Society

By Leah Dobrinska. Apr 12, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, History

Historian and writer Esther Forbes had a knack for bringing the life and experiences of the past to present-day readers through the pages of her books. Most well known for her books, Paul Revere and the World He Lived In (1942) and Johnny Tremain (1943), Forbes’ writing garnered her attention from the outset. Her first published novel, O Genteel Lady!  was selected as the second book for the Book of the Month Club, ensuring her book was sold to a wide readership. In a review in The Independent, O Genteel Lady! was described as “A distinguished first novel, written with ease and a mastery of technique unusual in a young writer." Indeed, Forbes was a master of her craft, and to this day remains one of the premier contributors to historical and historical fiction writing.

     
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Multilingual Literature of Singapore

By Audrey Golden. Apr 8, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Literary travel

Have you read any literature from Singapore lately? This city-state is located at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, and it has long been along various trade routes throughout Southeast Asia. As a result of its geographic location, as well as its status as a British colony through much of the nineteenth century and into the first half of the twentieth century, Singapore has attracted immigrants from across the region. Indeed, there are four national languages in Singapore, including English, Malay, Mandarin (Chinese), and Tamil. Given the wide range of national languages in the region, the literary history of Singapore is also a multilingual one. We thought we’d suggest some texts you might read to familiarize yourself with this multilingual region of the world.

     
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Famous Writers and Their Famous Spouses

By Adrienne Rivera. Apr 6, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Poetry, Literature

Creativity attracts creativity. It's true: creative minds often gravitate to one another. Perhaps this is why it is not uncommon to see couples formed after two people come together in a shared desire to create something meaningful, important, and lasting. Here's a list of famous and creative writers whose relationships with their spouses were forged by a mutual love of everything from aviation to photography.

     
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Writers of Ghazals and Persian Poetry

By Audrey Golden. Apr 1, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Literature

What is a ghazal, and who writes them? In short, it’s a poem that is typically composed of anywhere between five and fifteen couplets that are, according to the American Academy of Poets, “structurally, thematically, and emotionally autonomous.” Traditionally, the first couplet of a ghazal will introduce a scheme, which subsequent couplets will pick up. The final couplet of a ghazal usually will refer to the poet and sometimes even includes his or her name. It’s a poetic form that began in what we now call the Middle East in the seventh century, and it was popularized in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries by Rumi and Hafiz, two internationally renowned Persian poets. Since its introduction, it is a form that has been employed by poets in a variety of language and for varying uses. Today, we’d like to think a bit more about the ghazal’s origins and its contemporary appearances.

     
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Rethinking Form: Musician Lou Reed's Short Stories

By Audrey Golden. Mar 31, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Biographies

It has now been more than three years since Lou Reed’s death, yet fans across the globe continue to listen to his music, and musicians cover his songs in homage. We’re willing to bet that you’re at least somewhat acquainted with the Velvet Underground, the band fronted and formed by Reed in the 1960s that was once managed by Andy Warhol, and you might even be a fan of Reed’s later solo work. But what do you know about the connections between his music and the world of literature? There are more links between famous fiction and Reed’s songwriting process than you might guess.

     
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Novelist Ken Kesey's Life and Work

By Adrienne Rivera. Mar 30, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Movie Tie-Ins

Novelist Ken Kesey was an important member of the 1960s counterculture movement. His home served as a meeting place for some famous, like-minded friends. Indeed, he fostered and befriended a community of artists that included such important Beat and counterculture figures as Allen Ginsburg and Tom Wolfe. Likewise, Kesey's own work remains an important reflection of counterculture ideas, the treatment of the mentally ill, and life in the American Northwest. His novels One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962) and Sometimes a Great Notion (1964) are considered modern classics. Let's learn a bit more about Kesey's life and work.

     
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Lars Bo's Literary Engravings

By Audrey Golden. Mar 29, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Illustrators, Literature

Have you seen the literary engravings of Lars Bo? While you may not be familiar with Lars Bo’s name, we’re willing to bet that you’ve seen his work in some of your favorite books. Bo was a Danish artist who was born on May 29, 1924 and lived until October 21, 1999. He studied design in Denmark until 1943, and later traveled through Europe before moving to Paris, where he would remain until his death. During his early years in Paris, Bo wrote a novel entitled The Wonderful House in Paris [Det vidunderlige hus i Paris]. Yet most literary enthusiasts aren’t familiar with Bo because of his writing. Rather, Bo has become known for his marvelous illustrations and aquatints, which provided illustrations for a number of works of twentieth-century literature. According to an article in The Paris Review, the artist preferred to think of his engravings as “illuminations . . . in the tradition of the medieval Books of Hours".

     
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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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