Did you know?  Check our Rare Books Page

The Work and Career of Lauren Bacall

By Abigail Bekx. Sep 16, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Movie Tie-Ins

Born Betty Perske on September 16, 1924, Lauren Bacall spent her childhood wanting to be a dancer before deciding to pursue acting. After high school, she studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York where she participated in several off-Broadway productions. She started working in modeling after graduating, which led to the start of her film career when director Howard Hawks’ wife saw Bacall’s picture on the March 1943 cover of Harper’s Bazaar and arranged a screen test.

     
Read more...


How Jesse James Became an American Myth

By Brian Hoey. Sep 5, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Movie Tie-Ins

This blog post is not the first place it’s been pointed out that the Wild West era lasted a scant few decades—compared to the century-plus of folk songs, dime novels, movies, TV shows, and other forms of myth-making that take up (and sometimes interrogate) the inherent romance and drama of the era. Given all that, it shouldn’t really surprise us that Wikipedia’s article on “Cultural depictions of Jesse James” is almost as long as the article on James himself. And yet, the piece leaves out what is arguably the first piece of popular culture that took up the life (and death) of the one of the West’s most notorious outlaws: the touring stage show put on by Robert Ford, James’ assassin, dramatizing the moment when Ford himself put a bullet in the back of James’ head.

     
Read more...


Happy Birthday, Sean Connery!

By Brian Hoey. Aug 25, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: James Bond, Movie Tie-Ins

Today, “The Greatest Living Scot” (according to The Sunday Herald), turns 89. Just as much as author Ian Fleming, Sir Sean Connery brought James Bond to life and forever defined him as a character—so much so that Fleming eventually began writing details from Connery’s life into Bond’s backstory. Those of us here at Books Tell You Why who appreciate a good literary adaptation (read: all of us), can’t help but recognize the role that Connery played not just in bringing Bond himself to life, but to bringing the whole world of past and future literary superspies into the greater public consciousness. Without him, it’s hard to imagine a universe in which Tom Clancy and John le Carré entered the realm of blockbuster films. Connery himself even starred in the 1991 film adaptation of The Hunt for Red October (1984).

     
Read more...


Caldecott Winning Illustrators Series: Ludwig Bemelmans

Each year, the Caldecott Medal is awarded to a children's book that exemplifies the best work being produce in the field of children's book illustration. The award is a massive professional accolade and often results in a certain desirability from the reading public and from collectors. It is hard to imagine a book more enduring and beloved than 1955's winner, Madeline's Rescue, written and illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans. Come learn more about this iconic illustrator and his beloved Madeline series as we continue our Caldecott Winning Illustrator Series.

     
Read more...


Unexpected Meetings Between Legendary Authors and Celebrities

By Matt Reimann. Aug 6, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Authors are contributors to their culture, and as part of the job, they tend to cross paths with their famous contemporaries. These can be other authors, artists, actors, leaders, and cultural icons, and at times can create some rather unlikely pairings. Here are a few of these moments immortalized on camera.

     
Read more...


Happy Birthday to Writer and Activist James Baldwin!

By Adrienne Rivera. Aug 2, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Movie Tie-Ins

Writer and activist James Baldwin was born on August 29, 1924 in Manhattan. His plays, essays, novels, poems, and short stories embodied issues of race, class, and sexuality that were common in the mid-20th century and in many cases still exist today. After becoming disillusioned with the way African Americans were treated in his home country, he moved to France where he could be seen as more than just his race.

     
Read more...


Raymond Chandler: Making Pulp Serious

Raymond Chandler is one of those rare authors who reminds the literary establishment that genre has no bearing over a book’s quality. Chandler bridged gaps in his career. His work helped bring crime fiction to academics, and the serious novel to Hollywood studios. He considered himself an intellectual snob and loved Charles Dickens, Henry James, and Ernest Hemingway. He was a man who studied Greek and Latin, but Chandler emphasized that his own strange preferences brought him to the world of the detective story.

     
Read more...


What Were Americans Reading When We Landed on the Moon?

By Brian Hoey. Jul 19, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Movie Tie-Ins

Sometime around Thanksgiving 1862, Harriet Beecher Stowe, author Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), met sitting-president Abraham Lincoln. Upon the initial introduction, Lincoln famously quipped, “So you're the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!” Accounts of the exact wording vary, and in fact the whole story may be apocryphal, but it still speaks to the way that art and media help us make sense of history as it unfolds around us. Uncle Tom’s Cabin (or, if not Stowe’s novel, then perhaps works like Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1961) or 1845's The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass) gave 19th century readers new ways of understanding the “peculiar institution” over which the Civil War would be fought. As the war progressed, books like these continued to act as touchstones for anyone seeking to understand the conflict, the nation, and the world.

     
Read more...


Dan Brown’s Rules for Storytelling Are… Actually Pretty Sound?

By Brian Hoey. Jun 22, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Movie Tie-Ins

Love him or hate him, Dan Brown has had an outsized impact on Anglophone pop culture since his breakout novel, The Da Vinci Code (2003) was released 16 years ago. Harvard Professor of Religious Symbology Robert Langdon burst onto the scene like an apres-garde Indiana Jones and gave a generation of readers and filmgoers a slightly dubious lesson in religious history. Since then, things like the Malthusian Tragic (Thomas Robert Malthus—the population growth alarmist who bears a striking philosophical resemblance to Marvel’s Thanos—figures prominently in Da Vinci’s 2013 follow-up, Inferno) and The Gnostic Gospels (a series of Coptic texts that present a portrait of Jesus Christ that diverges sometimes radically from the four canonical gospels) have become (comparatively) common nodes in the cultural consciousness.

     
Read more...


The Wonderful Adaptations of Oz

By Abigail Bekx. May 15, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, Movie Tie-Ins

With advancing technology, it is becoming less and less rare for an adaptation to be better known than an original work, especially if the original work is a book. First published in 1900, L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and its 13 sequels, has long been a favorite of readers. The world of Oz Baum created grabs hold of the imagination. As a result, it has led many writers to add their own interpretation and work to the magical land of Oz. In addition to the written works, Baum’s world has become a cultural icon due, in part, to the many film, television, and stage productions adapted from the original story.

     
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