Et Cetera

I'm thrilled to announce the winners of this year's National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest: 1st Place: Luke Kelly. Harvard Unversity. “A Collection of Eugene Walter, King of the Monkeys” 2nd Place: Megan Jones. University of Kansas. "The Life and Times of Sacco and Vanzetti" 3rd Place: Micaela Beigel. Goucher College. “Once We Were Dreamers: A Collection of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust” Essay award: Samantha Flitter. Princeton University. “The Sand and the Sea: An Age of Sail Library in Rural New Mexico” The judges were impressed with the stories and thought that went into assembling these collections and wish to thank all who participated. The Awards Ceremony will take place at the Library of Congress on October 14th at 5:30pm. Our featured speaker is Toni Tipton-Martin. The event is free and open to public. Thanks to all who entered. [more]

Personal confession: normally I am a proponent of all types of blogging. Though I believe the (not-so-old) adage “Don't believe everything you read on the internet,” I also find the internet to be a most useful place for information. Some of it genuine… some of it not quite so genuine… some of it kind, some of it negative. In any case, the internet is a fount of information. And I do use it – boy, do I use it! However, that being said, there is one thing that I cannot make up my mind on how I feel about it. The internet is partially responsible (in my own humble opinion) for making one particular genre of published book not quite as popular anymore. Travel Writing. Nowadays, just about anyone can and does post just about anything they want online. They went on a hike with their girlfriend and found a killer “secret” camping spot? Let's tell the entire online world! (Not so “secret” anymore – so much for skinny dipping!) Did you travel to Versailles with your parents and take pictures of every single item of gold you saw? Post them to Facebook! Gone are the old days where someone went on adventures that others might never experience and went home to write colorful and descriptive tales about their travels. Travel writing had to be good enough, exciting enough and gripping enough to spend money to publish it – it had to appeal to the masses. Now don't get me wrong – I love to travel and always want to write about my “adventures” – but I would rathe... [more]

If someone says “Children's Books” to you, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Picture books? Perhaps here is the better question… what author first comes to mind? I would venture to bet that at least 90% of you come up with the same name. However, did you know that the name you come up with is not his true name? (Probably most of you do, since you are members of the book world or bibliophiles and would know something like that… but humor me!) Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2nd, 1904 to a German family in Springfield, Massachusetts. His father ran a family-owned brewery in Massachusetts (well, until the Prohibition did away with that). Geisel went to school in Massachusetts until he went to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, graduating in 1925. During his time at Dartmouth, Geisel first showed skill and interest in humorous literature as rose to the role of editor-in-chief of the literary magazine the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern before graduating. Unfortunately, one college incident threatened to end his early literary career – when Geisel was caught drinking gin (the Prohibition was in effect) in his dorm room with some of his friends. In punishment for this crime, Geisel was forced to resign from his position at the magazine. In order to continue publishing his work at the Jack-O-Lantern, Geisel began writing under the pen name “Seuss”, his middle name. The beginning of Dr. Seuss was underway. Once graduating from Dartmouth, Geisel began his... [more]

When visiting New York for the annual Antiquarian Book Fair, many attendees spend the entirety of their time within a fairly narrow geographic radius of the fair itself. That's understandable -- the Upper East Side has much to recommend it, and for convenience to the fair, it can't be beat. But New York City is a rich tapestry, and bookish pleasures abound throughout. Why not let the fair serve as an opportunity to grab a cab or hail an Uber and explore further afield? For sheer literary density, New York's crown jewel has to be the downtown neighborhood of Greenwich (that's "grennitch") Village. Universally referred to by natives simply as "The Village, this historic district is bounded by 14th Street on the north, Houston Street on the south, 3rd Avenue in the east, and the Hudson River to the west. Originally a bucolic out-of-town escape destination for disease-beset 18th- and 19th-century New Yorkers, the area retained its post-colonial flavor even as the city, marching ever northward, expanded around it. The Village's smaller scale, tree-lined streets, pocket parks, off-the-grid layout, and Bohemian sensibility has long attracted literary types, among them W. H. Auden, Willa Cather, Kahlil Gibran, Allen Ginsberg, Henry James, Jack Kerouac, Emma Lazarus, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Eugene O'Neill, Edgar Allen Poe, Dylan Thomas, Mark Twain, Thomas Wolfe, and many more. The area was the cradle of the "golden age" of New York literary society (dates vary, but broadly from the 1... [more]

Since 1975 the William Reese Company has served a large international clientele of collectors and private and public institutions in the acquisition of rare books and manuscripts and in collection development. With a catalogue inventory of over forty thousand items and a general inventory of over sixty-five thousand items, we are among the leading specialists in the fields of Americana and world travel, and maintain a large and eclectic inventory of literary first editions and antiquarian books of the 18th through 21st centuries. Our offices are located in downtown New Haven, Connecticut and are open by appointment only. The William Reese Company is seeking to add a new team member to its Americana Department. This person needs to be detail oriented, personable and outgoing, and willing and able to lift reasonably large boxes of books. A foundational knowledge of American history is a must, as is a basic grounding in bibliographical knowledge. Previous experience in antiquarian book selling or library work is preferred but not essential. Excellent communication skills, both oral and written, are necessary, as is proficiency in the use of databases. The job description includes a range of the many tasks required in running a large rare book business, but primary duties are cataloguing and researching new inventory; working with customers and selling books in person, on the phone, and by catalogue or internet listing; maintaining inventory control; and possible travel to attend... [more]

SUNDAY: You could easily be excused for thinking that in the seven-month-long hiatus between major American book fairs (April in New York, November in Boston) there would be a sort of doldrums in which booksellers settle down and catalogue away, alone in their lairs (or maybe even just go fishing). Not so. Each summer beginning in June an institution called, simply, "Rare Book School," hosts a series of week-long sessions on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Rare Book School (from here on in I'll just call it "RBS") is dedicated to, well -- the study of rare books. It's death-by-chocolate for serious book addicts, attracting dealers, collectors, librarians, researchers, academics, students -- really anyone with a deep and abiding interest in everything books. 2015's season began on the 7th of June, on a Sunday evening, with a welcoming lecture by the dynamic director of RBS, Michael Suarez. His topic was "The Library (capital L) as both community and as cure for the soul." It was a moving and inspiring talk, and the assembled crowd drank it up, then dispersed to talk of bookish things with their fellow students (there may have also been either drinking or dining involved), before falling into bed, ready to dive into book heaven bright and early Monday morning. MONDAY: 8 am. The RBS doors open, and a lavish spread of bagels and cream cheese, yogurt and granola and fresh local fruit, and an assortment of juices, teas, and coffee awaits. I recognize se... [more]

It's common knowledge that Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, but did you realize he was also the first American to record a recipe for ice cream? Jefferson's recipe was for vanilla ice cream and he, sadly, did not name it Declaration of Deliciousness (which would be a perfect name if Ben & Jerry's decided to make a tribute flavor!). Precursors to ice cream, often ice mixed with fruits or juices, appeared in ancient Greek, Chinese, and Persian cultures. It's believed that the first milk based icy treat and the earliest device to make a 'ice cream' appeared in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). These frozen iced-based drinks gained popularity in Europe, and in the 17th century it became popular to turn these drinks into frozen desserts. Italians added sugar to the concoction and sorbet (then called sorbetto) was born. A Neapolitan, Antonio Latino, is credited with creating the first milk-based sorbet, the earliest form of our modern day ice cream. The French also were experimenting with their own form of ice cream called fromage, a misleading designation since there recipe did not contain cheese, and by the 18th century it had become a popular treat. Here's where Jefferson enters the picture. Ice cream is thought to have come to America with settlers in the early 18th century, so Jefferson may have encountered the dessert in the colonies, but there is no doubt that he enjoyed it during the five years he spent in France (1784-1789). Four ice molds... [more]

Pioneering screenwriter Anita Loos was born on April 26, 1889. After learning her trade acting and writing one-act plays for her father's somewhat-disreputable theater troupe, Loos began submitting unsolicited scripts to film companies. D.W. Griffith directed The New York Hat, a film based on her screenplay, starring Mary Pickford and Lionel Barrymore in 1912. In 1915 Loos became the first “staff writer” for a film production company, when she signed on with Griffith's studio. She wrote hundreds of scripts during the silent era of cinema, most of which went unproduced, but the films that were made were noted for their wit and humor — all the more remarkable for being silent! Her collaboration with director (and future husband John Emerson) began by working on several romantic comedies which made Douglas Fairbanks a star. In later years, many of the scripts that carried both of their names would be primarily Loos' work, however. It was often convenient, in the Hollywood system of the 1930s and '40s, to have a male co-writer, as some directors were unwilling or uncomfortable discussing the script with a woman. During a period of infatuation with H.L. Mencken (who apparantly had a thing for blondes) Loos wrote a series of stories about a chorus girl on the lookout for a rich paramour, the Lorelei Lee stories. These were such a hit for Harper's Bazaar that they soon became a novel, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1925) which became a runaway bestseller. A broadway adaptation foll... [more]

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Books of the Week

By Rich Rennicks

Get your new year off to a good start by examining a few highlights from around the abaa.org website or found within the pages of our members' latest rare book catalogs. Cassic orange Penguins are always eye-catching. This one is was also an influential part of early science fiction. The Quatermass Experiment: A Play for Television in Six Parts by Nigel Kneale Description: : Penguin Books, .. Small octavo, printed wrappers. First edition. Prints Kneale's revised script for the first of the three BBC Quatermass serials aired in 1953, 1955 and 1958/1959 respectively. Includes film stills. "Effective melodrama and social satire for its time." - Anatomy of Wonder (1987) 3-231. "Excellent scripts." - Pringle, The Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction, second edition (1995), p. 294. "With hindsight, there is a clear pattern in Kneale's work in which ordinary people are seen as stupid and ignorant, and ready prey for the supernatural or science-fictional forces that will almost inevitably attempt to control them. There is a seigneurial, Edwardian element in this, a recoiling from the vulgar. This is a point worth belaboring, because Kneale was certainly a much better than average scriptwriter -- the Quatermass series especially is exemplary -- and his scripts were, paradoxically, very influential on SF, at least at the Gothic and irrational margin of the genre where SF meets fantasy, particularly among film and television producers, who never expect SF to make sense anyway." - SFE (onli... [more]

The idea of the beach read encapsulates how most people seem to regard reading in the 21st century: a solitary activity, preferably performed in a comfortable place, and accompanied by an alcoholic beverage. Modern readers display their bona fides on Instagram with stylish photos of reading nooks and “still life”-type imagery featuring books (or, I'm sad to note, Kindles and iPads) and beverages of choice (most often, cups of coffee or glasses of wine). There's even a curious trend of people posting pictures of themselves reading alone in bars, sending a slightly odd mixed-message: are they in search of company, or advertising the fact that they are above the need for company? Whatever the motivation for sharing these photos, they all reflect the dominant view of reading as a virtuous, solitary, and slightly hedonistic act. However, this was not always the case. Rare bookseller Ernest Hilbert (of Bauman Rare Books) recently reviewed The Social Life of Books: Reading Together in the 18th Century Home by Abigail Williams for the Washington Post. Williams explores the “heyday of communal reading,” 18th-Century England, and details how rising literacy gave birth to a trend for reading aloud as a social activity. In fact, social commentators like Joseph Addison campaigned that reading should move from the private to the public sphere to improve education. Other factors like poor light and failing eyesight created a need for books for be read aloud — witness Jo reading to... [more]