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A Five-Volume Set of Bird Illustrations Sells for $191,000 ?

Yes, it’s true. AbeBooks has revealed that it sold an Italian ornithology on birds from 1765 for an astonishing $191,000 in 2015. Published in Florence, the set — commissioned by the Grand Duchess of Tuscany — contained more than 600 hand-colored engraved plates of birds. The book seller noted that the set’s “fine condition enhanced its value […]

My Obsession with Adrienne Rich

The movie “Wild” made poet & writer Adrienne Rich famous among new generation of women.Her book “The Dream of a Common Language” includes a chapter of 21 love poems.I’ve read and re-read XVI tonight: Moony, inlet-warm, seabathed, I watch you sleep the scrubbed, sheenless wood of the dressing-table cluttered with our brushes, books, vials in […]

Joan Didion Honored at the White House

Joan Didion was one of 24 leading figures in American arts and culture who gathered on Wednesday in East Room of the White House, where President Obama made the annual presentation of the National Medals of Art and the National Humanities Medals. She looked so frail as she made her way, with a special escort, […]

Awesome People Reading

From Tumblr blog aptly named Awesome People Reading.

From the Desk of Jane Austen: 100 Postcards

How did I not know about these amazing Jane Austen postcards?! Found these photos tonight on The Daydream Princess tumblr blog. Found them for sale for $13.60 a box on Amazon!

* Twenty * Women * Twenty*

Jesse Kornbluth, of, this week exercising his feminine side and delving into women, women and more women. It used to bug me how, at a certain point at parties, half a dozen of the most interesting women would get up and stroll to the ladies room. Their reason, I came to understand, was neither […]

“Wow, Josh Ritter, holy freaking wow.”

Jesse Kornbluth, of, this week cheering for the singer-songwriter adored by English majors and the men and women who adore them. I love silent days crafting sentences alone, but if you put a gun to my head and told me I’d have to trade my maid’s room for the stages of music clubs and […]

She survived cancer. Endured a married lover. But when she lost her job, Dominique Browning had to reinvent her life.

Jesse Kornbluth, of, this week in awe of a woman in pajamas. “Slow love” is a good description of the way I’ve come to know Dominique Browning. After decades of a nodding acquaintance when we worked at glossy magazines, we started reading the other’s web sites. There was a chance meeting at a dinner, […]

Easy to say ‘Be patient.’ Much harder to do it when you’ve just jumped out of a crashed plane in Burma, drenched in fuel, and are on fire.

Jesse Kornbluth, of, thinking he really ought to meditate more often. “Peace can be found within, no matter the external circumstances,” Allan Lokos writes in “Patience: The Art of Peaceful Living.” “Forgive me, Allan,” I thought, when I read his book for the first time. ”You may be the founder and guiding teacher of […]

The best novel by the favorite writer of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is about a woman who lives off men.

Jesse Kornbluth, of, here to present a woman who feels much worse than you can in the dull bottom of February. The favorite writer of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is said to have been Jean Rhys (1890-1979). If so, that says a lot, for the main character in a novel by Rhys tends to be […]

The Fault in Our Stars

Illustration by Foxtales.

Warren Beatty and Julie Christie Star In The Best Western You’ve Never Seen

Jesse Kornbluth, of, checking in between winter storms. And thinking: It’s a lot colder in this classic movie. So why not suggest it? Readers will feel better about themselves as they watch a great film they may have missed. Robert Altman liked to say he hated Westerns. He didn’t much enjoy working with Warren […]

“Arsene Lupin, gentleman burglar, will return when the furniture is genuine.”

Jesse Kornbluth, of, this week wearing le smoking and smirking. Arsene Lupin — you know him not, but to generations of European readers he was the French Sherlock Holmes. Well, better than the Brit detective. Holmes was on the side of the law, a stodgy enterprise. But Lupin was a burglar. A gentleman burglar. […]

‘The Queen’s Gambit’ is my favorite modern American novel. Buy it. Read it. Hate it? I’ll buy it from you.

Jesse Kornbluth, of, this week making you an offer you can’t refuse. It was the spring of 1983. On a long plane trip, I started reading “The Queen’s Gambit.” The author was Walter Tevis, who had also written “The Man Who Fell to Earth” and “The Hustler” (and who would later write “The Color […]

Eat, Sleep, Read Local

I was in Washington DC last week for work. The trip wouldn’t have been complete without time spent exploring at least one local bookstore… This sign was posted at Kramerbooks in Dupont Circle… I know it’s counterintuitive to shop for books and magazines while traveling…Definitely undermines the concept of traveling light… Like local grocery stores, […]

It was written for kids. It’s just right for you.

Jesse Kornbluth, of, with a book for all ages. What I love about great novels — maybe what I love best about them — is how much they make me feel. That’s become more and more important to me over the course of this last decade, because most of every day I — and […]

All alone by the telephone…..

Jesse Kornbluth, of, this week contemplating that indoor sport: the affair. You wait for the phone to ring. That’s your life, waiting. You never know when he’ll call, so you leave your home as little as possible. Hair dryers and vacuum cleaners make noise that could drown out a ringing phone; you use them […]

In the holiday season, here’s my idea of the best possible news.

Jesse Kornbluth, of, with a gift of personal peace. Thich Nhat Hanh doesn’t use a telephone, so when I interviewed him for America Online, I had to pick him up and drive him to the office. TNH practices “walking meditation.” That is, he walks very slowly, breathing very consciously, so that every breath and […]

Christmas in a Book

Some of my favorite books as a child were literal picture books – no words, just pictures. Every time you “read” the book you make up a different story to go with the pictures. This is kind of like that. Yusuke Oono created a cut paper book that captures a bit of Christmas. I love […]

The most adorable antihero

Once upon a time there was a clumsy dragon who was chosen to save the world. It’s just a shame he wasn’t very good at it. Last year I had the privilege of being introduced to one of the most adorable, flawed, fun middle-grade fiction characters I had ever met: Crispin Scales, a dragon. The […]

Move over, Martha. Say hello, Julia. The new American cookbook has arrived.

Jesse Kornbluth, of, this week clearing out his cookbook shelf because a new arrival is the answer to so many cooking questions. We were giving a dinner for an Important Person, so we made up a guest list of friends we regard as Important. It is a measure of my wife’s skill in the […]

“I see things better with my feet,” said the blind man who was, in his day, the world’s greatest traveler

Jesse Kornbluth, of, this week with a totally inspiring story. James Holman was a 21-year-old British sailor with the bad luck to be the man on deck as his ship was buffeted by a winter storm off Nova Scotia. He had the frame of a boy — he weighed just 146 pounds — and […]

A French novel that sold 1 million copies in France in 1927 — and you’ve never heard of it

Jesse Kornbluth, of, this week bringing you a droll voice from the long-lost past. Maurice Dekobra? His name is now almost completely forgotten, but in 1927 he published a novel called “The Madonna of the Sleeping Cars” that sold a million copies in France. (It was eventually published in 24 languages.) In 1928, The […]

Laurie Colwin: Our Own Jane Austen

Jesse Kornbluth, of, this week making his contribution to a cult — a good cult. On October 23, 1992, with her daughter tucked in and her husband next to her, Laurie Colwin went to sleep. She did not wake up. She was 48 years old. The memorial service was standing room only, for Laurie […]

A picture is worth…

Hello again, this is Naomi Bulger from Messages in Bottles. Last year, cartoonists from across the world were challenged to create something with the theme “Reading” for the International Book Cartoon Contest. The results, I think, are quite lovely. Some are inspiring (like the one at the top of this post, which happened to win […]

The wisest, worldliest — and most enjoyable — novel I’ve read this year.

Jesse Kornbluth, of, wildly in love this week with a recently published novel. I don’t lose books. But we were at a hotel in Las Vegas with a wave pool, it was 101 degrees and umbrellas cost $100. Then there was the human factor: women with tattoos across their back, women with tattoos staining […]

Paris + New York in children’s books

Hello dear English Muse readers, Naomi Bulger here. I also like to blog little messages in bottles from Australia. I recently had a little girl, Madeleine, and I have discovered that one of the most fun parts of having a baby is having a legitimate excuse to delve head-first into children’s books. Ok at 13 […]

The Historian

Hello, dear readers. Let’s talk books. I’m currently reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. It is an incredible read! It has everything I could ever want in a novel: intrigue, romance, history, travel, adventure and vampires.  I’ve only just started reading this novel, but the plot sucked me in immediately.  Have you read it? What are you […]

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