Old Favorites: Mary Shelley

We’re focusing on newer books, movies, and television shows for 2018, but that doesn’t mean we’re entirely ignoring old favorites! After all, what’s that saying–what’s old may just become new again (or something like that)?

August 30th marks the 221st birthday of English author Mary Shelley, and this year marks the 200th anniversary of her most famous book. She is best-known for her classic novel Frankenstein and her dysfunctional family life, but this daughter of two noted writers and wife of another is a fascinating literary and historical figure in her own right.

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Old Favorites: Jack London

We’re focusing on newer books, movies, and television shows for 2018, but that doesn’t mean we’re entirely ignoring old favorites! After all, what’s that saying–what’s old may just become new again (or something like that)?

This past week marked the 121st anniversary of a young man by the name of Jack London going north to Alaska to the Klondike Gold Rush. It was in Alaska that London first wrote his stories that would become famous. Since the heat and humidity here in Arkansas has been brutal this summer, you might want to follow Jack’s lead in spirit and seek some solace in his Alaskan adventures. 🙂

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Old Favorites: Ambrose Bierce

I was going to substitute this feature with something else about the Great American Read, but then I realized that Ambrose Bierce’s birthday was this coming Sunday and, well, I just had to pen an ode to one of my favorite writers, AKA Bitter Bierce, The Diabolical Bierce, The Wickedest Man in San Francisco, The Rascal with the Sorrel Hair, The Laughing Devil, and (last but not least) The Devil’s Lexicographer. (I think I hit all the high points and included all the nicknames.)

Now, these nicknames make Bierce seem like evil incarnate, but he wasn’t. Honest!

He was just really, really, really, really grouchy, even by 19th century standards. And according to biographers, he was a crotchety, eccentric kid, so maybe when he entered this world on June 24, 1842, in rural Ohio, he was already destined to be one of the world’s best known literary misanthropes. (Though certain life events certainly did help him along that path.)

If you know of Bierce, it is likely because his two most famous works: his delightfully mean Devil’s Dictionary and his haunting, surreal Civil War short story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.” These are both great, but there’s a lot more to Bierce than meets the eye. . . .

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Old Favorites: Great American Read!

Great American Read

We’re focusing on newer books, movies, and television shows for 2018, but that doesn’t mean we’re entirely ignoring old favorites! After all, what’s that saying–what’s old may just become new again (or something like that)?

I usually use this feature to commemorate a special event in literary history, but this month is going to be a little different!

I am very excited to announce that the Berryville Public Library was one of only 50 libraries in the nation chosen to receive an ALA programming grant for PBS’s upcoming Great American Reads series.

As you can imagine, we were all very excited to win, but we’re even more excited about the programming we have in store, courtesy of the grant!

Now, you might be wondering exactly what all this means or even what it has to do with our regular Old Favorites feature.

In case you haven’t yet heard, the Great American Read is a PBS series that is intended to get Americans reading, talking about reading, and–ultimately–voting for their favorite book. One hundred books were selected for Americans to vote on, and the list includes everything from classic old favorites to more contemporary new favorites and genres that range from literary fiction to romance to mystery to horror to Westerns. You can view all the books here.

The first episode premieres tonight on PBS and is intended as an introduction. Then, through the summer, people will be able to read books on the list, discuss those books, and start voting for favorites. In the fall, the show will return to PBS with episodes examining themes in the book. The series finale will culminate in a reveal of the results of the voting. For more information, check out their website.

However, in the immortal words of the late, great Billy Mays, “But wait there’s more!” While we’re engaged in the Great American Read voting, we’re also going to be hosting a Great Berryville Read to see what Berryville’s favorite book is.

We’ll be updating you more on both the Great American Read and the Great Berryville Read as time goes on, and we’ll be using the blog to share people’s favorites and to review books from the list.

One of the first things on the agenda is sharing our “first favorites.” Those are the books that, as soon as we look at the list, we automatically think, “Oh I’d vote for that one.” I have 3 and will be revealing them next month in a review of one of them.

But in the meantime, what’s your first favorite? How many books have you read on the list? Will you be tuning in and voting? (We sure hope so!) Tell us in the comments!

Old Favorites–Mark Twain

We’re focusing on newer books, movies, and television shows for 2018, but that doesn’t mean we’re entirely ignoring old favorites! After all, what’s that saying–what’s old may just become new again (or something like that)?

Earlier this month marked the 159th anniversary of a man named Samuel Clemens receiving his steamboat pilot’s license. Ordinarily, that would not seem a monumental moment in literary history, but it was. Because of his time on the steamboat on the Mississippi River, he became familiar with the navigational term “mark twain.” When he began working as a reporter, he adopted the term as a pen name and the rest, as they say, is history.

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Old Favorites: Ancient Rome

We’re focusing on newer books, movies, and television shows for 2018, but that doesn’t mean we’re entirely ignoring old favorites! After all, what’s that saying–what’s old may just become new again (or something like that)?

Last week was the Ides of March, and what better way to mark the occasion than reading and watching some old favorites about ancient Rome?

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Old Favorites: Sylvia Plath

We’re focusing on newer books, movies, and television shows for 2018, but that doesn’t mean we’re entirely ignoring old favorites! After all, what’s that saying–what’s old may just become new again (or something like that)?

I’ve been a Sylvia Plath fan since I was a teenager. The first poem of hers that I ever read was “Daddy,” and it was so powerful, so unsettling, so very different from anything else that I had ever read, that it always stayed with me. Later, I read her novel The Bell Jar and her other poems, and they all had a similar effect on me.

Sadly, this month marks the 55th anniversary of Plath’s suicide, but there are numerous ways to remember Plath, including revisiting her work.

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