Back-to-School Reading List 2016

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As August melts into September and America’s students head back to school, those of us long-since graduated from the classroom shouldn’t have to miss out on all the fun. No, we’re not volunteering for pop quizzes or term papers, but we are raising our hands high to read a fresh crop of awesome books! Luckily, the Autumn 2016 edition of the Bas Bleu catalog is scheduled to land in mailboxes today. (You can check out our virtual catalog online if your postal carrier is tardy…and you just can’t wait!) Continue reading

A Bluestocking in Malawi

Teachers 1In April, Bas Bleu editor AG’s beloved mother, Karen Kimball—invaluable grandmother to her kids and Bas Bleu “mom-tern” extraordinaire!—embarked on a life-changing journey to Malawi, Africa, where she would stay for six months in order to start up an educational program providing literacy training to teachers. Since Bas Bleu’s readers are ardent devotees of the written word and such great ambassadors for the importance of literacy, we thought you might be interested in Karen’s extraordinary adventure, so we reached out for an interview.

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16 Lessons We’ve Learned from Georgette Heyer

Lessons on Love and Life from Georgette Heyer

We must confess: It wasn’t love at first sight when we “met” Georgette Heyer…or, rather, her novels. But in true Heyer fashion, we just needed time to share a few laughs and get to know her better; before long, all of us at Bas Bleu were smitten! Because while Heyer’s historical romances are firmly entrenched in place and time (usually Regency England), her clever and amusing tales of romance, human foibles, and society shenanigans can teach us all a thing or two about love and life. In honor of that magnificent lady’s 115th birthday next week (August 16, to be exact), we’ve compiled a list of sixteen lessons—some more practical than others!—learned from her bestselling novels.

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August Book a Month: The Witches

The WitchesAs part of Bas Bleu’s 2016 Book a Month program, each month we’re offering discussion questions, author interviews, or other bonus material about our Bluestocking BAM selection to enrich your reading experience—for book clubs as well as thoughtful individuals. (We’ll do our best to avoid plot spoilers, but you should proceed with caution!) 

Our August Book a Month selection, The Witches by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Stacy Schiff, is a sprawling, eminently readable plunge into the Salem witch trials that ravaged colonial Massachusetts and continue to haunt American culture today. In this ambitious account, Schiff’s vivid prose and in-depth research combine to create “a cautionary tale of how fear, panic and anxiety can transform a civilized society into a barbaric one.” The author herself, in an interview with BookPage, admitted, “At some point I thought the first line should have been, ‘This is a book about anxiety.’” All that to say: Your book club is going to have a field day with this one. Continue reading

Red, White, and Bleu: Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot

In January, we announced Bas Bleu would be hosting our own 2016 presidential election, with your favorite literary characters as the candidates. We’ve narrowed your nominees down to six teams, and in the months leading up to Election Day in November, we’ll be presenting you with the candidates’ biographies, platform issues, and a schedule of campaign events.

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The Dangers of Summer Reading

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If you think summer reading is an innocent pastime—spending long, lazy days getting lost in a book—think again. Summer reading is dangerous stuff, folks. Sure, the ability to focus intently on a clutch of printed paper and immerse yourself in unseen worlds populated by unseen people may seem harmless—especially in a year as fraught with violence and upheaval as this one—but it’s not a lifestyle to be undertaken lightly. There is a price to pay…albeit one with immeasurable dividends: intellectual development, increased empathy, broadened horizons, entertainment, and much, much more!

That said, Bas Bleu’s editors would be remiss if we didn’t alert you to some of the dangers of summer reading. Forewarned is forearmed, after all! We’ve limited our cautionary list to fifteen warnings, in honor of those fifteen precious weekends between (and including) Memorial Day and Labor Day.

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From Page to Screen: Lady Susan, or Love & Friendship

love-friendship-posterLast month, the big-screen adaptation of Jane Austen’s Lady Susan landed in theaters, under the title Love & Friendship. Just in case our fellow bluestockings might be on the fence about it, one of our reviewers volunteered to check out the movie and report back to the rest of the Bas Bleu team. Here’s what she had to say:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a reader in search of Jane Austen must be in want of a copy of Pride and Prejudice. While Persuasion is my favorite of Austen’s novels, like so many bluestockings my exposure to the great author’s canon has been largely limited to her long-form works. It wasn’t until I came to Bas Bleu that I was introduced to Austen’s youthful writings. (Her History of England is a precocious and comical must!) And it wasn’t until I heard about Whit Stillman’s film adaptation of Austen’s short epistolary novel Lady Susan that I finally sat down and read the source material. Continue reading

Cassandra at the Wedding: Discussion Questions

Cassandra-at-the-WeddingAs part of Bas Bleu’s 2016 Book a Month program, each month we’re offering discussion questions, author interviews, or other bonus material about our Bluestocking BAM selection to enrich your reading experience—for book clubs as well as thoughtful individuals. (We’ll do our best to avoid plot spoilers, but you should proceed with caution!)

Bas Bleu’s July Book a Month selection, Cassandra at the Wedding, is a profoundly insightful and somewhat disturbing coming-of-age narrative couched in a frantic comedy of manners. Editor AG writes, Continue reading

Red, White, and Bleu 2016: Huck Finn and Jim

In January, we announced Bas Bleu would be hosting our own 2016 presidential election, with your favorite literary characters as the candidates. We’ve narrowed your nominees down to six teams, and in the months leading up to Election Day in November, we’ll be presenting you with the candidates’ biographies, platform issues, and a schedule of campaign events.

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The Books that Shape Us: A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle In TimeFrom time to time, Bas Bleu’s editors will share with you some of the books that have had a profound impact on our lives. They won’t necessarily be grand literary classics or hard-hitting political tomes. They will be books that have stayed with us over the years and shaped who we are. If you’d like to share a significant title from your own life, feel free to do so in the comments section below.

This week, Bas Bleu’s summer intern, Sarah, tells us about an important reading experience from her school days: Continue reading