Q&A with Our Youngest Book Reviewers

Bas Bleu‘s annual Book a Month packages deliver a year’s worth of wonderful reads to your door; simply choose from Bluestocking (a mix of fiction and nonfiction), Life Stories (biographies, memoirs, and histories), or Mysteries (whodunits, thrillers, and cozies). This year, we introduced a fourth package: Young Readers, for budding bibliophiles ages 9-12. To make sure we were choosing books that kids actually want to read, we recruited two young readers from the extended Bas Bleu family. Caroline (age 13) and Eliza (age 11) both contributed reviews to our Young Readers package. Recently, we sat down with them to get their opinions on books, the joy of reading, and life in general. Continue reading

December Book a Month: A Man Called Ove

As part of Bas Bleu’s 2017 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!)

We know December is a busy month for many, as preparations for and celebrations of the holiday season take a serious toll on your downtime. But we think you’ll appreciate the extra assignment that comes with our December Book a Month selection! After you’ve read Fredrik Backman’s novel A Man Called Ove, watch the Academy Award–nominated Swedish film of the same name. (Yes, it has subtitles, but they’re easy to get used to.) Then, take a look at editor KG’s reflections on the book versus the film. (WARNING: Spoilers ahead!) Continue reading

2017 Holiday Gift Guide

The countdown to Christmas has officially begun! If you’re like us,  you vow every year to get a jump-start on your shopping before the craziness of the season sets in. And every year December creeps up more stealthily than ever before. Because you’d probably prefer to spend the holiday season enjoying yourself—decking the halls, baking delicious treats, visiting with friends and family, and (of course) reading—rather than rushing through the mall and sitting in traffic, make Bas Bleu your one-stop shop for everyone on your gift list! Continue reading

Feeling Thankful

Thanksgiving is less than twenty-four hours away, and whether you’re basting a magnificent bird or tucking in to a convenient take-out meal, this annual celebration of bounty and blessings is always a good opportunity to stop and take stock of all we have to be grateful for.

2017 has been a difficult year in so many respects: Anxiety and fear fueled by global unrest and national political and social upheaval have been exacerbated by devastating hurricanes, wildfires, and earthquakes. Faced with such challenges, it’s natural to wonder what difference we can make as individuals…or, in Bas Bleu’s case, as booksellers. Continue reading

Jólabókaflóð: Your New Favorite Christmas Tradition

At Bas Bleu, we think books make the best gifts, be they for birthdays, graduations, Christmas, or just because. So when we first learned about Jólabókaflóð, Iceland’s annual Christmas “book flood,” we were delighted…and envious! A nationwide tradition of giving books as gifts to family and friends on December 24? After which everyone spends Christmas Eve sitting around reading? Is it too late to book our flights to Reykjavik?

Jólabókaflóð has its roots in World War II, when wartime restrictions on imported goods severely limited Icelanders’ gift options for the Christmas season. Continue reading

Artist Profile: Alison Gardiner

Illustrator Alison Gardiner enjoys tea and cake on china from her Royal Collection. The limited-edition mugs, plates, and teapot were designed to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

The start of Advent season is just around the corner (December 3!), which means our warehouse elves are busy packing up and shipping out Advent calendars every day. Some of our favorite Advent calendars in recent years have come to us by way of Alison Gardiner, a small family-owned company in southern England. At its heart: namesake illustrator Alison Gardiner, whose vivid and whimsical creations have quickly become Bas Bleu customer favorites. Recently, Alison took a break from the studio to talk to us about her creative journey, the benefits of supporting traditional artisans, and Prince William’s pet spaniel. Continue reading

November Book a Month: The Golden Age

As part of Bas Bleu’s 2017 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 November Book a Month selection, The Golden Age by Joan London (NOT Joan Lunden!), tackles a topic Americans don’t hear much about anymore: polio. Cheerful, right? Now, now, hear us out! Yes, The Golden Age revolves around Frank Gold, a young wartime refugee from Hungary who contracts polio in Australia. And, yes, the novel offers readers insight into the terrible infectious disease. But despite—or perhaps because of—his experiences in the war and in the hospital (which once was a pub), Frank is a passionate budding poet, and thus his story becomes an ode to beauty, love, family, life, death, and survival. Praised by our reviewer as “elegant and touching,” this quiet novel is a terrific choice for book clubs, promising rich discussions. Continue reading

A Special Halloween Celebration…with Books!

Halloween is right around the corner! This week in the Bluestocking Salon, we’re sharing a sweet anecdote from Bas Bleu editor AG that reminds us of the extra magic books can bring to special holidays…especially for the youngest of bookworms!

To say that my husband, Ryan, is into Halloween would be an understatement. Every October at our house involves countless bags of cobwebs, multiple jack-o-lantern carving sessions, new additions to our talking-ghoul collection, the latest trends in spooky lights, and many screams from me due his affinity for “Halloween pranks.” One of our favorite traditions every year is taking out our ever-growing stash of Halloween-themed picture books—including Gus Is a Mexican Ghost, Biscuit’s Halloween, Hallo-Wiener, and not one but two Berenstain Bears titles—for Rocky (age 3), Millie (5), and Ryan (38) to enjoy at bedtime. Continue reading

Our 2018 Book a Month Packages Are Here!

Our Holiday 2017 catalog is arriving in mailboxes any minute now, and among the amazing gifts packed into its pages you’ll find our Book a Month packages for the coming year! For those of you who aren’t familiar with Bas Bleu’s Book a Month program, the premise is simple: Treat your favorite bibliophile (who may be you!) to an entire year’s worth of terrific books, shipped either all at once or on a monthly basis throughout 2018. Continue reading

The Books That Shape Us: Wuthering Heights

From 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.

My high school’s English department nurtured a deep love for the classics—Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, William Shakespeare—with an occasional foray into more modern fare—Richard Wright, John Fowles, Virginia Woolf. An avid reader since childhood, I dove readily into most of my school reading assignments, including Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. My friend Beth promptly became obsessed with the stalwart governess and her mercurial boss/suitor, but while I delighted in Jane’s pluck and her taste for the wilder corners of the English countryside (also, a mad wife trapped in the attic? EPIC!), I wasn’t haunted by it the way Beth was.

But then I met Heathcliff. Continue reading