A Writing Challenge: Love Note Day

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One of the downsides of modern technology is that most of our correspondence is done via email, text message, and other computerized methods. Yes, they’re cheap and convenient, but digital messages don’t lend themselves to being secreted away in shoeboxes, pasted into scrapbooks, or lovingly tucked inside our favorite books. Not to mention they provide nothing tangible for later generations, who can glean surprising insight into the hearts and lives of those who came before them by reading their letters. So in honor of Love Note Day next week on September 26, Bas Bleu is challenging you to put pen to paper and write a letter to someone you love expressing how much they mean to you. Continue reading

Books Make It Better: Creating Our Literary Candles

Literary Classics Votive Set from Bas Bleu

Books are our first loves at Bas Bleu, but you’ve probably noticed we’ve got a soft spot for cute bookish gifts too. To source them, we visit trade shows, comb the internet, talk to our merchandise vendors, even keep our eyes peeled for great finds while on vacation. And from time to time, when we don’t find exactly what we’re looking for, we say, “We’ll make it ourselves!” Continue reading

A View of the Harbour: Discussion Questions

A-View-of-the-HarbourAs 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!)

September’s Book a Month selection, A View of the Harbour by Elizabeth Taylor (the esteemed British novelist, not the actress!), is a graceful and amusing portrait of a British seaside town in the 1940s. Like Jane Austen, to whom she is often compared, Taylor writes about the English upper middle class with both evident sympathy and sharp satire. Her beautiful, elegant prose doesn’t shy away from the darker themes of the human experience. Continue reading

Red, White, and Bleu: Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee

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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Back-to-School Reading List 2016

Book Satchel

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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The Witches: Discussion Questions

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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