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.

But that’s where you, our customers, come in. So many times over the past twenty-three years you’ve sent us letters, emails, even faxes (back in the day!) telling us how much a specific book or gift that you received from us meant to you. You tell us about the books that changed the way you think about the world or that introduced you to a person, place, or time you otherwise would never know. You tell us about the note card that delivered just the right words at just the right time, or the child’s toy that delighted a pair of overwhelmed first-time parents. And you continue to shop with our little company, year after year, even when you have bigger, cheaper options, because you tell us you value the “odd little books” and gifts we find and the shopping experience our catalog provides.

This week, we’re taking a break from the holiday hubbub to tell you just how grateful we are to have such wonderful, supportive customers. We can’t say it often enough: Without you, our “bookseller by post” never would have made it off the ground…let alone survived and thrived for twenty-three years! You remind us every day what a difference a community of kind, thoughtful, book-loving people can make in the lives of individuals and, yes, entire companies.

From our bluestocking family to yours: Happy Thanksgiving!

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