Back to School Reading List 2017

Across the country this month, schoolbuses are rolling through the streets and backpack-laden youngsters are headed back to school. And while we don’t miss the days of cafeteria lunches and mid-term exams, we do find ourselves nostalgic for getting grades just for sitting around reading a book. So in the spirit of back-to-school reading, our editors have chosen a dozen of our favorite books from Bas Bleu’s new Autumn 2017 edition—due in mailboxes this week!—for bibliophiles who read not because the teacher told you to, but because you love it! Continue reading

2018 Book a Month Preview

Editor AG surrounded by a sampling of the books we’re vetting for our 2018 Book a Month packages

The dog days of summer are upon us, ripe with heat, humidity, and the overwhelming urge to do nothing but lie around and read. But while the weather outside may have you thinking about anything but Christmas, inside the Bas Bleu editorial office we’re already deep into preparations for our Holiday edition…and up to our eyeballs in candidates for our 2018 Book a Month packages! Continue reading

August Book a Month: Our Souls at Night

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!)

Aging is as inevitable as the turning of the seasons, and the potential loneliness that comes with it is a singular challenge. Our August 2017 Book a Month selection, Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf, transcends the generational gap—though on the surface it’s a story about aging, all the characters, both young and old, struggle with friendship, love, trust, and second chances. Quietly compelling and brimming with joy and heartache, Our Souls at Night reminds us that, no matter our age, we long for deep relationships and real, lasting connection. Continue reading

Girl in Disguise: Q&A with Greer Macallister

Greer Macallister (Photo courtesy of Sourcebooks Landmark)

Several years ago, Greer Macallister’s debut novel, The Magician’s Life, was featured in the Bas Bleu catalog. Our reviewer was enchanted by Macallister’s imaginative tale of a famed female illusionist accused of murder, so we jumped at the chance to read her second novel, Girl in Disguise, as soon as an advance copy arrived in our office. Told from the point of view of the first female Pinkerton agent, Macallister’s novel offers a glimpse into what was an unusual trade even for a man—and a virtually unheard of life for a woman. Recently, we were fortunate to chat with the author about her trailblazing heroine, the challenges of making up stories about real people, and her film-adaptation casting dreams. Continue reading

“She Has Proved Immortal”: The 200th Anniversary of Jane Austen’s Death

Austen signatureOn July 18, 1817, Jane Austen died in Winchester, England. In declining health for more than a year, Austen was just forty-one years old when she passed away. Her cause of death is still under speculation: What Austen downplayed as rheumatism may in fact have been Addison’s Disease (an endocrine disorder) or complications from Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Other scholars suspect tuberculosis. Recently, a new theory suggested arsenic poisoning. What we do know, however, is that even death couldn’t dim her brilliant literary star. And this week, on the 200th anniversary of her death, fans on both sides of the Pond are celebrating the great writer’s life and work. Continue reading

A Society for Modern-Day Bluestockings

Bas Bleu was founded in 1994 by a true bluestocking, a book-loving lady who launched her venture from her Atlanta, Georgia, home. In the beginning, she wrote every word of catalog copy, packed and posted every order herself, and stored the company’s stock in a closet! She mailed 50,000 copies of the first edition of the Bas Bleu catalog. Today, we mail millions of copies to readers all over the country, but our little company never could have survived those early years without the enthusiasm and support of our loyal customers. That’s why, in 1999, we decided they deserved a little something extra…and the Bas Bleu Society was born! Continue reading

July Book a Month: The Evening of the Holiday

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!)

First published in 1966, our July Book a Month selection, The Evening of the Holiday, is Shirley Hazzard’s debut novel. Short yet elegant, it follows the love affair between Sophie, an English-Italian woman visiting Tuscany, and Tancredi, an older Italian man separated from his wife and family. Renowned for her evocative language and stunning sense of place, Hazzard offers a sophisticated and incisive portrait of an ill-fated summer love affair.  Continue reading

Listening In: Podcasts and the Oral Storytelling Tradition

Stories these days come in a variety of mediums: print (books, magazines, newspapers), audiobooks, plays, musicals, film and television (live or on demand)… the list goes on and on! But long before cable TV, radio, or Gutenberg’s printing press were invented, humans were telling stories, sharing their history, entertaining one another, and teaching lessons by telling tales. Over time, human progress has changed how we remember and share stories. “Humans have employed technology to hold on to stories for as long as we’ve had speech,” explains storyteller and poet Joseph Bruchac. “Early on we carved shapes into wood or stone to create mnemonic devices…in the north-eastern woodlands of the US we made wampum, shell beads strung in patterns to record events. Now we have books and digital recorders.” And now, with the ubiquity of the Internet, a new form of oral storytelling has hit the scene: podcasts! Continue reading

A Bas Bleu Family’s Favorite: Pat the Bunny

When selecting books for the Bas Bleu catalog, our editors’ #1 criteria is “Will our readers like it?” But we also enjoy the opportunity to revisit beloved classics, those books that are cherished by generations of readers, like Dorothy Kunhardt’s 1940 children’s book, Pat the Bunny. This week, editor AG shares her family’s affection for Kunhardt’s interactive classic and the two “sequels” it inspired. Continue reading