May Book a Month: Fear in the Sunlight

FearinSunlightAs part of our 2014 Book a Month program, each month we’re offering discussion questions about the featured work—for book clubs as well as thoughtful individuals. You may use the questions to reflect back on each book once you’ve finished it or to guide you as you read. Either way, we hope these features will enrich your reading experience. (We’ll do our best to avoid plot spoilers, but you should proceed with caution!)

In real life, Josephine Tey, star of our May selection, Fear in the Sunlight, was something of a mystery. Born Elizabeth MacKintosh, she penned plays and novels under the pseudonyms Gordon Daviot and Josephine Tey. Though her work was heralded during her lifetime, little is known about the Scotswoman who, according to novelist Nicola Upson, “was fascinated by identity and who played so successfully with her own.” That fluid relationship with identity is key to this psychological thriller—the fourth in Upson’s mystery series starring Tey—in which Josephine and friends travel to a luxurious Welsh resort for a birthday celebration, only to find themselves rubbing shoulders with filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock…and a diabolical killer. Continue reading

Edward Gorey

edwardgoreyBy now you’ve probably noticed that Edward Gorey’s name pops up frequently in the Bas Bleu catalog. We are, obviously, fans. But just in case your knowledge of the man is limited to the items you see in our pages, we thought we’d share a brief biography of the author/illustrator whose work was hailed by New Yorker literary critic Edmund Wilson as “equally amusing and sombre, nostalgic at the same time as claustrophobic, at the same time poetic and poisoned.” Continue reading

What Makes a Classic a Classic?

Each year as we prepare for Bas Bleu’s Tournament of Classics, we ask ourselves: What, exactly, constitutes a classic book? Laura Miller recently posed the question in her column at Salon, admitting the issue is “one of the most acrimonious, endless and irresolvable discussions in the literary world.” We don’t disagree, but for those of us who spend our days surrounded by books, we believe it’s still a question worth asking. Continue reading

April Book a Month: Hons and Rebels (Also, the Elite 8!)

HonsAndRebelsAs part of our 2014 Book a Month program, each month we’re offering discussion questions about the featured work—for book clubs as well as thoughtful individuals. You may use the questions to reflect back on each book once you’ve finished it or to guide you as you read. Either way, we hope these features will enrich your reading experience. (We’ll do our best to avoid plot spoilers, but you should proceed with caution!) 

If there is a more fascinating family than the Mitfords in recent history, we have yet to meet them! Our April selection, Hons and Rebels, is the “fabulously true story” of Jessica “Decca” Mitford, the fifth of six aristocratic English sisters whose personal and political scandals during the early- and mid- twentieth century continue to captivate us today. In this “gloriously entertaining” memoir, Decca recounts her unconventional childhood, her elopement with Winston Churchill’s nephew, and their adventures in Spain and the United States. Continue reading

Tournament of Classics 2014

Happy birthday, Bluestocking Salon! You’re one year old today. (They grow up so fast, don’t they?) Some of you may remember we launched this blog in 2013 with Bas Bleu’s Tournament of Classics, a literary take on the NCAA’s annual March Madness extravaganza. The result was a battle royale so intense that, in honor of the Bluestocking Salon’s big 0-1, we decided to play again!

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Happy Anniversary, Bas Bleu!

Anniversary CoverThis week, our Spring 2014 catalog lands in mailboxes around the country, signifying—we hope!—the end of a long, hard winter and the beginning of those sunny, fragrant days that beckon us outside with a good book. And in addition to introducing you to more than one hundred new books and bookish gifts, our Spring issue celebrates something extra special: Bas Bleu’s 20th anniversary! Continue reading

Spring Fever

We’re making a break for it.

We’ve got stacks of books to read for our Summer issue, the Southern sunshine is beckoning us outside into the long-awaited spring, and the plumbers downstairs are making one helluva racket. (Plus our boss is out of town; you won’t tell on us, right?) But just because we’re itching to play hooky doesn’t mean we’re going to leave you high and dry. This week in the Bluestocking Salon we’ve collected several news items from the reading world, teasers for what’s headed your way in the coming weeks, and some advice on spring cleaning those bookshelves.

books with bag

Just a few of the books under consideration for our Summer catalog. (You should see our office shelves!)

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March Book a Month: The Map of Lost Memories

MapofLostMemoriesAs part of our 2014 Book a Month program, each month we’re offering discussion questions about the featured work—for book clubs as well as thoughtful individuals. You may use the questions to reflect back on each book once you’ve finished it or to guide you as you read. Either way, we hope these features will enrich your reading experience. (We’ll do our best to avoid plot spoilers, but you should proceed with caution!)

“The one thing to remember about an adventure is that if it turns out the way you expect it to, it has not been an adventure at all.” In our March selection, The Map of Lost Memories, Irene Blum embarks upon the journey of a lifetime after a crushing setback threatens to destroy her dream of becoming America’s first female head museum curator. Debut novelist Kim Fay drew on her own experience living in Vietnam and traveling through China and Cambodia to pen this thrilling tale of adventure, obsession, history, and self-discovery, set against the vivid backdrop of southeast Asia in 1925. Continue reading

The Books We Never Outgrow

BubbaandBabbaWhen my sister was a baby, she received a gift destined to become a treasured family keepsake: a hardcover first edition of Bubba and Babba, Maria Polushkin’s adaptation of a Russian folktale about two lazy bears whose idleness threatens to get the better of them. My parents read us that story so many times my sister memorized it, convincing several family friends she could read at a ridiculously tender age. (She ruined the con at a dinner party when an eagle-eyed guest noticed she turned the page too early.) To this day, that beloved—and, sadly, out-of-print—book serves as a sort of family shorthand, cheekily referenced whenever one of us oversleeps or balks at doing the dishes. Continue reading