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

Banned Poetry

This week marks Banned Books Week, the American Library Association’s annual event designed to draw attention to the censorship challenges that some books and authors continue to face even in the twenty-first century. From time-honored classics (Lolita, The Bluest Eye, The Catcher in the Rye, Lady Chatterley’s Lover) to modern young-adult bestsellers (Speak, Two Boys Kissing, Looking for Alaska), novels have born the overwhelming brunt of censorship efforts in this country.

But censors and strict parents aren’t immune to the powerful effects of poetry on impressionable souls. Today on the blog, the Bas Bleu editors are taking a quick look at just a handful of poems that have drawn the ire of school districts, governments, and parents over the years.

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Books Recommending Books

From time to time, fellow bluestockings ask us, “I really liked this book. Do you carry something similar?” So today, as we put the finishing touches on Bas Bleu’s 2018 Book a Month packages (they are so good, y’all), we compiled a list of “books recommending books.” The titles in these pairings aren’t exactly alike: Yes, some have similar plots or subject matter, but others are kindred spirits in terms of character, theme, or mood. We hope you’ll find something new you’ll enjoy! (All of the suggested “try this” titles are available for purchase on our website. Just click on the book cover.)

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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

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

Summer Reading List 2017

“Sailboat Reader” ©2017 Adam Severin

Summer is here! And with it come hot days, balmy nights, and every excuse we can think of to kick back in the shade with a good book. If you’ve been debating about which books to pack for your beach trip, lake trip, airplane trip, or just the trip to the your back deck, Bas Bleu has you covered. Our new Summer edition (in mailboxes today!) is a first-class ticket to explore the world via books. Continue reading

The Case for “Hate Reading”

In April, Pamela Paul, editor of the New York Times Book Review, wrote an opinion piece for that publication, an essay titled, “Why You Should Read Books You Hate.” We encourage you to read the entire thing, but its crux is this: “This is not about reading a book you know is bad, a pleasure in its own right, like an exceptionally dashing villain. It’s about finding a book that affronts you, and staring it down to the last word.” Continue reading

Get Caught Reading!

Guess what? May is Get Caught Reading Month! We suspect most avid readers haven’t truly been “caught” reading surreptitiously since you snuck a flashlight and book under the covers as a child or hid a novel inside your textbook during math class. But for those of us (Bas Bleu editors included!) who never leave home without a book or who feel our day isn’t complete until we’ve tackled a few chapters, Get Caught Reading Month is the perfect excuse to share some of our favorite opportunities for squeezing in a little more reading time. Continue reading