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

Spring Reading List 2017

Spring sprang early in our neck of the woods, and we’re celebrating the best way we know how: with a fresh crop of new books! We think they’re perfectly suited to enjoying outside, surrounded by cheerful daffodils, emerald-green grass, and singing birds. If you’re among Bas Bleu’s readers struggling to dig out from beneath a foot of fresh snow, we hope the books and gifts in our Spring edition (due in mailboxes today) will lift your spirits and tide you over until the new season finally blooms. Continue reading

Women in (Literary) History

Throughout time, women have overcome countless barriers to rise up and make their mark on humanity. March is Women’s History Month, and today is International Women’s Day, and Bas Bleu could think of no better way to celebrate than by recognizing ten of the myriad of women whose writings have impacted the world. Some names are probably familiar, while others may be new to you, but all of these women wrote works that influenced the course of history—literary or otherwise. Continue reading

Presidential Reading Habits

US Presidential SealAs Barack Obama’s presidency draws to a close this week, the book world is revisiting the literary legacy of the man recently dubbed by the San Francisco Chronicle as “reader in chief.” Over the course of his two terms in office, President Obama’s reading choices have run the gamut, from Colson Whitehead’s National Book Award–winning novel The Underground Railroad and David McCullough’s Pulitzer Prize–winning biography John Adams to Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk and Being Mortal by Atul Gawande (both Bas Bleu favorites in 2015). Obama awarded national honors to a multitude of authors—including Isabel Allende, Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinem, Toni Morrison, Rita Dove, Harper Lee, and Tobias Wolff—and launched literary initiatives to make e-books and library cards more readily available for students across America. Continue reading