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

All In for Hygge!

Photo credit: Don Matter

A crackling fire, a steaming cuppa, a warm blanket, and a good book: It’s all hygge. (Photo credit: Don Matter)

Hygge (hoo-guh) [n. Danish] Coziness; enjoying life’s simple pleasures. Friends. Hugs. Candlelight. A warm fire, a comfy blanket, a steaming mug of tea, and a good book. Wearing pajamas all day. Being kind and indulgent to yourself and others. It’s all hygge.

When we at Bas Bleu first heard of hygge, we were hooked! It has no direct translation in English, but the term encompasses a broad concept of comfort, kindness, and warmth. In Denmark (where hygge originates), the winters are especially challenging, with seventeen hours of darkness and frigid temperatures, so the Danes rely heavily on hygge—and each other!—to get them through those bleak and frozen months. Family and friends are at the heart of the Danish lifestyle, along with lots of candles, pastries, warm clothes, and cozy nooks to keep both home and heart toasty until the spring. Continue reading

Winter Reading List 2017

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A brand-new year is right around the corner, and what better way to celebrate it than with brand-new books?! (And champagne. You can sip champagne and read at the same time.) If your New Year’s resolution is to read more—an easy resolution for bluestockings to keep!—you’ll find plenty of suggestions for whiling away the long, cold days in Bas Bleu’s Winter 2017 edition, due to arrive in mailboxes any day now. (Can’t wait? You can find all of our new items online.) Continue reading

A Writing Challenge: Love Note Day

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One of the downsides of modern technology is that most of our correspondence is done via email, text message, and other computerized methods. Yes, they’re cheap and convenient, but digital messages don’t lend themselves to being secreted away in shoeboxes, pasted into scrapbooks, or lovingly tucked inside our favorite books. Not to mention they provide nothing tangible for later generations, who can glean surprising insight into the hearts and lives of those who came before them by reading their letters. So in honor of Love Note Day next week on September 26, Bas Bleu is challenging you to put pen to paper and write a letter to someone you love expressing how much they mean to you. Continue reading

Back-to-School Reading List 2016

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As August melts into September and America’s students head back to school, those of us long-since graduated from the classroom shouldn’t have to miss out on all the fun. No, we’re not volunteering for pop quizzes or term papers, but we are raising our hands high to read a fresh crop of awesome books! Luckily, the Autumn 2016 edition of the Bas Bleu catalog is scheduled to land in mailboxes today. (You can check out our virtual catalog online if your postal carrier is tardy…and you just can’t wait!) Continue reading

A Bluestocking in Malawi

Teachers 1In April, Bas Bleu editor AG’s beloved mother, Karen Kimball—invaluable grandmother to her kids and Bas Bleu “mom-tern” extraordinaire!—embarked on a life-changing journey to Malawi, Africa, where she would stay for six months in order to start up an educational program providing literacy training to teachers. Since Bas Bleu’s readers are ardent devotees of the written word and such great ambassadors for the importance of literacy, we thought you might be interested in Karen’s extraordinary adventure, so we reached out for an interview.

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The Dangers of Summer Reading

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If you think summer reading is an innocent pastime—spending long, lazy days getting lost in a book—think again. Summer reading is dangerous stuff, folks. Sure, the ability to focus intently on a clutch of printed paper and immerse yourself in unseen worlds populated by unseen people may seem harmless—especially in a year as fraught with violence and upheaval as this one—but it’s not a lifestyle to be undertaken lightly. There is a price to pay…albeit one with immeasurable dividends: intellectual development, increased empathy, broadened horizons, entertainment, and much, much more!

That said, Bas Bleu’s editors would be remiss if we didn’t alert you to some of the dangers of summer reading. Forewarned is forearmed, after all! We’ve limited our cautionary list to fifteen warnings, in honor of those fifteen precious weekends between (and including) Memorial Day and Labor Day.

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The Books that Shape Us: A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle In TimeFrom 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.

This week, Bas Bleu’s summer intern, Sarah, tells us about an important reading experience from her school days: Continue reading