March Book a Month: Laura

lauraAs 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!)

Our March Bluestocking Book a Month selection comes with an extra assignment: After you’ve read Vera Caspary’s 1942 novel Laura, watch (or re-watch!) Otto Preminger’s Academy Award–winning 1944 movie adaptation of the same name. Then, take a look at editor AG’s reflections on the book versus the film! (WARNING: Spoilers ahead!) Continue reading

Letters of Note

One of our very first customers sent us this homemade flag during Bas Bleu's first year of business, "as a reminder of your cheering section, and to keep the flag of literacy flying."

One of our very first customers sent us this homemade flag during Bas Bleu’s first year of business, “as a reminder of your cheering section, and to keep the flag of literacy flying.”

After ten years in our current office, our editorial staff is preparing to move into new, larger digs next month. (We’re bursting at the seams!) In the midst of packing up paper clips, catalog archives, and so many books, we were delighted to rediscover boxes full of archived customer correspondence from Bas Bleu’s earlier days. In the 1990s and early 2000s, before e-mail was as widespread as it is today, many of our customers directed their inquiries, book recommendations, and, occasionally, criticisms to us via snail mail.

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Hissing Cousins: Q&A with Marc Peyser and Timothy Dwyer

Peys_9781101971628_cvr_all_r1.inddWe’ve published the Bas Bleu catalog for twenty-three years, but we can’t always predict which books will resonate with our readers. (You never fail to surprise us, and we love that about you!) When Hissing Cousins: The Lifelong Rivalry of Eleanor Roosevelt and Alice Roosevelt Longworth landed on our shelves, we thought it offered a unique perspective on two influential women…which is right up our alley. Yet we were caught off-guard (delightfully so) when Hissing Cousins became a surprise bestseller in our Winter 2017 edition! This week, we’re going behind the scenes of this “compelling and entertaining saga,” reaching out to authors Marc Peyser and Timothy Dwyer to learn more about why and how they created this fresh take on the complex relationship between the Roosevelt cousins. Continue reading

Literary Leading Men

wooden-hearts

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, which is all the urging we need to indulge in a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, and a stack of our favorite literary romances. In the past Bas Bleu‘s editors shared some of our favorite literary couples, unforgettable romantic words from literature, and lessons in love we’ve learned from books. This year, we’re sighing over ten golden-hearted romantic heroes from classic novels. Continue reading

February Book a Month: Lilac Girls Q&A with Martha Hall Kelly

lilac-girlsAs 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!)

More than seventy years have passed since World War II ended, yet stories of heroism and horror during that global conflict continue to emerge. Novelist Martha Hall Kelly tapped a real-life, little-known story of one American’s wartime efforts in order to write Lilac Girls, our “riveting, sometimes brutal” February 2017 Book a Month selection. The novel traces the experiences of three women—American socialite Caroline Ferriday, Polish teenager Kasia Kuzmerick, and concentration-camp doctor Herta Oberheuser—during and after the war. Recently the author took a break from her busy writing schedule to answer several (we had so many!) questions about this remarkable story. 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

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

January Book a Month: Tisha

tishaAs 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!)

Happy New Year, bluestockings! With a fresh new year comes a fresh batch of Book a Month features, beginning with discussion questions about our January selection, Tisha. Editor AG recalls:

When one of our lovely customers wrote to recommend Tisha as one of her very favorite books, I was intrigued. I got a copy of the flimsy mass-market version (with a truly dated cover and tiny type) and was immediately transported to the remote Alaskan frontier with the indomitable—and immensely charming—Anne Hobbs as my guide. I can see why the “wonderful true love story of a young teacher in the Alaskan Wilderness” sold millions of copies after it was first published in 1976! I enjoyed the tale so much, Bas Bleu inquired with the publisher about producing our own version of the book—with bigger type, a nicer cover, and in a standard paperback size. We’re delighted to offer it as our first Bluestocking Book a Month selection for 2017, and hope you are as taken with Hobbs’s incredible adventures as we were!

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Winter Reading List 2017

snowy-landscape

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