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!

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

The Red Notebook: Discussion Questions

Red NotebookAs part of Bas Bleu’s 2016 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 December Book a Month selection (and the final title in our 2016 series) is The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain, a sweet romantic comedy rolled up in a mystery, with a protagonist who would be creepy if he wasn’t so self-aware, and a wonderfully fun cast of supporting characters. Yes, this novel is brief, straightforward, and (some might say) predictable, but that doesn’t take away from the humor and simple pleasure the story brings. Plus, you can’t go wrong with a love story set in Paris! Continue reading

Editors’ Choice 2016

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It’s almost December, which means it’s time for book reviewers near and far to release their literary “best of” lists, heralding what they think were the best/most important books published in 2016. We don’t do that at Bas Bleu: For starters, we don’t carry books in our catalog unless we think our readers will love them, value them, and enjoy sharing them with others. Plus, many of our books aren’t recently published titles; we love digging up old favorites or spying those literary gems that fly under the radar.

But though we love all of our books, some do resonate more strongly than others with individuals on our staff. So today in the Bluestocking Salon, Bas Bleu’s editors (that’s us above) are sharing a few of our personal favorites from our 2016 catalogs. Continue reading

With Thanksgiving

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It’s that time of year again, bluestockings! No, we’re not talking about turkey or football or friendly family squabbles over the last slice of pie. (Though those are excellent traditions too.) We’re talking about taking a moment—before the merry mayhem of the Christmas season overtakes us—to sit back and count our blessings.

We thoroughly enjoy our work here at Bas Bleu, but ours is not an easy business. Bookselling has always been more a labor of love than an opportunity for enormous profit, especially as algorithm-driven deep discounters have grown to dominate the industry. That’s why every single day of the year (and twice on Thanksgiving!) we count our lucky stars to have customers like you.

For more than twenty years, you’ve supported our “bookseller by post”—even when you had bigger, cheaper options—because you share our love for interesting, out-of-the-ordinary, occasionally odd little books and gifts. We’re thankful for every purchase, no matter the size, as well as every book recommendation, Reader Review, and handwritten note you send our way. We’re even thankful for your critiques, because they help us improve our products and our service to you.

George Colman wrote, “Praise the bridge that carried you over.” Dear bluestockings, you are the bridge that carries us over. We know 365 days a year just how fortunate we are to have the customers we do, but Thanksgiving seemed like the right time to tell you: Thank you. You’ll never know just how much you—your patronage, your trust, your good humor, and your devotion to good books—mean to all of us at Bas Bleu.

So from our family to yours: Happy Thanksgiving, and happy reading!