Keep Calm and Color On

At-home entertainment has been both a blessing and a challenge in the last few months, with theaters, museums, stadiums, and other public venues shut down and people sticking close to home. Those readers staying at home are racing through piles of books, binge-watching movies and TV shows on Netflix, enjoying virtual cocktail parties with friends on Zoom, and working puzzles just as fast as Bas Bleu can ship them! Maybe you’ve been making use of your time to learn a new skill or hobby—raise your hand if you’re currently nursing a sourdough starter—or to revisit neglected ones. Some of our customers tell us they’ve pulled out their adult coloring books and put colored pencil to page again, both as a screen-free way to pass the time and as a respite from an unrelenting news cycle. Coloring can’t resolve the big issues we’re facing today, but some psychologists argue it may help to alleviate stress and improve concentration. Continue reading

Tackling the Classics on Your Literary Bucket List

row of leatherbound classic novels

Last month, as the COVID-19 pandemic brought much of the world to a grinding halt, the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper ran a story about how self-isolating readers are making the most of the shelter-in-place situation by tackling their literary “bucket lists.” According to the article, British readers are taking the opportunity to finally delve into such formidable tomes as James Joyce’s Ulysses (730 pages), David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest (1,079 pages), and Hilary Mantel’s Tudor Trilogy (a cumulative 1,756 pages). Continue reading

Social Distancing Supplies for Readers

We’re going to come right out and say it: The last week and a half has been weird. A lot of us may be feeling overwhelmed, confused, frustrated, even a little scared by the COVID-19 situation. Here at Bas Bleu, we can’t provide you with epidemiological data or medical advice. We can’t answer questions about what the stock market or Congress is going to do. And we certainly don’t know when you’ll be handing your kids’ education back over to trained professionals.

So what can Bas Bleu do? Send books, puzzles, games, and other goodies to your door to keep you and yours in good spirits and entertained at home. Check out these “social distancing” supplies…for readers! Continue reading

7 Musicals Adapted from Books: From Page to Stage

black and white "stage door" theater sign

We heard it through the grapevine that a Broadway musical based on the novel The Devil Wears Prada is in the works, with music written by Elton John. Whether or not you’re a fan of literary adaptions—readers tend to have very high standards where our favorite books are concerned—there’s no denying the wealth of material available for adapting. When we paused to think about it, we realized: Literature has been singing on the Great White Way for decades! Check out Bas Bleu‘s (not at all comprehensive) list of 7 musicals adapted from books. Continue reading

Book Lovers’ Cold-Weather Survival Kit

snowy road through winter forest

In news that will surprise no one: It is cold, y’all. Winter arrived with a vengeance last week, and we’re not handling it well. Much of the country is frozen in January’s grip—we’re sending thoughts, prayers, and hot toddies to our friends in the Midwest today—so Bas Bleu’s editors put together this book lovers’ cold-weather survival kit to fuel your winter hibernation and see you through to spring. (Please note: If you’re looking for recommendations for snow blowers or ice scrapers, you’re better off calling your local hardware store.) Continue reading

Amplifying Female Voices

October 11 is the International Day of the Girl Child, an event created by the United Nations in 2012 to “highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.” This occasion, combined with recent events in the United States, has us thinking about female voices and how they are reflected and recorded in our culture. In our case, that means thinking about books. Continue reading

Summer Reading Challenge

As bookish kids, Bas Bleu’s editors tackled summer reading with gusto! We were big fans of our public libraries’ summer reading programs, accruing points and vying for prizes as we devoured story after story. Rainy days stuck indoors were often spent working our way through the stacks we carted home from our weekly library trips. We spent hours perched in shady trees or hammocks, immersing ourselves in books. Continue reading

If Classic Books Were Pitched By Supermarket Magazines

If you’ve ever stood in a grocery-store checkout line, you’ve read the absurd, often conflicting blurbs on the magazine covers displayed there—“10 Easiest Weight-Loss Tricks” is inevitably paired with “5 Reasons This Chocolate Cake Will Change Your Life” and “16 Top Tips for Landing Mr. Right” paired with “6 Signs You’re Better Off Single.” During a recent shopping trip, the Bas Bleu editors got to thinking: What headlines would such a magazine pair with classic books, to lure in readers? Continue reading

Tournament of Classics 2017: Lizzie for the Win!

And we have a winner! It was a close fight, but our bookish battle royale could have only one victor: Miss Elizabeth Bennet! Carried to victory by your votes (and your affection for Jane Austen), our beloved Lizzie proved once again “there is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.” More than two hundred years after she was introduced to the world, Lizzie continues to inspire, enchant, and amuse. Thanks to everyone who voted during this year’s Bas Bleu Tournament of Classics. Though Lizzie won the day, all of our competitors are winners in the hearts of readers the world over, for whom they have provided solace, guidance, entertainment, and more, all from the pages of classic novels. Happy reading, bluestockings!

Tournament of Classics 2017: Championship Match

In the beginning, there were sixteen. Now, there are two. Two fiercely independent, strongly opinionated, keen-minded women who refused to settle for second-best, even when their choices exposed them to criticism and derision from society. Elizabeth Bennet and Jo March have been heralded by generations of readers, admired by millions who read Pride and Prejudice and Little Women until the pages were worn and the spines cracked. Both have earned permanent places in our hearts…but only one can claim the crown in Bas Bleu‘s Tournament of Classics 2017. Cast your vote! Continue reading