Summer Reading List 2018

Henry James wrote, “Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” We’d have to agree…especially when we get to spend that summer afternoon reading! Bas Bleu’s Summer 2018 edition lands in mailboxes today, and we’ve made it our mission to fill your summer afternoons with delightful literary treats. You’ll find light and cheerful page-turners, enchanting historical fiction, heart-racing thrillers…and those are just the novels! (Be sure to check out our special fiction-only Beach Reading Bundle online; buy all twelve and save 20%!) Continue reading

Calling All Anglophiles!

England is enjoying a prime spot on the world stage this month, as tourists, journalists, and royal watchers descend upon London for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. But for devoted Anglophiles, the island kingdom William Shakespeare hailed as “this royal throne of kings. This scepter’d isle,/This earth of majesty…this precious stone set in the silver sea” holds a special place in our hearts year round. Longtime Bas Bleu readers know our catalog is a rich resource for British books and gifts; we’re inspired by our literary namesakes, the bluestockings, those learned mid-eighteenth-century women (and men) who gathered in the great salons of London for intellectual conversation and witty banter. This week, as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles prepare to play host to the world, we’ve rounded up a selection of some of our most popular England-centric books and gifts, perfect for the Anglophile you know…including you!

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Why Read Poetry?

If you, like Bas Bleu’s reviewers, were an English major in college, chances are good you owned at least one poetry anthology the size of a large brick. Some of us still have one, lugging it from dorm to apartment to house as time passed and our personal libraries grew. But how many of us crack it open on a regular basis, poring over the tissue-thin pages to soak up the words of William Shakespeare, Christina Rossetti, Rainer Maria Rilke, Emily Dickinson, Rumi, Pablo Neruda, e. e. Cummings, Anne Sexton, and Audre Lorde? And how many of us count World Poetry Day among our favorite holidays? Continue reading

The Books That Shape Us: Animalia

From 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.

I can’t remember exactly how old I was when I first discovered Animalia by Graeme Base in our local library. The book was first published in 1986, so it’s quite possible I stumbled upon it fairly young. What I do remember is checking it out many times and spending hours upon hours engrossed in its oversized pages, often with my siblings or my mom, seeing all that we could discover in the bright, elaborate illustrations. Continue reading

21 Pride and Prejudice Quotes to Remind You Why You Love Jane Austen

We’ve yet to meet a true-bleu Jane Austen fan whose sole exposure to her canon is Pride and Prejudice, but it is a truth universally acknowledged that Austen’s most famous novel usually tops the list as the most quotable. In honor of Pride and Prejudice’s upcoming 205th birthday (observed by Bas Bleu on January 28, the anniversary of its 1813 publication), we collected twenty-one of our favorite quotations, exchanges, observations, bon mots—even one or two epic burns—from Austen’s literary masterpiece. (Your fave didn’t make the cut? Share it with us in the comments below!)

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Winter Reading List 2018

Happy new year, bluestockings! Now that the champagne has been drunk and the confetti swept up, you may be wondering how to keep the celebration going as the bluster and chill of January settles in. We have the perfect solution: new books! Bas Bleu‘s Winter 2018 edition lands in mailboxes this week (if you don’t already have yours, you lucky duck), and it’s full of terrific books and gifts guaranteed to keep you occupied throughout the long, cold months. We’ll even deliver your books to you, so you don’t have to venture out into the snow! Today, we’re sharing a dozen of our favorite picks, perfect for hibernating with this winter.

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The Books That Shape Us: Wuthering Heights

From 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.

My high school’s English department nurtured a deep love for the classics—Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, William Shakespeare—with an occasional foray into more modern fare—Richard Wright, John Fowles, Virginia Woolf. An avid reader since childhood, I dove readily into most of my school reading assignments, including Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. My friend Beth promptly became obsessed with the stalwart governess and her mercurial boss/suitor, but while I delighted in Jane’s pluck and her taste for the wilder corners of the English countryside (also, a mad wife trapped in the attic? EPIC!), I wasn’t haunted by it the way Beth was.

But then I met Heathcliff. Continue reading

Banned Poetry

This week marks Banned Books Week, the American Library Association’s annual event designed to draw attention to the censorship challenges that some books and authors continue to face even in the twenty-first century. From time-honored classics (Lolita, The Bluest Eye, The Catcher in the Rye, Lady Chatterley’s Lover) to modern young-adult bestsellers (Speak, Two Boys Kissing, Looking for Alaska), novels have born the overwhelming brunt of censorship efforts in this country.

But censors and strict parents aren’t immune to the powerful effects of poetry on impressionable souls. Today on the blog, the Bas Bleu editors are taking a quick look at just a handful of poems that have drawn the ire of school districts, governments, and parents over the years.

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Books Recommending Books

From time to time, fellow bluestockings ask us, “I really liked this book. Do you carry something similar?” So today, as we put the finishing touches on Bas Bleu’s 2018 Book a Month packages (they are so good, y’all), we compiled a list of “books recommending books.” The titles in these pairings aren’t exactly alike: Yes, some have similar plots or subject matter, but others are kindred spirits in terms of character, theme, or mood. We hope you’ll find something new you’ll enjoy! (All of the suggested “try this” titles are available for purchase on our website. Just click on the book cover.)

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