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

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

The House at Lobster Cove: An Interview with Jane Goodrich

Selecting The House at Lobster Cove for Bas Bleu’s Book a Month 2018 program was an easy choice: Not only did our reviewer hail the novel as having “the grace, wit, language, and incisive character exploration of Edith Wharton’s work,” but Jane Goodrich’s debut novel features a beautiful letterpress-printed rendering of the titular house on its cover. Goodrich (co-owner of Saturn Press, a greeting card and stationery company whose holiday cards are Bas Bleu favorites) was a teenager when she fell in love with images of Kragsyde, a nineteenth-century Massachusetts shingle-style house, which was torn down in the 1920s. As an adult, she and her husband obtained the plans and spent fifteen years rebuilding the house on an island in Maine. Now she has written this marvelous novel about the unique life of philanthropist George Nixon Black, who commissioned the design and building of the original Kragsyde. Recently, Jane took a break during her long drive home to Maine to graciously answer our questions about rebuilding Kragsyde, the differences between writing novels and writing greeting cards, and the books that shaped her as a reader. 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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Outside In: An Interview with Jennifer Bradbury

Selected for Bas Bleu’s Young Readers Book a Month 2018 package, Outside In by Jennifer Bradbury tells the story of a boy named Ram, living on the streets of Chandigarh, India, and his discovery of a magnificent garden of sculptures—created in secret by a factory worker named Nek. Inspired by the true story of Nek Chand, one of India’s most beloved artists, this enchanting novel entwines Ram and Nek’s story with a retelling of the Ramayana—the epic tale of two brothers, Rama and Lakshmana, and the beautiful princess Sita. A heartwarming tale of trust, healing, and family, Outside In provides an intriguing glimpse into life in India. Today in the Bluestocking Salon, Jennifer Bradbury talks to us about her own experience in India, how her high-school students help her write, and her claim to fame as a Jeopardy! contestant. Continue reading

Behind the Scenes: Making the Royal Wedding Mug

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that on May 19, Queen Elizabeth’s grandson Prince Harry will marry actress and humanitarian Meghan Markle. The wedding marks the first time in eighty years an American has married into the British royal family, a ceremony to be attended by 1,200 guests and likely watched by more than a billion people around the world. Because Bas Bleu is proudly American—but royally charmed—we decided to commemorate the occasion by offering the Royal Wedding Mug in our Spring 2018 edition. Customer response was immediate and enthusiastic, creating such a surprise bestseller among our Anglophile readers that we decided to take you behind the scenes of the oh-so-English method for making these wonderful royal souvenirs. Continue reading

Frankie: Ode to a Bas Bleu Dachshund

<img src="patriotic frankie.jpg" alt="piebald dachshund wearing patriotic collar">

You may have noticed a lot of books and products about pets in the pages of Bas Bleu. Not only do our editors love cats and dogs, but so many of our customers hold a special place in their hearts for furry friends. Today in the Bluestocking Salon, editor AG introduces readers to her beloved dachshund Frankie, Bas Bleu’s unofficial canine mascot (notice his striking “bleu” eyes) and the inspiration behind many of our dachshund-themed offerings. Continue reading

From the Bas Bleu Mailbag

April is National Letter Writing Month, and a wonderful reminder to us of the joys of writing and receiving “old-fashioned” snail mail. Last April, we wrote about the irreplaceable value of paper mail in a digital world and issued a letter-writing challenge to all of our readers. This year, we thought it would be fun to dig into the Bas Bleu mailbag and share with you some of the recent letters our editors have received. Because in the midst of writing catalog copy, sorting through piles of books, embarking upon reading marathons, and posting on Twitter, Facebook, and this blog, we still get excited when the mail carrier delivers a letter or card from one of our readers. (And it’s not every day someone uses the phrase “sultry feminine charm” to describe our catalog!)  Continue reading

The Last Castle: Q&A with Denise Kiernan

Biltmore Estate (by JcPollock)

If you’ve visited the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, and think you know everything there is to know about the magnificent house and those that built it…think again! Denise Kiernan’s The Last Castle, a Bas Bleu Book a Month 2018 selection, offers readers a deeper dive into the fascinating history of the the Vanderbilt family, the brilliant minds that conceived and created Biltmore, and the major events and figures in America’s past that shaped it. Recently, Denise took a break from her writing schedule to share her inspiration, the lessons she’s learned from her writing life, and Biltmore’s role in the preservation of America’s natural resources. Continue reading