Category: Nonfiction

The Aesthetic of a Book: Wilson Limited Editions Exhibit

By , November 23, 2015


Hiroshima, illustrated by Jacob Lawrence

Hiroshima, illustrated by Jacob Lawrence.

“It is with the reading of books the same as with looking at pictures; one must, without doubt, without hesitations, with assurance, admire what is beautiful.” 

~ Vincent Van Gogh

In case you were visiting the Downtown Library recently and moseyed your way into the first floor art gallery, and happened upon several books from the Wilson Collection and thought, “these books look familiar!” You’d be correct. They are indeed books from the Wilson Limited Editions Collection. Every once in a blue-moon, the amazing collection owned by the Library known as the Wilson Collection gets its own exhibit in a Library art gallery. That time has come again and the title of the exhibit is: The Aesthetic of a Book.

For those of you that haven’t stumbled upon it yet, you are in luck because it’s a pretty diverse and cool exhibit (if I can brag a little). I had a lot of help from my student intern for this semester, Brooke Jackson, and from my supervisor, Liz Coleman. Combined, we collaboratively created an exhibit that displays books and prints ranging from the Bible to Fahrenheit 451. 

The prints chosen from portfolios for the exhibit include:

Music, Deep Rivers in My Soul, illustrated by Dean Mitchell

Music, Deep Rivers in My Soul, illustrated by Dean Mitchell

Music, Deep Rivers in My Soul by Maya Angelou
Artist: Dean Mitchell
Published by the LEC: 2003

A Tribute to Cavafy: Translations by Edmund Keeley & Philip Sherrard
Artist: Duane Michals
Published by the LEC: 2003

Bookmarks in the Pages of Life by Zora Neale Hurston
Artist: Betye Saar
Published by the LEC: 2001

Cosi Fan Tutte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Artist: Balthus
Published by the LEC: 2001

The Heights of Machu Picchu by Pablo Neruda
Artist: Edward Ranney
Published by the LEC: 1998

Sunrise is Coming After While by Langston Hughes
Artist: Phoebe Beasley
Published by the LEC: 1998

Hiroshima by John Hersey
Artist: Jacob Lawrence
Published by the LEC: 1982

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Artist: Barry Moser
Published by the Pennyroyal Press: 1982

I don’t want to spoil the books that were chosen however, but I can say the ones chosen include a couple of my favorites, a few old and a few new, and several that exemplify the uniqueness of the collection. Here’s a small sample of a few of the books chosen:

The Pennyroyal Caxton Bible, illustrated by Barry Moser

The Pennyroyal Caxton Bible, illustrated by Barry Moser.










Temple of Flora, illustrated by Jim Dine.

Temple of Flora, illustrated by Jim Dine.









The Kingdom of this World, illustrated by Roberto Juarez

The Kingdom of This World, illustrated by Roberto Juarez.










If you’d like to see more, you are going to have to come to the Downtown Library and visit the first floor art gallery. The hours are the same as the library hours. Accompanying the display are several books from the Library’s collection; these books sitting on the window sills are able to be checked out.

Coming soon, the exhibit will include a digital component as well. The touchscreen in the gallery will include more material about the collection. Also, starting in the new year, there will be several b00k-making-related workshops open to anyone to participate. We’ll begin registering for these workshops in the new year. They’re all free and require registration. The classes range from accordion book making to zine making. Check out December’s Off-the-Shelf post to see the full list of workshops. To register for the classes (when registration begins), please call 615-880-2356.

The display in the Wilson room currently matches the first floor gallery exhibit, displaying the books that match the prints (the prints listed above), and a few other specialties.

Other upcoming programs with the collection:

Throwback Thursday with the Wilson Collection –  December 10th in the Teen Area @ Downtown Library, 3:30-5:00

Every month, I bring a few books from the collection back to the Teen area. Teens get a hands-on experience with the books, seeing firsthand what makes these books different from the ones on the shelves. Each program includes a new craft as well that coincides with the month’s theme. December’s theme will be the season/holiday, so come participate in the program and you get to bring home a cool DIY craft!

Here are a few pictures from November’s program:

Thankful books craft           Thankful book crafts


If you’re interested in visiting the Wilson Collection, you’ll find it on the 3rd floor of the Downtown Library in the East Reading Room (between the Fine Arts department and Non-Fiction). The hours are the same as the Main Library hours. If you’d like a personal tour of the collection where you’d get to see the books up close and even get to look through them yourself, either respond to this blog post or call either of the following numbers:

(615)880-2363 – leave a message for myself.

(615)880-2356 – leave a message for Liz.

Stay tuned for next month’s post!

Armistice Day

By , November 9, 2015

Soldiers marching in paradeEver wonder why Veterans Day is always November 11? It seems a little odd when most of our other national holidays are the second Monday or the last Thursday of the month. The truth is, November 11 is an important day in world history. In 1918, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month (or, November 11), a temporary cease fire went into effect between Germany and the Allies, effectively ending World War I. Although it would take seven more months for the Treaty of Versailles to be signed, November 11 is often thought of as the end of the Great War.

President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first Armistice Day in 1919, starting the trend of national celebration of peace and World War I veterans. Eventually, the title was changed to Veterans Day to acknowledge all of the servicemen and women that have sacrificed for our country. The Veterans History Project Collection at NPL preserves the history of these individuals through letters, photographs, oral histories, and other materials. Over 400 veterans have contributed to this collection bringing us personal stories from military service in World War I to the present.

For example, Alice Mikel Duffield was a captain the Army Nurse Corps during World War I. She worked at Camp Pike in Arkansas where she was assigned to treat African American soldiers during an influenza outbreak. In her oral history, she remembers the impact of the armistice at home :

And I thought the war was over! It was – or at least I thought it was. And then I told the chief nurse that I – that the Armistice was over, been signed, I wanted to go home. And she said, “The war is not over, Miss Mikel! Do you think we can – This place is filled with men that are sick and wounded. We can’t just walk off and leave them here. They’ve got to be taken care of.”

But Duffield’s plans to marry the next day resulted in her immediate discharge since women could not be married and in the Army Nurse Corps at the time. She continued to dedicate her life to the military as a civilian, working in veteran hospitals for several years.

Another solider, George O’Bryan Trabue, was in Europe less than six months before the armistice. His father recalled the reaction in Nashville upon hearing the news:

Letter describing Nashville celebration

“I immediately assembled about 30 girls from our office and store. We took all of the dinner bells, cow bells, horns, flags, etc. we could find around the store and commenced marching”

He goes on to say: “We were the first to make any demonstration on the street but before it was two hours old all principle streets were filled with marchers.”

In another letter, Private Ralph Jones remarks on Trabue’s limited time in the field.

Letter from Ralph Jones

“Buddie it sure is tough to train all those months and then not get to show how much good it done you. If I were in your place I would feel like giving up.”


Veterans Day is a time to thank everyone who has served our country. One of the best ways to do this is to remember their stories.  To hear the memories of veterans for the past 100 years visit the Veterans History Project Collection online or at the library. And remember to thank a veteran!

How to be a Heroine or, What I’ve Learned from Reading Too Much

By , October 30, 2015

How to Be a Heroine Book CoverHow to be a Heroine or, What I’ve Learned from Reading Too Much
by Samantha Ellis

Dedicated readers always have a collection of books they love. These are the books we read until they fall apart, the ones with dog-eared pages, creases and notes in the margins. They contain the stories that resonate so powerfully we never forget them.

In her delightful memoir How to Be a Heroine or, What I’ve Learned from Reading Too Much, playwright Samantha Ellis revisits the stories that shaped her development as a woman and a writer, paying homage to the those literary heroines who became her muses. From Sleeping Beauty to Sylvia Plath, Ellis’ heroines were role models, each with a lesson Ellis wanted to learn. “I was reading the story of my life” she notes. “I [read] to find out what kind of woman I might want to be.”

Or not to be. As a little girl, the Iraqi-Jewish Ellis longed for Sleeping Beauty’s flowing blonde hair, until she grew old enough to realize that Sleeping Beauty doesn’t really do anything. Later, as an adult, Ellis realized that despite her lifelong adoration of the passionate Cathy Earnshaw from Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Cathy lives neither wisely nor well. She marries Edgar Linton for money and then spends her marriage letting Edgar know that she never stopped loving Heathcliff. She dies and winds up a ghost.

As part of an argument with a close friend, Ellis found herself comparing Wuthering Heights to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. She noticed that Jane stays true to herself; her conscience and character are strongly formed, and together they give her the strength to leave Rochester, the man she adores, when he wants to make her his mistress. Even though she goes through great hardship, Jane survives, carves out a life for herself and eventually does marry him. “My whole life I’d been trying to be Cathy” Ellis muses, “When I should have been trying to be Jane.”

These examples and many more make for a whimsical and often poignant memoir. Ellis isn’t afraid to admit she’s wrong. As a college student, her favorite heroine was Esther Greenwood, the protagonist of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. Like Esther, she longed to come apart, to have a transformative experience of suffering. When she developed an epileptic medical condition, she considered her seizures her rite of passage: “This is, above all, what I got from The Bell Jar: the idea that you had to suffer to be a woman.” Ruefully, Ellis came to realize that she found nothing either educational or liberating about not being able to control her own body: “My seizures haven’t made me virtuous or cheerful…there is just the tedious business of getting through suffering, day after day…” She still enjoys Esther Greenwood’s rise out of madness, but she no longer has any illusions about it.

If there is any flaw in this gem of a book, it’s Ellis’ tendency to criticize her heroines for not being feminist enough, but she is wise enough to realize that even though none of her heroines are perfect (Cathy Earnshaw and Scarlett O’ Hara are anything but!), they each had something to teach her, something that helped her to become who she is. The job of a heroine–or hero–is to do just that.

- A.J.

Halloween Inspiration from the Wilson Collection

By , October 26, 2015

October is the time of year where many celebrate the spooky and eerie holiday of Halloween. Trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins, apple bobbing, and costume parties are among the typical festive activities that children and adults love to indulge in. Perhaps one of the reasons Halloween is so popular is that we get to don a costume and become one of our favorite characters for a night. Literary sources have long been inspiration for Halloween costumes by creating and popularizing fantasy and horror figures such as vampires, aliens, werewolves, princesses and witches.

The Wilson Collection is filled with literature that helped popularize these fantastical creatures such as:

Vampires became popularized by the novel…

Dracula by Bram Stoker

  • Originally published in 1897, published by the Limited Editions Collection in 1965.
  • The novel is a work of fiction but does contain some historical references. Vlad III Dracula, known as “Vlad the Impaler” and Prince of Historic Transylvania (1456-1462), inspired Stokers Count Dracula character. Vlad III Dracula had a reputation for cruelty to his enemies and was known for his use of impalement.
  • At the time of Stoker’s death, he was better known as the manager and biographer of the great Shakespearean actor Sir Henry Irving.

    Artist: Felix Hoffman

Aliens were the source of fear in the novel…

War of the the Worlds by H.G. Wells

  • First published in 1898 and in 1964 by the LEC, the War of the Worlds is a tale of alien invasion that follows an unnamed man and his younger brother as they seek refuge from the sudden arrival of Martians.
  • On October 30, 1938, the novel was presented as a Halloween episode for a radio broadcast and this caused many people to think that the Earth was actually being invaded, causing widespread panic.
  • The novel is signed by the artist Joe Mugnaini (who has illustrated several other books for the LEC).

Artist: Joe Mugnaini

Witches were mischievous and the source of tragedy in the play…

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

“Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.”

~ The Three Witches

Macbeth Act 4, scene 1, 10–11, etc.

  • Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays and certainly one of the best tragedies of all time. The plot surrounds Macbeth, a general of King Duncan who is persuaded by his wife to murder the King after he is told a prophecy by three witches.
  • The three witches, often called weird sisters, are mysterious and fit the archetype of a witch. They voice their spells in a sing-song voice, while hovering over a fog-filled cauldron and making their potions using “eye of newt and toe of frog.”
  • The book is hard bound with onion skin wrapper and illustrated with color plates by Gordon Craig. Craig was a famous actor, director, and a scene designer.

Artist: Gordon Craig


Wilson Collection post for October courtesy of Brooke Jackson, Fall Wilson Collection Intern


Would you like to view these books or more works from the Wilson Collection? The Wilson Collection is housed on the 3rd floor of the Main Downtown Library, next to the Fine Arts book section. It is open for visitors during regular library hours. To view the books personally, you’ll need to make an appointment. Appointments are made by calling Sarah at (615) 880-2363.



Book Review: La Bella Lingua

By , October 13, 2015

La Bella Lingua
By Dianne Hales

I am not Italian. Most of my family is German and/or English. But I am a musician (in Nashville? Really?). And because I am classically-trained, I feel like I have studied Italy for a large part of my life (most advanced music terms are Italian). The language itself is very beautiful (molto bella) and musical. A few years ago I got married – and now my mother-in-law is Italian. Like born-in-Italy and still has some trouble with English Italian. When we visit her house, we always end up watching either the Italian news or some game show and I try to pick out a few words I know. But they talk so fast, I think the most I’ve managed is 5 (or cinque – pronounced chink-quay).

When we travelled to Italy, I really wanted to learn more of the language because Italians don’t, as a rule, speak much English. If you stay in the bigger cities, you can get by, but in my mother-in-law’s hometown of Udine (OOO-din-ay), north of Venice, no one spoke or understood English. What no one tells you before hand is that Italian is hard to learn. When I came across this book, I was hoping that it would give me the added insight to get better at Italian.

Until 1861, Italy was made up of a bunch of city states that each had their own language/ dialect. A common language was just one of the hurdles a unified Italy had to face in order to build a strong nation. Thankfully, a young man in Florence writing about heaven and hell saved the day several centuries before he even knew he had to. In writing his Comedia Divina (Divine Comedy), Dante really solidified Italian as a language and he elevated it to be equal to Latin as a means of communication.

Dianne Hales takes us through her own personal journey: how she fell in love with the language, what aspects of it she studied (and she has studied it, A LOT!), and she also talks about how the culture of Italy has a major influence on its language and its people. I enjoyed it and it made me want to try Italian again. I know that I’ll probably never get all the verbs tenses right or really grasp all the regional dialects that still exist, but every new word or conjugation I learn is a step in the right direction. With part of my husband’s family still there, I’m sure we’ll get more chances to show off our Italian prowess.

Now we just have to get some – which is pretty much how the Italians do things, so I think we’re right on track!

Buona lettura…

Amanda :)

What is ephemera?

By , October 12, 2015

What is “ephemera”? And how do you pronounce it, anyway? Ephemera (pronounced: “i-FEM-ur-uh”), refers to anything short-lived. Today we may be more familiar with the adjective, “ephemeral,” used to describe fresh-cut flowers, a misty morning, or the rapidly changing colors of a fading sunset. But the noun, used in a library or archives setting, more often refers to two-dimensional objects, usually made out of paper, designed for limited use, often for just one day. It can include items such as tickets, advertising broadsides, performance programs, handbills, and a variety of other items.

In the Special Collections Division at the Nashville Public Library, we use the term a little more broadly, encompassing those materials described above, but also including items that may be more enduring or substantive, such as essays, booklets, promotional literature, catalogs or other materials. In this instance, think of ephemera as a broad “miscellaneous” category. Typically, it is individual items that have come to us in isolation, without any accompanying materials and often no information about the item’s background. It might be a pamphlet someone found at a garage sale; a ticket stub between ancient floorboards; or any number of other items found under various circumstances.

For ease of access, we have grouped these random items into general subject categories, such as Businesses, Schools, Communities (including neighborhoods), Biography, Parks, and innumerable other headings. Let’s take a look at a few examples, to get a better sense of the variety of materials that come under this broad heading of “ephemera.”

Eddie Jones for Mayor, 1987


Eddie Jones for Mayor brochure, 1987

This brochure, from Eddie Jones’ 1987 campaign for mayor outlines his experience and qualifications for the job, his vision for the city, and encourages supporters to get involved in his campaign. He lost the election to Bill Boner. (Source: Biography Ephemera Subject Files).


Community Bridge and Liberation Message, 1972


Cover of Community Bridge magazine 1972

This is the cover from a local publication serving Nashville’s African-American community in the early 1970s. It includes articles about a national meeting of black social workers held in Nashville; the inequitable attention given public works projects in the Music Row area, while neighborhoods in North Nashville needed maintenance and upgrades; and other subjects. Advertisements for black-owned businesses and events of interest to the community are also included. (Source: Black History Ephemera Subject Files).










Nashville Conservatory of Music Recital, 1905


Nashville Conservatory of Music recital program, 1905


As a student at the Nashville Conservatory of Music, Ellen Lovell gave a piano recital on Jan. 27, 1905. This program shows her portrait on the cover, as well as a full listing of the performances and performers at the recital. (Source: Schools Ephemera Subject Files)






Although the majority of materials in the Special Collections Division’s Ephemera holdings date from the 20th century, it’s not uncommon to find items from the 19th century as well.


Fearless Railway Threshing Machines, ca. 1878


Ad for horse powered saw 1878

This illustration is from a catalog brochure for products of the Fearless Railway Threshing Machine Company, dated around 1878. George Stockell was a Nashville dealer who served as an agent of the company, which was headquartered in New York state. Most of the company’s products used literal horse-power, with one or more horses walking on a treadmill-like device to drive gears, belts, and machinery – which included devices like a thresher or a saw. This particular contraption was listed with a retail price of just over $200 – but did not include shipping charges from New York to Nashville. (Source: Businesses Ephemera Subject Files).

The Ephemera Subject Files in the Special Collections Division at the Nashville Public Library contain literally hundreds of documents related to a tremendous variety of subjects relating to Nashville’s history. Search the catalog for “Ephemera Subject Files” to learn more.

- Linda B.


Book review: Home Is Burning

By , October 5, 2015

Home Is Burning

Home Is Burning: A Memoir
by Dan Marshall

This is the most irreverent book I have ever read, and I mean that as a compliment. In it, Dan Marshall tells about the year in his twenties when he moved home to care for his parents as they were both struggling with life-threatening illnesses—his mom with cancer and his dad with ALS.  It will be way too crass and caustic for most people, but for the right audience going through a similar crisis, it could be a lifesaver.

Besides David Sedaris, it also has shades of Patton Oswalt, Sean Wilsey’s Oh the Glory of It All, and The Silver Linings Playbook.

Minecraft: Full STEAM Ahead

By , September 29, 2015

Minecraft Game Screenshot

Minecraft, a computer game where everything is made of blocks, is sweeping the nation. Everywhere you look you can find children playing the game, reading the books, or begging adults to buy them Minecraft merchandise at the store. There are many benefits to playing the game, and they can all be summed up in five letters – STEAM.

But wait, what is STEAM?

STEAM is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art + Design, and Math.

How does STEAM apply to Minecraft?

Science: Players use their knowledge of materials to create different objects, tools, homes, or cities. For example, at the start of the game, players are automatically tasked with digging in order to find the material they need to create with – iron. Then, players smelt their iron – a process of placing iron ore into a forge, heating it up, and waiting for the final product: an ingot. Players can then make tools and other items out of their ingots.

Technology: Minecraft requires some kind of computer device whether it be a desktop, a laptop, a tablet, or a phone. You can access Minecraft anywhere! The benefit of playing Minecraft on different devices is that players learn new technological skills. Players become more adept at using keyboards and mice when playing on a computer. They can also develop their hand-eye coordination by playing on an Xbox or a tablet. Some advanced players may even become proficient at “hacking,” “modding,” or changing the code of the game.

Engineering: There are different game modes that children and young adults can play in, such as Sandbox style and Inventor style. In Sandbox style, players can create different environments and structures. In Inventor style, players can figure out how to build working objects, like elevators and cannons.

Art + Design: When children and young adults play Minecraft, they will likely spend hours creating the perfect design. They will decide on colors, sizes, placement, etc. for their blocks based on their mined items. Creating their world will help develop architectural skills as they put their blocks together and create different structures and equipment.

Math: Mathematics encompasses more than just using numbers to calculate amounts. It also incorporates logic and reasoning skills. Using logic and reasoning, players determine how to build their world inside Minecraft. Minecraft also helps players understand the concept of graphing because the Minecraft world operates through grids, and it helps them understand geometry using and creating different three-dimensional shapes.

Schools are beginning to acknowledge the many benefits of Minecraft, and the developers of the game have responded by offering a bundle pack available specifically to schools called MinecraftEDU. Some schools are even implementing Minecraft labs for students to use during the day to focus on and build STEAM skills. Dan Thalkar, a Los Angeles Charter School teacher, believes that Minecraft is successful in classrooms because you can use it for pretty much anything:

“If you want to use it for something for math or for science you can, either just by using the game itself or by modifying it.”1


Minecraft Handbooks for Kids (and Adults)

Minecraft Redstone Handbook

Minecraft Redstone Handbook

Minecraft Combat Handbook

Minecraft Combat Handbook

Minecraft Construction Handbook

Minecraft Construction Handbook

Minecraft Essential Handbook

Minecraft Essential Handbook


Minecraft Chapter Books Encourage Reading

The Skeletons Strike Back: an Unofficial Gamer's Adventure

The Skeletons Strike Back: an Unofficial Gamer’s Adventure

Last Stand on the Ocean Shore: an Unofficial Minecrafter's Adventure

Last Stand on the Ocean Shore: an Unofficial Minecrafter’s Adventure

Escape from the Overworld: an Unofficial Minecraft Gamer's Quest

Escape from the Overworld: an Unofficial Minecraft Gamer’s Quest

Battle for the Nether: an Unofficial Minecrafter's Adventure

Battle for the Nether: an Unofficial Minecrafter’s Adventure

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with Wilson!

By , September 28, 2015
One of the lithographs created by Robert Motherwell for Three Poems.

One of several lithographs created by Robert Motherwell for Three Poems.

Between what I see and what I say, between what I say and what I keep silent, between what I keep silent and what I dream, between what I dream and what I forget: Poetry.”
~ Octavio Paz

Hola Mis Amigos!

It’s National Hispanic Heritage Month and that means it’s that time of year dedicated to celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. And there’s no better way to celebrate this month than by discussing some of the amazing books that we have in the Wilson Limited Editions Collection by Latin American authors.

The Wilson Collection includes a diverse variety of authors and artists from many different countries around the world. This includes several well-known Latin American authors such as Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Jorge Luis Borges, Octavio Paz, Alejo Carpentier, and many more. Here’s just a small selection of books from the collection:

The Alienist by
The Alienist

Author: Machado de Assis
Artist: Carroll Dunham
Published by Arion Press: 1998

Peculiar and bordering the avant-garde, The Alienist is a story that is both about madness and full of madness. The author, Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, is more commonly known by his surname – Machado de Assis and is considered to be one of the greatest Latin American novelists of the 19th century. During his lifetime, he was not commonly known outside his country of Brazil but has since gained the accolades that he deserves for his writing. The Alienist is only one of his many works of literature and represents one of his most unique stories as well.

The Alienist

One of the drawings for The Alienist by Carroll Dunham.

Originally published as The Psychiatrist but later translated as The Alienist, the novella follows the storyline of Dr. Simon Bacamarte as he is working to discover a universal method to cure pathological disorders and to distinguish sanity from madness. In a small town in Brazil, Bacamarte opens an asylum named “The Green House” where he is conducting his research. Not only does the doctor take in mentally ill patients, but also healthy citizens that he believes will soon develop some form of mental illnesses as well. I don’t want to ruin the rest of the story for you, but I can assure you that the book One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest came to mind when I was researching this book. 

The illustrations were created by American artist, Carroll Dunham. And as a fun fact, Carroll Dunham also happens to be the father of actress Lena Dunham. I’m reminded of Picasso when I look at his work and also, the old Nickelodeon cartoon, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. They’re definitely both related, right? Well I’m reminded of Picasso because of the lines and disorder in his work. And the cartoon came to mind in the way that Dunham illustrated each human being. It’s just odd but definitely cohesive with the story line.

LEC_Sight and Touch

One of the many color woodcut prints by Balthus for Sight and Touch.

Sight and Touch 
Author: Octavio Paz
Artist: Balthus
Published by the LEC: 1995

A man of many words and awards including the Miguel de Cervantes Prize and Nobel Peace Prize, Paz is also famously known to have written Luna Silvestre (1933), Piedra de Sol (1957), and Salamandra (1962). Yale professor Gon-zales Echevarria said that Paz “was able to cull from the language of the avant‑garde the very best to create a Latin‑American poetic language.” This is demonstrated well in Sight and Touch. The poem is about light, which Paz describes as “a wavering river that sketches its doubts and turns them to certainties” and “Light is time thinking about itself.”

LEC_Sight and Touch_2

Sight and Touch was signed by both author and artist. A rare find among the Wilson books.

FrancoPolish artist and dear friend of Paz’s, Balthus, created 3 illustrations for the poem. He has illustrated several other books for the Limited Editions Collection including Wuthering Heights and Cosi Fan Tutte. Like several other recognizable artists in the collection such as Barry Moser, Jim Dine, and Thomas Hart Benton (and so many more that I could fill this page), his complete work in the collection is fluid but also unique. The LEC copy of Wuthering Heights is one of my favorite books in the collection because of the artwork. It’s honest, beautiful, and above all – cohesive with each story. There are only 3 illustrations in Sight and Touch, but 3 is all you need to match Paz’s brilliance.

The LEC published another work of Paz’s - Three Poems. I won’t go into full detail about what this book includes, but I can say that it also includes more than one translation, including the original Spanish version. Well-known artist and friend of Paz’s, Robert Motherwell, created 27 lithographs for the book. And another fun fact – it happens to be the largest book we have in the collection at 22-1/2” x 23-1/2 inches.


LEC_Kingdom of this world

The Kingdom of This World
Author: Alejo Carpentier

Artist: Roberto Juarez
Published by the LEC: 1988

Though I already raved about how much I like Balthus’ artwork, the beautiful etchings created by Roberto Juarez for The Kingdom of this World are completely out of this world…ha, see what I did there! They’re my favorite because they provide a delicate and cultured supplement to the story line, which is essentially the story of Haiti before, during, and after the Haitian Revolution as seen through the eyes of the main character  - Ti Noel.The story does not have a conventional, continuous plot but is rather more of a series of vignettes of descriptive moments throughout the character’s life.

Carpentier was inspired to write this novel after taking a trip to Haiti, where he became fascinated with the history of the country. For his research, he explored the island’s museums, libraries, and church archives. The novel was originally published in 1949 in Mexico, and translated into this English version by Harriet de Onís in 1957.

Along with Borges and Neruda, Carpentier is considered to be a founder of modern Latin American fiction. His background in other literature and culture is diverse, however, having been born in Havana and eventually moved to Paris for 11 years. Though he returned to Cuba in 1939, he also traveled throughout Europe, the United States, and South America – providing him with a wide range of cultures to explore and combine.

How Juarez created this unique look that almost appears to be velvet: He used combined methods to have both a sharp and feathered look. He first drew on copper plates with a power tool that was equipped with a bit used for jewelers. He then drew straight line etchings where the lines are drawn through an asphalt ground and etched in acid.

How Juarez created this unique look that almost appears to be velvet: He used combined methods to have both a sharp and feathered look. He first drew on copper plates with a power tool that was equipped with a bit used for jewelers. He then drew straight line etchings where the lines are drawn through an asphalt ground and etched in acid.

Cool stuff, right?! Well the Wilson Collection is filled with many treasures like these. Be sure to make an appointment to come view them for yourself. Click on the link “make an appointment” and fill out the info box with the date and time of when you would like to make an appointment for the Wilson Collection. Be sure to include that you are requesting a tour of the Wilson Collection as well.


Several of the books are always on display in the Wilson Room on the 3rd Floor of the Downtown Library. Everyone is welcome to come visit the collection at any time, and an appointment will allow you to look at any of the books up close! Stayed tune for next month’s special post!

Upcoming Events related to the Collection:

  • Stay tuned for the art exhibit displaying several of the books and pieces of artwork from the Wilson Collection! Coming around the beginning of October and will be on exhibit in the first floor art gallery at the Main Downtown Library.
  • The Handmade & Bound Festival and Marketplace takes place this weekend at Watkins College of Art & Design. It’s from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and guess what, I’LL BE THERE! Come visit because I will have a few Wilson Books on hand with me as well as Library Card applications so that you can sign up on the spot.
  • Our next #Throwback Thursday with the Wilson Collection is next Thursday (Oct 8th) from 3:30-5:00 in the Teen Area (at Main). Come visit, I’ll have a special Halloween-related craft this time!

Salon@615: The Bloggess

By , September 7, 2015

Furiously Happy

I first heard of Jenny Lawson, a.k.a. the Bloggess, through her metal chicken Beyoncé back in 2011. Since then, she’s written two memoirs, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and Furiously Happy, both of which have the sustained hilarity of a good stand-up comedy routine while also addressing mental health issues with truth and sympathy. In addition, you might want to prepare yourself for a lot of taxidermied animals.

Lawson will be here on September 30 at 6:15 p.m., so put on your best red dress and get to the Main Library! Advance tickets available September 16. More information at

Warning: Lawson’s books are best enjoyed with wine slushies and a mild anxiety disorder.



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