Category: Nonfiction

Book review: Biography Bonaza!

By , November 25, 2014

Why does it seem like biographies are always really popular this time of year? Is it because people get more reflective as fall fades into winter? Do falling leaves make people more contemplative of their own mortality? Wait – is this my own biography? No…I don’t think so. *shakes head* You can tell it’s not my biography because although there is a mention of Joss Whedon, there is not enough glitter. Ok. Whew. Dodged that bullet.

So I really don’t have any answers to the questions above, but I have noticed a significant increase in the number of biographies of people I think are cool. Let’s kick it off with the king, shall we?

Joss Whedon 
By Amy Pascale

No, not Elvis (EWW). This one. Joss Whedon. You know – the father of Buffy, Angel, Firefly, and savior of The Avengers.

Amy Pascale packs A TON of information in her recent release about Mr. Whedon. There were things in there that even I didn’t know, and I could run the category on Jeopardy if anyone ever wrote one about Joss. Pop quiz hotshot: did you know he wrote most of the dialogue in Speed? I didn’t, but it totally makes sense because it’s the best part of the movie. I did know he wrote comics, but I didn’t realize how many I hadn’t read. Looks like ILL will be busy in my future. This book also made me want to watch A Cabin in the Woods – and I HATE horror movies. But in typical Joss fashion, the description in the book made it sound like so much more than just a gorefest. (I still might need a buddy to watch though.)

This book is a little bit of commitment because it is dense and chock full of fun Joss tidbits. While it did take me a little time to make it through, I enjoyed every last minute of it and was sad to pass on the book to the next patron. I hope you, whoever you are, will enjoy it as much as I did.

I’m still looking for my “Joss is my King” t-shirt though – just if anyone needs any Christmas present ideas for me.

Yes Please
By Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler was on Saturday Night Live  back when I actually used to watch it. And while she was more Robin to my favorite Batman, Tina Fey, I did think some of Amy’s characters were funny. I’ll be honest – I picked up this book to learn more details why she and Will Arnett got divorced, but I – sigh – was totally denied. She mentions the divorce and how hard it was, but doesn’t give us any details. Sure, Amy, take the classy road the one time I want you to be your usually irreverent self. Curses *shakes fist*  foiled again.

While I completely don’t identify with Amy’s somewhat manic, drug-taking, up all night partying personality, I do respect her work ethic. Most of us just saw her once she was on Conan or SNL, but she had years at Second City and the Upright Citizen’s Brigade to hone her craft. They had to hussle it to make a name for themselves – which they did. It also sounds like her parents are a hoot and a half. Apparently the funny doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Didn’t love this one as much as Tina Fey’s, but it was a pretty good effort for Robin.

Choose Your Own Autobiography
By Neil Patrick Harris

To read what I thought about NPH’s tell-all (well tell-most) bio, skip the next sentence and continue here. To learn how to do a card trick – go to NPH’s fabulous new book.

I heart NPH almost as much as Joss Whedon. From Doogie to Rent to Dr. Horrible – what’s not to love? But I have to say initially I wasn’t in love with his Choose Your Own format. If anyone else would have tried it, I would have deemed it a cop out and mocked him to my friends (and/or blog readers). But for some reason, as you dig in, with NPH it just works. I haven’t actually skipped around in the book as offerred, choosing instead to read straight through like a regular book. But hey – he told me I could choose my own autobiography, and this is what I chose.

It’s funny. It’s snarky. It’s honest. And there is a disturbing amount of magic in it. (I dislike magic. Sorry, I just do.) But I wish I could have been in his head while he was writing because I’m sure it was a fun place to be. Still love NPH, in spite of all the magic weirdness.

So if your life has hit a rut and you want to see how some other really cool people live check these out. Maybe they will inspire you to dance and sing – maybe at the same time!

Happy reading…

:) Amanda

PS Even though it didn’t come out this year, I also just finished listening to Jane Lynch’s Happy Accidents on audio, read by the author herself. Also a great biography -maybe for a holiday road trip. The fourth quarter really is a BIOGRAPHY BONANZA!!!!

Limited Editions Collection – Behind the Books

By , November 24, 2014
The first book published by the LEC was in 1929 - The Travels of Lemuel Gulliver by Jonathan Swift.

The first book published by the LEC was in 1929 – The Travels of Lemuel Gulliver by Jonathan Swift.

“The Great Books are the means of understanding our society and ourselves. They contain the great ideas that dominate us without our knowing it. There is no comparable repository in our tradition…”

-Robert M. Hutchins


The Wilson Collection at the Downtown Public Library is a truly unique collection. Not just for the Nashville Public Library, but for public libraries around the world. The collection is comprised mostly of two fine press book publishers – Limited Editions Club (LEC) and Arion Press. Both publishers are currently still in business (though the LEC is not publishing at this time), and the library continues to receive newly-published books from the Arion Press.

The Limited Editions Collection is located in New York City. The Arion Press is located in San Francisco and will be discussed in next month’s post.

Want to hear another cool fact about the collection? The Nashville Public Library is the only public library in the world that has the complete collection of LEC books. Yes, the ONLY public library in the world. The only other complete collections exist in the Library of Congress and the Harry Ransom Research Center  at the University of Texas at Austin. To see the list of other libraries and museums that have partial collections of the LEC books, click here on the link to the LEC’s website.

The Limited Editions Collection and Arion Press books were donated to the Library in 2001 from local author and book collector, Dr. Sadye Tune Wilson. Dr. Wilson began collecting the books in the late 1970′s, while also working with a book dealer to purchase the earlier-published books. 800 plus books later (not including the Arion Press books), the Downtown Library now continues collecting and caring for Dr. Wilson’s books.

Now that you understand how the books came to the library, how about learning how the books were published in the first place…

A few of the seasonal greeting cards that the LEC sent out to its members.

A few of the seasonal greeting cards that the LEC sent out to its members.

Once upon a time (more specifically, 1929), there was a man named George Macy. Mr. Macy had a vision to create an awesome book club. Actually, to be exact, a fine-press book-of-the-month club. Having been an avid reader throughout his life, Macy came up with this idea when he was 29 and already had publishing experience. One story alleges that after Macy proposed his idea to create a monthly book club, it took Jack Straus (a stockbroker friend on Wall Street) only a few minutes to raise the $40,000 that Macy needed.

October 1929 was the official release date of Macy’s first books. I know what you’re thinking, perfect timing, right? The stock market crashed that same month and year. But it did not seem to faze Macy. He had set his limit of subscriptions to 1500, and by then, he had already secured more than half of that. By the end of 1930, he had sold out of subscriptions and already started a waiting list.

Starting at $10 a book (more than the standard trade edition at the time, but less than a private-press volume), Mr. Macy created a legendary book collection that brings some of the best literary classics and famous artists together in one setting. The first series of the LEC books include a variety of unique works such as:

  • The Travels of Lemuel Gulliver by Jonathan Swift

    The Travels of Lemuel Gulliver is the first book produced by the LEC. The art by Alexander King

    Alexander King illustrated the art for The Travels of Lemuel Gulliver; the first book published by the LEC.

  • Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
  • The Travels of Baron Munchausen by Rudolph Erich Raspe
  • Snow-Bound by John Greenleaf Whittier
    The 4th book published by the LEC was Snowbound by John Greenleaf Whittier, in 1930.

    The 4th book published by the LEC was Snowbound by John Greenleaf Whittier, in 1930.


  • The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym by Edgar Allan Poe
  • Two Mediaeval Tales by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
  • Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving
  • Tartarin of Tarascon by Alphonse Daudet
  • Undine by F. de La Motte-Fouque
  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
  • The Fables of Jean de la Fontaine by Jean de la Fontaine

    The first series of books by the LEC, beginning in October 1929.

    The first series of books published by the LEC, beginning in October 1929.

Some of the most notable books produced by the LEC were done when Macy was still in his thirties. Does the name Picasso ring a bell? How about Matisse? Yep, in the LEC’s earliest days, Macy produced books that both of these artists created illustrations for -

  • Lysistrata by Aristophanes (Picasso)

    Lysistrata by Aristophanes was published by the LEC in 1934, illustrated by Pablo Picasso.

    Lysistrata by Aristophanes was published by the LEC in 1934, illustrated by Pablo Picasso.

  • Ulysses by James Joyce (Matisse)

    Ulysses by James Joyce was published by the LEC in 1935, illustrated by Henri Matisse.

    Ulysses by James Joyce was published by the LEC in 1935, illustrated by Henri Matisse.

The idea to ask both of these artists to create illustrations for him actually came from a suggestion by a stranger, according to Macy. At a high price, Picasso agreed to create drawings for Lysistrata. Though he was late in producing them (by about 6 months), the book remains to be one of the most unique and valuable parts of the collection.

Before she passed away, Alice Liddell Hargreaves signed many copies of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

Before she passed away, Alice Liddell Hargreaves signed many copies of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

Macy also coaxed Alice Liddell Hargreaves (the original Alice from Alice in Wonderland) into signing copies of the LEC’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. Alice had previously refused to inscribe anything written by Carroll. But having learned that she wished to sign copies of his books before she passed away, Macy wrote to her. Though she wasn’t able to sign every copy, the Library’s copies of both books are lucky ones.

I could continue going on about the LEC - about how the design of the books and subscription changed throughout the years as directors changed. And how there was a time (after Mr. Macy passed away) that the future of the club looked pretty bleak. But if I continued into that history, you’d still be reading for awhile, when I know you’re just here to look at the pictures – (just kidding). So I’ll summarize the rest.

What is important to know is that Sid Shiff took over the LEC in 1978, saving it from going under. He changed the strategy of the club in a variety of ways, raising the annual rate but also bringing in more renowned artists instead of good illustrators.

In 1983, the LEC began featuring great African-American authors including Maya Angelou, Derek Walcott, and Langston Hughes. Though the club does not produce books at this time due to Sid’s passing, operations continue thanks to his wife. When the day comes that the LEC produces books again, you can count on finding them at the Library.

Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll was also signed by Alice Liddell Hargreaves.

Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll was also signed by Alice Liddell Hargreaves.

If you’re interested in learning more about the history of the LEC, a lot of the information from this post and more can be found in 3 great articles written about the Club. They are available to read on the LEC’s website.

Come back next month to learn about the Arion Press!

Want to see these books, or would you like to view 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 section. It’s open to all Library visitors during regular Library hours. To make an appointment to view the books, you can call either (615) 880-2356 or (615) 880-2363


Book review: Mad World

By , November 14, 2014

madworld-608x812Mad World: an Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs that Defined the 1980s
by Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein

As a former writer of Duran Duran fan fiction, it’s pretty much a given I’d appreciate this book, which features not only the fab five, but many of my favorite bands from the 80′s.  But even if you enter a rage when Take On Me comes out of your speakers, Mad World will help you understand the events that led up to and influenced the sounds of that decade.

Music fans and journalists Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein interviewed (I’m so jealous!) some of the most notable new wave artists, getting them each to talk about the genesis and recording of their most popular songs. You’ll also read in the artists’ own words tales of the scene, and how some had strong friendships with their fellow new wave bands.   And while we’re on the topic, the authors talk about what new wave actually means.  The band photos provide an instant step back into the 80′s hairstyles and unique fashion sense often parodied and misunderstood.  You’re a fan of mixtapes, right?  Majewski and Bernstein recommend some excellent themed mixtapes: bands with interesting names, songs about science, songs from new groups that grew out of old groups…

I’ve already mentioned Duran Duran is represented; other participants include members of New Order, The Smiths (Morrissey and Johnny Marr were obviously interviewed separately), Tears for Fears, Adam Ant, Devo,  A Flock of Seagulls, and INXS to name a few.  And don’t forget to check our catalog, Hoopla, and freegal when you’re inspired to listen to these bands.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite songs you may know from the cover versions by Grace Jones, or Trent Reznor and friends, that would be The Normal‘s Warm Leatherette.


Book review: Elegantissima: the Design &Typography of Louise Fili

By , November 13, 2014

louiseElegantissima: the Design &Typography of Louise Fili

By Louise Fili


Elegantissima which means elegant in Italian is the title of Louise Fili’s new design book.

Chances are you are familiar with the work of award winning designer Louise Fili and you didn’t even know it …… like the Love Stamp she created for the United States Postal Service or her many book covers and business logos……

elegantissima image


As the art director for Pantheon Books, Louise designed over two thousand book jackets during her eleven year tenure. She “introduced changes to the status quo by using softer palettes, unusual papers stocks, unconventional illustration, and custom typography.” Louise left Pantheon in 1989 to start her own design firm, Louise Fili Ltd, where she specializes in freelance book jacket design and creating logos and menu designs for restaurants.


Elegantissima: the Design &Typography of Louise Filiis a celebration of an amazing career that has spanned nearly 40 years. Louise Fili is a gifted designer and she has written a book that is a pleasure to read and to look at!







National Day of Listening – November 28

By , November 10, 2014
Four individuals at table

Library staff and community members gather for an oral history

When I mention the day after Thanksgiving what do you think of? Leftover turkey? Black Friday shopping? Football games? These are all great things about the last Friday in November but did you know that this day is also National Day of Listening? In 2008, StoryCorps launched an unofficial campaign to encourage Americans to take some time during this holiday weekend to talk to each other. The premise is simple: sit down with a friend or relative, ask them some questions, have a conversation, and record it to share with your family or the nation. It’s as easy as that.

Stories have so much power. Each of us has lived an incredible life but all too often, our personal story doesn’t sound that amazing to us. However, these stories can personalize history in a way that nothing else can. The Special Collections Department has multiple oral history collections that include stories from veterans, civil rights activists, business leaders, immigrants, and everyday people. These collections are some of our most used resources because of the connection they give to historical events.

First Day of Integration

Grace McKinley walking her daughter to Fehr Elementary School, Nashville, Tennessee, 1957 September 09, the same day Mrs. Risby discusses.

Take Alice Smith Risby, for example. In her interview from 2007, she talks about her daughter being one of the first graders that integrated Nashville schools in YEAR. She specifically mentions that her daughter’s name was not in the papers because they missed registration so this event would not have been recorded if she hadn’t shared her story. But the part I love about oral histories comes toward the end of the clip. One of the parents of another student walks up to her and tells her they are there to make sure nothing happens to her daughter. That human interaction happened over 50 years ago but it still stays in Mrs. Risby’s memory because it meant so much to her.


What stories does your family have to tell? Find out this month by following these easy steps!

  1. Decide who you want to interview. A grandparent, sibling, parent, cousin, friend, anyone you like!
  2. Create a list of questions. Here is a list of Great Questions from StoryCorps but feel free to come up with your own. Is there a specific story you want to hear more about? Think about what you already know about the person and go from there!
  3. Find some recording equipment. If you have a tape recorder or video camera, great! If not, you can use a smartphone or even a computer. Get creative.
  4. Pick a place to record. It’s always best to find a quiet spot to record this story but others may want to hear. If you can’t find a spot for the two of you, ask others to try to keep quiet so that the story can be captured as best as possible.
  5. Begin!! State your names, the date, the location, and your relationship. Remember this story may live on past the two of you so you want people to know who you are!
  6. We recommend 40 minutes as a good length for interviews but you can do as long or short as you like. 40 minutes makes the files small enough that they are easy to manage.
  7. Share it! Send it to your family, post it on the Internet, share it on StoryCorps Wall of Listening.

That’s it! You have conducted an oral history.

Learn more about our Oral History Collections here!

For more resources and more oral histories, check out StoryCorps

Drawing of family interview

Image from StoryCorps, used with permission.

And don’t forget to join us November 19 at 11:30 AM for our Film for Thought series. We will be screening “Listening is an Act of Love,” a production by StoryCorps, in honor of National Day of Listening.


Happy Listening!

- Amber

Book review: British Cookbooks

By , November 3, 2014

River Cottage Veg

River Cottage Veg: 200 Inspired Vegetable Recipes

By Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall


The joy of this cookbook is its inspired combinations, unlike anything you’ve seen in American cookbooks.  Case in point: red cabbage, parsnip, orange, and date salad.  Really!  Another standout is the warm salad of mushrooms, roasted squash, arugula, and blue cheese.  If that doesn’t say autumn, I don’t know what does.

Two of my other favorites are also amongst the simplest recipes in the book: the leek and cheese toastie (much more than the sum of its parts), and the salad of raw brussels sprouts, apple, and cheddar, which gave a twist to my Thanksgiving table last year.



Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food: The Ultimate Weekend CooJamie Oliver's Comfort Foodkbook

By Jamie Oliver


I know Jamie Oliver has his detractors, but it really can’t be argued that many of his recipes are amazingly good.  The Super Schnitzel on page 34, which includes blackcurrant jam and a caper/anchovy topping, is—no exaggeration—one of the best meals I’ve ever made at home.


Happy cooking!



Book review: Garlic and Sapphires

By , October 28, 2014

Garlic and Sapphires
By Ruth Reichl

Earlier in the year I read Reich’s first novel Delicious! and really enjoyed it. So on a whim, I decided to pick up the audio version of this book to see what her nonfiction is like. (Please insert happy dance here.) It was amazing. Not to go overboard, but this may be the best book I read all year. I wish I could read it all over again for the first time.

The premise: Reichl gets hired to be The New York Times food critic, but she can’t go to restaurants as herself because the experience wouldn’t be a good reflection of the restaurant. Of course, they are going to give her the best of everything – service, menu options, raspberries (it really happened). So to get around this little problem, Reichl begins to invent characters and disguise herself. One time she goes as her mother. Another she takes on the persona of an older lady she saw on the street. Each character embarks on a different adventure – sometimes amusing, sometimes horrendous.

I enjoyed how inspired Reichl was by her new identities. She really committed to each new character – probably because I can’t even imagine how embarrassing it would be to have been discovered in disguise. It was also eye-opening to see how differently people are treated at fancy establishments. Being a solid member of the proletariat, I am familiar with the snobbiness of waitstaff, but it was nice to experience being pampered – even if only vicariously through Reichl.

Honestly, it made me want to start being a food writer, but then I remembered she has to eat things like pig’s feet and jellyfish.  So I guess I’ll stick to my day job, reviewing books for you here at NPL. Maybe I can at least dress in disguise for my next review? Hmmm…I think I see a down-on-her-luck motorcycle chick who has a secret love of Lucy Maud Montgomery in my future.

Happy eating reading,

:) Amanda (or should I say Kimberly of Green Gables?)

PS There are recipes in this book that are easy and enjoyable, but I would recommend getting a print copy of the book to better facilitate this – unless you can write down notes really quickly. I’ve made the roast chicken and am so looking forward to trying her New York cheesecake recipe.


Something Wicked from the Wilson Collection

By , October 27, 2014
Start of Mina's Journal

Chapter 27 from Dracula – Mina Harker’s Journal. In pursuit of Dracula, Van Helsing’s journey to Transylvania to kill Dracula begins, with Mina guiding the way.

“Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make!” -Bram Stoker, Dracula


It’s that time of year again – Fall. The sun is starting to set sooner. The leaves are changing colors and falling rapidly. Pumpkins are ripe for the picking and for sale at many road-side stands. Along with these seasonal traits, it is also the time of year when the words “ghosts”, “goblins”, and “monsters” are used more frequently as we approach the spooky celebration of Halloween.

It’s also important to recognize some of the most notorious and terrifying characters from literature that have fueled the terror in Halloween. Characters such as “Frankenstein” and “Dracula” were created over 100 years ago, and they are still seen in many movies and in costumes on Halloween night.

In honor of these horror icons (and many others), here are a few of the Wilson Collection’s most eerie and unearthly books:

Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

  • Originally published in 1818, published by the Limited Editions Collection in 1934.
  • Though the character “Frankenstein” is commonly portrayed as a green-faced monster with many stitches on his face, the original character is actually Dr. Victor Frankenstein. He is the creator of the man-monster.
  • The story idea was created during a friendly competition between her husband and a friend, to see who could write the best ghost story. 
  • The illustrations by artist, Everett Henry, purposefully exclude the man-monster. Every scene, however, implies that he is there. 
  • Though the book received a mixture of praise and criticism from LEC members when it was mailed out, the founding director (George Macy) believed the drawings were the most perfect set of illustrations for a book ever seen.


Cover page of Frankenstein

Frankenstein is considered to be one of the earliest examples of science fiction.

There are many beautifully drawn photos by Everett Henry, none of which show the actual monster

There are many beautifully drawn photos by Everett Henry, none of which show the actual man-monster.














Tales of Mystery & Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe

  • Originally Published approximately 1902, published by the Limited Editions Collection in 1941.
  • This novel was the first complete collection of his stories specifically focusing on suspense and related tales.
  • 16 aquatints (an intaglio printmaking technique similar to etching) were illustrated by artist, William Sharp.
  • Published posthumously, Poe’s work gained most of its popularity after he died.
    Title Page

    Illustration from A Descent into the Maelstrom, a story recounting how a man survived a shipwreck and a whirlpool.

    The graphic and disturbing etchings were created by artist, William Sharp. He illustrated 16 aquatint etchings; a form of intaglio printmaking.

    The graphic and disturbing etchings were created by artist, William Sharp. He illustrated 16 aquatint etchings; a form of intaglio printmaking.















The Possessed by Fyodor Dostoevsky (2 vols)

  • Originally Published in 1872, published by the Limited Editions Collection in 1959.
  • Translated from Russian by Constance Garnett, and includes the originally suppressed chapter, “Stavrogin’s Confession.”
  • The engravings were illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg.
  • The Possessed was the initial English-translated title. The title now that is preferred is Demons or The Devils.
  • Despite the wicked title, the novel actually is politically controversial. It is a testimonial of life in Imperial Russia in the late 19th century.
    Engraving 1

    Eichenberg also created engravings for the LEC’s The House of the Dead. All images mirror the dark and controversial context of each book by Dostoevsky.

    The Possessed is a 2-volume set.

    Book 1 of 2 - The Possessed. The engravings were created by Fritz Eichenberg.















Dracula by Bram Stoker

  • Originally published in 1897, published by the Limited Editions Collection in 1965.
  • The original final chapter was removed, in which Dracula’s castle falls apart as he dies, hiding the fact that vampires were ever there.
  • Stoker’s enthusiasm for theater, writing, and fantasy began when he was young, inspired by his father, Abraham Stoker. At an early age, Bram often spoke of a vampire story that he would someday write.
  • An article by Maurice Richardson in The Observer in December, 1957, broke the success of the book down to 3 key elements – the singular fascination of the vampire superstition, the inclusive nature of the plot (which deploys a powerful psychological situation), and the furiously-active narrative.
    Mina meets with Dr. Van Helsing

    Dr. Van Helsing meets with Mina, inquiring her about her recently deceased friend, Lucy Westenra.

    Dog howling outside window in Dracula

    The wood engravings were illustrated by Felix Hoffmann. From the chapter Memorandum left by Lucy Westenra - after a loud howl outside the window, a gray wolf breaks through the glass of Lucy’s window.  
















The Book of the Dead (2 vols)

  • Originally published and used approximately 1550 BCE to around 50 BCE, published by the Limited Editions Collection in 1972.
  • The Book of the Dead is an ancient Egyptian funerary text containing a number of magical spells, with the intention of assisting the dead’s journey through the underworld.
  • Because there is not an actual book, the LEC arranged to photograph the paintings housed in the British Museum. Expert Peter Parkinson photographed the sections of the paintings and created color transparencies from the Egyptian papyrus.
  • The renowned Egyptologist Raymond O. Faulkner was commissioned to give a fresh translation of the ancient spells in the book.


Spell 23 of The Book of the Dead

Spell 83 – Spell for Being Transformed into a Phoenix from The Book of the Dead.

Title page
Peter Parkinson created color transparencies from the Egyptian papyri in the British Museum.














The House of the Dead by Fyodor Dostoevsky

  • Originally published in 1861, published by the Limited Editions Collection in 1982.
  • Translated from Russian by Constance Garnett.
  • The engravings were illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg.
  • Also known as Memoirs from the House of the Dead and Notes from the Dead House, the story portrays the life of convicts in a Siberian prison camp.
  • The story is semi-autobiographical from the time that Dostoevsky spent 4 years in exile in a similar camp.
    Wood engravings - "I must have got into Hell by mistake," and "Hell must have been not unlike our bathroom" in The House of the Dead.

    Wood engravings – “I must have got into Hell by mistake,” and “Hell must have been not unlike our bathroom” in The House of the Dead.

    Wood engraving - "He ate alone, voraciously, like a wild beast" from The House of the Dead.

    Wood engraving – “He ate alone, voraciously, like a wild beast” from The House of the Dead.














Want to see these books, or would you like to view 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. To make an appointment to view the collection, please call (615) 862-5804 ext. 6092.

Mrs. Roosevelt’s Page

By , October 24, 2014

Eleanor Roosevelt steps off an airplane at Berry Field for a brief stop in Nashville.  Photo from the NPL Special Collections Division digital collection.

Eleanor Roosevelt was a prolific writer and published many newspaper and magazine articles throughout her life – before, during, and after her time as first lady.  Starting in August of 1933 – having been the first lady of the state of New York, and just after entering the White House as first lady of the United States – Eleanor Roosevelt began writing her first regular column for a popular magazine, Woman’s Home Companion. 

According to a statement by the editors in the August 1933 issue, the objective of the column, which ran for two years, through July of 1935, was “strengthening further the bond between the White House and women citizens everywhere.”  All these columns can be read in the Woman’s Home Companion, located in the Periodicals area on the 3rd floor at the Main library.


Eleanor began this series with an invitation to readers – the title of her August 1933 entry was “I Want You to Write to Me.”  Sometimes the column addressed personal issues that she received in letters, but more often, Eleanor addressed social issues, usually explaining why they would be of interest to women or what women could do about them.

Some examples with quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt:

photoFrom October 1933, “Setting Our House in Order” – Discusses how women can use their power as consumers to influence manufacturers to offer fair wages and adequate working conditions to their employees.  “Therefore, if groups of women will get together and agree that in shopping they will go to their local stores and ask under what conditions the things they are buying are produced, telling their shopkeepers that they would far prefer to buy goods that carried a label assuring them that these goods were made under conditions which precluded any sweat-shop work, that will help the manufacturers.  If this happens frequently enough in all communities, the storekeepers and manufacturers will listen to public opinion . . . We may sit at home and pathetically ask what we can do, but if we do nothing about the present conditions we shall be to blame.  Only as we take up our responsibilities can conditions improve.”

too oldFrom February 1934, “Too Old for the Job” – Addresses the difficulties of older people in the work force, women in particular.  “It is not because we are sorry for the people who are thrown out of a job at forty or forty-five that we are writing this article.  It is because we feel that industry, business and the professions are going to suffer a serious loss when they begin to deny themselves the valuable work which people can and should do at least up to the age of sixty, if their health is good.”


photo 1From November 1934, “Let Us Be Thankful” – “I often wonder if some of the things which we ought to be thankful for at Thanksgiving time are the possibilities which open up before us to help our fellow human beings.   We may feel that we ourselves are badly off, but when we discover that someone is in need of something that we have taken for granted, then our eyes are opened.  We realize that we have a new thing to be thankful for, that we can be of help in our community . . . Let each of us this Thanksgiving Day count over our unusual blessings wherever we may be living.”


photo 4From April 1935, “Woman’s Work is Never Done” – Offers some solutions for the problems encountered in domestic service, for employers and employees.  “I hope increased leisure and constantly new inventions are going to make housework for women as easy and as rapidly done as possible, but we shall still have to face the fact that a great many women do run establishments in which they employ a number of domestic servants and that many more are going to employ one maid or a part-time maid. the more we can educate ourselves to the point where we shall recognize the dignity of this labor and go into it from choice rather than from necessity, the easier it will be to raise it from the type of unsatisfactory work which it is now, where nobody knows exactly what her job is, either as employer or employee.”


treeFrom July 1935, “Tree Worship” - “Tree worship is as old as civilization itself and perhaps there was a good reason for this, for it you worship a thing you preserve it and the ancients knew well that trees were necessary to the lives of human beings . . . If we want to keep our water supply, prevent soil erosion and still have fertile land to cultivate, we shall have to reforest much of the land which we have denuded.  Every village will have to inculcate into its children a lot of the ancient tree worship in order that we may be wise husbandmen of one of the greatest assets of the future prosperity of our nation.”




Eleanor Roosevelt named honorary citizen of Nashville by Mayor Ben West. Photo belongs to the NPL Metro Archives digital collection.

Eleanor Roosevelt later went on to write a daily newspaper column called, “My Day,” that ran in papers across the country for many years.  She also contributed another monthly magazine column to Ladies’ Home Journal called “If You Ask Me.” To read more of Eleanor Roosevelt’s writing or learn more about her, check out these titles:

Eleanor Roosevelt’s My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt (a collection of her newspaper columns)

You Learn By Living by Eleanor Roosevelt

Tomorrow is Now by Eleanor Roosevelt

The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt by Eleanor Roosevelt

CD review: Inside Llewyn Davis Original Soundtrack Recording

By , October 23, 2014

 Inside Llewyn Davis Original Soundtrack Recording

When the Coen Brothers write and direct a film you know two things, you’re going to see a really good movie and you’re going to hear a really fabulous soundtrack. The Coen’s latest film Inside Llewyn Davis does not disappoint.

The film, loosely inspired by the life of American folk singer Dave Van Ronk, “follows a week in the life of a young folk singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961.” Oscar Isaac plays the lead character of Llewyn. Not only does Isaac’s do a great job acting he also does an amazing job singing. His voice is soulful and impressive.


Inside Llewyn Davis was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song and an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Sound Mixing.


The moment I finished watching the movie, I ran to the computer to see if the library had the soundtrack….they did … was it worth the wait? Absolutely.




- Karen



The Inside Llewyn Davis Soundtrack is available as a CD and digitally through Hoopla on the library’s website.


You may also like:

Inside Llewyn Davis DVD


Inside Llewyn Davis: the screenplay

By Joel Coen


Inside Llewyn Davis Movie Website





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