Posts tagged: Wilson Collection

Wilson Collection pays tribute…

By , January 25, 2016

David Bowie

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I think it’s safe to say that the year 2016 is starting off a little more bitter than sweet. Not only has the winter weather showed up with a vengeance, but there have been several shocking and heartbreaking deaths already this new year. Though this tribute is predominately focusing on David Bowie and his love for reading, I’d like to first recognize a few other individuals who also recently passed away.

The most recent passing being of the great, English actor Alan Rickman, who passed away last Thursday (the 14th) of Pancreatic Cancer. Though my favorite role he played will Always be Severus Snape in theAlan Rickman Harry Potter films, he was famous for many of his other films including Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, Love Actuallyand of course, Die Hard. No one will ever forget his voice either.

On a more personal note, this next individual that passed away on Jan. 12th is being mentioned because his death was felt by everyone in the Butler Bulldog community – a community I am very much a part of as a proud alumna. At the young age of 25, former Butler basketball player Andrew Smith passed away after 2 tough years battling Cancer.

I could go on about the tough fight Andrew put up, how strong his wife was throughout the battle (and how strong she still is), and what he means to the school, but you’d be reading forever, and as Brad Stevens (former Butler coach-turned Celtics coach) said “it still wouldn’t do him justice.” But I’ll simply say that my thoughts go out to his family and friends, and summarize his character with a message sent out from the school – “He is, was, and always will be a Bulldog.

Andrew SmithSorry to take it down a notch, but like all lives, these are worth mentioning and remembering.

For the last tribute, I’m going to recognize innovative English musician, David Bowie. Bowie passed away on January 10th, just 2 days after his birthday and the release of his latest album, Blackstar.

As sad as I am at his passing like many others, I will halt here on my tribute to Bowie because if you are a regular follower of the Library’s Off-the-Shelf blog, you have already seen the beautiful tribute written by Bryan on January 11th. If not, click here to check it out. Instead, I’d like to share a few of Bowie’s favorite books via the Wilson Collection.

David BowieLike music and art, Bowie enjoyed immersing himself in a book; it was one of his favorite forms of relaxation. When he toured or was filming a movie, he had a large collection of books with him always. And, he was also one of the first celebrities to pose for the American Library Association’s series of READ posters. For the 1987 edition, you can find Bowie jumping for joy (it appears) while he reads Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Idiot. 

If you haven’t already seen the many shared articles and Twitter feeds, a list of Bowie’s top 100 favorite books was released (unsure of when and by whom initially). Though I wish we had every single one of them in the Wilson Collection, I was at least happy to find a few.



Here are 3 of his favorites:

Madame BovaryMadame Bovary
Author: Gustave Flaubert
Water-Color Illustrations by: Gunter Böhmer
LEC: 1938

  • This is a tragic story about Emma Bovary, the wife of a doctor, who indulges in adulterous behavior to escape her provincial life. I say “tragic” because the story ends with Emma taking her own life due to unhappiness.
  • This book is not only considered to be a masterpiece, but is also a seminal work of literary realism. It received strong backlash when it was first published due to its controversial content.
  • This copy of the book is signed by well-known German-Swiss illustrator, Gunter Böhmer. Though he was also known as a talented painter and draftsman, he was best known for his stylistic book illustrations.

The BridgeThe Bridge
Author: Hart Crane
Photographs by: Richard Mead Benson
LEC: 1981

  • It is a long poem with varying scope and style and was written as an ode to the Brooklyn Bridge and New York City.
  • Though he traveled around to different cities while writing the poem, Crane also spent time in an apartment that overlooked the famed bridge. What Crane didn’t know when he was living there was that the designer of the bridge also stayed there during the bridge’s construction.
  • The photographs taken for the LEC copy were by talented photographer, Richard Mead Benson – a longtime admirer of New York’s geographical beauty.

The LeopardThe Leopard
Author: Giuseppe di Lampedusa
32 Photographs from the film by: Giovan Battista Poletto
Arion Press: 2015

  • The story is based on the life of the author’s grandfather, Giulio Fabrizio Tomasi, who was Prince of Lampedusa. It follows the life of a family during the Italian Risorgimento, or Resurgence.
  • Published posthumously after several failed attempts, The Leopard eventually became the top-selling novel in Italian history after initial political attacks, and is now also considered to be one of the most important literary works in the modern Italian literature.
  • The book was also made into a film, the same film that the 32 photographs were taken from.

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)880-2356 – leave a message for Liz.


Holiday Treats from the Wilson Collection Suite

By , December 28, 2015
Christmas cards from George W. Bush (from Archives) and the Wilson Limited Editions Collection. Christmas Card display can be found in Non-Fiction on 3rd floor of the Main Library.

Christmas cards from George W. Bush (from Archives) and the Wilson Limited Editions Collection. Christmas Card display can be found in Non-Fiction on 3rd floor of the Main Library.

Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more….

~ Dr. Seuss

Welcome back Wilson readers, and you know what time of year it is. The weather should give an indication but it hasn’t quite caught up with the times though; give it time, it will. If you haven’t caught up as well, it’s the holiday season of course and of all sorts – Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s, you name it. In honor of this magical season, I’m going to highlight one of the Wilson Collection’s coolest additions and talk about the fun and easy craft we did during the Throwback Thursday program in Teens.

Let’s get started, shall we….

The Wilson Limited Editions Collection includes 2 copies of Dickens’ holiday classic, A Christmas CarolThe first was published by the Limited Editions Club in 1934, illustrated by artist, Gordon Ross. The second book in the collection was printed by the Arion Press in 1993. While both books embody their own uniqueness and beauty, my personal favorite is the Arion Press edition.

Arion Press published their copy in 1993 to honor the 150th anniversary of its first publication (in 1843). The edition includes an introduction by Paul Davis, a Professor of English Literature at the University of New Mexico. Davis is also a Charles Dickens’ expert. His intro to the book provides a chronicle of the illustrated editions of A Christmas CarolIda Applebroog, a well-known American artist whose works can be found in several popular art museums, created 50 illustrations for the special edition classic. Applebroog created illustrations that pay homage to the earlier versions of the book while also applying her own style.

Along with the anniversary edition, the Press also issued an extra suite of 18 hand-colored prints by Applebroog. When the prints are stood up on their folding stands, it forms a tableau. This special edition was limited to 25 copies and sold with the book, which makes it even more special.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The Tableau created by artist, Applebroog, for the Arion Press edition of The Christmas Carol

The Tableau created by artist, Ida Applebroog, for the Arion Press edition of A Christmas Carol.

A few of the illustrations included in the tableau.

A few of the prints included in the tableau.

During December’s Teen program, Throwback Thursday, I took 3 intriguing books from the Wilson Collection:

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Artist: Ida Applebroog
Arion Press, 1993

A Christmas Carol, published by the Arion Press.

A Christmas Carol, published by the Arion Press.

The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare
Artist: Albert Rutherston
Limited Editions Club: 1940

Dec Craft 2015_4

The Winter’s Tale, published by the LEC.

Genesis, translated from the Hebrew by Robert Alter
Artist: Michael Mazur
Arion Press, 1996

Dec Craft 2015_5

Genesis, published by the Arion Press.

Christmas ornament made out of old Christmas cards

Christmas ornament made out of old Christmas cards

I also included a craft for the teens to make ornaments out of Christmas cards. This is an easy and fun craft, especially if you save your cards like I do. All you need to create the ornament is (for 1 ornament):

2-4 Christmas cards (depending on how large you draw your circles)
Ribbon, yarn, or cord (about 1 ft long total)
Pen or pencil
Circular object like a bottle to draw circles

Step 1: On the back of the card fronts, trace 8 circles total (there is no definite size, I drew 1-inch circles and that’s approximately the size you see here).

Step 2: Cut out your circles.

Step 3: Fold each circle in half, creasing the fold well. Then, fold them in half again. They should look like the picture you see below.

Christmas Card Ornament

Step 4: Open each folded circle, cut along just one fold to the middle of the circle (only to the middle).

Step 5: This step can be tedious because you will have to do it to each circle, but it involves the use of the glue. With the circle facing you, place glue on the bottom right section of the circle. Bring the left side of the circle over the right now, and press down to the glue. Your circle should now look like a triangle. Now repeat this step until they are all triangles.

Step 6: This is another repetitive step – but take two triangles and glue them together. They should look like the picture below. Repeat 4 times until all triangles are glued to another.

Christmas Card ornament

Step 7: Now you should see where I am going with this, but let’s glue two of the sections together to create a half-circle.

Step 8: Before gluing the other half to each other, let’s first glue your ribbon or cord to the first half-circle. Glue it half-way down the half-circle for firm placement.

Step 9: Now you may glue the two halves together. Your final product can happily hang on your tree now very easily with it’s ribbon/cord/yarn!

Dec Craft 2015_2

The bottom ornament is the one created with recycled Christmas Cards.

Look forward to next month’s post that will include the schedule for our upcoming book-making workshop programs. I was going to post these programs this month, but it’s better to wait until the new year to finalize all details.

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!

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!

Back to School with the Wilson Collection!

By , August 24, 2015
"The Canterbury Tales" by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

This is a favorite time of the year for parents but not so much for kids – that’s right, school is back in session. Summer flies by when you’re having fun, kids! BUT that doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun in school. Think of all the awesome books you get to read – both for fun and required. While schools are aspiring to remain modern with their pick of required reads such as Enders Game or The Book Thief, there are still several classics that are both required-reads and must-reads. AND the Wilson Collection at NPL is the perfect place to find almost every required read throughout the last century (and more…)

Currently, several of the most popular required reads such as The Great Gatsby and Brave New World are on display in the Wilson Room, including a few you may be unfamiliar with that were on the Limitless Libraries’ Summer Reading List this year (or a few I was unfamiliar with).

Here’s a sample:

LEC_All Quiet on the Western Front_1969

All Quiet on the Western Front
Author: Erich Maria Remarque
Artist: John Groth
Published by the LEC: 1969

McGavock High School included this book on their summer reading list, along with a few contemporary books such as Divergent and Code Name Verity. It’s required for the German III class because the author is a German veteran of World War I. A real thriller you might say, the story describes the extreme stress that the soldiers went through during and after the war.

The story was first published in 1928 in a German newspaper, Vossische Zeitung. It came out in book form later in January 1929. There was a sequel written in 1930 as well - The Road Back. Both books by Remarque were banned and burned in Nazi Germany. So there’s your reason if you’ve never heard of it.

"Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka

Author: Franz Kafka
Artist: José Luis Cuevas
Published by the LEC: 1984

As a part of McGavock’s German IV & V curriculum, Metamorphosis is an even more thrilling story among college students. A classic novella originally published in 1915, Kafka’s story is also commonly known as “The Transformation” due to its content. The story begins with the protagonist, Gregor Samsa, waking to find himself transformed into a large, insect-like creature. No reason is given or alluded to, but the rest of the story follows Gregor’s life as he adjusts to his new condition and the response he receives from his family.

And now for a few that you might know…

LEC_Scarlet Letter_1941The Scarlet Letter
Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne
Artist: Henry Varnum Poor
Published by the LEC: 1941

I remember when I read this one in high school and it was definitely unprecedented to anything else I had ever read. And to be honest, CliffsNotes was a big help to me when I read this as well because at that age, the content and language was a little advanced for me. But I don’t regret reading and encourage others to check it out if you haven’t, because it is a compelling story that speaks volumes about human nature, especially during that time frame (roughly during the years 1642 and 1649).

Considered Hawthorne’s most popular work, The Scarlet Letter tells the story of young Hester Prynne. Hester finds herself in a troubling situation when she becomes pregnant and has a daughter from an affair. I will not spoil the story by revealing the man in which she has an affair with because that is part of the plot, but it is a shocker. Hester is shamed and punished for her adultery and forced to wear the scarlet letter “A” on her clothing. Without revealing anymore details, I will say that this is a must read whether you are required to or not.

Wuthering HeightsWuthering Heights
Author: Emily Brontë
Artist: Balthus (really talented artist that has illustrated several other books for the LEC)
Published by the LEC: 1993

Though I’ve never read this book because it was not required in any of my classes, it is on my to-read list on Goodreads. But from what I can interpret from reviews and descriptions of the story, it is a frustrating and passionate love story between the characters Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff. I say frustrating because if you’ve ever read anything by Jane Austen, you’d identify her love stories as well, frustrating…and maybe that’s love. But the story and language is very much similar. A good summary of this love story based on my research is that love is not easy. So how’s that for vague.

But this was Emily Brontë’s only novel, so it makes it even more inviting to sample. It was written sometime around 1845 and 1846, then published in 1847 under her pseudonym “Ellis Bell.” Brontë then passed away a year later at the young age of 30. Emily’s sister, Charlotte (famously known for her book, Jane Eyre), edited the manuscript of Wuthering Heights and republished a second version in 1850.

I love this version of the book by the LEC because the illustrations by Balthus are extraordinary. They really bring out the angst and general atmosphere of the story. This is one of my favorite books in the Wilson Collection so I definitely recommend coming to check it out!

More Pictures! 

White Fang by Jack London. Published by the LEC in 1973

White Fang by Jack London. Published by the LEC in 1973.

The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper. Published by the LEC in 1961.

The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper. Published by the LEC in 1961.

Emma by Jane Austen. Published by the LEC in 1964

Emma by Jane Austen. Published by the LEC in 1964.

If you are interested in viewing more books from the Wilson Collection individually, you can make an appointment by calling either (615) 880-2356 or (615) 880-2363, or simply respond to this blog post.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more next month!

The Wilson Collection is music to my eyes and ears

By , July 27, 2015

Music notes

“The drums come in on the beat of one to lift my soul.” ~ Maya Angelou, Music, Deep Rivers in My Soul

Like other forms of art, music represents an expression that’s free, open-to-interpretation, and loved in its many variations. It also has an advantage among other forms of art – its intangible presence allows it to be weaved throughout the rest of the art world (and for that matter, the rest of the world in general). Like many others and many of my fellow staff members, I am an avid fan of all types of music. Without getting too sentimental about what music means to me, I can simply say that if I go a day without listening to music, you know something is wrong. I use it to think, chill out, calm down, get excited, read a book, get work done, to get cleaning done faster, go on road trips, ponder meaning in the world…you get the idea.

So I’m going to combine my love for music with my passion for books, and discuss a few books from the Wilson Collection that are either music-related or musically inspired. I’ve discussed this first book before if you recognize it, but because it’s such a unique part of the collection, it’s worth mentioning again…

Music, Deep Rivers in My Soul 

"Music, Deep Rivers in My Soul" by Maya Angelou

“Music, Deep Rivers in My Soul” by Maya Angelou

by Maya Angelou
LEC, 2003

Of course anything by Maya Angelou is going to be well worth the read, but this one is significant because it is a first edition book created strictly for the LEC. And what about music, you say? Everything about the poem and book is rooted in music. Angelou links joy and pain and music all in one, not as her own but as humanities pain as well. 

An original jazz composition was created by Wynton Marsalis just for the book, as well. The disc includes a 30-minute composition of Angelou reading the poem, with Marsalis on trumpet and a few more instruments in the background. This added feature helps bring the poem alive, along with the 6 colored etchings by Dean Mitchell.

It’s an amazing all-in-one package for the LEC subscribers and even more valuable because only 400 copies were printed, and the book was signed by the author, artist, and musician.  

"Music, Deep Rivers in My Soul" by Maya Angelou

"Music, Deep Rivers in My Soul" by Maya Angelou

A Lie of the MindA Lie of the Mind
by Sam Shepard
Arion Press, 1993

One might say that the author of this play has “The Right Stuff” when it comes to writing. Hahaha, I realize I am probably the only one chuckling at this one so let me explain. Though he is a man of many talents, having won a Pulitzer Prize for a previous play in 1979, Sam Shepard is more commonly recognized as an actor. And more specifically, you can find him playing Chuck Yeager in the movie, The Right Stuff. If you haven’t seen that, then maybe you’ve seen him in Black Hawk Down, Swordfish, August: Osage County, The Notebook, Steel Magnolias…ladies. But if you are still clueless, clearly you don’t watch much tv. Just kidding, just IMDB him.

But anyway, he’s a talented playwright as well, with this play being named the best new play of the season by the New York Drama Critics Circle in 1986. The story is a heavy one following two families as they struggle to deal with a severe incident of spousal abuse. Now for the musical relation – along with the book, subscribers to the Press also received a CD recording by the Red Clay Ramblers from the first production of the play. Actually, the current tapping of my toe is due to that soundtrack, it’s quite catchy being an “Old Crow Medicine Show”-type sound.

A Lie of the Mind     A Lie of the Mind


"Requiem" by Anna

“Requiem” by Anna Akhamatova

by Anna Akhamatova
LEC, 2000

The power of this poem can certainly be felt in the music that accompanies it. Requiem is a group of short poems written by Anna Akhamatova, a Russian poet whose work was officially prohibited during the Stalin era. The years were tough for Akhamatova and remained that way until the dictator’s death in 1953.

Eventually, the Writer’s Union paid tribute to “the great Soviet poet who for more than half a century devoted herself to the noble service of Russian poetic speech, of the homeland, and of Soviet society building a new world” (LEC newsletter).

Though love was primarily her focus, Requiem focuses on her experiences during the siege of Leningrad. The poems combined include her work between 1935 and 1943. This passionate piece of work focuses on love, shame, and hatred. Subscribers to the LEC received a treat when the CD including Sir John Tavener’s musical rendering of Requiem was included with their book. This recording is from the 1981 rendering played at London’s Royal Albert Hall. This was the first time that the LEC included a musical recording with its books.



Other musical tidbits:

Outside of the good music mentioned above, the Library has other means of providing good tunes. For example, the variety you can find if you use Freegal and Hoopla. Freegal is a great service because you can download the music for you to keep (only 7 songs a week, please). And Hoopla is also cool because you can listen to an entire album that was recently released, and then purchase later as I usually do. For example, some of the albums you see below are found on Hoopla

"The Fool" by Ryn Weaver

“The Fool” by Ryn Weaver










If you like the Glass Animals, you will like this girl. Her song “Octahate” came across my radar when I was listening to a Glass Animals Itunes station. The album is solid and full of variety. Also look for “Pierre” and “Promises”.

Marina and the Diamonds

“Froot” by Marina and the Diamonds










Also another similarity to Glass Animals and Ryn Weaver, Marina has several more albums out prior to this one which I plan to listen to when I get the chance. But to speak for this one, it has a fun, somewhat ‘poppy’ feel to it but infused with Florence-like tones.

"Drones" by Muse

“Drones” by Muse









Though I have not listened to this album fully as of yet, I love the band and all of their previous albums. A friend and co-worker recommended this one to me, explaining that it is possibly the best thing that he has ever heard. I don’t doubt him.

The Wilson Room is open during regular library hours. If you are interested in viewing any of the Wilson Collection books individually, you can make an appointment by calling either (615) 880-2356 or (615) 880-2363, or simply respond to this blog post.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for a special Off-the-Shelf post about school next month!


Savor Summer: The Art of Cooking

By , July 23, 2015

The discovery of a new dish confers more happiness on humanity, than the discovery of a new star.” ~ Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste

You know what really goes together…summer time and food…and books, of course. There’s nothing better than sitting poolside (or beach side) with something sweet and a good book. Maybe you’re reading a classic like Fahrenheit 451 out of inspiration from the weather. Or you’re reading the newest book by Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman. Or even better, you’re reading a book ABOUT food. That sounds yummy to me. Allow me to make a few recommendations based on some books from the Wilson Collection:

"The Physiology of Taste" by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

“The Physiology of Taste” by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

The Physiology of Taste by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Originally Published: Dec, 1825
Published by LEC: 1949
Translated and annotated by M.F.K. Fisher
Arion Press published their own copy in 1994 but that version is not included in the Wilson Collection.

This was one of his most famous works and was published in 1825, two months before his death. Arguably one of the most famous books ever written about food, The Physiology of Taste was first published in 1825 and continuously has been in print ever since. It is a classic because it is a combination of recipes, anecdotes, reflections, and general musings about anything gastronomical by Brillat-Savarin. He was a French Lawyer and politician prior to publishing the book, and also famous for the statement: “Tell me what you eat and I shall tell you what you are.”

In the author’s preface, Brillat-Savarin says that it was not a lot of work to prepare this book because he only needed to organize the material that he spent so long collecting. “It was an entertaining task, and one which I did well to save for my old age.”



I think my favorite part of the book – Under Meditation 6: On Food in General, #47: Chocolate and its Origins

My mouth was watering as I read: “we have come to think of chocolate as the mixture which results from roasting together the cacao bean with sugar and cinnamon: such is the classic definition…And when we add the delicious perfume of vanilla to this mixture of sugar, cacao, and cinnamon, we achieve the ne plus ultra of perfection to which such a concoction may be carried.” Excuse me while I go hunt down a candy bar…

Other fun tidbits:

  • The book begins with “Aphorisms of the Professor” that serves as a preamble to the following work and as a foundation for the science of Gastronomy. The first “aphorism” is “the universe is nothing without the things that live in it, and everything that lives, eats.”
  • I recommend reading the chapter about Truffles (pg. 96 under On Food in General), he pretty much hits the nail on the head with the description of Truffles. Mmmm, chocolate…
  • There is also a brief chapter about death and how your appetite relates to that; this man really does discuss every aspect of gastronomy. It’s a good thing the chapter is brief.
A Commonplace Book of Cookery by Robert Grabhorn

A Commonplace Book of Cookery by Robert Grabhorn

A Commonplace Book of Cookery by Robert Grabhorn
Published by Arion Press: 1975
Preface by M.F.K. Fisher

This is a rather unconventional book because it is not one that follows a specific plot or anecdote. Prior to Arion Press, Grabhorn Press was one of the best and most successful presses in California. Robert Grabhorn was one of the owning brothers of the press and was very good at what he did. He also had a hobby of clipping and collecting quotations throughout his life. So essentially what we have here is about 170 pages of quotes – all kinds of quotes about food in every form, context, and opinion, that he collected throughout his life.

A few reflect an ancient way of thinking while others are rather amusing. Here’s a sample…

  • “All things require skill but an appetite.” ~ George Herbert, 1593-1633, Outlandish Proverbs
  • “Old meat makes good soap.” ~ Italian Proverb
  • “When beer goes in wit comes out” ~ German Proverb
  • “A grapefruit is a lemon that had a chance and took advantage of it.” ~ Author unidentified
  • Heavenly Father, bless us, and keep us all alive, there’s ten of us to dinner, and not enough for five.”         ~ Anonymous, Hodge’s Grace, c. 1850

This book was originally published by Arion Press and then later republished by North Point Press as a trade edition, in 1985. If you’re curious to read more from this collectible, be sure and come by the Wilson Room and check it out.

I’m not the first blogger to mention The Physiology of Taste, or food writing for that matter. Talented fellow blogger, Amanda, recently discussed MFK Fisher and and her book, The Art of Eating in her July 14th blog post. Be sure to check it out too!

And now for food…raiding through some of the recipes in the 1966-67 edition of Southern Living, I wonder that people survived the 60′s eating some of this stuff. No offense to the people that like this stuff, but Cheese Meat Loaf? Franks and Cheese Casserole? Really?! To each their own I guess…

But here’s a recipe from that same magazine that I tried and though it turned out well, be aware that it is incredibly sweet!

Seven-Layer CookiesSeven-Layer Cookies

1/2 stick butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 can (1-1/2 cup) coconut flakes
1 (6-ounce) package chocolate chips
1 (6-ounce) package butterscotch chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chopped pecans

Melt butter in a 9 x 12-inch baking pan (I used an 8 x 8 and it was fine). Add ingredients by layers, in order listed. Bake at 325 degrees about 30 minutes (I went the full 30 minutes). Let cool in pan, then cut into small squares.

These were incredibly easy to make, and even better, hard to mess up because as I told the man bagging my groceries at the store, you’d be surprised how easy it is to mess up a recipe. Word of advice – ALWAYS read the recipe and the box you’re opening. But this was easy, turned out well, the only warning is to eat them in small bites, they are incredibly sweet but flavorful. Enjoy!

Seven-Layer Cookies


Have Books, Will Travel

By , June 22, 2015

“Come with me,”  Mom says. “To the library. Books and summertime go together.”

-Lisa Schroeder, I Heart You, You Haunt Me


The books "Marco Polo" and "The Travels of Baron Munchausen" on display with a globe from the Young Adult department, in the Wilson Room.

The books “Marco Polo” and “The Travels of Baron Munchausen” on display with a globe from the Young Adult department, in the Wilson Room.

June brings the official start of summer (June 21st, to be exact), and summer (for some) is the perfect time to travel, if not around the world, maybe just around your city. In this day and age, it’s easy to get up and go. I can’t quite say the same for some of the characters chosen in this month’s post — some exist before cars had even been invented! Either way, if you’re travelling or enjoying a staycation indoors, this month’s books will take you on a journey.

The Odyssey and The Iliad
Author: Homer
Published by LEC: 1931

The Odyssey is the second oldest existing work in Western literature, with The Iliad being the first. The Iliad discusses the fall of Troy; covering only a few weeks in the final year of the Trojan War. The Odyssey’s story then follows Odysseus (or Ulysses, depending on your version) and his journey home to Ithaca. Throughout the course of the epic poem, Odysseus encounters various obstacles that elongate his journey home, and leave his wife and son to fend for themselves.

The Wilson Collection’s copies of the Odyssey and the Iliad are both numbered 118, and come bound in cloth with gold script along the spine. Additionally, both are translated from their traditional ancient Greek into English by Alexander Pope.

Introduction to the Iliad

Introduction to the Iliad

Title Page for The Odyssey

Treasure Island
Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
Published by LEC: 1941

Originally published in 1883, Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale of pirates and buried gold was originally serialized in Young Folks Magazine, with Stevenson adopting the pseudonym Captain George North. The story is broken into six parts, following a young Jim Hawkins as he eagerly assists, navigating the sea for buried treasures. The book itself has many spin-offs and over 50 different movie and TV adaptations.

Our copy of Treasure Island contains watercolors by Edward A. Wilson, including a frontpiece lithograph of Captain Long John Silvers. The art is dynamic and fluid, matching the story closely in sense of expression. The comedy that a story about adventure at sea was done with watercolors is not lost on me.

Lithograph of Captain Long John Silvers

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Author: Mark Twain
Published by LEC: 1942


The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was originally published in 1884, and banned (for the first time) only one month after its publication due to its “coarse” language and its depictions of racism. Readers follow the story of Huckleberry Finn, son of the town drunk and best friend to Tom Sawyer as he goes about town.

While the Wilson collection houses two editions of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, my favorite of the two is the one Thomas Hart Benton illustrated  with line and wash drawings, giving Huck a particularly mischevious look as he navigates Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, and Kentucky. The line and wash style gives the characters a sort of looseness that goes well with the story; the tones in the illustrations muted and casual.


The Seven Voyages of Sinbad
Author: Unknown
Published by LEC: 1949


A story my mother read to me as a child, and one that I continue to love well into my twenties. The story follows Sinbad the sailor as he travels the globe, fighting glorious creatures and meeting varying villains. My favorite encounter of his would have to be with the multiple supernatural creatures, one of which being a Cyclops. His battle with the Cyclops in both written and film adaptations is lively and riveting, sure to captivate any audience in question.

The Seven Voyages of Sinbad has several film and TV adaptations, including last year’s brief TV run on Syfy. Sinbad originally appeared in the Thousand and One Nights story collection as a late edition–in fact, the first known point at which they appear in the Thousand Nights is a Turkish collection dated 1637.

What makes Sinbad as a character so limitless are his acts of bravery, ambition and skill, as well as his ability to think his way out of any situation.

With the illustrations featured by Edward A. Wilson (same illustrator for Treasure Island), the book is allowed to come to life with mystic drawings, rich with color and variety, featuring many of the magical beasts described in the story.

~ Sabrina Nicole, Wilson Collection Intern

As always, if you are interested in viewing these books or any others individually, you can make an appointment by calling either (615) 880-2356 or (615) 880-2363, or simply respond to this blog post.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for an even more special Off-the-Shelf post next month!


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