Fifty Years: November 22, 1963- November 22, 2013 Thursday, Nov 21 2013 


Why is it that millions who were not even alive on November 22, 1963, are still fascinated by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy? And why do so many–a staggering 75% in a recent poll conducted by accomplished pollsters Peter Hart and Geoffrey Garin–question the findings of the Warren Commission?

It seems obvious that his death would have had less of an impact if Kennedy had been less admired during his lifetime, and had not been the bearer of the hopes of a generation for a better future. And that admiration continues a half-century later, with surveys ranking him the most highly rated president of the last 50 years. How come? Larry Sabato, Director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, sums up the phenomenon in his new book The Kennedy Half-Century as follows:

“The  American people’s idealization of John Kennedy, their determination to overlook his obvious flaws, and successive presidents’ use of the Kennedy record for their own ends have been the sparks that have repeatedly reignited JFK’s influence.”

Mr. Sabato’s book is just one of over 50 books released this year for the anniversary of the assassination. The above quote is from Lenny Picker’s article, “Books About the Kennedy Assassination” found in Publisher’s Weekly, and NPR’s report “50 Years After Assassination, Kennedy Books Offer New Analysis” makes recommendations for titles to pursue.

Thanks to guest blogger, Mary Brower, Maestro of Circulation, and the creator of the Kennedy exhibit pictured above.

Banned Books Week Monday, Sep 30 2013 


The Escritoire display this month celebrates the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week, an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and highlighting the dangers of restricting or removing reading materials.

The selection of books is designed to reflect the diversity among the books that have faced challenges or been banned. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Alexie Sherman, a YA novel which recounts the story of a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation, for example, features alongside Marx’s Communist Manifesto. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, a memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution told through comic strip images features alongside James Joyce’s Ulysses.

As we commemorate 30 years of Banned Books Week the display is also designed to celebrate the past achievements and ongoing work of librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers and readers in ensuring that these books remain available. For example, Machiavelli’s The Prince, which has faced controversy since its first appearance in the sixteenth century, features alongside one of 2012’s most challenged titles, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

Thanks to guest blogger, Kirsty Dain, Circulation Assistant, for her exhibit and post.

Books in the Escritoire Display Fall 2013

Angelou, I know why the caged bird sings (B ANG)
Atwood, The handmaid’s tale (F ATW)
Burgess, Clockwork Orange (F BUR)
Hosseini, The Kite Runner (F HOS)
Joyce Ulysses (F JOY)
Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird (F LEE)
Machiavelli, The Prince and the Discourses (320.1 M184P)
Mahfouz, Children of the Alley (F MAH)
Marx,Capital: The Communist Manifesto and other writings of Karl Marx (331 M369C)
Morrison, Beloved (F MOR)
Pilkey, Captain Underpants (JF PIL)
Plath, The Bell Jar (F PLA)
Rushdie, Satanic Verses (F RUS)
Saramago, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ (F SAR)
Satrapi, Persepolis (B S2535)
Sherman, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (YA ALE)
Solzhenitsyn, One day in the life of Ivan Denisovitch (F SOL)
Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle (F VON)

Little Women Wednesday, Jul 10 2013 

The Athenaeum recently purchased Little Women: An Annotated Edition edited by Daniel Shealy and published by Harvard University Press. It is a volume rich with biography, history, social context, and more. What a wonderful book!


Ravenous wondered what other editions the Athenaeum had in it’s collections? Notably, we have the first edition published in Boston in two volumes by the Roberts Brothers in 1868-69 and we have the illustrated Grosset & Dunlap edition published in 1947:


According to Professor Shealy the Roberts Brothers 1880-81 edition became the standard edition used throughout the 20th century and that the editors had modified Alcott’s writing significantly. The Athenaeum doesn’t have this particular edition but with eleven copies of the book and one copy of the 1994 movie, we’ve got Little Women covered.

Summer Reading 2013 Tuesday, May 28 2013 

Photo credit: Duval Schools

Photo credit: Duval Schools

In anticipation of those lovely summer days on the beach, Ravenous has compiled sources to check for companionable books.

First on our list is NPR Books. Their “browse genre” tab leads to over 20 topical headings with a dozen books listed per topic. Or if bestsellers are your thing they have a tab for the latest list based on a survey of independent bookstores. Publisher’s Weekly has a Best Summer Books page, divided into broad topics, with brief descriptions and links to full reviews. The Huff Post Books slideshow includes excerpts to some recently published books and the Guardian has a handful of intriguing books that will be published this summer. If social media recommendations interest you, Goodreads has a list of Popular Summer 2013 Books. The list is based on the number of times a title has been added to a member’s personal list of books to read.

There are many more places to look for summer books, the lists abound, but here is the point, a beautiful day, in a lovely setting, with a wonderful book. What could be better?

Photo credit: The Well-readheads

Photo credit: The Well-readheads

Children’s Book Week Tuesday, May 14 2013 


Children’s Book Week began in 1919 and it is “the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country” according to their about page.  Sponsored by Every Child a Reader and the Children’s Book Council the focus is on developing a child’s love of books and reading.

Looking around the web for online children’s books Ravenous uncovered a vast storehouse full of hours of reading, listening, and viewing. Check out the International Children’s Digital Library or the Rosetta Project from Children’s Books Online. We liked Barnes & Noble free online story-time page where authors read their animated stories and many children’s books publishers have YouTube Channels.

Virtual options are grand but don’t forget to walk into any library, including the Providence Athenaeum, to find wonderful children’s collections, especially this week.




Let There be Light! Wednesday, Feb 20 2013 

The re-invention and re-purposing of books continues, this time it is into lamps. The above example is called the Lumio, created by architect, Max Gunawan, and fully explored in a post at Colossal. Portable and cool, this is a Raven-ous favorite.

Studiomeiboom, has another approach they call the Enlightenment:


Evidently some of the proceeds from the sale of these lamps goes towards education.

Philip Hansen, a San Diego designer, and host of  Typewriter Boneyard has a quite literal take on book lamps with his Hardback Book Lamp design:


Now if you’d like to make your own “book lamp” there are instructions at Grathio Labs to make this model:

This sampling of book lamps is hardly exhaustive,  there are many more clever designs out there for your illumination.


All About Lincoln Monday, Nov 26 2012 

Steven Spielberg’s movie Lincoln looks pretty amazing:

Abraham Lincoln has had thousands of books written about him. In fact, the Ford’s Theater Center for Education and Leadership has a stacked column of over 15,000 unique titles in their lobby:

For more pictures of this monument check here at Colossal.

The Athenaeum owns over a hundred books on Lincoln, ten of which are from the 19th century, many of the classic works from the 2oth century, as well as the book the movie Lincoln is based on: Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Some of the actors from the movie were photographed in the style of The Civil War but in contemporary clothes. An interesting effect:

A series of these shots are available at Flavorwire, an intriguing mix of history and technology.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year Tuesday, Oct 23 2012 

I refer, of course, to the 4th annual Boston Book Festival, which will be held this Saturday, October 27th at Copley Square in Boston. The schedule for this year is rather packed, with highlights including keynotes from Richard Ford and Lemony Snicket, a presentation by Alexander McCall Smith, several YA panels (there was only one last year), and panels on Edith Wharton and The Iliad. As in the past, all of the events, as well as the street festival, are free. I’m personally making the trip for the Hobbit panel, if nothing else.

Moonrise Kingdom Thursday, Jul 19 2012 

Moonrise Kingdom is a period piece filmed in RI and directed by Wes Anderson. It is currently playing in selected theaters. Here’s the trailer:

What is interesting to Raven-ous, besides the Rhode Island connection, is the books that were created for the movie. There are six books that one of the main characters periodically reads from during the film. The book cover artists were asked to work with animators to create a short film for each of the titles.  They can be viewed here.  Rather elaborate movie props, don’t you think?

Thanks to the Fine Books blog

Old Book Smell Monday, May 14 2012 

If you’ve read an article about the rise of e-books anytime in the last few years, you’ve probably encountered any number of the cliches that typically riddle them (so much so that someone concocted a drinking game for them). One of these recurring components is the nearly mandatory inclusion of a quote from someone saying that they don’t like e-books because they prefer the “smell of a real book.” So beloved is the smell that there are two perfumes based on it, with a third set to be released at the end of the month. There’s even been advertisements for an aerosol spray to serve as an e-book enhancer, though it appears to either be stuck in litigation or a parody product.

Here is AbeBooks explaining where that smell comes from:

It describes the scent as “a combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness,” which sounds like the description on every wine bottle I’ve ever read.


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