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Guy de Maupassant’s Horror Fiction and 10 Quotes

Born August 5, 1850, Guy de Maupassant was a popular 19th-century French writer. He is considered one of the fathers of the modern short story. He wrote more than 300 short stories, six novels, three travel books, and one volume of poetry.

It is with Le Gaulois in 1883 that de Maupassant diverted himself from a career as a humorous short story writer and begins on a second career that would make him a horror writer to stand beside Edgar Allan Poe. The stories in de Maupassant’s first nine volumes often speak of insanity, and it becomes clear that the author had a fascination with mental illness that grew with time, for lunacy is often used by de Maupassant as a plot devise.

De Maupassant’s masterpiece is “The Horla”(1886). Of all the stories he wrote this single tale is most often anthologized and was even filmed, though under the title of a different story, in MGM’s Diary of a Mad Man (1963) with Vincent Price. H. P. Lovecraft felt of stories describing alien possession “this tense narrative is perhaps without peer in its particular department.” In “Diary of a Mad Man” we read a judge’s diary revealing how he was obsessed with killing, then murders a little boy and a fisherman.

Here are a few of his short horror stories:

  1. “The Spectre” or “The Apparition” 
  2. “The Flayed Hand”
  3. “The Hand” or “The Englishman” 
  4. “The White Wolf” or “The Wolf”
  5. “Vendetta” or “Semillante”
  6. “A Mother of Monsters”
  7. “The Spasm” 
  8. “On the River”
  9. “He?” or “The Terror” 
  10. “The Specter” 
  11. “The White Lady”
  12. “Was it a Dream” or “Epitaph”
Photo by Justin Schuler. Graphic design by Mind on Fire Books.

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Here are 10 quotes attributed to this writer.

  1. Patriotism is a kind of religion; it is the egg from which wars are hatched.
  2. There is only one good thing in life, and that is love. And how you misunderstand it! How you spoil it! You treat it as something solemn like a sacrament, or something to be bought, like a dress.
  3. I have come to the conclusion that the bed comprehends our whole life; for we were born in it, we live in it, and we shall die in it.
  4. Every government has as much of a duty to avoid war as a ship’s captain has to avoid a shipwreck.
  5. It is better to be unhappy in love than unhappy in marriage, but some people manage to be both.
  6. Solitude is dangerous for active minds. We need men who can think and can talk, around us. When we are alone for a long time, we people space with phantoms.
  7. Love always has its price, come whence it may.
  8. The great artists are those who impose their personal vision upon humanity.
  9. There are in France some fifty thousand young men of good birth and fairly well off who are encouraged to live a life of complete idleness. They must either cease to exist or must come to see that there can be no happiness, no health even, without regular daily labor of some sort.
  10. Our memory is a more perfect world than the universe: it gives back life to those who no longer exist.

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Synopsis of “The Plague” by Albert Camus

There is no more important book to understand our times than Albert Camus’s The Plague, a novel about a virus that spreads uncontrollably from animals to humans and ends up destroying half the population of a representative modern town. Camus speaks to us now not because he was a magical seer, but because he correctly sized up human nature. As he wrote: ‘Everyone has inside it himself this plague, because no one in the world, no one, can ever be immune.’

Watch this quick synopsis produced by The School of Life:

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Happy National Bookmobile Day!

Happy National Bookmobile Day by Mind on Fire Books
Happy National Bookmobile Day by Mind on Fire Books

Celebrate National Bookmobile Day! Every day, bookmobiles help transform the communities they serve, providing everything from access to books, magazines and videos to job search assistance and much more.

For book lovers, bookmobiles are oddly romantic. They seem like dream-machines, very real automobiles rolling through our lives in an almost impossible fashion.

A Brief History of the Bookmobile

The bookmobile or mobile library is a vehicle designed for use as a library. They have been known by many names throughout history including traveling library, library wagon, book wagon, book truck, library-on-wheels, and book
auto service. Bookmobiles expand the reach of traditional libraries by transporting books to potential readers, providing library services to people in otherwise-underserved locations (such as remote areas) and/or circumstances (such as residents of retirement homes). Bookmobile services and materials (such as Internet access, large print books, and audiobooks), may be customized for the locations and populations served. Bookmobiles have been based on various means of conveyance, including bicycles, carts, motor vehicles, trains, watercraft, and wagons, as well as camels, donkeys, elephants, horses, and mules.

(If you are enjoying this article, perhaps you would like “How Reading Makes us Better People”)

The first American bookmobile was actually a wagon. Mary Titcomb, a Maryland librarian, recognized that having books was only one part of the library’s job: the other part was making the books accessible. The Washington County Library Wagon took books around the county, making scheduled stops in addition to impromptu dispersals.

Happy National Bookmobile Day by Mind on Fire Books
Happy National Bookmobile Day by Mind on Fire Books

The idea of bringing books to patrons caught on in the U.S.,  spurred by a widely distributed population and the desire for civic improvement. The Everett County Public Library has what is believed to be the oldest operating bookmobile, manufactured in 1924, and since fully restored.

As libraries have become the community’s digital gathering place, bookmobiles have also been transformed into movable internet hubs. El Paso County’s bookmobile was one of the early examples of this shift, with onboard workstations and satellite internet service.

Today our nation celebrates National Bookmobile Day. For more than 100 years, bookmobiles have delivered information, technology and resources for life-long learning to Americans of all walks of life. Each year, it is celebrated on the Wednesday of National Library Week. Which is your favorite?

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11 Unique Bookstores Around the World

 
Imagine your perfect bookstore
 

Is it cozy and carefully curated? Is it stocked with every text you could ever hope to read? Can you sip from a craft cocktail while you browse? What makes a bookstore ideal is in the eye of the beholder. Luckily, the world is brimming with unique booksellers—from stores that are big enough to take up several city blocks to shops that are literally a New York City apartment, collections housed beneath stained glass ceilings to ones with no ceilings at all—you’re sure to find at least one that fits your personal description of “perfection.”


Biggest: The Book Garden

WHERE: Tehran, Iran

Over the summer, the Book Garden opened its doors to unveil 700,000 square feet of book paradise. The sprawling complex not only features shelves upon shelves of titles to choose from but restaurants, a theater, and research halls. Plus, visitors can pick up one of 1,000 free books to peruse while enjoying the fresh air and sunshine from the Book Garden’s rooftop park.

BookBar

WHERE: Denver, Colorado

What’s better than combining books and booze? How about books and $2 off beer and wine during happy hour Monday through Friday? With its regular events (Literary Game Night, BookBar Book Club, and the introvert-friendly Silent Reading Happy Hour) BookBar is the perfect place anyone that loves their literary discussion paired with a glass of rosé.

Booziest, Part 2: Kramerbooks & Afterwords

WHERE: Washington D.C.

Kramerbooks & Afterwords has been serving up literature and nourishment in Dupont Circle since the 1970s. It’s the perfect place for a late night spent with a good book and a good drink. The cafe side of this combination bookstore-café is no beer-and-wine-only affair. The bar is full service and offers such literary libations as the Are You There God, It’s Me Margarita or A Cocktail of Two Cities.

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Booziest Bookstore (Eccentric Gilded Age Heiresses Edition): Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar

WHERE: Asheville, NC

Are you more predisposed toward sipping bubbly than beer? Would you consider yourself winsome yet thoughtful? Are you a fancy 1920s heiress with a penchant for whimsy? Then look no further than the Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar for all your book and sparkling wine related needs.

Most Romantic: The Ripped Bodice

WHERE: Culver City, California

The Ripped Bodice is the only bookstore in the U.S. that specializes exclusively in the romance genre. Whether your perfect match is a shapeshifting were-dragon or a brooding Regency-era duke you’ll be sure to find something that’ll set your heart aflutter. With its carefully curated selection and playful décor, it’s impossible to step inside this ode to all things literary and romantic without, well, falling in love.

Most Colorful: Saraiva Bookstore

WHERE: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Remember that one rainy Sunday afternoon when you decided to re-order your bookshelf by color? Okay, now imagine that but this time it’s an actual store. The bright and airy Saraiva Bookstore is lined with ROYGBIV-tastic shelves, the books organized by the colors of their spines. The children’s section is also rounded out with a rainbow ramp, making a trip to this Rio de Janeiro bookstore a thoroughly colorful experience.

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Outdoorsiest: Bart’s Books

WHERE: Ojai, California

“Booklover” can tend to be synonymous with “one who cowers indoors far from the reach of the wretched, burning sun.” But Bart’s Books will make a nature-loving believer out of even the staunchest of indoor kids.  This bookstore’s wares are located outside with nothing overhead but sky and palm tree fronds.

Most Exclusive: Brazenhead Books

WHERE: New York City, New York

Everyone loves speakeasy. The mystery. The adventure of finding a hidden spot. The little thrill you get at feeling like you’re in on a secret. But in the case of Brazenhead Books, becoming a speakeasy wasn’t about finding a cutesy way to sell bespoke cocktails it was a method of survival. When the rent for his bookstore’s retail space became too expensive owner Michael Seidenberg moved his operation into his apartment. The by appointment space has become a legend for its Phoenix-like transformation born out of a love for literature and a creative method of skirting zoning laws.

Most Ironic Place to Buy ‘Murder on the Orient Express’: La Caverne aux Livres

WHERE: Auvers-sur-Oise, France

If you were to hear the description of La Caverne aux Livres and say, “That’s not a real place you’ve just told me about. That’s actually the setting for an upcoming Wes Anderson movie!”, you would be well within your rights to do so. But as far as we can tell, this bookstore, which is located in a suburb of Paris that Vincent Van Gogh once called home and occupies a former postal train station as well as several train cars, is a reality.

Most Likely to Have ‘Advanced Potion-Making’ and ‘Hogwarts, A History’ in Stock: Livraria Lello

WHERE: Porto, Portugal

Livraria Lello has gained a certain degree of notoriety for reportedly inspiring frequent visitor and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. Whatever the truth is, it’s impossible to look at the stunning structure and not feel transported to a world of magic. The combination of Neo-Gothic and Art Noveau stylings housed under a stained glass skylight is so stunning it might just make the Hogwarts Castle library look a little shabby by comparison.

Best Bookstore for Riding out the Post-Apocalypse: Underground Books

WHERE: Coober Pedy, Australia

The low-key dream of any bookworm is to have the world effectively end in order to have plenty of reading time on their hands. So if the world as we know it’s going to end, why not hunker down in Underground Books & Gallery. This subterranean book bunker is carved out of solid sandstone making it a great option for hiding from the radiations and making your way through your reading list. Plus, Coober Pedy is the opal capital of the world so when you do have to make the trek to Barter Town you’ll have something valuable to trade with.

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