Saturday, April 30, 2011

Thinking Outside the Canon, Or The Best Books You've Never Read

Even in this age of e-readers, I am still a sucker for a beautiful edition of a book.  Sometimes I have picked up a book just because I am intrigued by the cover.  Also, I like to find neglected classics-books that might have been famous or at least widely read in their day, but hard to find now-"discoveries", as the New York Review Books site suggests.  These two imprints have lovely editions & some interesting reads.

NYRB Classics

An innovative list of fiction and nonfiction for discerning and adventurous readers. The NYRB Classics series is designedly and determinedly exploratory and eclectic, a mix of fiction and non-fiction from different eras and times and of various sorts. The series includes nineteenth century novels and experimental novels, reportage and belles lettres, tell-all memoirs and learned studies, established classics and cult favorites, literature high, low, unsuspected, and unheard of. NYRB Classics are, to a large degree, discoveries, the kind of books that people typically run into outside of the classroom and then remember for life.
~from their webpage

Visit the catalog to find our NYRB Classics holdings! Here are two titles I have read from the series so far:
The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
English, August: An Indian Story by Upamanyu Chatterjee
Persephone Books
Persephone Books reprints neglected classics by C20th (mostly women) writers. Each one in our collection of 93 books is intelligent, thought-provoking and beautifully written, and most are ideal presents or a good choice for reading groups. Our titles include novels, short stories, diaries and cookery books. They are all carefully designed with a clear typeface, a dove-grey jacket, a 'fabric' endpaper and bookmark, and a preface by writers such as Diana Athill, AS Byatt and Polly Toynbee. The books are guaranteed to be readable, thought-provoking and impossible to forget.
~from their webpage

Check out the full list, or here are some from the catalog (we have fewer of their titles, perhaps because they are a British imprint):
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
Flush by Virginia Woolf (not the Persephone edition, but a title they publish)
Somewhere Towards the End by Diana Athill (a Persephone author, not one of their titles)

Blogger Hannah Stoneham has some interesting pieces involving Persephone Books in her Book Blog.

Here are a few other titles I recommend for those who like to find a book off the beaten path:

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

The Pursuit of Love ; & Love in a Cold Climate: Two Novels by Nancy Mitford

Empire of the Senseless by Kathy Acker

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

Pagoo by Holling Clancy Holling

A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich

1 comment:

shalulah said...

I also think Europa editions make lovely colectibles.