My bibliomania is on high when a book fair is nearing and I usually do some “warm up” trips to local bookstores to get in the mood for the great hunt. The results from my favorite used books stores here in San Francisco–Green Apple Books, SF Public Library’s Reader’s Book Store at Fort Mason and Russian Hill Bookstore–surprised me when I got them all together. All the books I chose are known to be long and some might say rambling.
The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio is first on my list to read. Racy 14th century stories featuring a group of 10 young people fleeing from Black Death-ridden Florence. Disease, survival, debauchery and a nun or two in there. Love it!
I buy new and old books alike, but I really appreciate the floppiness of limp pages in old books.
Love these Modern Library dust jackets. Ulysses is a 1946 edition and The Decameron is a 1955 edition.
Modern Library’s book designs have aged well. For me, a subdued, classic binding always wins over the flashy editions.
This 1934 publication of Canterbury Tales was not a special deluxe edition when it came out, but is beautifully typeset and letterpress printed. Compared to contemporary book production this book is a work of art. This edition also features the illustrations of Rockwell Kent. Kent was most famous for illustrating Moby Dick, and he was one of the designers of Modern Library logos and endpapers. He was prolific in his heyday and I will now keep an eye out for his work.
Now to the lady in the group, Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice is my favorite work from her. Although they are beautiful and look nice together as a collection, I initially resisted Penguin’s cloth bound classics collection designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith as they are a little too precious for me. But I found this one in perfect condition for a really good price at my library bookstore so I couldn’t pass it up. Yes, I am addicted to books!
This is a Heritage Press (formally Limited Editions Club) edition of Tristram Shandy. Very nice binding, typesetting, and letterpress printing from 1935, with marble-look paper covers and interesting interpretations of the strange bits from the original work.
I’m really enjoying my new acquisitions and have learned that I like books from the 1930s period the most. What time period of publishing do you prefer? I would love to hear about it and see what books you all love.
Thanks for reading!
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