NYRB Classics

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4 April 2011

You’ve seen them in your favorite bookstores; usually there’s a special section for them, something like a shrine.  They have beautiful covers and the paper stock is somehow more substantial, more serious, than other paperbacks.  They are paperbacks that feel like hardcovers, whatever that “means.”

Random House describes the NY Review of Books Classics series thus:

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.

Inevitably literature in translation constitutes a major part of the NYRB Classics series, simply because so much great literature has been left untranslated into English, or translated poorly, or deserves to be translated again, much as any outstanding book asks to be read again.

The series started in 1999 with the publication of Richard Hughes’s A High Wind in Jamaica […] Published in handsome uniform trade paperback editions, almost all the 250 NYRB Classics included in this collection feature an introduction by an outstanding writer, scholar, or critic of our day. Taken as a whole, NYRB Classics may be considered a series of books of unrivaled variety and quality for discerning and adventurous readers.

I discovered the series at The Corner Bookstore in Manhattan, one of the most blessed book places on earth.  I have it in my mind to work my way through the entire series someday; but thankfully, I also came across this – a Top 10 NYRB Classics list – over at Conversational Reading.

There’s a subscription club that is looking very irresistible right now… this is one Book Club I can imagine joining.

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One Response to “NYRB Classics”

  1. Lisa Peet Says:

    And as my sweetheart points out, they’re the perfect size for hauling around in a bag and reading on public transportation, which makes them slightly urban, as well as urbane.


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