Tag Archives: New York City

My Visit to the Rare Book Room at The Strand

The Rare Book Room at The Strand.

On my recent trip to New York City there was an article in the New York Times about The Strand celebrating its 90th year in business.  Not only does this bookstore have 18 miles of books located on four floors, but they also have rows and rows of sale books on the sidewalk on 12th st. just outside the store, and a kiosk fully stacked with fabulous books outside of Central Park.  The article in the Times mentioned The Strand’s most expensive book—a first edition copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses illustrated by Henri Matisse, signed by both authors.  The Limited Editions Club published 1500 copies in 1935; only 250 copies are signed by both Joyce and Matisse which are rare and very expensive.  The manager at The Strand said that the price tag on their copy is $45,000.    Matisse signed all 1500 copies and the ones with only his signature sell for a lot less—between $3500 and $5000, depending on the condition of the book.

The rare book room is housed on the third floor of The Strand and all of their customers are welcome to visit any time during business hours.  The staff was kind and willing to show me their most expensive and famous book for sale.  The manager extracted the book from a safe where their most precious books are kept and happily allowed me to look at the copy of Ulysses and let me take these photos.

Not all of their books are as rare or expensive as this copy of Ulysses. The rare book room has something for everyone’s budget. There are lots of signed and first edition books by modern authors openly available on their shelves to look at and to browse. I saw a first edition of Derek Walcott’s poetry inscribed by the author, for instance, that was being sold for $40. Some of their more expensive books, the ones that range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars are under glass cases—for instance a first edition German copy of Kafka’s The Castle with a price tag of $2500. But the staff is friendly and helpful and willing to let customers hold and flip through any of their books.

The Strand, all four floors of it, is one of my favorite places to visit in the world and I can’t wait to go back.  I am thinking another trip in the fall is in order.  First, I have to recover from carrying almost 40 books on the train back home and find a place for my purchases.  In my next post I will share some of my NYC book haul.

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NYC Reading Suggestions from Literary Twitter

Literary Twitter has come through for me once again.  I sent a Tweet asking if anyone would like to recommend some reading for my upcoming trip to New York City.  The response has been overwhelming and I thought I would share the suggestions I have gotten so far.  I have chosen to list them alphabetically by author.  If anyone has additional titles to add then please leave them in the comments:

The New York Trilogy by Paul Aster

The Cities (poems) by Paul Blackburn

Open City by Teju Cole

The Flea of Sodom by Edward Dahlberg

Manhattan Transfer by John Dos Passos

Time and Again by Jack Finney

Desperate Characters by Paula Fox

New York Revisited by Henry James

The Lonely City by Olivia Laing

Thieves of Manhattan by Adam Langer

Passing by Nella Larsen

Poet in New York by Federico Garcia Lorca

Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli.

The Assistant by Bernard Malamud

Brightness Falls by Jay McInerney

The Rosy Crucifixion Series by Henry Miller

Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell

McSorley’s Wonderful Saloon by Joseph Mitchell

After Claude by Iris Owens

Harlem is Nowhere by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

Low Life by Luc Sante

Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr.

A Tree Growns in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

In Dreams Begin Responsibilities and Other Stories by Delmore Schwartz

Down these Mean Streets by Piri Thomas

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

The Colossus of New York by Colson Whitehead

 

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