Tag Archives: Penguin paperbacks

Books Acquired Recently

Burroughs, William S. Queer. 1985. New York: Penguin, 1987.

I haven’t read much Burroughs before, but have been meaning to read this novel for quite some time.

Kureishi, Hanif. Outskirts and Other Plays: The King and Me, Borderline, Birds of Passage. London: Faber, 1992.

I love Kureishi’s fiction, but have never read any of his dramatic works. Coming across this omnibus edition seemed like a good occasion to begin doing so.

These two books were bought from The Word bookstore in Montreal on my recent trip there. It is a wonderful little place with books stacked in orderly fashion from floor to ceiling. The prices are very reasonable; both books were each only $6.95 Canadian, and both are in excellent condition.

Rubin, Richard E. Foundations of Library and Information Science. 3rd ed. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2010.

I have been thinking a lot about libraries and their role in our increasingly book-phobic society lately, and realized that I don’t know that much about the discipline of library science itself, including issues of how libraries choose what to collect and what to neglect. I decided to purchase this textbook to help remedy my lack of knowledge.

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Books Acquired Recently: Desk Copy Edition

I already had the most recent editions (and thus the ones that are in print that the campus bookstore can order for students) of most of the books that I’ll be teaching this semester. The Harper and Larsen are for an African American literature course, and the Whitehead is for a Literature of New York course.

Harper, Frances Ellen Watkins. Minnie’s Sacrifice. c. 1868. N.p.: Kessinger, 2004.

Larsen, Nella. Passing. 1929. New York: Penguin, 2003.

As always, Penguin paperbacks are the best!

Whitehead, Colson. Sag Harbor. 2009. New York: Anchor, 2010.

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Book Acquired Recently: Wieland, Norton Critical Edition

Brown, Charles Brockden. Wieland and Memoirs of Carwin the Biloquist. Ed. Bryan Waterman. New York: Norton, 2011.

I just received this exam copy in the mail. I am going to teach Wieland in my American Literature to 1865 course in the fall, and am trying to decide between assigning the Penguin Classics edition or this Norton edition. My default mode is to assign Penguin paperbacks because they are inexpensive, authoritative, and aesthetically pleasing, but Wieland is a difficult enough text that I thought it might be helpful to have students read some of the supplementary material that Norton always includes in their critical editions. The volume is nearly 600 pages long, but less than 240 of it are the novels themselves (Memoirs of Carwin the Biloquist is Wieland‘s sequel). Make of this ratio what you will.

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Books Acquired Recently: Salt Lake City Edition

I am visiting Salt Lake City for the holidays, and over the past few days I’ve visited two of my favorite bookstores in the city, The King’s English, where I bought Lessing’s novel, and Central Book Exchange, where I bought Kosinski’s and Poe’s books.

Kosinski, Jerzy. The Painted Bird. 1965. New York: Bantam, 1972.

I recently read Kosinski’s National Book Award-winning novel Steps, which is quite good and made me want to read more of his work. When I found this copy of The Painted Bird on sale for only $5.00 in good condition, I bought it without hesitation. The colored edging that publishers used to put on the pages of mass market paperbacks (yellow in this case, though blue, green, and red were also frequently used) to preserve the books continues to do its job. I have numerous paperbacks from the 1960s and 1970s that are still in excellent condition as a result of this practice. It is a shame that publishers no longer do this (the most recently published book I recall seeing this edging on is the hardcover of John Updike’s Terrorist). It is sad that publishers build planned obsolescence into their products.

Lessing, Doris. The Golden Notebook. 1962. New York: Perennial, 1999.

I have been meaning to read this novel for years because I’ve enjoyed the other Lessing novels that I have read, and finally decided to buy a copy when I saw it on the “Staff Picks” shelf at The King’s English.

Poe, Edgar Allan. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. 1838. Ed. Harold Beaver. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1975.

I have been on the lookout for a copy of this novel for two reasons: 1. a colleague of mine recently told me that it was one of the most influential books on her life, and 2. I taught some of Poe’s short stories this past semester, and decided that it would be helpful for me to read his only novel in support of this teaching in future courses. I was especially excited to find the Penguin edition because of my love for Penguin paperbacks.

As the photograph of the book shows, this edition was published as a part of The Penguin English Library rather than as a Penguin Classic, but it has the distinctive orange Penguin spine, and the classy embossed Penguin price tag! The book originally sold for $3.95, and I paid $4.00 for it. It is a high-quality edition: there is even a photograph of Poe on the inside of the front cover!

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Books Acquired Recently: Retiring Colleague Edition

One of my colleagues is retiring after this semester, and she gave me some of her books dealing with African American literature because it is one of my research interests. I am happy to preserve some of her library by integrating it into my own. Several of the paperbacks are from the 1970s and have some seriously groovy covers.

I also just got three more desk copies for next semester in the mail, so it was a good day for books!

Chesnutt, Charles W. The Portable Charles W. Chesnutt. Ed. William L. Andrews. New York: Penguin, 2008.

I have another collection of Chesnutt’s short stories published by Mentor, but this volume also includes Chesnutt’s novel The Marrow of Tradition and some essays. And, of course, it is always good to acquire a Penguin paperback.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. 1925. New York: Scribner, 2004.

Sadly, the earlier Scribner paperback edition that I was assigned in high school and have myself assigned previously is now out of print. This one was necessary to acquire because it has different page numbers.

Flowers, Arthur. Another Good Loving Blues. 1993. New York: Ballantine, 1994.

This book is inscribed by the author.

Gilyard, Keith, ed. Spirit & Flame: An Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry. Syracuse: Syracuse UP, 1997.

This one is also inscribed by the author.

Klosterman, Chuck. Downtown Owl. 2008. New York: Scribner, 2009.

I have taught some of Klosterman’s essays before, but next semester will be the first time I teach any of his fiction. I am excited to see what my students think of him. I think they will love this book, but their tastes often surprise me.

Lunsford, Andrea A., John J. Ruszkiewicz, and Keith Walters. Everything’s An Argument, with Readings. 6th ed. Boston: Bedford, 2013.

I’ll be using this book in my writing class for the first time in about a decade. I enjoyed it before, then tried other strategies and texts, and now have decided to go back to it and see how it has aged as a text and how I have aged as an instructor.

McKay, Claude. Banana Bottom. 1933. San Diego: Harvest, 1961.

This book has a price tag from the Strand on the front cover! It was on sale for $1.95–regularly $6.95.

Reed, Ishmael. The Last Days of Louisiana Red. 1974. New York: Bard, 1976.

I’ve enjoyed the bit of Reed’s fiction that I have read in the past, and look forward to reading this novel. The blurb on the front cover from the Village Voice calls it a “saucy underground classic.” Say no more!

Toomer, Jean. Cane. 1923. New York: Norton, 2003.

I have the Liveright edition of this novel, but it’s always nice to have a copy of one of Norton’s critical editions as well.

Washington, Mary Helen, ed. Black-Eyed Susans: Classic Stories by and About Black Women. New York: Anchor, 1975.

Morrison, Walker, Bambara, et al. A great period piece.

Yerby, Frank. The Vixens. New York: Dial, 1947.

This nearly seventy-year-old book is in excellent condition.

Youngblood, Shay. Soul Kiss. 1997. New York: Riverhead, 1998.

The least-exciting looking book of the bunch, but it was good enough to make it into paperback, so we’ll see.

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Books Acquired Recently: Desk Copies Edition

DeLillo, Don. End Zone. 1972. New York: Penguin, 1986.

I’ll be teaching this novel in my Literature in Focus: Teens and Twenty-Somethings course next semester. The course only includes books with youngish protagonists. End Zone is the story of a college football team in Texas, and I am including it in the course with the hope that it will help some of the student-athletes who don’t read for fun realize that there is literature out there that speaks to their experiences. The novel is the best (and, frankly, one of the only) novel about American football by far. It is fascinating to me that there haven’t been more books written on this subject, considering that Americans are obsessed with it (and, of course, DeLillo does an excellent job exploring football as a metaphor for the American psyche). Perhaps this is because of football’s brutish nature. It appeals to a different mindset than a sport like baseball does, which has inspired a literary tradition almost as rich as the game itself.

Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. 1939. New York: Penguin, 2006.

This has been one of my favorite novels since I first read it in high school, and I am finally going to teach it for the first time, in my American Literature After 1865 survey. Its length is right on the edge of what is possible to teach to undergraduates without them losing interest, but I think that the compelling storyline and the richness of Steinbeck’s prose will keep them engaged.

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Salman Rushdie’s Joseph Anton

I just finished reading Salman Rushdie’s new memoir Joseph Anton, which is primarily about the years after the fatwa was issued against his life in 1989 in response to the publication of The Satanic Verses. Rushdie writes eloquently about his most depressing emotional moments during the thirteen years when he had to live under police protection, but he also offers beautiful, inspiring tributes to all of the people (especially his protection team and many of his fellow writers) who supported him, as well as offering the book as an impassioned defense of free speech. Happily, most writers were both privately and publicly supportive of Rushdie, including Don DeLillo, Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter, Christopher Hitchens, Bill Buford, Martin Amis, and Kurt Vonnegut, though a few–including, sadly, Roald Dahl–were not. Shamefully, The Satanic Verses‘ publisher, Viking-Penguin, refused to issue a paperback of the novel, though they kept the hardcover in print. Many bookstores (including many stores in the U.S., who took out an ad in the New York Times when the novel was published here to say that they would stock it), courageously made the book available to the public even though several were bombed by religious fundamentalists.

Joseph Anton is a masterpiece, and is necessary reading for anyone who cares about literature. It should finally persuade the Nobel Prize committee to award Rushdie their literature prize. It is over 600 pages long–Rushdie’s joyful prolixity surfaces once again–but every page is compelling and intense. I found that I was only able to read about seventy-five pages of it per day because it got me so worked up, but this visceral reaction is a testament to Rushdie’s gifts as a writer. He is a hero for anyone who truly cares (i.e., not most American politicians) about freedom.

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