The Books of Traveling

While on vacation, we got a chance to visit The Strand bookstore in New York City. When I travel, I buy books as souvenirs, but not in an obvious way. I don’t tend to buy books about New York City, for example. Instead, I pick up books that will make me think of that particular place and time. In honor of The Strand, all my book links in this post will point to their online store.

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I picked up The Undressed Art: Why We Draw by Peter Steinhart, after spending two hours in the drawings and prints exhibit. I’ve read the first couple chapters and am so far finding it’s exactly what I was hoping for–a nontechnical work intended for the curious layperson that explores how drawing affects a person’s life. Its focus so far seems to be on amateur artists and life drawing, and drawing as a hobby, though Steinhart does interview pro artists and models.

At The Strand, after some discussion, my husband and I picked up the following books (all the prices were great, so it’s worth checking out what The Strand is selling them for):

The Curtain by Milan Kundera–a philosophical essay on the art of the novel (my choice, enthusiastically seconded by him–he talked me out of putting this one back when we were whittling down our stack)

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas in a new translation by Richard Pevear–we both love Dumas, and the translator and the physical beauty of the edition were what sold us on this volume, which will be our third version of this book (his choice)

A boxed set of Orhan Pamuk’s My Name Is Red, The Black Book, and Snow–I’ve been curious to read Pamuk for a long time, and when I checked out this set, I felt like the books came across as literary mysteries of a type I might like. (my choice)

Tales of H.P. Lovecraft, selected and edited by Joyce Carol Oates–you can never have too much Lovecraft (his choice)

Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands by Michael Chabon–I was sold on Chabon’s attention in these essays to the question of how genre work and literary writing fit together. He’s a credible source, particularly considering the attention that The Yiddish Policemen’s Union got from both sides of that equation, and I often wonder about things along these lines. As readers of this blog well know, my tastes run in both directions, and I often wonder if I’m losing readers by jumping from one to the other. I’m curious to see what Chabon has to say about this. (my choice)

Doctor No by Ian Fleming–This is an example of what I mean about souvenirs. I feel like The Strand has a hip, pulpy vibe in the midst of its formidable literary stacks. Getting the Fleming from there felt right. (my choice)

You may have noticed that I chose more of the books–I’m bad that way. My husband says he’s glad to have married someone who loves books more than he does, though he had not previously realized that such people existed.

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