1.27.2011

The Neversink Library

There's never any less joy in reading a prize winner or blockbuster, if the book is truly great. Over the holidays, I read Patti Smith's National Book Award winner, Just Kids, and just loved it. But then again, isn't it wonderful to discover something obscure? C'mon, isn't there a little hipster inside all of us just wanting to latch on to something good--whether it's a band or a book--before it blows up...and ends up at Urban Outfitters?

For more honourable means, Melville House is rescuing those types of books and repackaging them in bright, simple covers:
[Melville House’s] Neversink Library champions books from around the world that have been overlooked, underappreciated, looked askance at, or foolishly ignored. They are issued in handsome, well-designed editions at reasonable prices in hopes of their passing from one reader to another—and further enriching our culture.
I'm delighted they are preserving parts of literary history, but more importantly, can we just adore these cover designs for a while?



Looks like a promising and thoughtful series so far. Case in point: the genesis of the imprint's name:
"I was by no means the only reader of books on board the Neversink. Several other sailors were diligent readers, though their studies did not lie in the way of belles-lettres. Their favourite authors were such as you may find at the book-stalls around Fulton Market; they were slightly physiological in their nature. My book experiences on board of the frigate proved an example of a fact which every book-lover must have experienced before me, namely, that though public libraries have an imposing air, and doubtless contain invaluable volumes, yet, somehow, the books that prove most agreeable, grateful, and companionable, are those we pick up by chance here and there; those which seem put into our hands by Providence; those which pretend to little, but abound in much.”

—Herman Melville, White Jacket

/hat tip Too Many Books In The Kitchen

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