02 May 2010

Sunday Salon: Portable Libraries -- Literary Greatest Hits

There are two types of readers. Some just want to read story after story. Others appreciate the medium as well as the story. The latter are what I call true book lovers. They like the smell of old books, they pay attention to covers, and they place importance on owning the exact copy that was given to them for graduation or owned by one of their ancestors.

I've never been a book lover, but I've recently developed an attraction to portable libraries. This week I'm reading The Portable Dorothy Parker which was published in 1944 as part of the Viking Portable Library collection. It is a hardcover but it is the size of the paperbacks I read as a kid (paperbacks seem to be bigger now). I love the way it feels in my hand. I also like the idea of having a shelf full of these, with each volume giving me a taste of a certain writer or writing style. More than that, I think I want vintage copies. I don't think a Penguin Classics paperback printed in 2009 would give me the same satisfaction that this vintage hardcover has.

4 comments:

Stephanie said...

I could never switch to an e-reader just because I love the physical book so much. I definitely love the look of the fancy hardcovers, but sometimes they're so heavy! LOL I discovered this while reading my own copy of Oliver Twist- there were times I wished for a lightweight Penguin Classic, instead of the fifty pound tome I had. :D I'm lazy and love lolling on the couch while I read, though, so that explains my difficult with heavy hardcovers (even though they're so pretty and I own many of them!). There's a place for both, I think, but when it comes to classics, I have to own them. I have a hard time reading them from the library, I don't know what that is.

Aarti said...

Ooh, I've never heard of a portable library, but that sounds so great! I wonder, though, how they fit really long stories into a smaller format. Do they edit and (gasp!) abridge?

Dani in NC said...

I think the idea of the portable library was to show the representative works of an author, in case that is the only book by that author you could afford to own. So I imagine that the editors must have skipped really long works in favor of fitting in several shorter works to give more of a sampling. Since Dorothy Parker was known mainly for her short stories and humorous verse, I don't think there was a problem in her case. The entire contents of two of her poetry volumes were included in "The Portable Dorothy Parker".

Kristen said...

I don't know that I've invested in Portable Library editions since I was in grad school. But you're right that they are a nice way to experience a range of an author's work.