What are you reading in 2020

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What are you reading in 2020

Ene 3, 2020, 2:40pm

I am wrapping up Pickwick Papers in the 1933 LEC Oxford University Press edition. Sam Weller and his progenitor are such a delightful characters! Highly recommended story and edition. Too bad Macy did not go for the entire Dickens. I like the Nonesuch Dickens but it is not exactly affordable.

Ene 5, 2020, 3:32pm

I picked up reading The Federalist which I had put down halfway (number 40) through and somehow never got back to.

What brilliant men these Founding Fathers were!--John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay. Their prose is not always the easiest to read as they refer to current events and currents of opinion of which I have little knowledge, but their intelligence and patriotism triumphs over all.

Ene 6, 2020, 4:26pm

>2 Django6924: They were a lot smarter than most of those currently in Congress, that's for sure, for which I shall be eternally grateful.

Feb 13, 2020, 3:57am

I'm reading the Brothers Karamazov illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg and I cannot fathom any other illustrator being comparable in beauty or applicability to the text. I literally stop at each illustration, show the image to my spouse and spend a few minutes catching my breath before going on.

Mar 11, 2020, 10:35am

Prompted by a discussion on the fine press forum I reread Huckleberry Finn in the 1933 LEC edition. I enjoyed it as much as I did 30 years ago. Moved on to The Black Obelisk by Remarque that did not get an LEC treatment but is a fantastic novel. Then on to All Quiet on the Western Front. Very disturbing narrative, and a nice later era LEC. Now I am wrapping up The War of the Worlds. I like the LEC but not terribly impressed by the story. Hoping for a surprising finish.

Jun 19, 2020, 1:26pm

I have decided to revisit Cooper since I have enjoyed his stories as a kid. I don't remember reading any of his Leatherstocking tales so started with The Deerslayer. Can't say that I am impressed by it and there are themes that are definitely controversial. Do you have a favorite Leatherstocking tale?

Jun 19, 2020, 3:52pm

>5 BuzzBuzzard: How did you at length enjoy War of the Worlds?

Jun 19, 2020, 5:04pm

>7 laotzu225: You know it left me wanting for more. The same with The Time Machine. What is your opinion of these two stories?

Jun 20, 2020, 2:55pm

>6 BuzzBuzzard:

Having only read the Leatherstocking novels--still in the TBR pile are The Spy and The Pilot--I have to say my favorites are the obvious choice of Last of the Mohicans and the elegiac The Prairie. The other three have felicities if you can get through the godawful dialogue and the prejudices characteristic of his times but unacceptable today.

Jun 22, 2020, 4:58am

I'm currently reading The French Revolution by Carlyle (in its LEC edition). I thought my dabbling in Elizabethan era drama would prepare me for anything, but wow this is tough going! This is a history book that assumes you already know who Malesherbes, Loménie, and Mirabeau are—i.e., that you have no need of a history book.

Right now I'm getting by mostly on my prior knowledge of the revolution, but I'm soldiering on in the hope that things drift into focus.

Jul 8, 2020, 2:05pm

I just saw Hamilton (on TV :/ ) and now I'm dabbling in my EP copy of the Federalist. Whenever I open one of their facsimile editions to read, I'm tempted to go out and find the LEC edition and sell my EP. Any thoughts on the LEC Federalist? Worth the upgrade?

Jul 8, 2020, 3:21pm

>11 jveezer:

The 2 volume Limited Editions Club Federalist is beautifully designed by Bruce Rogers, printed on a nice (though not luxurious) rag paper from Worthy, gilded on the top edges, and the cloth sides have an attractive American sampler design (also by BR) and the spines bound in what the Monthly Letter calls "black morocco" but which on my copy (#1499) is more what I would describe as very dark navy (and no, the spines aren't faded because the leather on the front boards matches exactly). The letterpress, as one might expect from a Bruce Rogers production, is superb. A very handsome set.

Staying that, I have hardly ever opened these volumes, preferring to read my one-volume Heritage Press edition, which I find more attractive in the binding design (beveled edges on the boards!) a variation on the sampler-pattern binding cloth which strikes me as a more authentic-looking early American sampler than the Limited Editions Club cloth, all edges stained red and the spine label in red, making it a very red, white, and blue affair. The smaller size and single volume I find more convenient for reading and as a result, I have read these essays many times--and am currently reading them again and marveling the the intelligence of our Founding Fathers. The only quibble I have is the thinness of the paper, which has a very small amount of show through and some variation of printing density from page to page.

Ago 13, 2020, 2:54pm

In my limited time before going on vacation I squeezed in The Book of Proverbs. It was surprisingly delightful - not least of which for adding "froward" to my vocabulary :) The red lambskin cover only hints at the sensual pleasures to come from the page decorations of Valenti Angelo, the four-color printing process (the gold initial letters are especially striking) and, best of all, the French-fold paper with the satisfying deep letterpress bite.

I'm also squeezing in The History of Amleth, notable (to me) for the wood engravings of Sigurd Vasegaard. Such a wonderful artistic complement to this pre-Hamlet tale. The whole Danish production, in fact, is pleasing and adding to my reading pleasure.

Ago 13, 2020, 3:28pm

I just started Tono Bungay, which appears to be a fascinating story (especially in the days of often dubious digital therapeutics). The class commentary is also quite striking. The book itself was published in 1960, but feels a lot more like a late 40s / early 50s Macy production.

Ago 14, 2020, 9:46pm

Just re-read The Grapes of Wrath in the luxurious HP edition. The book makes me so glad to have all the things that provide comfort and plenty of food. The people portrayed in the book suffered terribly.
Now I have to find another book to read that keeps me happily turning pages.

Ago 14, 2020, 11:30pm

>15 Jan7Smith:

Jan, as much as I like and respect the movie version for what it did, I've always felt it chickened out on showing how desperate the Okies were, and how much they suffered from hunger, and the loss of their homes, and from the indifference of all those people--from their fellow Americans!--who regarded them with everything from indifference to hostility. The Dust Bowlers suffered partly due to their own fault, their misuse of the land that impoverished it, and partly due to coincidental climatic changes a well as the economic hardships of the Great Depression. But their plight might have been worse were it not for those few like Steinbeck who said "yes, I am my brother's keeper."

Who knows whether a similar reckoning might be in our own future?

Ago 15, 2020, 1:11am

>16 Django6924: Robert, I pray we never have to be in such desperate situations. I could almost feel the anguish, suffering and hopelessness the Okies had to endure. Steinbeck made it so vivid that the reader is almost living their lives and it hurts.

Dic 1, 2020, 10:04am

I am on to Ivanhoe now. After Dumas romances, Sir Walter Scott is a tough read. Scott's style has its felicities but no wonder he has been forgotten by contemporary readers. I now own both LEC versions and prefer the earlier one. The chainmail binding is magnificent, the type is interesting and generous in size. Lewis's illustrations are crude and appropriate.

Editado: Dic 1, 2020, 5:45pm

Last week I finished reading the LEC Song of Roland. Lovely production, a pleasure to read: excellent paper, superb binding craftsmanship, fun illumination by Valenti Angelo. The text itself was interesting as a product of its time, but I can't say it it was very enjoyable in its own right.

Just finished the LEC Hamlet in the 1933 Eric Gill edition (which I recently had rebound). Loved the octavo size, paper, printing and illustrations -- great fun to read. Didn't love Gill's decision to wrap long lines so as to leave 1-2 words on the next line, non-indented. (And he left extra-wide page margins, to boot.)

Still working my way through the LEC Bacon's Essays. Bruce Rogers' decisions to make this a large quarto lends extra gravitas to Bacon's writing -- overall a great readying experience as well.

Next may be the LEC Aesop's Fables, followed by the Heritage 1940 Gulliver's Travels.

Dic 1, 2020, 8:00pm

>19 kermaier: I would be curious to see how your Hamlet rebinding came out.

Dic 1, 2020, 10:48pm

>20 abysswalker:
Not perfect, but very good:

Dic 2, 2020, 9:21am

>21 kermaier: looks nice to me. Thanks for the photo.

Dic 2, 2020, 9:55am

>21 kermaier:

Was it your decision to stack the title on the spine or the binder's? I think it was a good choice, and I remember the late Don Floyd considered this anathema. If the title is short, I think it makes more sense than running it parallel to the sides in either the US way (where you have to tilt your head to the right) or the British way (where you have to tilt your head to the left).

Of course the response to why you shouldn't stack the title is that we normally read right to left and not top to bottom, but I've never had any difficulty in deciphering the title when it is stacked. I'm planning on binding a presently unbound copy of Melville's The Encantadas and am leaning strongly to stacking the title, as the LEC did with Melville's Omoo. "Encantadas" is right at the point of being somewhat long to do this, but the text block is tall and thin, so I'm thinking from a design standpoint it would look nice.

What is everyone's general feeling about stacked titles?

Dic 2, 2020, 10:32am

>23 Django6924:
The original LEC binding had a stacked spine title, and I decided to stick with that for the rebinding.

For The Encantadas, I’d probably run it sideways down the spine, in the standard US fashion.

Dic 2, 2020, 11:03am

My opinion is I support stacking if the spine of the book will face out when on the book shelf. It provides a visually striking change of pace to the usual sideways look. Uniformists, of course, might feel differently :)

Dic 2, 2020, 11:20am

>12 Django6924: Django6924, you might be able to shed some light on this for me: Why is it that there appears to be a dearth of copies of the LEC Federalist? I know Bruce Rogers is highly collectible, but this one seems especially difficult to find in various conditions.

Dic 2, 2020, 2:26pm

>26 DenimDan:

It's just a suspicion on my part, but I think most copies of this ended up being donated to libraries. My first view of this was in the KC, Missouri Public Library; at the 3 universities I attended, each had a set (and one university had 2 sets: one in the reference section and one in Special Collections). Of course with Bruce Rogers' signature, many are in the private libraries of collectors; what makes this perhaps even more collectible is a 2-page pamphlet inserted: "How I planned THE FEDERALIST--by Bruce Rogers." It contains an apologia of sorts for the book which he claims George Macy wanted him to do as a "modernistic" book, and that to be modernistic he had to "do everything backwards" and "reverse all the generally accepted processes of thought." To do so he said he planned the whole book upside-down, and it wasn't until it was printed and he saw it right-side up that he realized he was "still a traditionalist." This is Rogers' very heavy-handed humor, because it's harder to think of a more traditional, even old-fashioned LEC than this one!

My set is numbered 1499 (out of 1500!) and is in Fine condition, but since I read this work frequently, especially recently, I usually resort to the very nice single volume HP edition of this, which I keep in my bedside nightstand to avoid undue strain on the leather quarter binding, which the ML claims is "morocco" which technically means it should be goatskin, but I'm suspicious.

Dic 2, 2020, 4:48pm

>27 Django6924:
What's your impression of the quality of paper, printing and binding of the HP vs the LEC editions of The Federalist?

Editado: Dic 2, 2020, 7:01pm

>28 kermaier:
Limited Editions Club:

Binding: Just right in terms of design and superbly executed

Printing: It's Bruce Rogers' design and the Stratford Press did a great job, so 'nuff said

Paper: All rag by the Worthy Paper company, but I think it's too thin for the vigorous presswork used in printing; those who love a "bite" impression should be ecstatic, because you can not only feel the indentations on the page, but you can see the impressions made by the text on the reverse side. The ML says "it has a homely surface" and for once Macy isn't indulging in hyperbole. It is I think perfectly suited to the material (these articles were originally printed in contemporary newspapers), but those who swoon over the paper in the 1933 Don Quixote or the Pannekoek paper in the van Krimpen-printed Homer will not be impressed.

Heritage Press

Binding: Ditto, but no leather (which is no drawback for me), and a feature not on the Limited Editions Club but which I love on the HP, are beveled boards

Printing: It's Bruce Rogers' design again, but the execution is not up to the best HP printing (which at its best is a match for most LECs), there is a minor inconsistency in print density, and I have run across an occasional broken impression of a letter.

Paper: The biggest quibble I have is the paper: it seems very much the victim of the wartime shortage of quality paper. The biggest problem is that it is even thinner that the paper in the LEC: no indentation issue (a "kiss" impression), but definite show through. There are also brown freckles and spots--no more than 1 every 20 to 30 pages, but more than I have ever encountered in a HP.

Despite all this, I still highly recommend the HP version. The size is most convenient and the drawbacks mentioned are minor, and had I never seen the LEC I would not have been struck by the difference, as the quality is still better than most books today.

Dic 2, 2020, 9:24pm

>29 Django6924:
I'm definitely among the aforementioned paper swooners. :-)

Consider me successfully enabled -- I've ordered a copy of the HP edition.

Dic 2, 2020, 10:08pm

>30 kermaier: "I'm definitely among the aforementioned paper swooners. :-)"

Me too!!

Dic 3, 2020, 9:07pm

I was looking for some short Dickens and came across a Folio book of his writings on his travels through Europe, both in articles and in letters to friends. I'm impressed by his curiosity, his lack of pomposity, the characters he comes across and the way he describes them without demeaning them. He avoids stereotypes and finds good and bad in France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy.

Dic 3, 2020, 9:25pm

>32 SteveJohnson:

Steve, you will need to read his American Notes where you will find him in a much less generous frame of mind about us.

Dic 7, 2020, 9:42am

>33 Django6924:
Any chance Robert that his mind could have been so framed by the laissez-fair or gung-ho attitude of certain publishers to the concept of fair copyright..... :)

Dic 7, 2020, 9:59am

>34 featherwate:

Copyright? We don't know no copyright. We don't need no copyright. WE DON'T HAVE TO OBEY NO STINKIN' COPYRIGHT!

(Jack, it's rather revealing that while many actors toiled for decades in movies, you mention their names and even film buffs are hard pressed to recall their roles, or even their faces, whereas Alfonso Bedoya achieved screen immortality with one simple line.)

Dic 10, 2020, 3:37pm

>27 Django6924: I love my copy of the LEC The Federalist but it didn't include this pamphlet. Any chance you could upload that (and the ML if you have it) to the Drive?

Dic 10, 2020, 7:32pm

Sure--I will have to do it Saturday

Dic 11, 2020, 11:37pm

>23 Django6924: My recently acquired LEC Pinocchio has a stacked title (term was new to me) and looks fine. I think it makes perfect sense for a shorter title.

Dic 12, 2020, 12:02am

>8 BuzzBuzzard: late reply I think The Time Machine is the more interesting of the two. The heart of it, the world of the Eloi and the Morlocks, makes for an interesting parable and perhaps warning.

Dic 12, 2020, 12:12am

>21 kermaier: Quite lovely, I think. Perhaps this will be more and more the treatment of the most highly-regarded surviving LECs. I recall that Don Floyd did a lot of rebinding.
Has anyone else on the forum had much experience with having books rebound? At what point and on what criteria does the cost seem worthwhile?

Dic 12, 2020, 12:22am

>29 Django6924: Your comparison of the two leads me to this question. How many of these titles do you have in both the LEC and Heritage editions (and do you have any where you have both New York and Connecticut versions?) Sometimes the variances are quite interesting and, as has been pointed out from time to time, sometimes the Heritage books come off as superior in some way (especially when the LECs had the notorious sheepskin bindings).

I would ask the same question of others to see if anyone does collect both.
I started with a subscription to the Heritage Club (Connecticut) about 20 years ago and it was all I knew then of these books. They were quite impressive until I was able to compare them to the LECs and even the NY Heritage books.

Dic 12, 2020, 4:20pm

>36 BionicJim:

The ML for The Federalist, along with Bruce Rogers' droll pamphlet, the Announcement Card, and a letter about required changes in the forthcoming publication schedule are in the ML Upload folder (a single PDF). Hopefully someone with edit privileges can move them to the main drive.

Dic 12, 2020, 4:43pm

>41 laotzu225:

I have maybe a dozen or so titles in both Limited Editions Club and HP editions, usually when I find the HP to be a design worth keeping (the dos-a-dos The Gambler/Notes From Underground and Poe's Tales with the batik covers, for example), or where I find the Heritage more convenient for reading (Herodotus in the 2-volume version) or the first NY South Wind without those annoying paragraph markers which makes the text appear to run on without a break, when I prefer the illustration in the HP (Droll Stories) or because the Limited Editions Club version is either too fragile (Gibbon and All Men Are Brothers) or too valuable (The Grapes of Wrath).

Whenever I could I replaced a Connecticut version I received as a Heritage Club member with a NY version I did, and gave away the CT copy so I have very few. Some of the CT were never NY versions and I kept those: Ring of the Nibelungs with Rackham's illustrations, James' The Europeans and The Bostonians, Alger's Ragged Dick, and the Rice Burroughs volume.

Dic 15, 2020, 7:27pm

>41 laotzu225:

Another Limited Editions Club/HP duplicate title, though not duplicate edition, is Gangantua and Pantagruel. I was lucky to find the Limited Editions Club of this over 25 years ago in Very Fine condition with the original glassine wrappers. I was also lucky to run cross the HP edition, still in the original shipping carton.

Dwiggins' design of the set is in his typical multi-volume, paperback-size style and is most attractive (it was included in the AIGA 50 Books of the Year), but, like so many of his productions, his illustrations themselves don't do justice to the work. More decorations than illustrations, they are charming little vignettes used as chapter headings. Charming? For Rabelais?!! Lynd Ward's illustrations in the HP are everything that illustrations for Rabelais should be--the finest since Doré's (and in many ways I prefer Ward's).

Dic 15, 2020, 7:54pm

My wife's book club just finished David Copperfield, and at my urging, they are seriously considering Dead Souls as the next work. I have often wondered how many book collectors get around to reading their books, and I confess I acquired the HP edition of the work (found in a Salvation Army store in 1964) but I did not actually read it until I was a graduate student and it was one of the 19th century novels we were assigned. I liked it so much, I re-read it some 30 years later when I acquired the LEC edition.

Although the class I was in read a recent (then) translation by Magarshack, comparisons to the translation in the HP by Bernard Guerney were much in the latter's favor, and Vladimir Nabokov thought it was the finest (as of the late 1940s).

Not many people seem familiar with the work which the Sandglass calls "the first great Russian novel. The reason our professor chose it over more famous Russian novels was because he had done his PhD dissertation on the character of the confidence man, or trickster, or "flimflam" man, and the rascally Chichikov was the first time such a character was the central figure of a novel (we also read Melville's brilliant and under-appreciated The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade).

Dic 16, 2020, 7:52am

>45 Django6924: Dead Souls is on my list of 2021 LECs to acquire, and this just bumped it up a bit on the list, haha.

Editado: Dic 16, 2020, 8:18am

>46 WildcatJF:
I just picked it up for a little over €70 and indeed that post gave me no regrets!

As for reading, I’ve read an O. Henry story before bed every night for the last week. Not one of the great LECs perhaps, but nice enough. The stories don’t outstay their welcome, though I’d be defenseless against anyone who called them twee.

Dic 16, 2020, 10:57am

>47 GusLogan:

Even "The Ransom of Red Chief"?

Editado: Dic 16, 2020, 11:38am

>48 Django6924:

I’ll get back to you when I’ve read it!

(Really enjoying the stories, perhaps stating that they don’t outstay their welcome seemed like damning with faint praise...)

Editado: Dic 16, 2020, 4:23pm

I just finished reading the 1941 LEC edition of Old Wives’ Tale by Arnold Bennett. It might have just outstayed its welcome for me at a little over 700 pages spread across two volumes. I have nothing to complain about regarding this gorgeous Oxford University Press production that matches the specifications first displayed in 1931’s Vanity Fair.

For those interested in the story - It is a character study of two sisters growing up in a small town in England during the 1860s. At the end of Book 1, the two sisters go their separate ways and Book 2 is 100% about one sister and Book 3 100% about the other. Book 4 is their reconciliation after 36 years apart. For me, reading this was like reading Charles Dickens with fewer characters and practically no plot twists. I’d say for the modern reader, the opinion in the end of which sister lead a successful and valuable life is controversial; everyone’s life is valuable these days.

The Monthly Letter makes this edition even more interesting to me. First of all, the illustrations by John Austen were destroyed by German Bombers while at the printer. He had to quickly remake them while reportedly watching and hearing dogfights in the sky over his house. Finally, the books themselves arrived in America after being a part of a large convoy protected by US battleships to help deter getting sunk by the U-Boats. The colophon illustration cleverly reminds us of this. Stories like this make me value these LECs even more.

>42 Django6924: - Thanks for this! That story by Bruce Rogers made me chuckle, but my 18 year old son, when asked what I was laughing about, just shook his head. Book humor.

Dic 17, 2020, 10:00am

>27 Django6924: Thanks! I don't think I've read about the pamphlet or Rogers' "backwards" approach. I think his work for LEC is almost always spot-on.

Dic 19, 2020, 12:35am

>44 Django6924: Thanks for these details about these books!

Abr 5, 11:50am

>26 DenimDan: >27 Django6924:
There seems to have been a bidding war between two parties on LEC’s The Federalist this weekend. An EBay auction for a NOT-fine copy ended up going to $740, which was quite a surprise to me! I agree with Django’s opinion that this book may be scarcer on the secondary market than most LECs due to the cross-interest in history/politics/law making it more likely to stay in a library’s permanent collection. Combined with the recent interest in Hamilton and Bruce Rogers’ signature, this set seems to really have taken off.

Here’s the link to the completed auction if anyone is interested: https://www.ebay.com/itm/The-Federalist-Limited-Editions-Club-Hamilton-Madison-J...

Abr 5, 12:08pm

>53 BionicJim:

Amazing! I may have a slipcase made for my Like New copies with the ML and extra ephemera. This was a period (during WWII) when most of the Limited Editions Club slipcases were pretty flimsy affairs, and mine is splitting at the seams. Since they have maintained the books in pristine condition it seems ungrateful of me to replace them, but....

Abr 5, 12:24pm

Since I am planning to sell it, I recently re-read the LEC of Aristotle's Poetics and a few sections of the Politics. It's a shame that so much of Aristotle's works were lost. Even in its fragmentary state (just Aristotle's analysis of dramatic poetry), the Poetics is extremely thought-provoking, and has, for better or worse, been more influential on later dramatists than any other work. The Politics is more nearly complete, though missing the over 100 constitutions Aristotle analyzed. Its attitudes about the rights (or lack thereof) of slaves and women seem to have also been influential, though Aristotle is neither condemning nor approving these attitudes--just analyzing his observations.

The book itself is one of the finer late Limited Editions Club productions: fine letterpress with a definite "bite" impression, lovely textured paper, and, the aspect that makes it hard for me to let the book go, the portraits by Leonard Baskin of the personages mentioned by Aristotle. I have been a fan of Baskin's works for over 50 years, since I purchased the University of Chicago's edition of The Iliad translated by Richmond Lattimore and illustrated by Baskin. Those illustrations were very unusual, but seemed to fit the character of the work. The portraits he did for the Aristotle are even better (IMO) and are beautifully reproduced by gravure and individually mounted on bluish-green Fabriano paper.

Abr 5, 1:04pm

>53 BionicJim:

I’m seriously worried about Folio-level price madness for LECs...

Abr 5, 7:39pm

>56 GusLogan:
I think only certain copies are going for such high prices: I just sold a Like New copy of She Stoops to Conquer for less than $25 and am negotiating on a Fine Copy of The Satyricon for which I was only asking $35. These are beautifully-made books, in reality much better made than The Federalist which had to cope with wartime shortages of paper and skilled craftsmen. I'm sure Rogers' signature is the major factor, but that price is frankly incredible.

Abr 5, 8:22pm

>56 GusLogan: Given that it was only 2 people engaged in a head-to-head battle, I wouldn't read too much into that auction. The same seller had it up for auction a few weeks ago with zero bids, and another copy of the book sold at about that time for $57. Can't really explain what happened with that last auction other than temporary insanity, which is hardly an unusual occurrence on eBay :)

Abr 6, 1:20am

I’m pretty happy with my HP copy of the Federalist which, needless to say, was substantially cheaper than $740 :-)

Abr 6, 9:57am

>59 kermaier:

I usually read my HP copy of The Federalist which is a convenient size and complete in one volume. It's a lovely edition.

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