Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Library of America Just Made My Day - Again



I have a handful of "go-to" publishers, companies that I know I can always count on for a quality product both in content and in physical makeup. But at the very top of my list is Library of America, a non-profit company that keeps the best American writing alive by publishing new editions that will last for generations and generations to come. It all started in 1979 with a $600,000 grant from the Ford Foundation and a $1.2 million grant from from the National Endowment of the Humanities. The grants allowed the LOA to publish its first four books in 1982, and the publisher has continued to add to the list ever since. There are now some 272 books in the collection, including James Baldwin: Later Novels, the latest volume, published just this month.

I continue to add LOA titles to my personal library, and days like today, when new ones come in the mail always make me smile. Today I added the two Edith Wharton titles shown above, Collected Stories 1891-1910 and Collected Stories 1911-1937, the 105th and 106th volumes in my Library of America collection. I've pictured them with their dust jackets still in place, but as you can see from the picture, I don't actually shelve them with the jackets on. They are just too beautiful to hide, and I enjoy seeing them add up in their four colors. 

Now don't get the idea that the Library of America publishes nothing but the books you may have been forced to read in high school or in college. There are plenty of titles like the two I received today - all the iron horses of American writing are there - but there are also titles representing things like the best science fiction writing from the 1950s, the best American Noir (crime novels), Women Crime Writers, Reporting Viet Nam, The Civil War, and American Musicals. Some of my personal favorites are the multi-volume sets from the likes of Philip Roth, Elmore Leonard, Philip K. Dick, Mark Twain, and John Steinbeck. There is literally something for every reader when it comes to Library of America books. I've barely scratched the surface.

If you are interested in books of the highest quality - in every sense of the word - the Library of America is for you. 

Here's a direct link to the main LOA website page that contains all the tabs explaining just who LOA is and how you can get participate in what they do.

6 comments:

  1. This sounds amazing and they look fantastic on the shelves. And how brilliant to get two volumes of Edith Wharton stories in the mail. In my ghost story reading days (about 20 years ago) hers were some of my favourites.

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    1. Cath, I found myself drawn to books published by LOA a couple of decades ago based on their sheer quality. Each book is a little masterpiece that should easily last for decades unless tragically lost due to someone's stupidity. This is both a case of me loving the physical book and what is in it. They are relatively expensive, so I don't buy nearly as many of them as I would like, and I'm surprised to see that I have 106 of them now.

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  2. I love Edith Wharton. She's one of my favorite classic authors. :)

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    1. Same here, Lark. She has always been one of my favorites from that period.

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  3. Just like you are catching up on your reading I'm catching up on blog posts! Your library looks amazing. Mine looks as scatterbrained as it's owner!
    'Ethan Frome' had an outsized influence on me when I read it as a teenager so I've always had a warm spot in my heart for Edith Wharton. I will have to read her short stories now! Bill Glass

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    1. I'm a short story fan, and I have a bunch of collections around, mostly by author, but I didn't have anything by Wharton on the shelves, so when I saw that LOA was running a big sale, I jumped all over the set.

      Bill, the thing you can't tell from the picture is how many other books I have stashed around the house because I'm out of shelf space. I've given away hundreds but still have around 2000 books in the house. And they keep coming...and I love it.

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