from Po’ Boy Blues
Poetry Magazine November 1926
Miguel Covarrubias’ jacket for Langston Hughes’s first book of poetry (1926).
see also: The Poems (We Think) We Know
“When I was a teenager, I used to spend a lot of time on 4th Avenue in New York, where there were more than a dozen secondhand stores, all of which have now gone. I spent all my pocket money there, and my browsing is responsible for most of my literary education. On nearby Broadway, there is still the Strand, of course, but also in the neighborhood, the great shop of Dauber and Pine on 5th Avenue and 12th Street was long ago taken over by the New School for Social Research. Mr. Dauber and Mr. Pine hated each other and never spoke, one staying on the ground floor, the other reigning in the basement. They bought up scholarly libraries and sold the books at very reasonable terms. Most of what I know about literature from 1500 to 1700 is due to them.”
CHARLES ROSEN The Lost Pleasure of Browsing. The New York Review of Books. October 13, 2009.
“What made these stores, stocked with unwanted libraries of dead people, attractive to someone like me is that they were more indiscriminate and chaotic than public libraries and thus made browsing more of an adventure. Among the crowded shelves, one’s interest was aroused by the title or the appearance of a book. Then came the suspense of opening it, checking out the table of contents, and if it proved interesting, thumbing the pages, reading a bit here and there and looking for underlined passages and notes in the margins. How delightful to find some unknown reader commenting in pencil on a Victorian love poem: “Shit,” or coming across this inscription in a beautiful edition of one of the French classics:
For my daughter,
make beauty, humanity and wisdom
your lifelong objectives; and in all circumstances
you will know what to do. Happiness will be
the reward for your efforts
CHARLES SIMIC The Books We’ve Lost. The New York Review of Books. August 13, 2013.
Pictured above: CITY PARK LIBRARY
see also: Age of Ignorance by Charles Simic
FREEDOM to READ WEEK • 22-28 FEBRUARY 2015