The Core Curriculum
The Strand’s proximity to NYU means it never lacks for the towering masterpieces that students read and then sell for pennies on the dollar. If you’re looking to build a library, here’s where to start.
»Shakespeare’s plays. At least half a dozen different titles (including The Tempest, Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream) were available when we examined the racks, and the Bard is the only author so well (and consistently) represented that you could start looking for a specific title here.
»Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Mark Twain’s masterpiece was available in excellent condition for cheaper than a fifth of a falafel. (That’s like one ball.)
»I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. The cheapest price you can get for a used copy on Amazon? $2.41.
»Plus Wuthering Heights, Emma and Gulliver’s Travels.
From books so ubiquitous you never bothered to buy them before, to books so rare you’d better buy them now.
»The Right Stuff. Tom Wolfe’s acclaimed book of the early space race is an exemplary example of new journalism and a riveting read, to boot.
»The Hotel New Hampshire. John Irving can be hit or miss, but for this price you can afford a possible miss.
»Honorable Consul, Meridian and Three Guineas. These lesser-known works by great writers (Graham Greene, Alice Walker and Virginia Woolf, respectively) underline one of the best parts of the Strand, which is the chance to explore your favorite authors’ minor works.
»Enormous hardcovers by John Grisham, Michael Crichton, Stephanie Myers, Dan Brown, etc. Four bits isn’t too much to pay for some company on a long and lonely subway ride.
»The Arabian Nights. We regretted not picking up this beautiful leather-bound copy of the work, which was tragically gone from the shelves on his next visit two days later.
»Reference books galore. You can get Zagat (2008 is the most recent), massive dictionaries and a mind-bogglingly comprehensive health guide from the Mayo Clinic, should your internet ever go out (heaven forfend).
»Infertility for Dummies. Though here is an example of a book you may want to pay extra for in order to be able to buy it anonymously online.
»The Massive Book of Gay Short Stories. Nothing unusual about the book itself, but a heartbreakingly sincere apology letter inscribed inside the cover raised some questions about what kind of soulless bastard would sell this copy.
»WILL THE SOVIET UNION SURVIVE UNTIL »984? A book with a cover so dramatic the title has to be written in caps. You’ll never guess the twist ending.
»God is a Conservative. A first edition!
»How to Stop the Coming Real Estate Crisis. Check out the provocative subtitle: “Now updated for the 80s.”
The total cost of all these titles? About $10.
What’s available changes daily, so it’s always worth a stop and a quick perusal.