Top Ten: Raven Used Books

Nestled below ground level at 52 JFK Street since 2005, Raven Used Books calls itself “one of the best scholarly used book stores in the country.” The single room inside, though a tight space, is lively and inviting: tall bookcases nearly touch the low ceiling, and overflow copies that cannot fit vertically within a shelf are enthusiastically stacked on top of other books. Raven offers a continually restocked array of hand-picked works in literature, humanities, and the natural sciences, all low-priced and in excellent condition. Outside, a cart with even cheaper scholarly books, at $2 or $3 each, awaits curious eyes. The list below represents ten of their best-selling titles.

1. Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami

Jonas, a manager at Raven, says that copies of Murakami’s work are almost immediatly snatched up after they are shelved. In this novel, Murakami’s philosophical, poetic ,and humorous re-imagining of the life of a young Kafka won him the 2006 World Fantasy Award.

2.The Archaeology of Knowledge, Michel Foucault

3.Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon

4.Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov

Considered to be the crowning work of the mature Nabokov, “Pale Fire” is one of the earliest metatexual novels. Pair that with the same linguistic fireworks that made his better-known “Lolita” more than the confessions of a middle-aged pedophile, and you have this humorous, humane masterpiece.

5. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy

6. The Pleasure of the Text, Roland Barthes

7. Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein

8. The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky

9. Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, Giorgio Agamben

10. Being and Time, Martin Heidigger

—Victoria Zhuang

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