Saturday, September 10, 2005

Musings of a grad student who does literature

In terms of critical editions of Spanish language texts, I tend to really like books published by Catedra. They make my existence as a grad student so much happier. This has a lot to do with footnotes and introductions. However, it doesn't hurt that their cover designs are nice, tasteful, and mostly black (and shiny as well, depending on lighting conditions). They look great on my bookshelves once I'm temporarily finished consulting them for class.

Castalia similarly improves the quality of my school-related Spanish reading life, but I prefer the usual Catedra cover aesthetics. Side note: with books from the medieval era, it's a draw between the two since green is my favorite color. Every Clásicos Castalia book I've seen for medieval is green.

Anyway, here is a list of factors I consider when buying a Spanish language book that's related to my studies, just in case you're curious. Cover design, incidentally, is not #1. The following list assumes, of course, that I am able to locate more than one book choice through one or more bookstores, one or more grad students, the internet, or a combination thereof.

(1 - tie) What do grad students who have survived much longer than I in the program say I should buy?
(1 - tie) Whether or not one of my professors recommend or require a certain edition of the book.
(2 - tie) Price.
(2 - tie) How thick and how comprehensive is the introduction?
(2 - tie) If it's a used book, did its previous owner(s) abuse it with a highlighter and/or write/underline too much in it in pen?
(3) Do I get loads of helpful footnotes?
(4) If it's medieval lit, do I get a glossary? If it's by Miguel Ángel Asturias, do I get a glossary?
(5) How trustworthy is the binding?
(6) What does the cover look like?