Strand Curated Collections: Bass Family

Bass Family

I have spent over 70 years surrounded by miles of books so it’s hard for me to narrow down my list of favorites, but I’m most often drawn to history and science books.”
—Fred Bass, Co-owner of Strand Book Store

When I’m not reading Silverlicious and Thomas the Tank Engine books, I read about the lives of my heroes—politicians—and love stories about the people and culture of New York.”
—Nancy Bass Wyden, Co-owner of Strand Book Store

I like it when mom reads Thomas, and I enjoy a cold grape juice.”
—William Wyden, aged 3

I’m kind of like Fancy Nancy.”
—Ava Rose Wyden, aged 3

Nancy Bass Wyden and her father, Fred Bass, co-own the Strand Book Store, founded in 1927 by Fred’s father, Benjamin Bass. Ben opened the Strand on Fourth Avenue, home of New York's legendary Book Row. Named after the famous publishing street in London, the Strand was one of 48 bookstores on Book Row, which started in the 1890s and ran from Union Square to Astor Place. Today, the Strand is the sole survivor.

Fred started working in his father’s store at the age of 13. After a tour of duty in the Armed Forces, Fred returned to the family business and took over its management in 1956. Soon after, he moved the store to its current location on Broadway at 12th Street. Fred sits at the main desk in the store, every day, managing the used book buying. On weekends, he visits estate sales where he peruses and purchases libraries for the store.

Nancy grew up in the Strand Book Store. Her first ‘job' at the age of 6, was sharpening pencils for the Strand staff. After receiving her MBA from the University of Wisconsin, she worked for a few years at Exxon, at her father’s suggestion. Books were in her blood, though, and she quickly returned to the Strand. Nancy now oversees the behind-the-scenes workings of the Strand Book Store.

In 2005, Nancy married Senator Ron Wyden (D.—Oregon) whom she met while on a business trip, visiting an independent bookstore in Portland. Coincidentally, Ron’s father was the award-winning non-fiction writer and publisher, Peter Wyden. In October 2007, the Senator and Nancy welcomed their first children, twins Ava Rose and William Peter Wyden.

Fred Bass' Picks

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A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson Midnight Angels By Lorenzo Carcaterra Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
By Jared Diamond The Name of the Rose By Umberto Eco The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies By Bert Holldobler & Edward O. Wilson Book Row: An Anecdotal and Pictorial History of the Antiquarian Book Trade By Marvin Mondlin

Nancy Bass Wyden's Picks

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How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes Great Food
By Mark Bittman The Power Broker : Robert Moses and the Fall of New York By Robert A. Caro Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty By Andrew Bolton & Harold Koda Pickwick Papers (Wordsworth Classics)By Charles Dickens The Fran Lebowitz Reader By Fran Lebowitz Reading Lolita In Tehran: A Memoir In Books By Azar Nafisi

William & Ava Rose Wyden's Picks

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Thomas' Read-Along StorybookBy W. Reverend Awdry Llama Llama Red Pajama By Anna Dewdney One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish By Dr. Seuss Doodles: A Really Giant Coloring and Doodling Book
By Taro Gomi Amelia Bedelia (I Can Read: Level 2)
By Peggy Parish Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale By Mo Willems