Four Metres of Penguin Classics…

As I mentioned recently, one of my friends did an art installation involving books for a local hospital and this meant buying 4 metres of Penguin classics, from a charity shop warehouse – so the a good cause benefitted too, with the odd additional book mixed in. As they ended up only needing just over three metres of these gems I was asked if I might like to have a few for myself. Well how could I say no? The only problem was choosing which ones to take out of quite a selection…

Which went on and on…

I can’t pretend I wasn’t like a kid in a sweet shop. However after some whittling down, because literally I could have ended up taking away about 30+ of the books, and I am aware I have a lot of books already, I decided that I had to be strict. There were a few books that I simply had to have as soon as I saw them. I also allowed myself to pick a few books that just took my fancy; the only rule was that they had to be short. There was then some more whittling from the rather large amount I had picked up/pulled off the shelves…

And I ended up with just the ten copies, though four of them weren’t for me so actually just the six…

  • Noblesse Oblige edited by Nancy Mitford – this one I grabbed the second I saw it, it’s a fortune on Amazon so I was thrilled to get this with my Mitford obsession.
  • The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen – I have read no Bowen and after seeing Rachel’s raving about her I think it’s high time.
  • My Memories of Six Reigns by Princess Marie Louise – I have a copy of this already but I love this one’s simplicity more, Neil Bartlett recommended it to Savidge Reads and its readers last year. I am debating what to do with the spare.
  • Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan – I haven’t read much Fench fiction, and this seemed short and a little dark and possibly tragic. Maybe I am wrong?
  • A World of Strangers by Nadine Gordimer – This I picked up for Kimbofo (who won’t know it yet, surprise) as I thought she might like it – she’s probably read it but it’s a fabulous edition.
  • Where Angels Fear To Tread by E.M. Forster – I read Forster for A-Level English and the teacher put me off completely. I have heard lots about this so it could end up being the next one I try.
  • The Comforters by Muriel Spark – I was very tempted to keep this one for myself but Polly of Novel Insights introduced me to Spark and I thought she would like this one.
  • Castle Gay by John Buchan – Again a present for Polly, I know she likes and adventure, and yes – the title made me snigger too.
  • The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh – who also writes in ‘Noblesse Oblige’ interestingly, though the cover doesn’t say so, I read this a while back and LOVED it so now I have two, my other one might have to find a new home.
  • Hons and Rebels by Jessica Mitford – with my Mitford-mania you might expect this to be another one for my never ending Mitford collection. In actual fact this if for my lovely friend Dom (again, surprise) who introduced me to the wondair clan.

I think I was quite restrained, though I have been thinking of finding out the number of the charity that sell 4 metres of Penguin classics for £20 (seriously that’s all it cost) though that would be dangerous wouldn’t it. Oh and I found one more gem of a book, that one (and what I found inside it) needs a special mention all of its own. What Penguin Classic would you most love to own? Why is it that those orange covers are so appealing? What do you make of my collection and choices?


Filed under Book Thoughts, Penguin Books, Penguin Classics

30 responses to “Four Metres of Penguin Classics…

  1. Oooh! Very pretty! I can see the temptation!

  2. verityjdo


  3. I think you are a lucky duck! you deserve them and enjoy them all.

  4. Eva

    I’ve read two Bowens and I love them both! I saw the film version of Bonjour Tristesse; it’s definitely a little dark, more ‘world weary’ than ‘grand tragedy’.

    I’m surprised you managed to have so much self control. 😉 The photos are lovely!

    • I think my year of no book buying (which sort of went ok last year) has made me much better at restraining myself. Believe me Eva, I could have easily just run away with half of them, but they would have just lingered here, and I got some other people some books they will love too.

  5. Those look wonderful! I don’t think I would have been able to restrain myself as you did!

    • I am trying much harder to not just take books I ‘might’ like this year Iris. It sounds odd I know but I would rather someone else (even if its locked away on display as art) got more out of it than it languish somewhere in Mount TBR.

  6. It’s the simplicity of the designs that make them so iconic. I think I would go crazy if given the choice of so many Penguins. So well done Simon for your self restraint! I loved Bonjour Tristesse when I read it as a teenager. It seemed all grown-up and very French. A friend of mine has lent me her copy of Hons and Rebels which I should really get to soon as I love the Mitfords. Happy reading!

  7. novelinsights

    They are beautiful and i’m so chuffed with my Spark. Good work with Nobless Oblige!

    • I literally couldnt believe it when I saw Noblesse Oblige on the shelves, I had to try really hard not to squeal aloud. That book will be a treasure of mine. Glad you loved the Spark, hurry up and read it hahahaha.

  8. I have read lots of books by Sagan in my bilingual years of high school and “Bounjour tristesse” is among her best. I am sure you’ll love it 🙂

  9. I don’t know what the orange covers are so appealing, but they are. I think retro-design is a bit ‘in’ now which may be part of the appeal. I also think it’s the use of artwork rather than photography. There’s something a bit painterly about them. They clearly are not done by computer. There’s a suggestion of an actual ‘hand at work’ that makes them stand out from the current overload of computer graphics we now have.

    I’d like to add that I’m a bit glad there is no store near me selling four meters of books at 20 pounds or 28 dollars U.S. even 32. I’ve no idea what the exchange rate is today.

    • Hahahahaha I have been very, very tempted to ask my friend for his source of these books but thankfully (and also rather annoyingly) he won’t let me have their details.

      The Orange Penguins are just iconic.

  10. Lucky you Simon! When you get the name of this charity that knocks off metres of amazing books for a mere 20 quid, please email me! PLEASE!

    I still need to send you your New York gift, this post has reminded me…I will get around to that soon, promise.

    I am SO excited you picked up a Bowen! I hope you will love her. I’m worried that she might be ‘niche’ but if I like her then you should. You should be very smug about your Noblesse Oblige – I swiped a copy of that from a V&A exhibition last year and didn’t feel guilty in the slightest. Casual thievery is totally fine when it comes to books I think!

    • Rachel if I had been told where they sold these books I think I would have to keep it quiet, not because I would want them all to myself but because I wouldnt want people I know spending all their money and living in houses built of Penguin books lol.

      I got your gift, did you get my thank you email?

      How did you get Noblesse Oblige from the V&A – thats a story I want to hear.

  11. You were very restrained! Very jealous about Noblesse Oblige; I can’t find it affordably.

    Bonjour Tristesse is very good, although a little introspective – I reviewed it a few months ago on my blog.

    I have to confess, I like this installation even less, now I know the callibre of the books used!

    • I did take some of the best ones Simon and just think, if I hadnt picked these up they would have been pulp as thats where they were headed as the charity couldnt sell them.

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  13. Oh wow, Simon, that’s very sweet of you to rescue a book for me! How lovely of you to remember that I love Nadine Gordimer. I haven’t read this particular book, but will look forward to it greatly. (Apologies I didn’t comment sooner. I’m very behind in my blog-reading and blog-writing now that I’m back working.)

    I can also wholly recommend Bonjour Tristesse. I read it several years ago (there’s a review on my blog somewhere) and has quite a dark edge to it. I think you will like it very much.

    • Fear not Kim, as you can see I am way, way, way behind on my commenting and I have some serious blog catching up to do in the next few days.

      I saw your review of Bonjour Tristesse as it came up when I googled it and I thought ‘hoorah’ as I can always trust your reviews.

      Glad you liked the Gordimer treat, I just saw it and knew the exact person who would like it.

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  17. What an awesome collection. You are indeed very lucky. My favorite in this lot has to be Where Angels Fear To Tread.

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