25 Classic Penguins (or: ending the year the way I don’t intend to carry on)

I’m excited about my reading in 2017. I don’t have any plans or challenges (for reading; for buying, I’m limiting to 24 books). I’ll miss Shiny New Books, but it also means I have far fewer obligations for reading. I can just read what I want – and, if it gets overwhelming, I’ve put together a table covered in all the books people recommended from my tbr shelves recently (or, at least, the ones I could find!). Thank you so much for your recommendations, and taking the time to search for them!


I’m pretty scared about 2017. I wrote quite a lot here about Trump, but I’ve decided to delete it – I don’t want to demonise people who voted him. Let’s just acknowledge that – in my eyes, and for many people around the world – Trump’s presidency is a terrifying prospect. And I can’t really start a post about 2017 without at least acknowledging that it’s happening.

For today, let’s try denial. And denial comes in the form of some massive parcels which arrived while I was home over Christmas. In advance of Project 24 – and, yes, entirely defeating the point – I was tempted when my housemate pointed out a deal for buying 25 Classic Penguins. I don’t want to throw temptation in your way, but you can do the same. World of Rare Books will bundle up 25 of them for you, for £25 (and rather less than that on the one-day offer we got).


I’ll be honest – my hopes weren’t high. I assumed it would be a case of getting lots of those blue Penguins on poultry farming, economic works, and no orange Penguins at all. How wrong I was!

We sat there and opened up our 50 Penguins. Kirsty kept all of hers; I kept 18 of mine – much more than I expected. I gave 3 to Kirsty (including the Pamela Hansford Johnson in the photo below, as I only realised belatedly that I already had it), 2 to my friend Paul, and 2 to a charity shop – the rejected books being almost all ones I already had, and only a couple cos they didn’t appeal.


And here are the gems I came away with! Lots of lovely classic crimes to explore, and lots of other authors I’ve either enjoyed or wanted to read – and a handful that meant nothing, but could well be fun. But the reason I bought them, really, was because I love the surprise of a random assortment – opening them up and discovering what unexpected books have arrived. If I weren’t doing Project 24, I’d be tempted to do it again immediately…

28 thoughts on “25 Classic Penguins (or: ending the year the way I don’t intend to carry on)

  • January 2, 2017 at 1:33 am

    What an interesting idea of the Penguins. I just sold my 1000 book Penguin collection. Penguins are moving all over the place these days.
    I understand what you mean about America’s election. As an American-Australian I was horrified at that turn of events. The man is so unstable and heaven knows what he may do. However most Republicans don’t like him and let’s hope there is at least some sense amongst them to block anything that is too outrageous to the rest of the world. I think denial, hiding in our books and blogs might be something to at least calm us when things get to be too much. All the best for 2017 Simon.

    • January 2, 2017 at 1:37 am

      Just before I got your comment, Pam, I ended up altering what I wrote rather – but I think the same comment still applies! Denial when nothing can be done perhaps isn’t a terrible idea…
      All the best for 2017 to you too, Pam!

  • January 2, 2017 at 1:49 am

    I am with you. Books will be a retreat but also a reminder of the complexity of people’s lives and needs and the requirement to think for ourselves and use our critical faculties to analyse what we hear and read so that we can speak up and persuade others to do the same.

    • January 9, 2017 at 12:07 am

      Amen to that, Pat.

    • January 9, 2017 at 12:08 am

      Reading from my shelves is going to be fun :)

  • January 2, 2017 at 6:49 am

    I have sucommed to to lure of the Penguin offer. Looking forward to my parcel arriving.

    • January 9, 2017 at 12:08 am

      Has it come yet?? I want to know what you got!

  • January 2, 2017 at 7:39 am

    Ooh. I am going to resist this time but hope that you enjoy your new books! And I definitely plan on the book blogging community being my support system in the years ahead.

    • January 9, 2017 at 12:09 am

      Well resisted :) And yes, this community is going to be such a source of strength – particularly for people in the US, undergoing it.

  • January 2, 2017 at 9:22 am

    I got a smaller Penguin bundle for a much higher price at Christmas so thanks for this link! However, I also got Sons and Lovers and The Case of the Golddigger’s Purse.

    • January 9, 2017 at 12:10 am

      I hope you succumbed, Hayley :)
      I read about half Sons and Lovers years ago, so maybe this will get me to finish reading it.

    • January 9, 2017 at 12:10 am

      I’d say I’m sorry, but I’m not ;)

  • January 2, 2017 at 10:53 am

    That’s hilarious, you manage to fit in a massive book buy just before you stop buying so many books. Good work!!! Did Kirsty get lots of crime ones, too?

    • January 9, 2017 at 12:11 am

      Appalling, wasn’t it? I’m very wicked.
      And yes, Kirsty also got lots of crime – I’m so impressed by them not just getting rid of all their least popular Penguins (at least, it seems that way).

  • January 2, 2017 at 11:45 am

    Oh goodness – this is so tempting and I’m not supposed to be buying *anything* at the moment, just clearing out. You got some good titles there – Edmund Crispin! :))

    • January 9, 2017 at 12:12 am

      Kirsty got an Edmund Crispin too, I think, so we were both chuffed about that! Thankfully not too much jealousy about what the other got.

  • January 2, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    Thank you for expressing what many of us are feeling about the future, Simon. I think that reading and blogging can be not only a form of refuge, but a way forward. The election has spurred me to read books I otherwise would not have picked up and think about ugly realities that I didn’t want to face before, and to connect with others who want to do the same. It may be a small thing, but it could lead to further action – and I think it’s important to fight the feeling of paralysis and helplessness and do something, even if it’s only working on our own thoughts at this point.

    And I don’t think the Penguin assortment is irrelevant to that quest — what a marvelous collection of the treasures of our civilization! May they both comfort and challenge you in these difficult times.

    • January 9, 2017 at 12:14 am

      Thanks, Lory, for your wise words – and you are so right; remembering our shared rich cultural past is a way of fighting the post-truth world we find ourselves in.

  • January 2, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    You naughty pre-loader you! (I did the same – but with only 1 book for the TBR Dare). Very tempted to order one of these packages anyway though! :)

    • January 9, 2017 at 12:15 am

      Pre-loader, ha! Yes, that was exactly what it was.

  • January 2, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    The Penguin assortment looks wonderful! What fun to open them all – and I’m glad you got so many good ones.

    As for your comments about Trump, this American reader is right there with you. The thought of the damage he can do with his ignorance and vitriol is really sobering. Most of the people I know were shocked when he was elected. I think I’ve cried all the tears I had about it and I like your denial plan. Here’s to escaping into books for the next four years…

    • January 9, 2017 at 12:16 am

      The opening was definitely super fun, Jaclyn! Worth it just for that.

      And fingers crossed he’ll get bored and it won’t be four years. Even in his acceptance speech he said he’d be there ‘two or three years’ bizarrely.

  • January 2, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    The Penguin collection looks like fun! I’m not one who particularly seeks out Penguins, but I love surprise books in the mail. I subscribed to the NYRB Classics last year mostly for the surprise element.

    I, too, am alarmed about Trump. I know people who voted for him, and although I can understand elements of where they’re coming from, they had to close their minds and ears to an awful lot to make that vote. (Or else his terrible rhetoric just didn’t bother them, a fact that I find horrifying.) I’m nervous about the future in a way I never have been.

    • January 9, 2017 at 12:18 am

      I would be so tempted to do the NYRB Classics – because they’re invariably beautiful – though I suspect rather more expensive over here.

      One curious thing on this side of the Pond is that nobody at all likes Trump or can understand why anybody voted for him – so I forget that ordinary people must have done. A bit like the US view of Brexit, I guess – though I don’t know many people who voted Leave, it is odd feeling that half the country were happy to do it.

  • January 2, 2017 at 11:01 pm

    What a score! I suppose doing this from the U.S. would be prohibitive, though.

    • January 9, 2017 at 12:23 am

      You could be right… postage was free to UK; not sure what it is to US.

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