My Classic Book Collections and Their Pros and Cons

My Classic Book Collections and Their Pros and Cons

I have read a lot of Classic books since last summer and I have purchased equally a huge number of them.

Today, I am going to talk about my favorite editions of Classic books and the reasons why I love them. I am also going to be talking about some of the editions I used to love but have fallen out of love with.

Without further ado, let’s dive in.

Penguin English Library

Screenshot from Penguin books website

It is the edition that I first got my hands on when I started reading Classics; it was love at first sight.
The cover designs are simplistic yet pretty and clever (oftentimes include items from the actual story), and attention for details even extends to the spine. I love the color scheme, and most importantly, the binding of this edition is quite easy to spread open, which is the most important feature that I look for in my physical books.

One of my pet peeves is breaking the spine; I am almost paranoid of keeping my books in pristine condition even after reading them. With this edition, it’s easy to handle and you can leave it spread open wide while you go put your kettle on, and the spine is intact. Perfect.

I collected many of my classic books from this edition, and I bought a huge bulk of it in the spring of 2017, almost four years ago.
I have yet to read more than half of them, but I do intend to keep collecting this edition as much as possible because some of the titles seems to have been removed from this collection that’s going around now šŸ˜¦

Penguin Classics

Penguin Classics is also my favorite, they look gorgeous on my bookshelves (as you can see above).

They are equally easy to open without breaking the spine, and it’s got good annotations and notes as well. The aforementioned Penguin English Library edition do come with annotations, but I think those of the Penguin Classics are more detailed.

The covers often feature paintings or drawings, matches very well with the classical outlook. One drawback about this edition as far as aesthetic goes is that they tend to darken the overall look of my bookshelf, so I’d love to put them on the same shelf as the lively, beautiful Penguin English Library editions for a pop of color.

Vintage Classics

I own three series in the Vintage Classics edition: Jane Austen, the Brontƫ sisters, and Russian literature.

As you can see, I haven’t collected all of them; I skipped Northanger Abbey in the Jane Austen series (because I thought I probably wouldn’t like it for some reason), and I also skipped The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne BrontĆ« (I preferred the Penguin Classics edition), and I was only interested in reading Tolstoy from the Russian series.

They are all so stunningly beautiful and adorn my humble bookshelf perfectly. The BrontĆ«s and Russian series are easy to handle when it comes to actually reading them with its a bit floppy binding. (I am not complaining!) The Russian series is definitely is not portable being all huge and bulky, but once again, you can spread it wide open on your desk, table, or whatever – without cracking the spine, which is a big plus for me.
With the Jane Austen series, however, I don’t really like them for practical reasons.

Aesthetically, they are perfect. I have no complaints. Nil. But I don’t like the binding. They are way more stiff than the other series. The better quality paper might be used for this series, but it in return makes it harder to read especially with one hand. With the other two series – both the BrontĆ«s and the Russian classics, the book spreads open by itself from its weight. On the other hand, this Jane Austen series calls for you spreading it wide by adding pressure with your other hand. The closer you get to the middle of the book, the harder it gets to read it without breaking the spine. I ended up getting Jane Austen box set in a different edition. Once again, it’s pleasing to the eye, but not very practical as far as I am concerned.

Penguin Clothbound Classics

A Screenshot from Penguin Books website

A lot of readers and book lovers must desire to possess their favorite classics in this edition. So do I.

I purchased several of my to-read classic books from this edition last winter, and as expected, they look absolutely stunning on my bookshelf.

Just like the Vintage Classics series, I think they are aesthetically impeccable. Clever design, stunning color scheme… apart from them being a bit too bulky and taking up more space than I expected, I am happy that I got them.

That said, however, here’s the rub; the repeated pattern is not woven into the fabric; it’s actually printed on top of the fabric binding. The pattern is susceptible to coming off when exposed to additional pressure or scratching.

In fact, the printed pattern on my Crime and Punishment did come off when I peeled off the price sticker on the back. I was shocked. A bit more research on Google revealed the astounding fact that many readers have voiced their complaints on this regard as well. It’s a known fact.

A YouTube video that I watched also says this susceptibility shows itself when exposed to moisture – which means, if you tend to have sweaty hands, the more probable that the pattern will eventually come off, some of the pattern if not all.

As a reader who values durability, I probably won’t be buying any more from this edition, but they indeed look breathtakingly beautiful, which makes me even sadder šŸ˜¦

Pan Macmillan Collector’s Library

I saved my most recent favorite for the last.
I forgot when I first found out about this particular edition, but I believe it was somewhere on YouTube, and I instantly fell in love with it.

As you can see above, this edition has gorgeous, very artsy cover design and stunningly beautiful gilt edges (gold, guys! Gold edges!), it also comes with a ribbon marker which perfectly matches with the pale-blue dust jacket, and underneath the dust jacket you have this very decorative and elaborate fabric binding.

I was initially thinking of getting Jane Austen boxed set from the Penguin Clothbound Edition, but for the issues with the printed pattern I mentioned above, I canceled my order and got this edition instead.

They all come in a very portable size and wouldn’t take much space. You can easily slip it in your bag and whip it out whenever or wherever you fancy. The downside with this edition is obviously the small print. It works just fine with me, but if you have trouble with your eyesight, this may not be for you.
That some titles are abridged can also be a negative to some readers (obviously including me). I didn’t even realize my Les Miserable was an abridged edition; thank goodness I had already purchased the same title from the Penguin Clothbound Classics! You need to carefully research before jumping onto it to find out whether your desired title is abridged/unabridged. Lesson learnt!

These are my Classic book collections and reasons why I love them or dislike them.

How about you? Do you have the same editions as I do? What do you like about them?
Let me know in the comments below šŸ™‚

Thank you for stopping by as always, and I’ll see you in my next post.

14 thoughts on “My Classic Book Collections and Their Pros and Cons

  1. Hey, Noriko!! I am loving your collections. I really like you Vintage Classic covers and the Penguin Clothbound. I honestly didn’t know the Clothbound were so susceptible to damage. I just noticed you have War and Peace in the Vintage Classic and in the Clothbound LOL!!! I only own one Clothbound and that’s The Count of Monte Cristo – which, if I recall correctly, you once started and then stopped rather suddenly LOL!!!! I own one book in the Pan Macmillan Collector’s Library which is A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute. But when I ordered it I didn’t look at the size. It is so small!! I got so upset I had to order a normal paperback to read it LOL!! Though I do appreciate they are great for putting in a bag and taking for work but I would never collect them. I have been collecting (very slowly) a few first edition hardcovers, though….signed if possible…but they can be very expensive!! Hope you are well and not overdoing it at work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, guilty as charged, Laurence… I picked up the Count of Monte Cristo and dropped it in less than a couple of days lol
      But I do intend to read it someday, I have it on my Kindle!
      I think Pan Macmillian is a bit too small so it might choose its collectors. I still adore the Penguin Clothbound… I wish Penguin books do something with the printed pattern to make it more robust and durable. Then I would certainly start collecting them again!


    1. I totally agree, Jasmine! The Vintage ones are the most aesthetic and beautiful! They also look wonderful on the bookshelf šŸ™‚
      Classics tend to have many editions so it’s actually hard to find which one is perfect for me lol

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I do not have any of these classic books. Knowing that I am moving in the next couple of years and having to downsize and pack up a home I have lived in for 33 years, I do not keep books once I have read them. I donate or give them away. They are beautiful books though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Carla! I only collect Classic books; I no longer buy contemporary books in physical format because I hardly ever revisit the same book, which I often do with classics. But there are way too many beautiful editions to choose from, that’s a pain in the neck, honestly lol

      Liked by 1 person

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