Bookshelf Tour, pt. 6: Classics

In this installment of the bookshelf tour, we’ve left the living room and arrived at the bookcase in the bedroom. It’s a 5-shelf case, and all the shelves are devoted to books. The top shelf contains classics– primarily the hardcover Everyman’s Library editions that I love and the black-spined Penguin classics, plus a few random ones that are on this shelf because.

I’ll note the ones that are unread, as well as the books I’ve bought on my travels and where I bought them.


The teeny book sitting on top of Mansfield Park is my passport. That’s where it lives, so I know where it is whenever I’m getting ready to travel abroad.

The mug ‘o bookmarks was an actual drinking vessel I bought from one of my ceramics professors during the biannual pottery sale at university. It was my favorite mug for a long time (super lightweight, holds a lot of liquid, and a sensible handle you could actually hold onto), but then it got knocked off a table and the handle broke off. So now it holds my bookmarks. I don’t really use fancy bookmarks since the cats like to play with them, but I have a few that just stay in the mug for sentimental reasons, like the original Barnes and Noble Lord of the Rings movie tie-in bookmarks (that is, indeed, Legolas peeking over the edge of the cup. I used to have most of the set, but some have gotten lost during moves and whatnot), one with a world map on it, one from Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop in Galway Ireland, one a friend brought me from Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon. Also, I have (at last count) 43 bookmarks from the used bookshop downtown. They give you a paper bookmark with every purchase, and I often forget to tell them I don’t need yet another one…

Only one shelf this time, but it didn’t make sense to me to do one shelf of classics and one shelf of science fiction and fantasy, so we’ll get to the rest of the shelves in later posts. Perhaps a trilogy of them, because that’s what SFF likes to do.

Note on the editions: Everyman’s Library is an imprint of Penguin Randomhouse that presents series of classics, modern classics, and poetry in beautifully designed and sturdy hardbacks bound with acid-free paper and built-in silk bookmarks. They can be a little pricey, but if there’s a classic you want to keep forever, it’s hard to go wrong with them.

I think everyone knows about Penguin Classics editions, which present the great works of world literature in inexpensive but sturdy formats often meant for classrooms. You can find them just about anywhere, both new and used, and the commentary is usually on-point and clearly written (just don’t read it before the book, because spoilers. If you’re worried about spoilers in classic novels). I like them because they’re inexpensive, well-made (I dropped my copy of Metamorphoses and messed up a corner of the spine. It gave me a dirty look and held together), and they look great when you have a whole row of them on your shelf.

16 thoughts on “Bookshelf Tour, pt. 6: Classics

  1. That’s awesome! I’ve been starting to build up my collection of Oxford World Classics and Penguin Classics editions because I love the introductions!

  2. Another shelf where I’ve read a few of the books, have a couple more, but the majority are new to me. I always love being introduced to books. I see a number of Nordic works here. Do you happen to have a favorite amongst them? The Saga of Icelanders sounds intriguing. And I just have to say I love seeing The Haunting of Hill House here! 🙂 I’d like to read that one of these days.

  3. The Sagas of Icelanders is a collection of Icelandic sagas, and it’s definitely interesting. The northern sagas are deeply weird, but fascinating. I haven’t read Njal’s Saga. I’m looking forward to it, though, because I’ve heard it’s the greatest of the sagas. I enjoyed the Prose Edda, as that provides the majority of what we knew of Norse mythology.

    The Haunting of Hill House is one of the only books that’s ever truly creeped me out. I definitely recommend it!

  4. The Penguin Classics edition does look great stacked on a shelf, and I like it against the black background here. It’s so neat, which I love.
    I really think they should place the commentary at the end. I like to read straight through, front to back, so I learned the hard way: read the commentary first and got spoiled for everything, which I didn’t mind. What I didn’t like is that the writer’s analysis colored my perception of what I read. I can’t remember if it was Heart of Darkness that happened with or another classic.

  5. They really do need to put the commentary at the back. I’m sure they assume that the person has already read whatever classic it is, and there are some cases (The Conference of the Birds, for example) where reading the commentary before has been helpful in understanding it, but I could just flip to the back if I wanted to read the essays before reading the main work.

  6. I *adore* the Everyman’s Library collection. Totally worth the price. They feel great, they look great, and they are very durable. You’d think I’ve worn through the spine on my own copy of Pride and Prejudice but now… But nope! It’s still holding strong.

    I, too, used to have all the B&N LotR tie-in bookmarks! And, like you, I lost many of them over the course of moving and lending out books. The ones I still have are Frodo and Aragorn.

    What do you typically use for bookmarks if your cats bother them? Is it just the tassels they love?

  7. Everyman’s Library is great! I love how well-made they are. You don’t find many books like that. My pre-ordered and signed copy of Hilary Mantel’s book, The Mirror and the Light, for example, was poorly made. You can imagine how unhappy I was to find that out when it finally arrived..

    I usually just use the cardstock bookmarks I get from the used bookstore. Sidney likes the tassels, but Mina will chomp on the whole length of the bookmark, so I don’t want to use anything nice with her on the prowl for new ‘toys’.

  8. Ugh. That’s awful! I’m so sorry that your pre-order was a poorly made book. This is one of the many reasons I reach for hardcover over paperbacks — and even then we cannot be certain of quality. I just avoid pre-ordering most of the time.

    Mina will chomp through a whole bookmark! Mina. How rude. I’m glad my dog isn’t interested in that. Though, I rarely can keep track of a bookmark long enough to see him try. I’m known for using random scraps of paper and detritus around the house as bookmarks. Eh. Sue me.

  9. It was super frustrating to have that book be so badly made! The front end page and the title and copyright pages were just sort of slapped in there and badly glued. And the pages are made of that super thin paper that feels like it’ll tear if you look at it funny. Gr..

    I will use random things as bookmarks, too! Mostly just bits of paper, but I’ve used pencils and clean paintbrushes before. That reminds me of a bookhaul Steve Donoghue recently had on his channel. He’s finally been able to go back to his favorite used bookstore, and he was showing off his finds for the video, opened one up, and found a $20 in it!

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