Penguin Little Black Classics

Penguin Little Black Classics

Penguin certainly know how to celebrate in style! To commemorate their 80th anniversary they have released 80 of their classic titles in a compact format that are retailing for just 80p each. Offering little snippets of classic literature at an affordable-for-all price, these little books (to refer to them as booklets would be doing them a bit of a disservice, I think!) are so incredibly charming and they're proving tricky to resist. I was so close to buying the whole collection, but I've settled on ten titles...for now. They've sneakily included the number of each book on the spine, making it even more tempting to complete the set. Very clever Penguin, very clever - I see what you did there!

No.05 | Aphorisms on Love by Friedrich Nietzsche 
  • "The iconoclastic German philosopher's blazing maxims on revenge, false pity and the drawbacks of marriage" 

No.07 | Wailing Ghosts by Pu Songling 
  • "These delightful miniature tales of macabre hauntings, monsters and magic tricks are Classical China's greatest stories" 

No.10 | On the Beach at Night Alone by Walt Whitman 
  • "The visionary nineteenth-century American poet celebrates nature and the human spirit in these verses from Leaves of Grass" 

No.23 | The Tinder Box by Hans Christian Andersen 
  • "Andersen's bittersweet fairy tales propelled their troubled author to international fame and revolutionized children's writing" 

No.25 | Circles of Hell by Dante
  • "A terrifying depiction of sin and eternal damnation from Dante's Inferno, the medieval epic that revolutionized the Italian language"

No.34 | Gooseberries by Anton Chekhov
  • "Chekhov perfected the short story, as shown in these three moving miniature dramas of love, dread and lies"

No.36 | Sketchy, Doubtful, Incomplete Jottings by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • "The great nineteenth-century German thinker's musings on self-deceit, superstition, art and ambition"

No.60 | The Old Man of the Moon by Shen Fu
"A moving nineteenth-century account - lost for many decades - of a Chinese official's all-consuming love for his wife"

No.66 | A Pair of Silk Stockings by Kate Chopin
  • "From Louisiana's remote bayous to its gilded cities, five startling stories of awakening by one of fin-de-siecle America's most daring writers"

No.68 | The Robber Bridegroom by Brothers Grimm
  • "Drawn from German folklore, dark, fantastical fairy tales of wicked deeds, gruesome punishment and just rewards"

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Even though I don't think the collection is perfect, I appreciate that having to narrow it down to just 80 titles must have been quite the task and I think it's a truly wonderful way to explore classic literature in bite-size segments for less than the cost of a cup of takeaway coffee. It's like I'm about to make my way through a box of chocolates and I'm very much looking forward to discovering which ones are my favourites.

I think it would be wonderful if Penguin could keep doing similar things; perhaps releasing different titles every now and again for a few pounds each. Literature should feel accessible for everyone and I really do think there is a place for these little paperbacks alongside the more elaborately designed hardback editions that look beautiful on a shelf. After all, these little editions have an irreplaceable charm all of their own.

* * *

Have you picked up anything from the collection?


  1. These are really sweet and just great after World Book Day as well.



  2. What a good idea! They look so good too x

    Josie’s Journal

  3. I picked up some of these too! As many as I could justify ;) x

    Megan /

  4. I really need to pick some of these up, they're lovely!
    Maybe do a full review on your favourite once you've read them? I'd love to see that!

    Sarah @ Sarah's Chapter

  5. They are adorable, and I NEED THEM ALL!!! Why do numbers make collections so much more desirable? My local Waterstones has Austen and Bronte editions which I have my eye on... (Stupid book buying ban...!)
    Beth x

    1. Haha I'm not sure but those little number really do make me want them all! x

  6. Wow, what an absolute bargain! Love this idea, it will definitely encourage more people to read the classics.

    Tara x

  7. Beautiful editions!! So simple.

  8. I actually really like the design of this collection, it feels quite timeless in a way. xxx

  9. This year I decided to re-read some classics I used to love. This suits me just fine.



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