I’ve been watching Jean Bookishthoughts’s videos on her different collections of classics, like the Vintage red spine and the Oxford World’s Classics. And then I remembered: I’m building a similar collection, so why not share it? So today, I’m going to share some pictures and list which books are on it! This is also just for myself, so I can compare in a year or so and see how much has changed!
Collections have to start somewhere, so although mine might still be small and not much more than a random collection of different formats and genres (though surprisingly not diverse at all – look at all them white men! Definitely working on that, don’t worry), it’s still a small collection I’m proud of having.
I do have more classics than the ones I’m showing here, but on these shelves are the ones I’ve read, save for an exception or two (I definitely don’t have the patience to read Les Miserables). I tend not to count unread books, as I don’t know yet if I’ll keep them or not.
Please note that this is no way meant as a “look at all the classics I read, look how fancy I am!” kinda post. I’ve never had to read classics in high school, and my knowledge and understanding of them is basic and questionable at best. As you can see in the first picture, I do also read a lot of non-classics and am generally fairly non-discriminatory towards books. I just like noticing how much I’ve grown and changed in terms of reading interests! And I definitely welcome everyone to pick up a classic or two, they’re more fun than I imagined years ago!
Now, to properly start a classics collection, you have to ask yourself some questions.
What is a classic?
To me, a classic is a book published before (give and take) 1950. That’s all for me. Some would limit to the literary canon, which is fine! Though it’s a bit bland for my taste: too white, too male, too high-brow. Some people might limit it in different ways. I decided to just very roughly limit it to whatever is published a long time ago, with no other requirements whatsoever.
What versions do I like?
Do I want a bigger book, or a tiny one? Do I want the prettiest cover, or the cheapest option available? Do I look at specific editions and/or translators? I currently have a mess of Penguins, Oxford World’s Classics, Wordsworth, and random editions I found in thrift stores. And personally, I do like it like that. However, I’m hoping to get more OWC, even if just to get a bit more direction, no matter how arbitrary. Besides, I have the Iliad in this version, and I like how collections of OWC look and I like how the Iliad felt in my hands in terms of weight and paper (yes, this is a thing I pay attention to, sue me).
Of course, all of this is not necessary at all. If you want to read classics, go read some classics! I’m just a nerd who likes to be ridiculously organised.
SHELF ONE: crime
This shelf is where I specifically collect my Sherlock Holmes and my Agatha Christie books. As you can see, not strictly just the original works! I have some modern works based on the original stories by Arthur Conan Doyle in there as well, because I like keeping them all together. This shelf is organised according to which character/author (i.e. first is Sherlock Holmes canon & derivative, then is Agatha Christie in order of publication).
On this shelf:
The Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Wordsworth clothbound)
Dust and Shadow – Lyndsay Faye (Sherlock Holmes & Jack the Ripper)
The House of Silk – Anthony Horowitz (Sherlock Holmes)
Murder at the Vicarage – Agatha Christie
The Moving Finger – Agatha Christie
Murder She Said – Agatha Christie
SHELF TWO: classics with non-specific formats
Bad photo, I know. I didn’t manage a better one! This’ll have to do.
This shelf is a random collection of classics in miscellaneous formats that I picked up wherever. Some of these are old library editions, even! This shelf is alphabetically organised at the moment, based on author’s last names.
On this shelf:
Sense & Sensibility – Jane Austen
Robin Hood – Alexandre Dumas
Maurice – E.M. Forster
The Hunchback of the Notre Dame – Victor Hugo
Les Miserables – Victor Hugo (unread)
Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
1984 – George Orwell
The Time Machine & Other Stories – H.G. Wells
SHELF THREE: Oxford World’s Classics/Penguin/Wordsworth
As said, these are the collections I’m really working on building up! I mostly have Wordsworth classics here right now, for the simple reason that the big book market that travels through the country (Boekenfestijn) always stocks these for very cheap, so I tend to load up on them whenever I visit. The Penguins I usually pick up in thrift stores and the like, and the OCW I’m ordering through bookdepository as those are the hardest to find here in the Netherlands out of these three. I don’t have any of the Vintage red spine classics, as I don’t like their design and tend to avoid them. This shelf is organised according to publisher & alphabetical order of author.
On this shelf:
The Iliad – Homer (OCW)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – F. Scott Fitzgerald (Penguin)
The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham (Penguin classics)
The Kraken Wakes – John Wyndham (Penguin classics)
Someone Like You – Roald Dahl (Penguin classics)
O Cruel Alexis – Virgil (Penguin 80p)
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald (Wordsworth classics)
The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas (Wordsworth classics)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll (Wordsworth classics)
Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson (Wordsworth classics)
The Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum (Wordsworth classics)
The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupery (Wordsworth classics)
English Fairy Tales (Wordsworth classics)
Irish Fairy Tales (Wordsworth classics)
And that’s it! That’s the classics I own and have read (or at least I’ve read most of them). Let me know if there’s anything here you’d like to read but haven’t yet – maybe you can pick it up sometime soon?