Books so gorgeous they just might turn me into a collector.

Books so gorgeous they just might turn me into a collector.

In Bloom collection Rifle Paper Co

I love books, but I’ve never been much of a collector.

Until now.

The universe is clearly conspiring to turn me into a collector of gorgeous classics.

folio

Of course—like so many book lovers—I’ve always admired beautiful collections of classics. I adore the Penguin clothbound collection, and their Drop Caps series. Barnes and Nobles puts out a lovely classics collection, and I’m over the moon for anything from The Folio Society.

I could never decide on which series to start with, so I never did.

But recently, I’ve discovered several smaller collections that are so drool-worthy I had to snatch them up. Or at least add them to my Christmas list.

Anne of Green Gables Carmichael's

It started with this beautiful edition of Anne of Green Gables I saw at our local children’s bookstore. I was overcome with Book Lust.

Then I found out it was part of a small collection of classics done by Anna Bond of Rifle Paper Company.

I came home and ordered the whole set.

Puffin in Bloom stacked

(After all, Jack was about to start Anne of Green Gables in school, and Sarah was about to start Heidi. We were already halfway there….)

Anne of Green Gables flyleaf

the inside cover of Anne of Green Gables. Anne and Diana! little picket fences for Josie Pye to walk! Gilbert Blythe!

But then.

Then I asked the library to send me The Blue Castle, because my copy is AWOL and I was itching for a re-read. (Two words: we moved.) The library fulfilled my request with this gorgeous new edition.

I was intrigued.

I did some digging, and found out the cover was done by Canadian artist Jacqui Oakley. She’d been commissioned to do new covers for The Blue Castle and several other L. M. Montgomery books, and they were released last April.

Montgomery covers

I want them all, but I only ordered Jane of Lantern Hill. My justification: it was the one book of the series I hadn’t read, even though several fans I know cite it as their favorite Montgomery novel. Despite their devotion, it had been out of print until these editions rolled off the presses last April. I’ve never read it, and the library doesn’t have it.

(Sometimes, a book nerd has to do what a book nerd has to do.)

I also discovered that Oakley was commissioned to do new covers for all the Anne books (well, all but Rainbow Valley and Rilla of Ingleside, which is a shame: I would love to see how she would draw Rilla!)

Oakley Anne of Green Gables

I’m still swooning over these, but I haven’t ordered them—yet. I’m still waiting for my Anne books to turn up. If they don’t, and maybe even if they do, I’m snatching up this collection for my personal bookshelves.

I would tell you I’m not really into “stuff,” and I’m not much of a collector, but reading—and displaying—these gorgeous classics has been all kinds of delightful. I’ve always said I’m not a book collector, but maybe that’s because I hadn’t met the right books. These small but perfect collections are making me change my mind.

Luckily, Christmas is coming. Because my wish list is filling up fast.

I know many of you are book lovers, and some of you are collectors. I’d love to hear your thoughts about collecting—the good, the bad, and the ugly—in comments. 

52 comments | Comment

52 comments

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  1. Sara K. says:

    It’s no secret that one of the biggest reasons we pick up one book over another is because of the cover. I LOVE that they are refreshing so many wonderful classic books. Hopefully it will entice a new generation of readers to pick them up 🙂

  2. I’ve never been a collector, but that could partly be because we didn’t own our own home until last March. I’ve turned one of the rooms in the basement into a library, but I still want to display some of our books upstairs in the living room. I’m thinking maybe it’s time to invest in a couple of nice collections for just that purpose.

    I have to admit that, while I love Anne of Green Gables, I’m not crazy about those covers. They all look so similar to me. However, I love the one for Jane of Lantern Hill.

  3. Stacie says:

    My sister is about to have her first baby and she is a literature fanatic so I’m planning a bookish baby shower and I’ve been drooling over so many of the collections you shared. We’re decorating with books and these are all so pretty I want to put them all out but my budget for decorating isn’t quite in the hundreds of dollars category. (I also wanted to snag one of those die cut book initials from Anthropologie for my niece’s nursery but again, kind of a budget hog!)

    Oh and Jaqui Oakley is one if my designer husband’s favorite artists and I know she did this cover art (and illustrations I believe) a while back… Not to be missed. http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/161218412X?pc_redir=1413778270&robot_redir=1 (hint, hint: Sherlock!!)

  4. Amy says:

    Would you limit the number of different copies of a single book you own? I don’t think I have more than two copies of any classic book, and I’m wondering if it’s too much to add a third or a fourth (I’m something of a minimalist). But there’s this whole other part of me that loves the scene in Definitely, Maybe where April shows off her shelf of old Jane Eyre copies, and wonders if some books are worth amassing a collection.

    • Ashley says:

      I have two completely sets of the Anne books, 3 copies of the first book in the set and now I’m contemplating moremore because of this post! If they’re favorites, never too many!!

    • Anne says:

      Yes to Isla Fisher’s Jane Eyres. And I wouldn’t mind having quite a lot of copies of favorite books, as long as the books were truly were favorites.

  5. Yes! About a year and a half ago I read that Sourcebooks had the rights to repreprint LMM’s books, the first paperback re-release since the ones we all had in the 80s. Picked up a Blue Castle myself ( though my favorite standalone is A Tangled Web).

    • Anne says:

      I don’t think I’ve ever read A Tangled Web. Although I thought that about the “Pat” books, too, and realized by about page 3 that I’d read it before. I may have to buy myself the gorgeous new edition just to make sure. 🙂

  6. Janice says:

    Those are so beautiful!

    Your post lead me to a slightly off-topic question, though.

    How do you pick fiction books for your kids to read in school? I’m homeschooling a third grader (with excellent reading skills) and a kindergartner (who has just had that reading lightbulb turn on and is soooo excited about being able to get all the way through little books by herself) and I’m realizing I’m not being at all conscientious about fiction reading for them. My third grader devours books like the early Harry Potters and Narnia and other great books, but I mostly let him choose his own fiction. FYI: In school we follow (in a relaxed sort of way) The Well-Trained Mind.

    Anyway, just wondering if you are following some sort of list that you like or just are winging it. 🙂

    • Anne says:

      We wing it to a large degree, but I also have a great book list (email me if you’d like a copy) and I read up on the grade level offerings at the school we used to attend, which are online right here.

  7. liz n. says:

    What a timely topic! Just yesterday, I was at Half Price Books, and one of the employees told me they’d just received several copies of the Black Dog & Leventhal editions of Agatha Christie and the Book of the Month Club editions of Sherlock Holmes. Over the years, I’ve worn out many, many copies of Christie and Sherlock, but I collect these editions because of both the covers and the typeset. (Also, HPB employees are soooo good at keeping track of what you like!) And the reason I picked up the Outlander series in the first place was because of the gorgeous covers. There are new covers for the British series of Harry Potter that I am Siriusly considering purchasing. I also have a 1940s set of the complete works of Charles Dickens, bound in gorgeous green leather…they make my library look very literary and important 😉

    • Anne says:

      Those all sound lovely. Thanks for the tip about Half Price Books. I haven’t been there in ages but I’d love to have someone keep an eye out for me… 🙂

    • Ellie says:

      Gladys Hunt’s “Honey For A Child’s Heart” is an inspiring read and bibliography. Read at least a hundred of her recommendations with my kids and disliked only one

  8. Keely says:

    I have at least a dozen copies of Pride and Prejudice (my favorite, obviously) including a gorgeous set of paperbacks of all Austen’s novels by Vintage. I love that Drop Caps series!!

  9. I love those new Rifle editions and am lusting over the Anne one myself. And I also love the Jacqui Oakley covers, though I’m sentimentally attached to my old Bantam paperbacks.

    I’m not much of a book collector, but I may have to pick up a few of these…and I so wish Oakley had drawn Rilla too!

  10. Kristy says:

    I love books. I love to own them and display them. Luckily, my husband does too!

    The Penguin books are at Costco! I almost bought the whole set “for my daughters room (they’re 4 and 2)!” I resisted. But, now I won’t! They are too pretty. And we will read them aloud, someday and hopefully, they will become favorites.

    • Anne says:

      They’re at where??? I hate going to Costco and I usually barely glance at the books section, but now I just want to get there as soon as possible to see if mine also has the Penguin books. Thanks so much for the tip!

      • liz n. says:

        I’m tempted, as well, but I’m afraid I’ll end up with a 5-gallon bucket of goldfish crackers, half a gallon of cheese dip, enough toilet paper for a small village, and a gross of lightbulbs….

  11. Allie says:

    Love those Rifle books. Our baby is due in January and if it’s a girl, I am literally planning the nursery around those books for a “classic Girly books” 😉 They will be on full display on picture ledges from ikea.

    • Anne says:

      You’d change your mind if you had one in your hands. You wouldn’t be able to help yourself! (Or at least, I hope not. 🙂 They’re very readable, from a practical standpoint: nice, thick pages and an attractive font.)

  12. Kristen says:

    I thought I wasn’t much of a collector, and now all of a sudden I have about 15 copies of Pride & Prejudice. I just can’t help it, I see a pretty cover I don’t own and I want to own it. Now that’s absurd 🙂

  13. Ginger says:

    Some of these are gorgeous!

    I had already ordered the Rifle versions for a friend for Christmas, but I’m seriously toying with those Anne of Green Gables beauties for myself. I only own the first in the series, even though these are some of the few books I’ve ever read that made me cry.

    What kind of Anne devotee can I possibly call myself if I don’t own the whole set?

    • Anne says:

      “What kind of Anne devotee can I possibly call myself if I don’t own the whole set?”

      You sound like me, trying to talk myself into it… 😉

  14. Anne says:

    Oh, what fun. 🙂 I have a couple different Annes and a couple different Jane Eyres and Wuthering Heights. I like to keep an eye out for others. I also am going to start collecting Tomie dePaola (thanks to Gretchen Rubin’s inspiration) and maybe Little Women.

  15. Lacey says:

    Thank you so much! Since our daughter Heidi was born two years ago, I’ve been searching for the perfect hardback collector’s edition to give her as a keepsake. I wanted something intensely pretty. This fits the bill and is now on its way to me. I want the entire set now as well, although I’m debating about Anne, because I’d love my girls to own an entire set that matches. My own original Anne was different to the rest of the books that I owned and it always annoyed me on the shelf 😛

  16. SoCalLynn says:

    I’m not much of a book collector, but I do have a few authors I’ve been collecting: Bill Bryson, Karla Dornacher, and MaryJo Koch’s series that includes Bird, Egg, Feather, Nest. I have a granddaughter arriving in early January, and the books you’ve featured today are all so gorgeous I think I’ll start a collection for her.

  17. I *just* blogged about why I love books you can hold, not books on a screen … my overstuffed shelves are proof of that! And when the books are as gorgeous as those, it’s even better.

    As a kid I had — still have — a bunch of the Illustrated Junior Classics hardcovers. They were very nice editions of the classics, each with a clear plastic cover, and color cover and color plates inside. I can’t get rid of them; they’re just too lovely.

  18. Ally says:

    We have books that we have accumulated over the years, but I don’t think of myself as collecting them and I try hard to pass along any book that we can get at the library if I ever wanted to read again. So most of the ones that we own are nonfiction books or resource material.

    I’ve never thought of collecting books especially classics, because they are so readily available to borrow from the library or from a friend. BUT my book shelf is terribly ugly and books like THIS are beautifully enticing. I guess if you are a collector the fun is buying one at a time or getting them as gifts and adding to your collection a little at a time. And now that my oldest is 5 I guess I can say it is an investment in them to have good and beautiful books around the house 🙂

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  20. deborah says:

    I love these books too! You should not show them to me! 🙂 There’s nothing like a good book or a favorite book with a gorgeous cover! 🙂

    I love The Nesting Place and I love how pretty it is.

    The Blue Castle and Jane of Lantern Hill are two of my all time favorites. I really love them better than Anne of Green Gables.

  21. Théa says:

    Oh, I’m such a sucker for beautiful books covers! I have some of these, but not a full set, and it’s all I can do to resist buying books I already have in lovely editions like yours. I suppose that the next best thing is looking at your photos, right? 🙂

  22. Hannah says:

    I’m a bit late in posting!
    I love these editions, especially Penguin Clothbound Classics and Puffin In Bloom.
    Also, check out Vintage Classics Austen Series- They are so adorably cute and look fab on the shelf together. Loving the vintage look of them! The Macmillan Collector’s Library editions also look stunning- the gold edges on the pages are so elegant. Oooh, and did you know that the illustrator of The Puffin In Bloom Editions has realesed a full colour hardback edition of Alice In Wonderland. Its £20 which is a little pricey, but it looks SO wonderful. Filled with her illustrations all in colour!!!! I love Anna Bond’s signature style. I have Little Women- now I need Heidi, A little Princess, Anne Of Green Gables And Alice in Wonderland! She also does a huge range of notebooks, planners and stationary- http://www.RiflePaperco.com
    I have a lot of books to add to my Christmas wish list!
    Only just discovered your blog, its great!
    Thanks!

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