“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” C.S Lewis

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

“It was a joy! Words weren't dull, words were things that could make your mind hum. If you read them and let yourself feel the magic, you could live without pain, with hope, no matter what happened to you.” ― Charles Bukowski

A couple of months ago, I happened up the rather wonderful blog A Penguin a week, It's the blog of Karyn Reeves, who is an avid collector of old penguin books, specifically those published prior to 1970 before the publisher Allen Lane died. The whole story behind Penguin books is a fascinating one and I urge you to go and read it somewhere, but this is not that blog.

Anyway, I found Karyn's Blog, and I realised that I had quite a few of those old Penguins too. I had often picked them up in charity shops, mainly because I am a fervent disbeliever in the old adage that you should never judge a book by its cover. You should always judge a book by its cover, and Penguin books had fantastic covers. There are some excellent articles out there about the art of the Penguin book cover, but this is not that blog...

So, I read Karyn's blog, and I realised I already had a good few of those Penguins myself, and I started seeking out more of them. Now, as we all know, the purpose of a book is not to own it but to read it. Sitting on a shelf it's just a storage box for used ink. I do have books that I could not bring myself to get rid of even if I lost my ability to read, but mostly if a book is still on my shelves it means I intend to read it again some time. I do know this isn't physically possible unless I live to a very, very ripe old age, but the intention is there.

So, for the last couple of months I have read nothing but old Penguin books. Most of them have taken me about a week. Some less, some more. And I've discovered some fantastic literature. From the sublime 'The Pumpkin Eater' by Penelope Mortimer, to the surprisingly entertaining adventures of Campion in 'Look to the Lady' by Margery Allingham via the almost impenetrable inner worlds of 'Cast but one shadow' by Han Suyin. I've enjoyed them all, some more than others but all have been worth reading.

I'm currently reading 'Aimez-vous Brahms?' by Francoise Sagan, and I'll attempt a review once I've finished. I'll give you a quick preview though - it's great.

Francoise Sagan

1 comment:

  1. Kevin - thanks for such kind words, and I think it is wonderful if my blog has inspired some interest in reading these books, because that was one of the things I hoped to achieve when I started it.

    So many people collect Penguins for their covers - understandably so - but the books themselves are interesting as well. Reading them is like going directly to the source: I find they tend to capture details about the eras in which they were written which are often forgotten. I find that I learn something from every book I read.

    And let me wish you all the best with your new blog.