Merry Holidays and Happy New Year! The video above is an overview of the books I got in December – which also happens to be my birthday, so it’s always a great book month for me! I have some lovely Folio Society books as well as an array of Barnes & Noble leatherbound classics to share with you.
Let’s start with the Folio Society Poirot novel set, nostalgically illustrated by Andrew Davidson. I found this second hand for a great price because the slipcase is quite damaged. From what I can tell, the slipcases on this set are really tight, but there’s quite a nice illustration on the slipcase though, so I will be repairing this later so I can keep it all together. The first book is the pre-WWII novel Death on the Nile, which features Poirot on holiday in Egypt when a murder takes place on a river steamer on the Nile. A great locked room mystery. Next we have The ABC murders, where Poirot receives a letter from a serial killer teasing him about a future murder. I love that if you look closely, one of the illustrations in this Folio Society edition actually features a Folio Society book – you can just make out their logo on the back! Murder on the Orient Express I’ve covered in an earlier post. And The Mysterious Affair at Styles was Agatha’s first published mystery and introduction to Hercule Poirot. The boxed set is out of print, but several of the individual volumes are still available via the Folio Society website.
I also received a couple of the Barnes & Noble poetry collection, which are quite lovely – selected poems by Robert Frost and Emily Dickenson.
These are small volumes – they fit well in your hand or slip into a bag, and the bonded leather covers are quite flexible so they are easy to read.
(And a delightful flexi-bound copy of the Tolkien Atlas published by Thunder Bay with lots of nice colour maps also snuck in here…)
For the full-size B&N books, first off we have a collection of Victorian-era ‘penny-dreadful’ tales – the term derives from cheap popular serial literature that was published during the nineteenth century in the UK – the stories were published in weekly parts, each costing a penny, and usually focused on sensational subjects, like detectives or supernatural mysteries. I love the binding on this one. Unfortunately a lot of bulk of the book is taken up by a couple of long novels – the original edition of Frankenstein, and The String of Pearls (which is the story of Sweeney Todd) and most of the rest of the stories are classics such as stories by Edgar Allen Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle, so I had already read much of the contents. It’s a fun idea though! Next we have Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, which I have to confess I bought because I fell in love with the cover design. The text inside is tiny, and the paper is very flimsy, so sadly I think it’s more of a display version rather than a reading one. And talking of display versions – I was really disappointed with the Beauty and the Beast collection – the binding is gorgeous, again, but inside it is just a selection of stories from Andrew Lang’s fairy book – focusing on stories with pretty girls (or beauties) or animals (beasts). No illustrations, which is a waste for these stories as far as I am concerned – I had anticipated some of the original pictures would be included – caveat emptor! Fairy Tales from Around the World, however, is lovely inside and out. It is also a selection taken from Andrew Lang’s fairy tale books – and there is a lot of overlap with the Beauty & the Beast book – but this one is profusely illustrated with classic period images by Henry Justice Ford. It’s a much better buy, if you’re ever looking for one of these.
Now to the fantasy and science fiction collections. A Wrinkle in Time is a bind-up of the first three novels in the Time Quintet. It’s nicely laid out, and very sparkly, which is always fun. The Star Trek collection contains stories that were adapted from scripts of classic episodes for the first three seasons of the TV show. The Star Wars bind-up has the three novels in the ‘Han Solo trilogy’ – Paradise Snare, Hutt Gambit and Rebel Dawn. The Doctor Who dalek omnibus contains Rememberance of the Daleks and Prisoner of the Daleks.
❦ Update: I created a whole collector’s guide to every book ever published in the Barnes & Noble collectible classics series, so that if you’re an online buyer like me, you’ll always know what you are getting!
And the last one in this post is the odd one out of this haul – Winter is the second book in Ali Smith’s seasonal quartet. The UK edition is quite cute – it’s bound in cloth with a half-dustjacket, or belly-band, and the back end-papers have some pretty seasonal artwork. If anyone has the US edition, I’m curious how it compares.
Updated to add (2020):
I’d love to hear of any beautiful books you’ve scored recently, so please do share in the comments below!