Tuesday, 9 April 2013



Penguin Classics have been a staple on bookstore shelves and in the hands of café dwelling hipsters for over 65 years.  It is hard to imagine where we would be without those little orange paperbacks.  How we would look intelligent on public transport without our copy of Pride and Prejudice?  How would we Intstagram photos of “Sunday afternoons” without the obligatory copy of some classic novel?  How many overpriced celebrity autobiographies would we have bought at airport newsagents?  Penguin Classics are an underappreciated publishing wonder! 

Did you know that in 2005 Amazon.com sold a semi complete collection of the Penguin Classics featuring 1082 titles that weighed 340kg, took up 23.5m of shelf space and cost US$7989.50?  Can you imagine the freaking shipping cost of that?  Seriously Amazon shipping to Australia is like $3000 per book so the cost of shipping 1082 paperbacks is probably equivalent to purchasing a three-bedroom home in Newfarm.

You may not have the means to buy all the Penguin Classics (as there are well over 1300) but you probably are able to buy a few considering they are only $9.95.  Last week while standing in the line at the post office, with a parcel full of Tim Tams for a friend under my arm, a flash of hot pink, stacked next to the Malteaster Bunnies, caught my eye.  Low and behold, there in the middle of the post office was ridiculously vibrant copy of The Great Gatsby: my favourite book since age 14.  I had to have it!  Copies of The Great Gatsby is the only thing I could ever be accused of collecting; mainly because I scour secondhand bookshops in the futile hope of stumbling across an original 1925 edition.  This has never happened of course, but I have accumulated several copies from many decades, and the idea of passing up on this hot pink wonder was simply as out of the question as passing up on a neighbouring Malteaster bunny.  I bought both. 

These hot pink Penguin Classics are part of a collaboration between The McGrath Foundation and Penguin for breast cancer research.  Twelve titles, from some fabulous lady authors (and five equally fabulous man-authors) have been published in the striking shade with $1.00 from each purchase going towards the foundation. 

I strongly suggest you pick up a copy of at least one of these editions.  How often do we get the chance to have a grown up book in such a cool colour?  And donate to charity while doing so?  Hot pink is usually a cover colour reserved for books about first kisses and first periods aimed at 13 year-old girls.  Now us “grown-ups” get the chance to own a book that can be appropriately judged by its cover.  I will also being picking up a copy of Alice in Wonderland (my favourite book ages 4-14) and A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf (which I assume will be my favourite book come menopause). 

Grab your copy today as, despite what Karen Smith may tell you, pink is not only reserved for Wednesdays.

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