10 Of The Most Beautiful Classic Book Collections

Barnes and Noble leatherbound classics collection

You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, right? Well, sue me, because I definitely do. I love the classics, and in particular I love beautiful, collectible editions of the classics. Following on from the birth of #bookstagram, there’s been a boom in the number of gorgeous collections. I like to think that those of us sharing the love on Instagram (I’m @thesenovelthoughts over there) have had a big part in bringing all of this excess beauty into the world!

If you want to start book collecting, here are my favourite editions. These books can be more expensive than their mass market paperback alternatives, but keep them well and they will retain their value (and even increase it).

I see book collecting as one of life’s great pleasures, and I’m delighted to share some of my favourite collections with you. I’ll share my favourite book from each collection, and I hope you enjoy these aesthetically pleasing beauties.

War and peace Barnes and Noble leatherbound

Barnes and Noble Leatherbound

Of course, I have to start with these. If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that I have gradually built up my collection of these over the years. I love the excellent craftsmanship (they are hefty, heavy and great big blocks of books), the delightful, unique designs and the value. By value, I mean the way that they are limited, and keep them long enough and they will gain value – an investment, if you like. This edition of War and Peace is the most perfect one I have ever seen.

Arabian Nights Penguin clothbound classics

Penguin Clothbound Classics

One of the most instantly recognisable collections out there, the Penguin clothbound classics (designed by the inimitable Coralie Bickford-Smith) are so simple and yet so beautiful. These tend to be very affordable (around the £15 mark) and look utterly delightful together on a shelf. I adore the repeating designs, and particularly this one for Arabian Nights. Issues with earlier prints where the foil would wear easily have been rectified with the later editions, so they are much more hard-wearing now too.

Northanger Abbey Canterbury Classics Word Cloud Classics

Canterbury Classics Word Cloud

The key to these designs is the accessibility. They each have key quotes from the text embedded on the cover, and each one has an individual, block colour – making them extremely pleasing all together on a shelf. In fact, the word cloud classics are so beautiful that I have seen them used as a house decoration piece on their own right in many instances. Just look at the incredible tone of this Northanger Abbey edition.

Rebecca Virago Modern Classics

Virago Modern Classics

Virago publish works by women, and the hardcover modern classics collection has a really wonderful mix of books. If you’re looking for exceptional books written by women, then I would recommend picking up anything from this collection. They are extremely readable, too – in fact, these editions are some of the ones I most frequently pick up. Rebecca is one of my favourite books, and this is the edition that I always, always read.

Anna Karenina Vintage Russian Classics

Vintage Russian Classics

Vintage have released a few collections in this thick, paperback design (including European Classics and Japanese Classics), but I think the Russian Classics are my favourite. The patterns are utterly delightful, and work so well with these long tomes. They are portable and hardwearing, and very affordable. I highly recommend these if you want to start reading some great Russian literature. This Anna Karenina edition is the one I read when I tackled the book for the first time.

Thomas Nelson Seasons Editions Dracula

Thomas Nelson Seasons Editions

I gush about these lovelies very often (as a browse through my blog will tell you), and with good reason. These editions are special and they are to be treated with care. The paper cut design is fragile, and that just emphasises the beauty. The images themselves are intricate and the colours well chosen. There are only 10,000 of each available – making them extremely covetable. This edition of Dracula is my favourite, even though it hasn’t even been published! It’ll be released in September, and is available for preorder now.

Animal Farm Penguin English Library

Penguin English Library

These books are paperback as you would traditionally imagine them, but with the most thoughtful and perfect patterns (again, designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith). I love these editions because they are so accessible, but also have that touch of class. I don’t mind throwing them in a bag or dog earring pages because – interestingly enough – they look almost better a bit scruffed up. Look at this incredible Animal Farm cover!

Wuthering Heights Knickerbocker Classics

Knickerbocker Classics

Another flexibound offering – like the word cloud classics – that is eye-catching, affordable and so, so collectible. The Knickerbocker Classics are a joy to read – and a joy to see on your shelf too. I love the nod towards nature, with a plant/flower/water theme to many of the designs, including this beautiful Wuthering Heights.

Chiltern Classics Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Chiltern Classics

The images never do these books justice. They are pearlescent, they glow. The hardback is solid and these little books are heavy. They just exude quality. I own just four of these, and I am always on the lookout for more. This edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is top of my list.

Macmillan Collector’s Library Frankenstein

Macmillan Collector’s Library

These adorable, small hardback books are one of the sweetest to spot on your bookshelf. Each one has sprayed gold edges and a beautiful dust jacket. The joy comes underneath the dust jacket, though. They are all clothbound in baby blue – and they are absolutely beautiful. I love collecting these, and it helps that the people at Macmillan are just lovely. Check out this gorgeous Frankenstein edition.

Do you collect books? Which are your favourite ones to collect? Let me know in the comments.

The Bookish Advent Calendar: The Story

Bookish advent calendar with classic novels and 24 gifts

Every year for the past five or so years, I have eagerly scoured the available advent calendars. I’ve bought chocolate ones, beauty ones, even enjoyed whisky ones. But what I REALLY want is a book one. But, I’m fussy. I don’t want 24 books – there are advent calendars that offer this, but honestly, am I going to read a book a day in December when I don’t the rest of the year? Or are those books going to sit on my bookcase for eternity, gathering dust?

This is the reason I put this advent calendar together. It’s designed for fans of the classics, and it’s put together to give you a wonderful advent full of beautiful reading experiences. You get a mixture of books and gifts – which is why it’s a ‘bookish advent calendar’ not a ‘book advent calendar’.

So, what will you get? Of course, each one is different and I want to keep them as much of a surprise as possible. Without giving too much away, here’s what you definitely will get:

  • 3 books – 2 of them classic novels/collections, 1 novella – either from the little black classics or modern classics collection.
  • At least 3 prints – either ones available on my shop, or ones specially designed for the calendar.
  • At least 3 bookmarks – as above.

You could also get a selection of:

  • Enamel pin badges
  • Socks
  • Teabags
  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Notebooks
  • Sweets
  • Candles
  • Christmas decorations

In all, you will have 24 individually wrapped gifts, one to open for each day of advent.

All in all, the value of all items when bought individually is over £70, so it’s a bargain!

This year has been a strange year for everyone. What I want to do is bring a bit of joy at the end of the year – some cheer at what could a particularly grim Christmas period (particularly for those of us in the U.K.).

Some frequently asked questions:

What if I’ve already read the book?

The novels are beautiful Arcturus editions, so they are perfect for adding to your collection and rereading in December. If there are any books that you definitely don’t want, you can add a message to your order and I will do my best to accommodate you. The joy of this calendar is the wonderful surprise, and rereading old favourites is always wonderful!

What if I already own one of your prints or bookmarks?

I will search for any previous orders in your name prior to curating your calendar, so you can be confident that you won’t get duplicates.

How quickly will my order be delivered?

The advent calendars take on average 2 working days to put together, so if you are in the U.K. they take around 4-5 working days to arrive. If your overseas, postage will take longer so please bear this in mind when ordering.

Can I order one as a gift for someone else?

Please do! There is an option at checkout if you want to add a gift note.

When is the last order date?

I have been blown away by the interest in the advent calendar. It has been a true joy to see the orders coming in and the sweet gift notes that have been written. Demand has been huge, and I’m ordering new stock all of the time – but there may come a point where the items I need are no longer available. Therefore, if you’re desperate to get a bookish advent calendar, I would recommend ordering as soon as you can. In terms of delivery, if I’m able to keep ordering stock, please order by 14th November if you’re in the U.K. and 1st November if you’re abroad to ensure (as much as possible, given the current world situation!) delivery by 1st December.

How do I order?

Easy peasy – click hereto buy on Etsy, or use the payment form below.


Bookish advent calendar

Bookish Advent Calendar

A bookish advent calendar with 24 individually wrapped gifts, delivered to you. Postage included. Processing time is 5 working days, plus delivery.