Charm-i-days: Penguin classics (books, not birds)

Pretty, cloth-covered books to gaze at, give away and even read.

Delightfully bookish.

As one of my most discriminating and zeitgeist-attuned readers, you’ve probably seen or read about these new Penguin editions of several classics somewhere by now. Nonetheless, I put them before you here and suggest that they’re a most suitable answer to many a gift-giving situation. Why the commotion? Sure, they’re beautiful. And sure, they’re classics: Mr. Willoughby and Miss Havisham and social conventions and moral dilemmas and all that. But I admire the books for a couple of other reasons as well.

1. The designer, Coralie Bickford-Smith, took the book’s themes into account when she created the covers. As she explained on Design*Sponge, “The peacock feather on Dorian Grey, for example, plays on the book’s themes of vanity and the superficial, whereas the leaf motif on Jane Eyre refers directly to the lightning-blasted chestnut tree, a concrete element in the text that serves as a potent symbol of the book’s central relationship.” Smart and pretty – we like that.

2. The pages feel as sumptuous as the covers look. You know how the pages on some classics feel cheap or sometimes a little gritty? Not so here. The pages are smooth and heavy and thick with importance.

So in this case, judge the book and the cover and the personality of those on your gift list all at once.

Classic books, $13.60 on Amazon

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