Book Series #1: Popular Penguins

Ah, Popular Penguins. Possibly one of the first ‘series’ linked by pretty covers and publishers to be seen recently in Australia. These were first released in 2009, celebrating the history of Penguin and the cool retro orange covers. They also had a unique selling point – $9.95 AU. This was the first time that many of us had seen books so cheap and so retro!

Needless to say, I lapped them up with the release of the first 50. One of my friends also collects them too – not with the aim of reading them, but for the pretty look on her shelves. 2010 saw the release of more titles in this series, as did 2011. I’m not sure whether there will be any more titles added to what has now become a staple of Australian bookstores – a section of varied titles at a nice price.

So where can I get these books?

If you’re in Australia, it’s easy. Look in your local bookstore! They also pop up in some unexpected places, such as discount department stores like Big W (only the very popular titles).

Overseas, well… they have been available on Book Depository. Otherwise, they can be ordered online from Australian bookshops that ship overseas. I have seen a few floating around Singapore bookshops.

Which books are in the series?

There are currently 174 available titles. They range from modern fiction (High Fidelity by Nick Hornby) to classics (Persuasion by Jane Austen) to short stories (Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote) to non-fiction (The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux).

My favourites are April Fool’s Day by Bryce Courtenay, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh and Casino Royale by Ian Fleming.

A list of all titles available can be found here.

So, they’re $9.95. What about the quality?

Yes, that’s the RRP. These are very hardy little books considering the price. The quality of the covers is very good and I’ve trialled throwing them in the bottom of a work bag many times. I’ve never ripped or creased a cover. They are also nice and light for travel, commuting etc.

Note that I don’t work for Penguin (I wish!); I’m just a massive fan of this book series. Initially I bought a few books by authors I liked (ha ha, so cheap! I thought) and then I extended out to new authors. I’ve found some great new authors this way – F. Scott Fitzgerald, Evelyn Waugh, Truman Capote, Paul Theroux, Timothy Conigrave and Muriel Spark – as well as extending my reading of authors such as Bryce Courtenay, Ruth Park and Jane Austen. Every time I browse the rows in store I come out with something – it’s a dangerous addiction!

These also make really good stocking stuffers at Christmas for the book lovers out there.

Rating: Addictive. Wide range of genres and authors to choose from.

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5 responses to “Book Series #1: Popular Penguins

  1. I won a handful of these Penguins recently – Regeneration, Notes On a Scandal, Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass destruction and How To be Good :)

  2. Love the Retro-ness and pricing of these books! Unfortunately, I’ve really no money to spend on books this year (stupid mortgage!!) but I’ve got 2 of these books last year and 1 or 2 to give away for Christmas ;)

    I read ‘Merry-Go-Round The Sea’ (Randolph Stow) – great Aussie reading :)

    I’ve also got ‘Surrender’ by Sonya Hartnett still sitting there but I’ll have to get to it this year of National Year of Reading.

  3. Hey Sam, I’ve been reading my way through the 200 Popular Penguins, and find them quite enjoyable – rarely a bad title.
    There are now 50 (Green) Crime Popular Penguins and a handful of Anzac stories too… :)

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