Friday, August 15, 2014

The Book Lover's Den #2: Collins Classics

Welcome to my new Friday feature!

In each bi-weekly post, I will be 
exploring my thoughts on several 
book-related topics.  

On a visit to a Books-A-Million store last week, I came across a collection of books -- all classics -- that I had never seen before. Known as "Collins Classics", these books are published in the UK by Harper Press, which is an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. 

These mass-market paperbacks are very reasonably priced, running about $3.95 to $4.95 each, although some can be a bit more expensive. I was able to get them for $2.97 plus tax at BAM, since they were having a sale. The books are also available on Amazon, to some extent in the US and Canada, but mostly on Amazon UK, as well as The Book Depository.

Here are the two books I purchased at BAM. One of them, Jane Eyre, joins several other editions I already own, because I love this novel so much, I just need to have several beautiful editions of it!

As for The Scarlet Letter, I don't think I own any other copy of it. I read it in high school, and haven't re-read it since. Now that I have this nice new copy, I think I should delve into it again!

Besides having very nice covers and being very reasonably priced, these books also feature a short section on each author's life and times, as well as something I greatly appreciate: a glossary of words and phrases used at the time. This is a very nice feature indeed! As everyone who has read classics knows, they are frequently not very easy to read, precisely because language evolves over time, so that vocabulary that was readily understood when a given classic was written is much harder to decipher today. Many times, the usage given to these words today is a different one.

For instance, here are some words found in classics, together with the definitions in the glossary at the back of each book. The definitions are taken from the Collins English Dictionary.

1.) ague (NOUN) = a fever in which the patient has alternate hot and cold shivering fits

2.) amusement (NOUN) = here amusement means a strange and disturbing puzzle

3.) Bow Street runner (PHRASE) = Bow Street runners were the first British police force, set up by the author Henry Fielding in the eighteenth century

4.) colling (VERB) = 'colling' is an old word which means to embrace and kiss

5.) cynosure (NOUN) =  something that strongly attracts attention or admiration

6.) farthingale (NOUN) = a hoop worn under a skirt to extend it

7.) gainsay (VERB) = to say something isn't true or to deny it

8.) jorum (NOUN) = a large bowl

9.) own (VERB) = here it means to admit or to acknowledge

10.) paid pretty dear (PHRASE) = paid a high price or suffered quite a lot

Most of the classics known to English-speaking readers are part of the Collins Classics collection, like the works of Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edith Wharton, Thomas Hardy, Virginia Woolf, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the Bronte sisters. 

The collection also includes English translations of such works as Dante's Inferno, The Art of Rhetoric, by Aristotle, Madame Bovary, by Flaubert, The Iliad and The Odyssey, by Homer, Selected Poems, by Rabindranath Tagore, and Grimm's Fairy Tales.

If you have never seen these books in bookstores, they are definitely available online. If you happen to own one or more of them, I'd be interested to know where you bought it/them, how much you paid, and what you think of this collection.

Collins Classics Collection:
Books I Want to Buy Next!

Online Links



  1. Great post Maria.

    This Collins Classics collection looks fantastic. I love the idea of putting the definitions in the back.

    I am beginning to appreciate these high quality books more and more. By high quality I mean in terms of both construction and aesthetics.

    I know how you feel about ebooks :) I actually think that in the wake of them, we are beginning to see an interest in the other end of the spectrum. Specifically books like this. I think about how vinyl records have come back partially in reaction to downloaded music.

    1. Hi, Brian!

      Yes, it does!! I had never heard of this collection before, and happened to come across it on my little trip to Books-A-Million last week. Along with my YA haul, I grabbed up "Jane Eyre" and "The Scarlet Letter". I didn't mention them in my "Stacking The Shelves" post last Saturday because I wanted to dedicate a special post to the entire collection.

      You know, it's interesting that you should mention vinyl records. I think that, if vinyl can make a comeback, then that means that printed books will never disappear. I just can't see paying $9.99, for instance, for a digital book that I can't touch with my hands. Of course, authors frequently allow their works to be available for free as either Kindle editions or downloads. Still, I just don't get that THRILL from holding a REAL book, if I download one of those freebies. Some people might think I'm crazy when I affirm that I'd MUCH rather pay for a printed book than get the same book in digital format, for free. I don't care. That's how I feel. Kindles and Nooks are cold, lifeless machines. True, I have a book blog, and read other bloggers' blog posts. But that's not the same thing as reading an ENTIRE book on a machine! I just can't enjoy a book that way!

      Ironically, the Collins Classics are also available in Kindle and Nook editions, on Barnes & Noble, and a website by the name of "Saleando". I didn't mention this in my post, though, because I wanted to highlight the beauty of these inexpensive PRINTED books.

      The Book Depository has several pages dedicated to these wonderful classics, and, as I stated in the post, I'm going to start collecting them1

      I'm glad you appreciate these things; not everyone does! Thanks so much for the great comment!! : )


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