Reading list

11 beautiful classics for the shelf-conscious bookworm

Every great lover of literature wants their personal library to be filled with books that are as beautiful on the outside as they are on the inside. These stunning editions of some of the greatest books ever written were made to be treasured.

 

Brideshead Revisted by Evelyn Waugh 

This wonderful novel which Waugh called his magnum opus captures the dwindling golden age of a privileged English family before the Second World War. It’s worth frequently dipping into if only for the comic genius of conversations between the hero Charles and his widowed father. Waugh sharpened his satirical wit in this novel while also creating a meditative and movingly reflective story. With its cover bathed in bright blue overlapping concentric circles, this clothbound edition makes a truly elegant addition to a sophisticated reader’s library

Lust by Roald Dahl

Much of Dahl’s treasured fiction explores the darker side of human nature while maintaining a light-hearted comic perspective. In these ten engrossing tales he writes about what happens when desire becomes rapacious with alarmingly potent aphrodisiacs and the desperate acts of jilted lovers. You’ll be surprised and intrigued entering this fiction which plunders the wildest side of Dahl’s imagination. If you want a truly distinctive book to add to your library, this splendid edition of his newly collected short stories makes an eye-catching addition. 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

How many of our young hearts were captured by Jane Austen’s proud and wealthy rogue Mr Darcy? This witty comic novel is worth returning to again and again for Austen’s impeccable and entertaining observations about manners, morality and the winding path of love. You’ll want to give this gorgeous edition pride of place on your shelf every time you revisit this enduring fan favourite. Its richly elegant swan design perfectly captures Darcy’s tempestuous yet irresistibly attractive spirit. 

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys 

It’s quite a daring act to write a prequel to a book as adored as Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, but Jean Rhys was a fiercely independent and audacious author. Rhys makes the back story of the famous ‘mad woman in the attic’ wholly her own by creating a deeply personal and mesmerising tale of her island upbringing and ill-fated marriage. It’s poetic, nuanced and full of unruly passion. This gorgeous purple clothbound edition decorated with fiery red Caribbean fronds celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of this inventive and powerful novel’s publication. 

Snowdrift and Other Stories by Georgette Heyer 

These short stories by this classic writer of 19th century historical fiction makes perfect weekend reading as we slide into winter. Long-time favourite of Margaret Drabble, Heyer’s meticulously detailed immersive fiction about dashing gentlemen and resourceful heroines gave respectability to Regency romance tales. This handsome edition includes three previously lost stories that have only recently been uncovered by Heyer’s biographer, making it a real treasure! 

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

When you read a beloved classic like this enduring tale of Cathy and Heathcliff’s tempestuous romance amidst the wiley, windy moors it feels extra special to open a copy as attractive as this. Even if you know the story well you’ll be instantly drawn into the dramatic tension again. Wrapped in a foil stamped design of pale blue vines of roses, this clothbound edition feels soft to the touch and perfect to hold for hours on end. It’s only fitting that Emily Brontë’s only novel should be immortalised in a volume as luxurious as this. 

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf 

Woolf’s brilliant novel of a family’s life at a summer home over multiple years is so detailed and subtly layered it’s possible to discover new depths every time you read it. A book so touchingly personal and full of feeling deserves to be beautifully presented. This stunning new edition covered in colourful, expressive original artwork recalls the post-impressionist paintings of Virginia’s sister Vanessa Bell. And like the character Lily Briscoe’s paintings, this image of sky, rain and sun captures a feeling for the inner essence of the novel’s unforgettable family. 

The Story of the Nutcracker by Alexandre Dumas 

There’s something special about returning to a well-told story to find comfort and newfound inspiration with every passing year. Dumas adapted E.T.A Hoffmann’s dark fairy-tale to give a refreshing look at this imaginative children’s favourite about a girl who stays awake past midnight on Christmas Eve to witness her cabinet of toys engage in rapturous battle. This lovingly illustrated edition brings ta classic holiday tale vibrantly alive capturing all the enchantment and wonder of the world’s most famous ballet, which this book later inspired. 

And some classics in the making ...

 

Loop of Jade by Sarah Howe 

Add some contemporary class to your library with this slender collection of poetry by the 2015 Sunday Times/Peter Fraser and Dunlop Young Writer of the Year. Spanning the globe from China to Britain, Howe’s compelling writing makes powerful statements about the subjugation of women and a fractured sense of identity. These evocatively personal poems will affect you as a painting leaves a lasting impression of colours and images. The elegant design of its cover makes it a beautiful, rare jewel. 

Autumn by Ali Smith 

This much lauded author is a fearless pioneer when it comes to expanding forms of storytelling while drawing on the great traditions of literature. Her new novel is the first in an ambitious series of books titled after the seasons, which aims to artfully capture the current social and political mood of the country. Brimming with hope, humour and humanity, Autumn is destined to be a future classic. Its cover, which reproduces a painting by David Hockney makes it a stunning book to hold, read and prominently display. 

Christmas Days by Jeanette Winterson 

There’s no way you can look at this night-blue cover awash with ornate frosty-white designs without getting in the festive spirit! Many Christmas stories have been told in the past, but none has been created with the quite the panache of one of our most daring and inventive contemporary writers. This stunning new book is filled with wintry good cheer and magical tales of wonder. Winterson even includes some of her personal favourite festive recipes, each giving a contemporary spin on a time-honoured classic.

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