Bringing 127 books into my home without raising suspicion

Or: That year my TBR took a serious turn for the worse.

Recently I finished the last of the aforementioned 127 books, which were all part of Penguin’s Little Black Classics. Small bites of Classics, to try them out and discover new authors. Or that was what I thought. In a couple of posts I will be looking back at the multi-year reading project, sharing with you the ups and downs and also some recommendations. Today: Part 1 – Before one can read the entire collection, one needs to get the books. As you will see, this was a project on itself.

Let’s start at the beginning.

It was spring 2015. In my local book store I found a couple of small books from Penguin Classics, introductions to classics I had been meaning to read. They were part of Penguin’s 80th anniversary celebration and irresistibly cute. I brought home some, then next time some more, and before I really knew what I was doing, I had collected enough that it would be silly not to continue and collect them all – they are not unlike Pokemon in that way.

“Gotta collect them all”

Url Phantomhive (2015)

And so started Part 1 of the Little Black Classics (LBC) Project which was to collect them all. It was too late to get the box set (I already owned some 15 of them) but the local book stores, in some kind of wisdom that probably made perfect sense to them, only sold some of the books in the collection. Besides, I like to collect my series from multiple bookstores and think back on where I bought each book (no two books from A Song of Ice and Fire have come from the same book store – and with the speed these books have been progressing I suspect all book stores will be out of business before I can buy the next one).

Just some of the LBCs

Fast forward a couple of months, I had already collected books in The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany and I was still missing a substantial number of the eighty books but I was running out of options to get them (ordering online did feel like cheating). Luckily I had a trip planned to London that summer so I dragged my friend – who has resigned to the fact that holidays with me will contain a disproportional number of book stores – from Foyles and Daunt’s, to Waterstones and The River Side book store to that place in Kensington I have no clue what it was called. And I completed my set during that trip (I had a grocery list of which books I still needed – hardly the most surprising utensil I have brought to the book store (more of that at a later point). Them being so small, they all fit nicely in my suitcase – without the need to leave clothes behind!

“No, nothing to declare, just some fifty-odd books in my suitcase.”

Url Phantomhive (2015)
on bringing home over 50 books from a single London Book Haul

I really thought I was settled at that point, looking at my eighty Little Black Classics, but publishing can be a cruel thing. Next spring, I find myself once more in a book store and walk past the LBC shelf, only to find one that looks unfamiliar. I take a look at the number, and it is way past 80. Some internet search learns me another 46 have been released (to commemorate the start of the Penguin Classics imprint). Needless to say, I had to have them. Same strategy as before. I got some at home, and on a later London trip, I completed the haul.

For someone supposedly trying to curb Mt.TBR, I was doing a pretty bad job, considering I had just added 126 books that I had to find time to read. Also, I bought an extra book case to shelf them (since they are so small, I went with an IKEA Benno – the ones they used to make for CDs – fits perfectly).

They have since actually released one more LBC (#127) – the Constitution of the United States. Of course, that one has also found its way to my shelves. And more recently (around 2018) there was also a collection of Little Mint Classics (which covers the modern classics) which I could not resist either but these will be the topic of another project.

Bonus: Tips on unsuspiciously bringing 127 books into your home

From an experienced bookaholic

  • First off, this is certainly possibly, but you will have to commit. It might not be easy.
  • Collecting 127 books from the same collection certainly helps. The more uniform the covers, the better. This will possibly require denying that this was in fact a different book from the one you were holding earlier; and you might have to suggest they are seeing double at a certain moment.
  • Hide in plain sight. I got a book case solely for the purpose, and it works. I haven’t been asked about that aspect of my book buying.
  • Play the sympathy card – you are saving these books from a cold and cruel existence in the bookstore/orphanage.
  • If nothing works , try bribing your friends into randomly gifting you books.
  • If everything fails – deny they are yours. ‘Oh, this book? No, it was just lying around, I thought it was yours’.

So far for today. Check back next week when we will be moving onto the actual books. Have you read some/all Little Black Classics? Or have you ever set out on a large reading project? Let me know in the comments!

18 thoughts on “Bringing 127 books into my home without raising suspicion

Add yours

  1. Hahahahaah! Great post!!!!!!!! 😀

    Normally, something like this would be really tempting, but with all the poetry I’ve seen you have to wade through, I know I couldn’t do this. I dislike poetry, period and I’ve tried enough times to know that I’m not going to change my mind.

    Any idea why the modern classics are called mint?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the poetry is not really for me either. I sort of feel bad for not liking it – it is probably due to me, I often don’t find the rest to really think long about every word/sentence -, but I have tried a lot in this collection and the general idea still stands.

      I know myself and will probably check out some more some time (I am easily tempted) but I doubt I will ever really get into it.

      I don’t think it is the official name (not sure they have one, but since they are that typical mint-green color of Penguin Modern Classics, I have dubbed them Little Mint Classics. (Now that I think of it, is mint actually used as a color in English? It is in Dutch)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is a color name in english, but along the lines of trying to describe a shade of a major color (in this case, green). Most people wouldn’t consider it a “standalone color”, but something you’d get in one of those big box of crayons…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The “seeing double” strategy is brilliant, though my husband has long ago accepted that life with me means life with books absolutely everywhere; in fact, his books are starting to outpace mine, thoug his TBR pile is a disgustingly respectable 5-6 books, while mine is still in the hundreds.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am impressed with 5-6 books, but I am afraid I would also freak out a little if I had only those books to choose from. What if there is another full lockdown? I might have run out of books – unacceptable.

      Recently one of my friends was stressed over the size of her TBR – it was about 20. I told her not to worry about that 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha! Yeah, I can’t remember what it’s like to have 20 TBR books, and while I’d love to get down do double digits, instead of triple, I too would panic if there were too few for the same reason – what if I run out? But my husband is also a man who has walked into a bookstore and bought 15 books in 10 minutes – without a pre-formed list – and I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around that.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I don’t even know when it started to increase so much. I think when I started to seriously read when I was around 16 or so, and then with the advent of the eARC it sort of exploded. I am more conscious now of what I get, but book buying bans and whatnot they never seem to work for me. I need to do some stats to see where I stand for this year though.

        Impressive, but part of the fun is the before hand planning of what I will buy in the bookstore (mainly during trips to London) the bookstores here seldom have what I want in store so that will have to get ordered (and is less spontaneous).

        I always tried to keep the LBC buying down to 10 books per store (some variation and all), so I don’t think I have ever bought 15 books in one go…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I know exactly when mine exploded: when I joined BookLikes. There’s just something magic about the setup that made interesting books jump out at me in a way GR never can.

        I’ve bought more than 10 books at a time before, but almost always at library sales. When books cost between .25 and a dollar it’s easy to lose your sense of proportion. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I mean really exploded – the time I opened Netgalley for the very first time which was also around the time I joined BookLikes. (I just had the feeling I was on a slippery slope before that)

        Yes, these amounts really bring out the little kid in candy store feelings 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Haha such a fantastically entertaining post! I can’t imagine what it’d be like trying to sneak over 100 books into my house seeing as I’ve recently moved back home. I love buying books from multiple locations though. Unfortunately, I have quite limited options here but I used to go to thrift stores and indies a lot when I lived in the UK and Australia! Good times 🙂 You will definitely never forget the adventures you had in searching out these LBCs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I was lucky these were only small books – I could fit them all in my suitcase and just roll them in since back then I was still living at home with my parents during the summer break.

      Where I live it is not so much the problem that there are not enough bookstores (if I counted correctly 10 stores for my city of 100.000), but they all sell mainly Dutch books which I actually hardly read nowadays. That is why I always buy so much when I am in the UK haha. I have many good memories about buying books (not only the LBCs), when on holidays I also always try to seek out an English bookstore. That way I bought Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes from Shakespeare and Company in Paris. 🙂


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