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.
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 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 it).
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 – together with the clothes!
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.