Postcards from Penguin

Three years ago someone  gave me a box of postcards. Each card features a different Penguin book cover, but I’ve never taken all of the cards out of the box at the same time. Every morning I cut them like a deck of playing cards and the winning card sits at the top of the deck for the rest of the day.


Some  of the cover designs are little masterpieces; triumphs of the illustrator’s or graphic designer’s art.  But most of them are based simply on three bold, horizontal  stripes; predominantly orange and white. The collection doesn’t limit itself to fiction so there are also green, blue and pink stripes; crime, biography and travel books. And there are other birds: Pelicans, Puffins, and King Penguins.

This site isn’t about the design of Penguin book covers. If you want a detailed  history of the little dancing penguin logo, or the way the covers have evolved over the years,  Phil Baines’s excellent book, Penguin by Design, says it all.

Looking at the cards that found their way to the top of the box led me to think that whoever selected these 100 books was interested in more than just the design of the covers.  I think there’s something for every reader in this box; classic and not-so-classic novels, philosophy, anthologies of poetry, plays, social commentaries and self-help books. There’s even a practical guide to raising poultry.

I began to think of my box of postcards as The Perfect Library.  There’s something intriguing about every book it contains. Sometimes it’s the cover but – more often – it’s the subject, or the author, or the year it was published.

I’m going to try to say something interesting about each postcard in less then 500 words but my posts are not book reviews. I think I’ve read about a fifth of the  titles at some point in my life, and I’ve managed to track down just four in their original Postcards from Penguin  editions. Those soft, brown-edged paperbacks have pride of place on my shelves.

The Perfect Library is located – in my mind, of course – in the sitting room of a small hotel in the Welsh mountains. Or maybe it’s one of those civilized Youth Hostels where they have a well stocked bar.  I’ve been walking in the hills with friends. It’s  been a glorious day but now it’s raining. Midnight has passed and everyone else has gone to bed. I’m still too exhilarated by the walk and the conversation to be sleepy. The Perfect Library is beside the fire, nestling on rickety wooden shelves behind an old  stuffed armchair; a little dusty and – like me –  slightly foxed.

There’s enough light to read, a glass of wine left in the bottle and a few more logs for the fire. I pick a title at random, and settle down to read…

You can read the posts by category at the top of this page. Individual titles are listed on the right hand side.

11 thoughts on “Postcards from Penguin

  1. Steve Post author

    Why thank you Zakia! I hope you enjoyed Communications. Was thinking of you when I wrote it 🙂

  2. Bonnie

    You were born to write! I’m looking forward to more.

    …and yearning to be curled up in an old stuffed armchair, with crisp cool air wafting through the window, next to a crackling fire.

    1. Steve Post author

      Thank you Bonnie! What a lovely thing to say! I’m very you glad you like it. 🙂

  3. Frank Tofts

    Well done! take one house point. I had not realised ( not being an American I have spelt it with an “s” ) I had such a literary son.


    1. Steve Post author

      It’s taken you 58 years to realize that! Minus one house point. That means I’m two up. 🙂 Seriously, thanks for reading my stuff. XX


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