A boxed dream


As I wrote back a few months ago, I’m incredibly desirous of a certain book box-set: the Penguin Pockets 70th anniversary collection.

Kerrie presented me with horrible news the other day. It’s going out of print.


Frantically, I’ve been trying to find it for a reasonable price. Penguin UK is selling it straight from their website for only £50 (plus shipping) but they refuse to ship to the United States. My heart sank – there was a while when I didn’t care about having this box set, but at a price of roughly $85 I can’t resist.

I mean, this is a wonderful little selection – there are 70 skinny books by some of Penguin’s most popular authors. It’s more than just a box set. It’s my path to learning more about the world of literature. Each book represents a new short story that I can easily devour — a new author for which I’ll either have an affinity with or will not care about anymore (but still I tried!)

It looks like this:

The ENTIRE set

The titles alone make me salivate – many of my favorite authors are present:

In Defence of English Cooking – George Orwell
Happy Birthday, Jack Nicholson – Hunter S. Thompson
Murder – John Steinbeck
Something for the Weekend – Jamie Oliver
Short Short Stories – Dave Eggers
Jeeves and the Impending Doom – P.G. Wodehouse
Otherwise Pandemonium – Nick Hornby
A Taste of the Unexpected – Roald Dahl
The Bastille Falls – Simon Schama
Three Trips: The Short-Story Writer as Tourist – John Updike
Two Stars – Paul Theroux

Each book has a unique fascinating cover, which for Penguin books is a feat itself. I want it. I want it very badly.

I searched Amazon.co.uk, a seller that I know would ship to the U.S. It was £80.48 ($139.79) with shipping included. At Abebooks.co.uk the price for the cheapest retailer was £77.01. I was beginning to think that there would be no way to acquire this unique set without spending my monthly book budget for the next three years.

Then, finally, I found a price I could handle on Ebay: £25.99.

Of course, this is depending on whether or not my bid continues on until the end. If I’m lucky, no one else cares about this set and I’ll be living with seventy new pocket Penguin books. If I’m not lucky, I guess I’ll save us 65 dollars or so.

Unless, of course, the faithful readers out there want to start up a collection.


This was lovingly handwritten on November 15th, 2005