Throughout May, we're celebrating classic books with a 3 for $25 promotion on all Popular Penguins.
We asked some of our well-read team to share their favourite Popular Penguins with you, so read on to see which of our favourites you have read!
Orwell’s idea of Big Brother as the shadow behind the curtain wasn’t a particularly new idea even when the book was released (see We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
, for example), but the depth of the world built within Nineteen Eighty-Four
is the reason I’ve re-read this so many times. The language of double-speak, the Ministries, the constantly-duelling nations and the brilliantly composed idea of Room 101 are the true highlights of the novel for me; the weakness is Orwell’s lack of faith in humanity. Winston’s actions of breaking free seem that they should be those of the many rather than the few, and I’ve always had my doubts about the control Big Brother has over the citizens. But it’s a very clever and disturbing piece of dystopian fiction, and a great conversation/argument starter at parties. (Picked by Rhys M)
When I was younger, I was drawn to the philosophical concept of existentialism and the idea that 'existence precedes essence'. In short, it basically suggests that each individual is responsible for her/his own 'meaning of life', and that was a completely unfamiliar and powerful notion to me. Jean-Paul Sartre is considered to be one of the pioneers of existentialist thinking, and this novel changed my way of viewing the world and, more importantly, my place in it. It's a book that's filled with the spirit of freedom and what it means to live an authentic existence. Sure, it does also summon the dreaded 'existentialist angst' from time to time, but it changed my life and it might just change yours, too. (Picked by Tonile W)
Pride and Prejudice
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Pride and Prejudice
has to be one of the most quoted, most iconic classic novels ever written. It’s been adapted by Bollywood, played out in modern-day by Bridget Jones and even rewritten to include zombies. Jane Austen’s humour is timeless, her story remains relevant, and the characters will always be inspirational examples of brave and clever women in a time when neither of these traits were considered feminine virtues. And even though I wouldn’t consider myself a crazy-devoted Austen fan, I can’t deny that I still have a tote bag with the first edition cover of Pride and Prejudice
printed across it, as well as a journal from the Library of Congress with popular quotes from it on each page. That is how much of an influence this book has. (Picked by Genevra H)
While the vast majority of people would pick Pride and Prejudice
as their favourite of Austen’s works (closely followed by Emma
and Sense and Sensibility
), my absolute favourite, and the one I usually re-read several times a year, is Persuasion
. Although Persuasion
may not have the witty banter between its two main characters like many of Austen’s earlier works, the quiet dignity of Anne Elliot as she finds herself face-to-face with the man whose proposal she turned down all those years ago always draws me in. Anne and Captain Wentworth have to deal with past hurts and hidden agendas, as they find themselves with a possible second chance. (Picked by Kate P)
Chances are, if you haven’t read the book, you’ve probably seen the movie. And if you’ve done either you probably agree on one key element – the main character is annoying. Rob is kind of a jerk. Rob’s a nice jerk, just a passionate guy in what are probably the wrong directions. He spends all his time either devoted to extending his music collection, or to going over the mistakes of his past (of which there are many). It’s the fact that Rob is deeply flawed and so confused over what he should be doing with his life that makes him so relatable – we want Rob to succeed because everyone can recognise some familiar elements to him. It’s a fun, easy read with some real heart and more than a bit of classic British comedy, and should be considered must-read material for anyone over 25. (Picked by Rhys M)
is everything a classic should be. Well-crafted and well written, it is a story that transcends time and can be enjoyed as an indulgence of pre-revolution France and its aristocracy, as well as for its intelligent story and rewarding ending. It has been made into several movies, most notably as a period piece starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Glenn Close and John Malkovich, and in a modern retelling as Cruel Intentions
starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon. An interestingly mistaken ‘fact' is that the story holds the origins of the expression ‘revenge is a dish best served cold’, although it never actually appears in the original novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses
! (Picked by Paul S)
My Family and Other Animals
WARNING!! Do not read this book in public as you may find yourself on the receiving end of strange looks from people around you as you find yourself laughing out loud. My Family and Other Animals
is the first (and best known) of three books written by Gerald Durrell about his childhood on Corfu. The adventures, and misadventures, of the Durrell family (mother, Lawrence, Leslie, Margo and of course Gerald) are hilariously recounted, and all of them leap off the page in wonderful detail. From the moment they arrive on Corfu only to have their household linen impounded at customs, to the moment they leave and have their tickets stamped ‘One Family and Travelling Circus’, the Durrells never cease to be anything but entrancing. (Picked by Kate P)
The Secret History
Set in a college campus, it follows a group of beautiful and intelligent students who are part of an exclusive class devoted to studying the classics. There is a constant sense of impending doom that overarches this entire book. It makes you sit constantly on the edge of your seat and have a distrust for the characters that turns out to entirely valid. This book is a well-paced and intelligently written, and even the most shocking and most melodramatic moments are made plausible through Donna Tartt’s terrific writing. (Picked by Ali H)
You can check out the full list of titles included in the promotion by clicking the link in the picture below.
How many of our picks have you read? Leave us a comment and let us know!