Judging Books by Their Covers (+ the prettiest books to collect!)

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Prettiest Books to Collect - ahumbleplace.com

This post is unashamedly shallow in that it is all about judging books by their covers. It is all about pretty books.

Before you hit the back button or move on to the next website, hear me out! I am not in any way saying that you should buy only beautiful books. Especially because the most beautifully designed books can make significant dents in the wallet. Some of the best books on my shelves are battered old paperbacks with cheesy, poorly designed, torn, or even no covers, and each one of them holds a special place in my heart just as much as the more attractive volumes do.

However, as Dostoyevsky so famously said, “Beauty will save the world.” And I think looking for opportunities to inject a little beauty in our lives, whether it’s a fresh tablecloth at a meal, a lone flower in a glass jar on the window sill, a painting from a friend hanging on the wall, or, for any book lover, a single beautiful book on the bookshelf, is never a bad thing.

With that said, today I’m sharing a list of some of my favorite pretty books to add to your book collections. Some of these I own, many of them I covet, but they’re all simple, and usually relatively inexpensive, ways to add beauty to your shelves! I’ll also preface the list by saying that though many of the books themselves are classics, for this list, I’m sticking to editions that have been published in recent years. So many beautiful books have been published over the years that could fall into the “vintage” category that I don’t think one post could list all of them! 

The Prettiest Books to Collect

Folio Society Editions

I am beginning this list with what I consider to be the holy grail of pretty book collecting: the Folio Society. I discovered these books several years ago when I was beginning my journey into the world of Charlotte Mason, and books suddenly became a precious commodity. Their gorgeous book covers include classics and more modern offerings, and they often release several different versions of one book or series of books. If you have made room in your budget for spending hundreds, or even over a thousand, dollars on books, or have a serious collector in your life whom you particularly want to bless, take a look through their limited editions!

Puffin in Bloom (and Mini Bloom)

I now move on to my personal favorite books of the (more affordable) pretty options: Puffin in Bloom. These are classics, including a book box set of Little WomenAnne of Green GablesA Little Princess, and Heidi, and a separate Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which have been beautifully decorated by Anna Bond of Rifle Paper Co. I’ve waxed poetic on many occasions about how much I enjoy Rifle Paper Co, and many of her beautiful items grace the surfaces of my home. When I saw these books the first time, I immediately got myself the boxed set of the four smaller books as well as the copy of Alice. I’d like to eventually get the Mini Bloom Collection for my daughter, as she often likes to borrow my copies of the larger versions.

I recently also learned that NEXT WEEK (but you can pre-order now)! Puffin is releasing another set of books in this line of JANE AUSTEN BOOKS! I am using all caps because I really am that excited! I will definitely be making space for these on my shelves.

(And for anyone else who especially loves these versions, nature+nurture has the books AND the t-shirts, bags, and zipper pouch featuring the art of this collection as well!)

Penguin Clothbound Classics (and Little Clothbound Classics)

The second of my personal favorites is the Penguin Clothbound Classics. Pride and Prejudice from this series was actually the very first “pretty book” I ever purchased, and I have been hooked on these editions ever since. They sell sets that include books from Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and the Brontë sisters, among others. They’re relatively inexpensive, easy to find, and a very simple way to beautify your shelves!

Barnes & Noble Collectible Editions

I picked up several of the Barnes & Noble Collectible Editions a few years ago when they were having a sale with all of them at just $5! We got several of the children’s books, as well as a few of their flexibound and pocket leather editions, which I especially like.

Wordsworth Collectors Editions

I stumbled on the Wordsworth Collectors Editions while researching this post, so I don’t own any yet, but I hope to remedy that soon! I love the simple design of these, as well as the gold foil accents.

Harper Muse Classics Jane Austen Collection

Because there can never be too many pretty Jane books, Harper Muse also has a Jane Austen Collection! These feature what look like paper cutouts on the cover with scenes from the books.

Penguin Drop Caps

As someone who enjoys graphic design, typography is also an interest of mine, and I love the idea behind the Penguin Drop Caps! Twenty-six books feature a single letter of the alphabet designed in different ways, and each letter corresponds to the author of that book. This series includes classics like Candide by Voltaire and The Wreath by Sigrid Unset, as well as more modern offerings like The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (both of which I enjoyed!).

Puffin Hardcover Classics

We have a few of the Puffin Hardcover Classics that I managed to find through Paperback Swap a few years ago. My kids have enjoyed these sturdy little books, and I love their simple designs. (Puffin also has some very pretty paperback classics as well!)

MinaLima Classics

The MinaLima Classics are another series I’ve seen in various bookshops, and I would like to get one for our shelves at some point. These are called “interactive” books in that they include beautiful illustrations, and some of them have unfoldable pages that expand from the book or instructions for projects related to the story (the Pinocchio edition even includes finger puppets!).

Puffin Clothbound Classics

Another beautiful series from Puffin is their Clothbound Classics, which they began offering in 2020. These are pricier books, but they have absolutely beautiful covers and a few titles that aren’t offered in other classics series.

And a few runners-up that sell some excellent options as well

Am I missing any must-haves? What beautiful books do you have on your shelves?

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8 Comments

    1. Yes! I have The Great Gatsby edition of the pretty books. 🙂

  1. You’re missing EVERYMAN’S LIBRARY CHILDREN’S CLASSICS. They are clothbound, come in a rainbow of colours and can be found at good prices. They are my new preference for a good hardcover classic book for children.

    1. I hadn’t heard of those, Rebecca! Thank you for sharing!

    1. I have the Legend of Sleepy Hollow from that series. 🙂

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