Monday, December 7, 2009

99th Post - Folio Society Treasures

As a precurser to my 100th post giveaway, I would like to obsess for just a minute about the books published by the Folio Society.

To me, an indicator of true luxury is a hardback book. Not only do they look better in shelves, but they have more heft to read, and they age better (no split spines).

The Folio Society takes old (and some more recent) classic works of fiction, fact, poetry, history and art, typesets them, designs a wonderful new cover, and then republishes them.

The Folio Society was conceived by Charles Ed (1921-2002) in 1947, who was inspired by private press publishers in the UK. The Society was not intended to compete with those publishers, rather Ede aimed to produce a 'poor man's fine edition' - a well designed, printed and bound book to which the 'common man' could aspire. In October 1947 Tolstoy's Tales went on sale for sixteen shillings.

To obtain the benefit, you must become a member by paying an annual fee. You then must buy a minimum of 4 books a year. Nothing really. We have bought dozens of their books over the years.
Here are some examples of their amazing range:

Justine by Laurence Durrell (part of the Alexandria Quartet and on my summer reading list (it's pretty heavy going)

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (my favourite Roman emperor)

On the Road by Jack Kerouac (perfect for that 20 year old cousin who needs something to rebel against)

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Food In History by Tannahill

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

In Your Garden by Vita Sackville West

Venice by Jan Morris (must read for any trip to Venice)

Trouble is my Business by Raymond Chandler

Songlines by Bruce Chatwin (easily one of the best books about Australian indigenous people ever written)

The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford

Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey (sadly this is I think the only Australian book I have seen them publish)

Jane Austen's letters (Note - the cover is embroidered silk)

Inventions of the Middle Ages

100 Years of Solitude by the grandfather of Magical Realism Gabriel Garcia Marquez

In Flanders' Fields by Leon Wolff

The Elizabethan Underworld (can you imagine? The Melbourne underworld would have nothing on this.)

A book of Mediterranean Food by Elizabeth David

Charlotte's Web by EB White

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

Grimm's Fairy Tales with illustrations by the wonderful Arthur Rackham

Lewis Carroll's Alice. I have these for my daughter and they came in a lovely red fabric box.

I could go on.
In Australia the Folio Society advertises in the cheap ads in the newspaper magazines. You would be forgiven for putting it in the same category as a dietary drink or exercise machine but they are so wonderful for any lover of books. And because they reprint old books, you can take a (paperback) you may have read many times and replace with a hardback from Folio which will last forever. In the above, very arbitrary list, I am very tempted by To Kill a Mockingbird, my current copy is at least 20 years old and falling apart.
In this post was a hint to a giveaway, which is book related, which I am running next post.

Have a happy day.

(sources: Wikipeida,


brismod said...

That is such a wonderful idea - the covers look beautiful.

Mise said...

I have a few of these lovely books too, Jane. Not, alas, the one with the silk cover. What did you think of Meditations vs Walden? I bought the former lately, but found it disappointing compared with Walden, which I like a lot. Looking forward to that giveaway...

Julie@beingRUBY said...

HI Jane
You've brought back wonderful memories. We had a lovely heavy hardcover Brother's Grimm book as children.. the type of book you return to over and over...

Funny you know I never really became an avid reader until my late teens.. then I had to go back and catch up on classics as quick as I could... still trying...

Love the Venice book too of course!! Can't wait to celebrate your 100th post... wooo hooo!!

Millie said...

Jane thank you for this fab post. As a bit of a bibliophile, I'm not quite sure how I've missed Folio, but I need to make their acquaintance as a matter of urgency! What a great teaser you've given us for tomorrow.
Millie ^_^

Engracia said...

Wow, these covers are amazing and what a great idea. I'm heading over to Folio Society immediately.

Jacqueline @ HOME said...

The good old Folio Society. My family have been buying them for a long time. They really do them so well, don't they Jane ? I think that we all have a pretty good idea about your giveaway now !! XXXX

The Girl said...

Wow some of those books were beautiful - I think I might have to look them up, it would be wonderful to get some really lovely books that will last for a very long time.

Laura said...

All of these lovely titles are making my mouth water just a tad...I wonder if I might be able to join from america? I'd be devastated if they didn't ship overseas!

Jane said...

hi Laura - Yes I am sure they ship to US even may have a US website. If they ship to Australia then they will to the US!! xoxo

Amanda (Small Acorns) said...

Ooh there are a few there which I rather fancy, and I know you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but there are some very nice covers!

debra@dustjacket said...

Oh I adore the Folio books. Your collection is gorgeous. I had my eye on that silk Jane Austin. xxx

Dumbwit Tellher said...

These books are like a work of art. I so would love to read Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee. Congrat's on your almost 100 posts Jane. So happy to have found your blog & you. You are such a sweet, smart lady. I ran across a few beloved books of mine & my mothers as a child in the attic while dragging out the Christmas tree. Loved books do tug at your heart strings. xx

Unknown said...

The Folio Society does a great job, the books you pictured are beautiful! I would join too if I could. Too bad they don't have something like that here...maybe I should make sure!

Anonymous said...

Oh my those books are beautiful, really beautiful! I'd love to have some of them.

Janet said...

Oh gosh, these are wonderful. I particularly like the Oscar and Lucinda cover!

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