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Penguin Great Ideas

12 Jun

Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves – and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives – and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization and helped make us who we are.

WP_20160612_001It turns out I have managed to acquire seven of the one hundred great ideas that Penguin is selling at the cheap price of £4.99 without once realising their connection.  Two things strike me as faintly absurd, firstly that I would own seven books in a set but owing to the vast distance between the corners of my amassed collection and a poor memory, that I wouldn’t have made the connection earlier.

Secondly the price which is a steal, it enables people to pick up a bite sized portion of a new author to see what all the fuss is about and it also brings the reader loads of fascinating essays at a ridiculously decent price as well.  Who would not wish to dabble in such studies that have changed the way we view the world and in a good few instances how we actually live.

From tumultuous periods of history to thoughtful essays, the books empower the mind and allow us to read the key thoughts that defined past generations.  These are of course extracts from other books so why pick these up when you can pick these plus more in a book?  Well partly it is the need to know what texts these authors are famous for and also to gauge whose style I get on with so I can chart my reading to take the path of least resistance.

There are reasons why you may not plump for these books though, they are essentially what you see is what you get, there is no context and few notes but personally I enjoy researching any questions I have.  Another reason is that they are very European male dominated, this isn’t really an issue for this series as it is purely on the ideas themselves though talk more but some people apparently have such principals.

There is something of the collecting bug going on as well, this is the literary version of a Panini sticker album (just without the blind luck of packets of stickers) and with five sets of 20 books containing some of the finest writers and thinkers of all time coupled with the sometime questionable placing in bookshops then it is an enticing challenge to seek them all out.

Although arguments will rage about what books would constitute an exhaustive top 100 list of Great ideas – which this isn’t by any means – it is no less a diverting pastime.  It’s a worthwhile investment for the varied covers as well and they also look absolutely delightful when stacked together.

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68 Comments

Posted by on 12/06/2016 in Classics, Essays, Philosophy, Politics, Science

 

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68 responses to “Penguin Great Ideas

  1. renxkyoko

    12/06/2016 at 20:46

    There are 2 books that started a revolution in the Philippines, literally ( no pun intended ), authored by Jose Rizal, their national hero . It was published in late 1800s , in Germany, and written in Spanish. The books cost him his life, but his death started a revolt that ended almost 400 years of Spanish rule….. Noli Me Tangere ( Touch Me Not ) and El Filibusterismo ( The Filibuster ).

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    • Ste J

      12/06/2016 at 20:49

      Excellent, thank you, I will have a look see if they were translated into English. I’ve been intrigued by this Duterte fellow making ructions over there with his outspoken views.

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      • renxkyoko

        12/06/2016 at 20:52

        My heart goes out to the Filipinos, especially those who didn’t vote for this barbarian . I don’t know what made them elect this guy. Its unfathomable.

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        • Ste J

          12/06/2016 at 21:00

          It’s a mirroring of Trump, the world seems to like reactionary politics at the moment…

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          • renxkyoko

            12/06/2016 at 21:16

            That’s right. That’s what we think, as well. Ugh. Duterte came out of left field.

            Liked by 1 person

             
      • renxkyoko

        12/06/2016 at 21:12

        PS

        The books are a social commentary of the situation in the Philippines under Spain. Noli Me tangere is somewhat of a love story between Maria Clara and Crisostomo Ibarra. Maria Clara , we later find out , is the daughter of a Spanish friar and he’s against Maria Clara’s and Ibarra’s love affair. Right there, we find out priests who are supposed to be celibate have sexual interactions with women. And there are the Spanish- Filipino mestizos who look down on ” Indios ” ( what Filipinos were called then ) . I don’t know if non- Filipinos can relate to the story. You’d think ther’d be violence and suffering…. there’s none ( or maybe I’ve forgotten )…. but the criticism of subservient culture and apathy are what woke up the Filipinos.

        Liked by 1 person

         
        • Ste J

          12/06/2016 at 21:22

          I’m up for anything that would help me understand the country more, I hope to go myself one day and would welcome all the knowledge about that I could garner. It’s not enough to just visit a country any more.

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          • renxkyoko

            12/06/2016 at 22:08

            There are English translations…. I managed to read the two books when we were there in 2010. The English titles are Touch Me Not and The Filibuster. Try reading them and see how these two books have woken the Filipinos from deep apathy. To be honest, I couldn’t see how. But I’m eager to know your take on it. Take note… these two books started a revolution, literally. The irony is, the author , Jose Rizal, never advocated for a revolution. He was a Reformist. He just wanted fairness and justice, not independence.

            It was actually the Americans who made him the national hero, and that’s understandable. They didn’t want a hero for Filipinos who advocated a revolution and independence. Some Filipinos wanted Andres Bonifacio, a poor man, who started the revolt by tearing their ID cards.. He met with Jose Rizal whom he wanted to ” head ” the revolution, but Jose Rizal declined. he said the Filipinos weren’t ready. he said they had to accumulate weapons first, and plan a grand strategy .

            So, that’s Phil history in a nutshell.

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            • Ste J

              13/06/2016 at 20:03

              The more you tell me, the more fascinating the books and the man sound. Sadly I have a lack of knowledge about so many fascinating countries but there is always time to rectify that and you do inspire me as always my friend.

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              • renxkyoko

                13/06/2016 at 23:20

                Dr. Jose Rizal was a genius and a linguist. He could speak about 100 dialects and so many languages. He went to study at Heidelberg University in Germany. The story was, he was new in town and went t a pub. He wasn’t fluent in German , yet, but wanted to talk to the folks there… so he asked if there was anyone who could speak Spanish, Latin, English, French and Italian. Anyway, after a few months, he could already speak german fluently, so much so that he actually wrote a poem, Eldelweise. in German. You can google that. He was so loved there that they built a statue , named a city after him, and of course the street where he lived.

                You can Google his biography. He was such a fascinating man. And his death was very dramatic. Check it out..

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                • Ste J

                  14/06/2016 at 17:04

                  I’ve just spent a while reading up on Rizal, absolutely fascinating, I wish I had his talents. I will be picking up all of this guy’s works I think.

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                  • renxkyoko

                    15/06/2016 at 16:52

                    He had been described as a polymath ??? Like, a person who excels in almost everything he does. Have you seen his sculptures ? Omg, he could sculpt, too ? He studied engineering ( called assessor then ) and finished it at age 19, and got the license to practice at age 21 ( they didn’t give licenses to under 21 graduates )… then when he found out his mother had cataract, he studied Opthalmology in Madrid and Germany. And finished it too, and did surgery on his mother’s eyes and was successful. And the guy was a freakin’ sculptor … and painter too ! He was the Asian version of Leonardo da Vinci… and in fact, he is now called The Great Malay.

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                    • Ste J

                      16/06/2016 at 16:43

                      I find it sad that he is not more well known, we must remedy that!

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        • Jeff

          13/06/2016 at 15:21

          This sounds fascinating. Looked up Noli me tangere and it’s intent (if not its treatment) sounds very Praise of Folly. I was just commenting on another blog that I need to read less about the Holocaust and the Jewish diaspora. You have just confirmed this! I know so little about countries outside Europe.

          Liked by 1 person

           
  2. Liz

    12/06/2016 at 21:53

    There is definitely something beguiling about collections, isn’t there – especially intelligent and beautiful ones like this set. I have seen the whole lot together and they make a wonderful display – are you planning to go on and get all the rest?

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    • Ste J

      13/06/2016 at 19:07

      I am hoping I can get them all at some point, I will probably leave the ones I already own until the end but yes it is one of my life goals to find them all…if I remember rightly I found Kierkegaard in the fiction section oddly enough. They do box sets though so I may be able to pick up all of the fifth set all at once hopefully.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  3. clarepooley33

    12/06/2016 at 22:55

    I bought one of these Penguin taster sets a few years ago called English Journeys. Really good value as they had been edited well and really gave me an idea of the writer’s style. I think my husband has one called Great Journeys – mainly about foreign travel and discovery – and my daughter Alice has one of the Great Ideas sets, though not the one you have seven of, I think. They are just the right size for taking on a train journey.

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    • Ste J

      13/06/2016 at 19:51

      More sets, this pleases me, it’s been a while since I read some classic travel writing, I’ll look to add these to my collection. The seven I have were randomly picked, I may start going set by set where possible though because I hate gaps. I think I will take one with me for the plane.

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • clarepooley33

        13/06/2016 at 23:30

        I can’t bear gaps either. I am trying to collect all Trollope’s Palliser novels and feel I can’t start reading the series until I’ve collected them all!

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        • Ste J

          14/06/2016 at 13:59

          It becomes a quest of epic proportions then, to go seek out bookshops and experience the mounting excitement as you tear across the shop to the relevant section. Half of the fun of reading is the thrill of the chase, like those people at the cheese rolling.

          Liked by 1 person

           
  4. shadowoperator

    13/06/2016 at 01:29

    I simply can’t get over how well you set about educating yourself! I’m so lazy, fiction/poetry/plays/etc. only most of the time. You’re a good example that sadly I don’t follow often enough. But I do read some literary criticism/theory, so I guess that’s my idea load.

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    • Ste J

      13/06/2016 at 19:04

      I am after more in the way of literary criticism, the local bookshop has brought back its Lit Crit section and it’s still not that good, there are just less books to choose from now. I can be lazy sometimes but you are one of the people who keep me on track and encourage me to discover more. I think I will take one of these books on holiday with me and a children’s book as it has been a while since I read one of those.

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      • shadowoperator

        13/06/2016 at 20:28

        Let me butt in and make a suggestion about the lit/crit. One of the best and most readable and just most fun idea books I’ve ever read in that line is Lionel Trilling’s “Sincerity and Authenticity.” It’s I think from the 1970’s, but still very good and readable today. Some of the notions are a bit old-fashioned to our contemporary lit/crit chums, but none of them can fault its importance at the time, and its continuing influence.

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        • Ste J

          14/06/2016 at 14:29

          I shall seek it out! I do think more should be mad of lit/crit than seems to be for the popular market. I do like old fashioned as well, it makes me wish I had a monocle.

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  5. Gitanjali Singh Cherian

    13/06/2016 at 02:06

    Here in India, on the anniversary of the country’s 60th year as a Republic, Penguin brought out a series of 14 books called Words of Freedom, that showcase the important writings of the 14 visionaries that most influenced India’s fight for freedom. These again, like you’ve mentioned, are bite sized insights. Perhaps Penguin has more such collections tailored for different parts of the world……?

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    • Ste J

      13/06/2016 at 19:10

      I will keep an eye out for those, it would be a powerful insight to read them. I will research what Penguin do in other countries as it will offer a better understanding to different cultures and help me learn more…this is why I love books so much. Thank you for adding to my book list.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  6. Aman(@amanhimself)

    13/06/2016 at 05:51

    Those are some great titles. Books v Cigarettes, and Days of Reading, I am definitely adding up to my TBR.

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    • Ste J

      13/06/2016 at 19:25

      Both authors are fantastic, you won’t be disappointed and it is a good taster if you haven’t come across these authors before.

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      • Aman(@amanhimself)

        14/06/2016 at 04:29

        I am familiar with Orwell by 1984, of course. But I have yet to explore Marcel Proust.

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  7. Asha Seth

    13/06/2016 at 07:06

    Most of the titles you’ve got appear interesting to me. Especially, Orwell and Proust. I’ll try and get the ebooks, if available online. Hope you have a good time reading these.

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    • Ste J

      13/06/2016 at 19:19

      I knew you would like those two the best, both are fantastic authors, Orwell always does better in essays than fiction I always think. I hope you manage to get yourself copies.

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • Asha Seth

        13/06/2016 at 19:21

        Animal Farm is still a favourite but sadly haven’t read Proust yet. I’m sure it’s going to be great anyway. At least from the titles. I’m yet to go on an online hunting spree for these titles. Wish me luck, J.

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        • Ste J

          13/06/2016 at 19:24

          Proust meanders along, digressing often so a little patience is good, not that his writing is bad, he writes really well, it’s just better to be forewarned about his style. I wish you luck and many free books along the way.

          Liked by 1 person

           
          • Asha Seth

            13/06/2016 at 19:26

            Thank you, then it’ll be a new experience for me. Whether I like it or not I’m yet to know. But yes, it’s always a pleasure to have read different authors and to know different styles. And thank you, you really are amazing, matey.

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            • Ste J

              13/06/2016 at 19:31

              Ditto my friend! Sorry I haven’t been to your blog in a while, I am going to get around everyone’s tomorrow, for some reason my time keeps disappearing inexplicably. The discovery of new authors is always a thrill and sharing them is even better.

              Liked by 1 person

               
  8. Life, Love and Whatever

    13/06/2016 at 07:29

    This is absolutely delightful to know and thanks to bringing into notice and cheers to more reading.

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    • Ste J

      13/06/2016 at 19:12

      I’ll raise a book to that. Any series that underlines the power of intellect is a wonderful thing and like Pokemon I gotta catch ’em all!

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  9. gargoylebruce

    13/06/2016 at 07:55

    That’s some quite poignant spine poetry you’ve created there.

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    • Ste J

      13/06/2016 at 18:55

      I should have changed around the bottom two books on reflection…

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • gargoylebruce

        14/06/2016 at 21:54

        When the creative bug strikes, it infects where it will. Just go with it!

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  10. readinpleasure

    14/06/2016 at 16:08

    I try not to collect anymore. I try hard, but I know I fail most times. I just do not have the time to read them. But I am always attracted by the covers, that something with physical books that I cannot explain adequately. 🙂

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    • Ste J

      14/06/2016 at 17:01

      The feel and the scent of books are great but they also draw the eye of visitors and they make us feel good to be surrounded by. The yare good to have around for the day when you do get to them and perhaps the odd flick through may tickle your inspiration bone too!

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  11. LuAnn

    14/06/2016 at 20:47

    So many books, so little time! Honestly Ste J, I am surprised you have only 7 of the top 100. I need to get busy reading.

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    • Ste J

      14/06/2016 at 21:53

      I have various others of the books in different formats but I wish to have this whole set. I shall keep adding to your TBR list, of course!

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • LuAnn

        15/06/2016 at 03:04

        I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

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        • Ste J

          15/06/2016 at 13:37

          Like you have a choice hehe! I like the new set up on your blog by the way.

          Liked by 1 person

           
          • LuAnn

            15/06/2016 at 22:16

            Haha! And thanks for taking a peek of my new blog theme. I’m glad you approve. 🙂

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  12. Letizia

    15/06/2016 at 12:05

    The covers are just wonderful! I like the idea of this series as it also encourages one to read texts you normally wouldn’t (well, not you, because you read everything, hehe!).

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    • Ste J

      15/06/2016 at 13:46

      I do my best and recently I have actually done some ordering on Amazon, it was a last resort though as multiple shopping trips didn’t solve my need but yes I will read anything and recently politics and philosophy have been grabbing me more. I need to take a trip back into something lighter soon as well. The covers are something special, they will catch the eye whilst I’m out and about too!

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  13. Lucy

    15/06/2016 at 14:10

    Books vs Cigarettes looks great, especially if I replace the word cigarettes with chocolate all the way through, to make it applicable to me.

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    • Ste J

      15/06/2016 at 14:14

      Chocolate would probably work in Orwell’s theory as well. If it was books owned vs books coveted, now that would be an epic read.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  14. Resa

    16/06/2016 at 15:07

    What fun it is to collect something one enjoys. I have collected most of Dean J. Baker’s books. Once I’m back home, I’m sure to order a couple more.

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    • Ste J

      16/06/2016 at 16:36

      The joys of the internet to order anything, I think I will go on a bit of a splurge once the bank account looks more healthy and perhaps that will be books from fellow bloggers, supporting the scene is good.

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  15. Liz Dexter

    17/06/2016 at 11:58

    Fancy having seven books in a set without realising! They do have varied front covers, though, don’t they. But the spines!? They seem like a lovely idea; I do have to resist sets as there is no room in the house. I only have one of the Penguin 80, for instance. But what an education getting hold of all of them would give one!

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    • Ste J

      17/06/2016 at 13:59

      I can’t believe I didn’t make the connection earlier, it’s not like I don’t look at my books every day but there you go, I can’t see the wood pulp for the trees it seems. There really is so much that intrigues me and being informed by these is a great start to understanding history, Burke’s backlash against the French Revolution is looking at me with doe eyes as I type.

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  16. Sherri

    17/06/2016 at 19:11

    What an absolutely fascinating collection…I adore Penguin books. Had no idea these existed. Thanks so much for sharing this marvellous find. One of the very first books I ever read was The Railway Children by Penguin. I’ve loved their paperbacks ever since, but never had a collection, unless you can call several Thomas Hardy classics…and of course Wuthering Heights, one of my all time favourites. Happy reading my friend and I hope you have a good weekend catching up on some sleep…and maybe a pint or two…

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    • Ste J

      18/06/2016 at 13:33

      I shall sleep on the plane, I finish work at 4am and am heading up to Manchester at eight…at least I am guaranteed a good night’s sleep though! Penguin books are great and the Puffin range they used to do as well, although I’m not sure if that is still going, I don’t find myself in the kid’s section of bookshops half as much as I should.

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • Sherri

        20/06/2016 at 17:37

        I hope you had a great sleep and a good journey my friend!

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        • Ste J

          28/06/2016 at 18:50

          I had two hours of sleep, stayed up for 20 hours travelling, had about eight hours of sleep and was thoroughly refreshed oddly, apart from an abortive nap on the trip to NY, I was fine.

          Liked by 1 person

           
          • Sherri

            29/06/2016 at 11:06

            Yikes…funny though how that happens! You’ll feel it later and I hope you have a nice comfortable bed to jump into. I never sleep on planes, no matter how long the flight. I stare at the skymap for hours, a sort of wierd therapy I think Lol. Have a great time my friend!

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            • Ste J

              29/06/2016 at 22:09

              I do the same thing and zoom right in and keep the plane at the right hand side of the screen, it drives my fellow passengers crazy hehe. I have ben sleeping way longer than usual, hopefully I will be able to get back to it soon.

              Liked by 1 person

               
  17. Andrea Stephenson

    18/06/2016 at 14:18

    Interesting idea that I wasn’t aware of, Penguins do the collectable thing very well – I don’t own any but I do like the collectable mugs…

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    • Ste J

      28/06/2016 at 20:04

      Sometimes I wish I had an eye for other collectables, I bet I have missed so many wonders just making a bee line for the books. I’m a mug to not be looking at the drinkware.

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  18. Jilanne Hoffmann

    18/06/2016 at 17:11

    I’m wondering what the type font looks like. Any “insights” there? My apologies for the bad pun.

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    • Ste J

      28/06/2016 at 20:10

      The inside font is standard book font, it would have been awesome if it was in the original writing style. I am partial to the old letter ‘S’ that looks form like an ‘F’.

      Liked by 1 person

       

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