row of leatherbound classic novels

Last month, as the COVID-19 pandemic brought much of the world to a grinding halt, the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper ran a story about how self-isolating readers are making the most of the shelter-in-place situation by tackling their literary “bucket lists.” According to the article, British readers are taking the opportunity to finally delve into such formidable tomes as James Joyce’s Ulysses (730 pages), David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest (1,079 pages), and Hilary Mantel’s Tudor Trilogy (a cumulative 1,756 pages).

Readers we’ve polled tell us they aren’t necessarily gravitating to massive books so much as they are turning their attentions to the literary classics they missed—or read too long ago and have since forgotten—during their school days. Even the members of Bas Bleu’s editorial staff, all English majors who read for a living, have a few classics on our own literary bucket lists. Our Brand Manager, Christie, has her eye on Don Quixote, while our Marketing Director, Ann, has been circling Anna Karenina for years. Our Social Media Director, Katherine, hopes to one day tackle The Lord of the Rings, and our Marketing Associate, Sarah, confesses she’s never read Pride and Prejudice…though she wants you to know she’s read other Jane Austen novels!

six classic English novels with floral and metallic covers

Several months ago, before the pandemic reached our shores, one of our London-based publishers sent us a batch of gorgeous new editions of classic English novels. We asked ourselves, “Have our customers already read all of these? We’ve missed a few titles ourselves, maybe they have, too.” For those of you who have read them all, we wondered if you’d enjoy the opportunity to shelve a beautiful keepsake edition of your favorite…or to pass along a gift-worthy copy to the young reader you know. We named them Exquisite Classics, added them to our Spring 2020 offerings, and are thrilled to report our customers seem glad we did! (And, yes, we’re going to leave that pretty copy of Pride and Prejudice on Sarah’s desk.)

Tell us, dear bluestockings, what classic—or otherwise monumental—books are on your literary bucket list? And if you too are finding yourself at home much more these days, have you marked any titles off that list yet?


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