Penguin Modern Classics

At Penguin Classics our mission has always been to make the best books ever written available to everyone. And that also means constantly redefining and refreshing exactly what makes a ‘classic’.

That’s where Modern Classics come in. Since 1961 they have been an organic, ever-growing and ever-evolving list of books that we believe will continue to be read over and over again.

Note: Do not add non Penguin Modern Classics editions. They will be summarily deleted. If you require assistance regarding adding the correct edition, please comment accordingly.
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flag this list (?)
351 books · 400 voters · list created April 4th, 2014 by Aubrey (votes) .
737 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Mohit 863 books
480 friends
Karen M 4427 books
151 friends
Rachel 1229 books
26 friends
Randolph 2096 books
131 friends
Sentimental Surrealist 3629 books
233 friends
Sue 7932 books
636 friends
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads 3113 books
816 friends
Srinivas 2702 books
543 friends

More voters…


Comments Showing 1-39 of 39 (39 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Randolph (new)

Randolph If you read all 55 of the books that are here when I voted, you'd be pretty much good to go for anything in my book ;D


message 2: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey Ha. I've only read 23.


message 3: by Randolph (new)

Randolph You're way ahead of me. 17


message 4: by Srinivas (last edited Apr 04, 2014 10:23PM) (new)

Srinivas 9780141184760

add this book also...


message 5: by Jonathan (last edited Apr 05, 2014 05:16AM) (new)

Jonathan One can criticize Penguin for many things, but this is a pretty great list of books. I have read 68 of them and, apart from a couple, all are 4-5 star worthy.


message 6: by Samadrita (new)

Samadrita Uh oh people are adding Vintage editions to the list now. Aubrey, maybe you should disable the settings where anyone is allowed to add books.


message 7: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Samadrita wrote: "Uh oh people are adding Vintage editions to the list now. Aubrey, maybe you should disable the settings where anyone is allowed to add books."

yeah - not quite sure why people do that sort of thing! But yes Aubrey, maybe you should delete those and change the settings...


message 8: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey Sigh. I wanted this list to work out the way the NYRB one did with 100% correct editions with community adding, but people will be idiots. I'll deal with the damage later and decide whether to request it be frozen then.


message 9: by Ben (new)

Ben Winch The reason is that when GR gives you the option to search for a book, unless you're searching for one that's on your shelf and you've already shelved the Penguin edition, it only gives you the option of adding one edition. So then (unless I'm missing something - I'm far from expert at lists) you have to go find the right edition, add it to your books, and then search for it in your books. (Not that I'm excusing adding Vintage editions - obviously it defeats the purpose.)


message 10: by Aubrey (last edited Apr 05, 2014 05:16PM) (new)

Aubrey One can also search within the GR database proper and add the PMC edition via ISBN. I would rather people request additions in the comments that I as a librarian could more easily enable, rather than adding something that will inevitably be deleted. As such, I have modified the description.


message 11: by Ben (last edited Apr 05, 2014 06:04PM) (new)

Ben Winch Aha, the ISBN, of course!

I noticed someone deleted Borges's Labyrinths from the list - was that you? I couldn't see a reason for it so I added it again, seeing as how it is the Penguin Modern Classic which most reorganised my head. But I'll add nothing more.


message 12: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey I made the mistake of checking for duplicates (instinctive these days) and merged the proper one with the incorrect one someone else had added, of which the incorrect ended up triumphing and was subsequently deleted. Thank you for adding it back.


message 13: by Ben (new)

Ben Winch No problems.


message 14: by Sue (new)

Sue I haven't read a lot but have many on my tbr. Also I didn't finish Ficciones so I'm not counting that. Some I may have read in other editions.


message 15: by Ben (new)

Ben Winch What I want to know is when Penguin is going to acquire the rights to Juan Rulfo's Pedro Paramo. It's an incredible oversight on Penguin's part: this is probably (with Ficciones and One Hundred Years of Solitude) one of the three most influential works in modern Latin American literature. Though Penguin Modern Classics have been a major influence on me, it's lapses like this that make me realise how arbitrary their choices really are.


message 16: by Ben (last edited Apr 05, 2014 07:34PM) (new)

Ben Winch (How about a new list: "Books we'd like to see in Penguin Classics"?)


message 17: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey You may create the list if you wish, Ben, although a personal shelf would be a safer bet. The general populace has a far different view of modern classics than you or I.


message 18: by Claudia (new)

Claudia Putnam No DH Lawrence?


message 19: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey You may add Penguin Modern Classics of his work, if they exist.


message 20: by Jeremy (new)

Jeremy "Though Penguin Modern Classics have been a major influence on me, it's lapses like this that make me realise how arbitrary their choices really are."

It's not about choice on the part of Penguin; it's about rights determined by agents, authors and estates.


message 21: by Ben (new)

Ben Winch Yeah, I wondered about that. But surely any agent or estate, in this instance, would rather sell to Penguin than Serpent's Tail (who last published Rulfo in English)?


message 22: by Jeremy (new)

Jeremy Depends on dozens of needlessly complex, melodramatic and frustrating variables.


message 23: by Ben (new)

Ben Winch Not surprising, I guess. So the Penguin list (and, by extension, the whole western canon?) is arbitrary because of legal issues, not taste. Should I be relieved or depressed?

I notice you just rated Walser's Selected Stories. "Kleist in Thun" - now that is a classic.


message 24: by Jeremy (new)

Jeremy A "Books We'd Like to See in Penguin Classics" list would be great.


message 25: by Jeremy (new)

Jeremy "Kleist" mesmerized me start to finish. It felt extraordinarily real.


message 26: by Richard (new)

Richard Jeremy wrote: "A "Books We'd Like to See in Penguin Classics" list would be great."

Nice idea, Jeremy!


message 27: by Ben (new)

Ben Winch Jeremy wrote: ""Kleist" mesmerized me start to finish. It felt extraordinarily real."

Good to hear it! In all this talk about Walser that's snowballed over the past 10 or so years, and the common perception of Susan Bernofsky as his only worthwhile translator, the fact that he wrote one of the greatest short stories in any language seems to have been forgotten.

Re the list, do you think it'd do any good? I guess (in my naivety) I thought maybe the staff at Penguin might notice it and act on it. But even in the unlikely event that they did, maybe they'd be powerless.


message 28: by Anna (last edited May 01, 2014 05:09PM) (new)

Anna Kļaviņa (view spoiler)


message 29: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey That's the second edition that's been switched to the wrong one somehow, along with The Wretched of the Earth. Ugh. What screwy thing are the data autocompilers up to now.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads If editions are combined, the more popular one wins; that may be the cause here.


message 31: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey I wish it were, Susanna. However, the number of voters would have changed between combinations, as would have the number of books in the list, neither of which happened here.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Then I have no idea what it was. With the screwy things the database does, who knows what caused it?


message 33: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey My thoughts exactly. I'll just have to keep swatting at the bugs.


message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

Finally, a list without 'Twilight' in it.


message 35: by Frank (new)

Frank Ashe I've come to this list late, but like it. Is the ranking still being updated?


message 37: by Dave (new)

Dave I have added a couple of books if this list is still active.


message 38: by Jack (new)

Jack What about Monkey Grip by Helen Garner?


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads You could add it. It's easy to add books to lists; at the top of the list, at the tab next to "all votes."


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