It’s the friends you can call at 3 a.m. AND buy postcards that matter

When I met my good friend Erin for dinner on Monday, I noticed the square-shaped, impeccably wrapped present sitting on our table at Panera and thought, Book? Like recognizing the iconic Barbie-shaped box when you were a kid, I can spot a book-shaped gift a mile away.

Well, it was a book — but not the kind I’m used to. With a squeal, I unveiled Postcards From Penguin: One Hundred Book Covers In One Box — and, if I’m being honest, it’s probably the most perfect gift for me. Ever.

Erin and I have been friends for a very long time — like, I-was-14-and-an-unequivocal-hot-mess long time. She’s seen me caked with mascara, face running with tears, but also bobbed with me in poodle skirts for our high school’s production of “Bye Bye Birdie.” We’ve survived the madness of high school, college and the “real world” (part of it) together, and stayed friends as we morphed from teens to young adults to grown women trying to Figure It Out. She knows my secret crushes and deepest fears, and I can share with her anything. And everything. And everything that comes between anything and everything.

In an age when friendships come and go based on jobs, school and proximity, I know that Erin will always be a treasured co-conspirator and ally — a woman I’d trust with my life. She’s getting married in September and I’m teary-eyed just thinking about it. We took a Shakespeare class together in college, and the afternoons when we’d walk to our cars together and talk boys, life and poetry are crystalline and untouchable in my memory. Through every major life change, she’s been at my side — and I hope to always be by hers.

I’m going to be one soggy, frazzled mess of a bridesmaid.

But postcards! This post was supposed to be about postcards. And there I go, getting all sappy and emotional on y’all.

So sayeth Amazon:

This is a collection of 100 postcards, each featuring a different and iconic Penguin book jacket. From classics to crime, here are over seventy years of quintessentially British design in one box. In 1935 Allen Lane stood on a platform at Exeter railway station, looking for a good book for the journey to London. His disappointment at the poor range of paperbacks on offer led him to found Penguin Books. The quality paperback had arrived. Declaring that ‘good design is no more expensive than bad’, Lane was adamant that his Penguin paperbacks should cost no more than a packet of cigarettes, but that they should always look distinctive.

Ever since then, from their original — now world-famous — look featuring three bold horizontal stripes, through many different stylish, inventive and iconic cover designs, Penguin’s paperback jackets have been a constantly evolving part of Britain’s culture. And whether they’re for classics, crime, reference or prize-winning novels, they still follow Allen Lane’s original design mantra. Sometimes, you definitely should judge a book by its cover.

Yes, Penguin. Yes, you should.

I’d love to say that all my bookish friends should soon expect a little something in the mail, but it hurts my heart to think about breaking up my set. I’m thinking about creating some sort of modern art with a selection of my favorites, and maybe keeping the rest handy to look at the pretty whenever I feel like it.

Years ago, my sister bought me a super-awesome collection of original London art on a series of postcards, and I enjoy going through those and lovingly running my fingers over the textured lines from time to time. I won’t send them, and I haven’t framed them, but I like to just . . . know that they’re there.

It’s one of my many endearing quirks.

14 thoughts on “It’s the friends you can call at 3 a.m. AND buy postcards that matter

  1. Great present, Meg! I’ve seen it in the book shop – they had an open box so you can see what it’s like and it looks just wonderful. It’s strange, you can’t really give them away, but you can’t keep them in the box either, that would be a pity.

    An artwork is what I thought, too. Do show us a picture if you manage to make something nice.


  2. I bought these for myself just before Christmas – aren’t they just so beautiful? I couldn’t believe how many were in there and yes, I could spend hours looking at them too! Good idea to create some art with them!


  3. OMG…that is totally one of the best gifts ever…being a book freak also makes me love journals and sketch books and note cards and pens and pencils…soooo….I would just buy another box to use for mailing to friends and then you would always have the one she gave you…


  4. I have these too – and totally want to do the art thing – some kind of collage? I want to see yours first for inspiration!


  5. I am a firm believer in the power of friendship. It sounds like you have a great one with Erin! The postcards are amazing and I wouldn’t be able to part with them, either. If you make a piece of modern art out of them – I hope you’ll share it with us.


  6. i have a friend like that too–we met in july 1978 when i moved into my childhood home. even though she now lives in san francisco, we do get together a few times a year and chat often. your friend also sounds like a keeper, but in getting to know you these last few years on the blogs, i know you’re a great friend also!

    as for the post cards–they are AWESOME! i would definitely frame choice selections if i owned them…


  7. Guess what? There is also a postcard collection just like the Penguin set for Puffin covers!! I own both sets. I agree, can’t possibly break up the set and send them so the next perfect present would be another set, this time one that you can send to friends!!


  8. I’m liking this talk of owning multiple sets . . . you ladies are onto something! It’s totally a worthwhile investment, right? One to stare at, one to send.


  9. I love the Puffin book jacket postcards because looking at them brings back happy memories of reading the books or my mom reading them to me. I have more “in common” with the Puffin set.


  10. Ummmm….I need these in my life. How is it I didn’t hear about these before Christmas and now I see it popping up in several different blogs? It may have to be my little gift to me. 😀


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