As someone who spends a huge portion of time reading and reviewing books, I’m always on the lookout for beautiful editions of classics.
This post is a celebration of the best classic book collections for bibliophiles, ranging from delicate floral designs to striking monochrome covers.
Below you’ll find some of the most beautiful new books of 2023, as well as the most popular hardcover editions of classics from the last decade (and some hidden gems you might not have heard of before).
Whether you’re looking for exquisite books to give as gifts or pretty books to add to your own shelves, I hope you’ll enjoy these beautiful editions of classic books as much as I do.
The best hardcover classic book collections
Harper Muse Classics Painted Editions
Who will love the Harper Muse Classics Painted Editions? Bibliophiles looking for pretty books with illustrated covers.
The Harper Muse Classics: Painted Editions series (also known as Harper Muse Pretty Books) is one of my favourite new collections of classic books. The first books were released in 2022, followed by another batch in 2023.
Each hardcover book features a beautiful cover painted by artist Laci Fowler, as well as an embossed cover, gold foil title and page edges, and a ribbon marker.
The Summer 2023 collection includes Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, and Peter Pan. I also love this beautiful edition of The Great Gatsby from 2022.
Puffin in Bloom Series
Who will love the Puffin in Bloom books? Readers young and grown who adore vibrant cover illustrations and wholesome classic stories.
Available separately or in a beautiful box set, these small hardcovers all feature a gorgeous cover illustration by Anna Bond, the artist behind world-renowned stationery brand Rifle Paper Co.
A decade after the first collection, three new Puffin in Bloom books (all by Jane Austen) are available for preorder before their release in February 2024: Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma. All three books feature beautiful cover illustrations by Anna Bond.
Harper Muse Jane Austen Collection (Laser Cut)
Who will enjoy the Harper Muse Jane Austen Collection? Fans of one-of-a-kind books with unique detailing and decorative features.
Many book collectors loved the Seasons Edition Classics series by Thomas Nelson, a limited edition print run in 2019 featuring wonderfully innovative laser-cut covers.
This new collection by Harper Muse Classics continues the trend with six books with laser-cut covers for 2023: Emma, Persuasion, Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Northanger Abbey.
Each book in the new Harper Muse Jane Austen collection includes a beautiful hardcover with a high-end laser-cut jacket, decorative interior pages featuring quotes distributed throughout, and a ribbon marker.
Penguin Clothbound Classics
Who will love the Penguin Clothbound Classics collection? Readers who want to add more of these coveted clothbound classics to their bookshelves.
In 2008, the first book of what would become the Penguin Clothbound Classics series was released: a clothbound edition of Sense and Sensibility designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith.
Now fifteen years after the first books were released – and with nearly 100 books in the collection – Penguin Clothbound Classics is still the most popular and accessible classic book collection.
With stunning clothbound covers created by award-winning designer Coralie Bickford-Smith, each book features custom patterns inspired by the work, stamped on linen cases and with coloured endpapers and ribbon markers.
Virago Modern Classics Designer Collection
Who will love the Virago Modern Classics Designer Collection? Readers who like the idea of colourful clothbound editions celebrating the work of women writers.
My first book from the Virago Modern Classics collection was the delightfully spring-like edition of The Enchanted April, Elizabeth von Arnim’s classic story of four very different women leaving behind dreary London for a mediaeval castle in the Italian Riviera.
This edition belongs to Virago’s Modern Classics Designer Collection (published in 2011), with each book featuring a cover created by a textile designer and an original introduction from authors including Maggie O’Farrell and Hilary Mantel.
The collection also includes a delightful selection of Daphne du Maurier’s books. For more like this, you might like the deluxe paperbacks in the Virago Anniversary Collection from 2018, featuring cover designs by British illustrator Yehrin Tong.
Penguin Little Clothbound Classics
Who will love the Penguin Little Clothbound Classics collection? Anyone who loves the idea of petite versions of Penguin Clothbound Classics.
Introduced in 2022, the Penguin Little Clothbound Classics collection offers exactly what the name suggests, smaller editions of Penguin’s popular clothbound classics line, featuring short stories, novellas, and essays from the world’s greatest writers.
Like the main Clothbound Classics collection, all covers are designed by the award-winning designer Coralie Bickford-Smith to perfectly complement your existing editions.
The Little Clothbound Classics series is grouped by season, including Bliss by Katherine Mansfield for spring, The Awakening by Kate Chopin for summer, Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka for autumn, and Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata for winter.
Murakami Collectible Classics
Who will love the Murakami Collectible Classics? Any fan of the beloved Japanese author, striking illustrations, and original introductions.
Featuring vibrant covers and new introductions by Murakami himself, the first batch of Murakami Collectible Classics by Vintage Classics (Penguin) was released in 2022: Kafka on the Shore, Norwegian Wood, and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.
Each of the volumes has been redesigned by separate Japanese artists, features bold graphics, and includes a wrap-around Obi (or paper band, the same term is also used for the traditional sash in Japanese clothing).
The Folio Society
Who will love books by The Folio Society? Any avid reader with a keen eye for detail and a love of clothbound covers, exquisite endpapers, and illustrations from award-winning artists.
Folio Society books are so much more than just a classic books collection; the British company publishes some of the most high-quality books available, and every edition is incredibly special.
Some of my favourite Folio Society books on my shelves include this hardcover of Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, The Hobbit with illustrations by Eric Fraser, and their stunning edition of Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.
Marjolein Bastin Classics Series
Who will love the Marjolein Bastin Illustrated editions? Any fan of delicate floral illustrations and Jane Austen’s classics.
With English cottage-inspired floral illustrations and a delicately romantic color palette evoking days in the garden, these editions illustrated by Marjolein Bastin (published by Andrews McMeel Publishing) are exquisite.
While Emma is airy and pink with peonies, the Bastin edition of Pride and Prejudice illustrates purple-blue hydrangeas on a twinkling nocturnal background. As of 2021 and 2022 respectively, Jane Eyre and Little Women are also available in the Marjolein Bastin collection.
Each book contains gold foil details, an elegantly designed envelope and letters from the story, and extras including maps, family trees, and sheet music.
Vintage Quarterbound Classics
Who will love the Vintage Quarterbound Classics collection? Fans of timeless classic books and vibrant contemporary illustrations.
In September 2023, Penguin announced their striking new classic books collection: Vintage Quarterbound Classics. With a cloth quarter binding, contemporary illustration, red silk ribbon, and beautiful finishes throughout, these are hardcover gift editions to share and treasure.
As of October, nine impressive books are available in the collection, including this stunning edition of Beloved, Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize winner, with a cover illustration by Sophy Hollington.
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