Monday, 10 August 2009

Penguins (Bake of the week)

Apart from being rather cute birds, perhaps my favourite animal, Penguin is of course perhaps the most famous and prolific publisher of them all, particularly with the immediately recognisable orange spine (I'm not too sure about their recent move away from orange spines, it's a little like Virago and their move away from green spines). So many of my books are Penguins, ranging from the little pocket sized orange paperbacks to the more recent colourful hardback editions. So when I espied a new cookie cutter, whilst buying hoover bags the other day, which looked like a Penguin (well, as you see, it could be a duck, but the lady on the till kindly looked it up and confirmed that it is a Penguin), I bought it as a reward for doing such a tedious task as buying hoover bags on my lunchtime. Having enthused to Paperbackreader Claire on twitter (do follow me if you don't already) about my purchase, she suggested that I do a Penguin themed post.

So, here are is a Penguin gingerbreadman...

...and here is a collection of older Penguin books which I especially like. I especially like the early penguins because they are so portable and the orange makes them so distinctive.

The most recently read of these books is Memories of a Catholic Girlhood by Mary McCarthy. Claire at Paperback reader recently enthused about her novel The group, which I'm waiting for Virago to republish later this year, so when I spotted this in a second-hand bookshop the other week I decided to give it a go. It tells of her childhood which was suddenly disrupted by the death of her parents, bringing about a dramatic change from an indulged existence to a much harsher life with relatives, for example the aunt who taped her mouth shut at night to force her to breath through her nose (the tape had to be removed each morning with ether!). What I found fascinating was the addenda to each chapter where she includes details which family members claim not to remember, and where she notes where the material was embellished or told out of sequence. Wouldn't this be fun if all autobiographies did this?


  1. I've been looking forward to this post with good reason! Love the gingerbread Penguin :).

    Orange penguins are lovely. Coincidentally I wrote a Penguin-centric post for later this week and I suspect it will be the first of many about Penguin.

    The Mary McCarthy memoirs sound fascinating and I love the unique structure!

  2. Taping her mouth shut! I'm surprised this book wasn't about a runaway! Since the story sounds a bit grim I'm glad that you included your adorable penguin cookie, very cheery and lovely job with the piped icing. Great shot of the orange penguins as well.

  3. That cookie is adorable! I love Penguin books too, and you're right about the orange spines. That memoir sounds intriguing - I must look out for it.

  4. Oh, the penguin gingerbread is adorable! So are the old Penguin covers...will have to look out for Mary McCarthy.

  5. I love the old Penguins as well. In 1989 on my first trip to England I was staying at a B and B in Gloucester for the Three Choirs Festival. In my room was a bookshelf with about 8 linear feet of old Penguins. A sea of orange spines. Unfortunately, I didn't recognize even one title or author on the shelves. My guess is that 20 years later I would find more than a few titles I would covet.

  6. Darlene - it took several attempts with the icing, there was one dreadfully cross-eyed Penguin!

    I'm glad you all liked the biscuit and Penguin books. I must a) make Penguin shortbread now and b) do a much bigger Penguin montage with covers from a variety of periods. I have quite a number of penguins.


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