Penguin Moderns: A complete list of all 50 mini books


Happy Book Birthday to the Penguin Modern Collection!

Penguin's new series of 50 books are priced at just £1 each, including essays, poems and complete stories from an eclectic mix of authors, ranging from Daphne du Maurier to Jack Kerouac.

Each little book in the Penguin Modern series offers a concentrated hit of its author’s work.
From complete stories to essays and speeches to poems, these books celebrate the ground-breaking authors who define the radical spirit of Penguin Modern Classics.

Previous series from Penguin Books include 2015's The Little Black Classics (plus an additional 46 in 2016); the colourful Pocket Penguins (launched in 2016), and also the beautiful Clothbound Classics.

Here follows the complete list of all 50 Penguin Moderns, which you can buy now from your favourite bookstore, plus a printable PDF to help you keep track of your reading.

1. An Advertisement for Toothpaste by Ryszard Kapuscinski

'Like rotting stakes in a forest clearing'
The great journalist of conflict in the Third World finds an even stranger and more exotic society in his own home of post-War Poland
ISBN: 9780241339329

2. Africa's Tarnished Name by Chinua Achebe

He needed to hear Africa speak for itself after a lifetime of hearing Africa spoken about by others.
Electrifying essays on the history, complexity, diversity of a continent, from the father of modern African literature.
ISBN: 9780241338834

3. The Black Ball by Ralph Ellison

'If he only knew what it was, he would fix it; he would kill this mean thing that made Mama feel so bad.'
Belonging and estrangement intertwine in these four lyrical short stories from the the author of Invisible Man.
ISBN: 9780241339220

4. The Breakthrough by Daphne Du Maurier

Dispatch the maimed, the old, the weak, destroy the very world itself, for what is the point of life if the promise of fulfilment lies elsewhere?
On the windswept coast of rural Suffolk, a deranged scientist attempts to extract the essence of life itself.
ISBN: 9780241339206

5. The Cracked Looking Glass by Katherine Anne Porter

'She only wished to prove to herself she was once more on a train going somewhere'
A passionate, unfulfilled woman considers her life and her marriage in this moving novella by one of America's finest short story writers.
ISBN: 9780241339626

6. Create Dangerously by Albert Camus

'To create today is to create dangerously'
Camus argues passionately that the artist has a responsibility to challenge, provoke and speak up for those who cannot in this powerful speech, accompanied here by two others.
ISBN: 9780241339121

7. The Custard Heart by Dorothy Parker

'She felt a cozy solidarity with the big company of the voluntary dead.'
Wise-cracking and heartbreaking, these tales of women on the edge by the legendary wit Dorothy Parker show the darkness beneath the surface of the Jazz Age.
ISBN: 9780241339589

8. Dark Days by James Baldwin

'So the club rose, the blood came down, and his bitterness and his anguish and his guilt were compounded'
Drawing on Baldwin's own experiences of prejudice in an America violently divided by race, these searing essays blend the intensely personal with the political to envisage a better world.
ISBN: 9780241337547

9. Daydream and Drunkenness of a Young Lady by Clarice Lispector

'The morning became a long, drawn-out afternoon that became depthless night dawning innocently through the house'
Tales of desire and madness from this giant of Brazilian literature.
ISBN: 9780241337608

10. Death the Barber by William Carlos Williams

'The alphabet of
the trees
is fading in the
song of the leaves'
Filled with bright, unforgettable images, the deceptively simple work of William Carlos Williams revolutionized American verse, and made him one of the greatest twentieth-century poets.
ISBN:  9780241339824


11. The Dialogue of Two Snails by Federico Garcia Lorca

My heart
brims with billows
and minnows
of shadows and silver
Beautiful, brutal, strange and lovely: this is Lorca reborn, in a selection of previously unpublished pieces and masterful new translations.
ISBN: 9780241340400

12. The Distance of the Moon by Italo Calvino

'Time is a catastrophe, perpetual and irreversible.' 
Science and fiction interweave delightfully in these playful Cosmicomic short stories.
ISBN: 9780241339107

13. The Duke in His Domain by Truman Capote

Now Brando looked at people with assurance, and with what can only be called a pitying expression, as though he dwelt in spheres of enlightenment where they, to his regret, did not.
This mesmerizing profile of an insecure, vulnerable young Marlon Brando, brooding in a Kyoto hotel during a break from filming, is a peerless piece of journalism.
ISBN: 9780241339145

14. The End by Samuel Beckett

'They didn't seem to take much interest in my private parts which to tell the truth were nothing to write home about, I didn't take much interest in them myself.'
From the master of the absurd, these two stories of an unnamed vagrant contending with decay and death combine bleakness with the blackest of humour.
ISBN: 9780241338971

15. Fame by Andy Warhol

'Good b.o means good "box office." You can smell it from a mile away'
The legendary sixties New York pop artist Andy Warhol's hilarious and insightful vignettes and aphorisms on the topics of love, fame and beauty.
ISBN: 9780241339800

16. The Finger by William S. Burroughs

'He felt a sudden deep pity for the finger joint that lay there on the dresser, a few drops of blood gathering around the white bone.'
A deliberately severed finger, a junky's Christmas miracle and a Tangier con-artist, among others, feature in these hallucinogenic sketches and stories from the infamous Beat legend.
ISBN: 9780241339077

17. Food by Gertrude Stein

Sadder than salad.
From apples to artichokes, these glittering, fragmented, painterly portraits of food by the avant-garde pioneer Gertrude Stein are redolent of sex, laughter and the joy of everyday life.
ISBN: 9780241339688

18. Four Russian Stories by Gazdonov and Others

"Another hour gone. But I'm not afraid. There's only one thing I regret: that I've lived for so many years without knowing where human happiness is to be found"
In these stories, four writers - all exiles from revolutionary Russia - explore four deaths in a world in which old certainties have dissolved forever.
ISBN: 9780241339763

19. The Garden of Forking Paths by Jorge Luis Borges

'Summer was drawing to a close, and I realized that the book was monstrous.'
Fantastical tales of mazes, puzzles, lost labyrinths and bookish mysteries, from the unique imagination of a literary magician.
ISBN: 9780241339053

20. The Gigolo by Francoise Sagan

'The sap had dried up; the sap, the incentive, the fever, the desire to do, to act, to act the fool, make love, create'
A middle-aged woman breaks with her handsome young lover; a placid husband is suspected of infidelity; and a dying man reflects on his extramarital affairs, in these tales of love and disillusionment from the author of Bonjour Tristesse.
ISBN: 9780241339640


21. Glittering City by Cyprian Ekwensi

"Forget all your fears now. Have a fling this night"
Untrustworthy, charming Fussy Joe spins stories and breaks hearts in this rollicking story set in the 'sensational city' of 1960s Lagos.
ISBN: 9780241339848

22. The Great Hunger by Patrick Kavanagh

'I have lived in important places, times
When great events were decided . . .'
By turns comical, grouchy and exalted, and including his tragic masterpiece 'The Great Hunger', some of the key poems by the writer who transformed Anglo-Irish verse.
ISBN: 9780241339343

23. The Haunted Boy by Carson McCullers

His hand sought the adjacent flesh and sorrow paralleled desire in the immense complexity of love.
These moving stories by one of the great masters of Southern gothic portray love, sorrow and our search for happiness and understanding.
ISBN: 9780241339503

24. I Have More Souls Than One by Fernando Pessoa

'But no, she's abstract, is a bird
Of sound in the air of air soaring,
And her soul sings unencumbered
Because the song's what makes her sing.'
Dramatic, lyrical and ranging over four distinct personae, these poems by one of Portugal's greatest poets trace a mind shaken by intense suffering and a tireless search for meaning.
ISBN: 9780241339602

25. Investigations of a Dog by Franz Kafka

'If I think about it, and I have the time and inclination and capacity to do so, we dogs are an odd lot.'
How does a dog see the world? How do any of us? In this playful and enigmatic story of a canine philosopher, Kafka explores the limits of knowledge.
ISBN: 9780241339305

26. Lance by Vladimir Nabokov

'The illegible signature of teetering disaster'
Three great stories--The Aurelian, Signs and Symbols and Lance--the last both a derisive attack on science-fiction and an attempt to imagine the real pain and horror that would accompany space travel.
ISBN: 9780241339527

27. Leaving the Yellow House by Saul Bellow

She had lived by delays; she had meant to stop drinking; she had put off the time, and now she had smashed her car.
At once harsh and tender, expansive and acutely funny, this is the story of an elderly and self-destructive dipsomaniac in a Western desert town, who finds herself faced with a final, impossible choice.
ISBN: 9780241338995

28. The Legend of the Sleepers by Danilo Kis

'For once there had been false idols and asses' heads drawn on the walls...' 
Sleepers awake in a remote cave and the ancient mystic Simon Magus attempts a miracle, in these two magical, otherworldly tales from one of the greatest voices of twentieth-century Europe.
ISBN: 9780241339374

29. Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr.

'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.'
This landmark missive from one of the greatest activists in history calls for direct, non-violent resistance in the fight against racism, and reflects on the healing power of love.
ISBN: 9780241339466

30. Letter to my Mother by Georges Simenon

'As you are well aware, we never loved each other in your lifetime. Both of us pretended.' 
Simenon explores the complexity of parent child relationships and the bitterness of things left unsaid in this stark, confessional piece.
ISBN: 9780241339664


31. Madame du Deffand and the Idiots by Javier Marias

'She was bored and fought against her boredom, which only bored her still more.'
Five sparkling, irreverent brief portraits of famous literary figures (including libertines, eccentrics and rogues) from Spain's greatest living writer.
ISBN: 9780241339480

32. The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle The Master's House by Audre Lorde

“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” 
From the self-described 'black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet', these soaring, urgent essays on the power of women, poetry and anger are filled with darkness and light.
ISBN: 9780241339725

33. The Missing Girl by Shirley Jackson

"Of course, no one would want to say anything about a girl like this that's missing..."
Malice, paranoia and creeping dread lie beneath the surface of ordinary American life in these chilling miniature masterworks of unease.
ISBN: 9780241339282

34. New York City in 1979 by Kathy Acker

'INTENSE SEXUAL DESIRE IS THE GREATEST THING IN THE WORLD'
A tale of art, sex, blood, junkies and whores in New York's underground, from cult literary icon Kathy Acker.
ISBN: 9780241338896

35. Notes on Camp by Susan Sontag

'The ultimate Camp statement: it's good because it's awful.'
These two classic essays were the first works of criticism to break down the boundaries between 'high' and 'low' culture, and made Susan Sontag a literary sensation.
ISBN: 9780241339701

36. Notes on Nationalism by George Orwell

'The general uncertainty as to what is really happening makes it easier to cling to lunatic beliefs'
Biting and timeless reflections on patriotism, prejudice and power, from the man who wrote about his nation better than anyone.
ISBN: 9780241339565

37. Of Dogs and Walls by Yuko Tsushima

'Though their house was new, the wall had been there a long time.'
In these two stories, which have never before been translated into English, Tsushima shows how memories, dreams and fleeting images describe the borders of our lives.
ISBN: 9780241339787

38. Piers of the Homeless Night by Jack Kerouac

'See my hand up-tipped, learn the secret of my human heart...'
Soaring, freewheeling snapshots of life on the road across America, from the Beat writer who inspired a generation.
ISBN: 9780241339183

39. The Problem that Has No Name by Betty Friedan

'What if she isn't happy - does she think men are happy in this world? Doesn't she know how lucky she is to be a woman?'
The pioneering Betty Friedan here identifies the strange problem plaguing American housewives, and examines the malignant role advertising plays in perpetuating the myth of the 'happy housewife heroine'.
ISBN: 9780241339268

40. The Red Tegna of Bologna by John Berger

'It's an improbable city, Bologna - like one you might walk through after you have died.'
A dreamlike meditation on memory, food, paintings, a fond uncle and the improbable beauty of Bologna, from the visionary thinker and art critic.
ISBN: 9780241339015


41. The Skeleton's Holiday by Leonora Carrington

'Ring for your maid, and when she comes in we'll pounce upon her and tear off her face. I'll wear her face tonight instead of mine.'
These dreamlike, carnivalesque fables by one of the leading lights of the Surrealist movement are masterpieces of invention and grand-guignol humour.
ISBN: 9780241339169

42. The Survivor by Primo Levi

'Back, away from here, drowned people, go. I haven't stolen anyone's place' 
A selection of poetry from the author of If this is a Man and The Periodic Table.
ISBN: 9780241339411

43. Television Was a Baby Crawling Towards that Death Chamber by Allen Ginsberg

'Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!-and you, Garcia Lorca, what were you doing by the watermelons?'
Profane and prophetic verses about sex, death, revolution and America by the great icon of Beat poetry.
ISBN: 9780241337622

44. The Three Electroknights by Stanislaw Lem

'What use to a being that lives beneath a sun are jewels of gas and silver stars of ice?'
From a giant of twentieth-century science fiction, these four miniature space epics feature crazy inventors, surreal worlds, robot kings and madcap machines.
ISBN: 9780241339398

45. Three Japanese Short Stories by Akutagawa and Others

'Oh the cruelty of time, that destroys all things!'
Beguiling, strange and hair-raising tales from early 20th century Japan: Nagai's Behind the Prison, Uno's Closet LLB and Akutagawa's deeply macabre General Kim.
ISBN: 9780241339749

46. Till September Petronella by Jean Rhys

'I knew he was imagining a really lovely girl - all curves, curls, heart and hidden claws'
In stories that span the course of a lifetime - from childhood in the Caribbean to adolescent modelling in Paris; and from lonely adulthood to old age and beyond - here are women adrift, at sea, down but not quite out.
ISBN: 9780241337585

47. The Veiled Woman by Anais Nin

'What did she expect of him? What was her quest? Did she have an unfulfilled desire?'
Transgressive desires and sexual encounters are recounted in these four pieces from one of the greatest writers of erotic fiction.
ISBN: 9780241339541

48. The Vigilante by John Steinbeck

'Everything was dead, everything unreal; the dark mob was made up of stiff lay-figures'
One of America's greatest writers explores mob violence, voyeurism and betrayal in these unforgettable tales of Californian life.
ISBN: 9780241338957

49. Why do you Wear a Cheap Watch? by Hans Fallada

'It was what we call in the trade a potato...' 
Tales of low-lifes and grifters trying to make ends meet in pre-War Germany.
ISBN: 9780241339244

50. Why I am Not Going to Buy a Computer by Wendell Berry

'Do I wish to keep up with the times? No. My wish simply is to live my life as fully as I can'
The great American poet, novelist and environmental activist argues for a life lived slowly.
ISBN: 9780241337561 

Remember, you can also download this list in a simple PDF to keep track of the titles you have purchased or read.

For more Penguin book series lists, be sure to check out the following posts:

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