If you haven't yet seen the Drop Caps collection, it's an A-Z of 26 books in hardback, with covers designed by Jessica Hische and Paul Buckley.
First half of the collection, A-M, reviewed here.
Buy Five Children and It from Amazon US Amazon UK
The two caps at the start of the title aren't a typo, by the way - it's a reference to a telephone exchange. (It's a big building with lots of clunky equipment.)
Buy BUtterfield 8 from Amazon US Amazon UK
Confession time again: This is one of the classics of French literature and is praised to the skies by most people, especially writers. I'm not one of the lauders - I found it irritating and messy to read. Sacrilege, you might say, but In Search won't be on my list to Santa. If you want to try it, grab it for free from Project Gutenberg.
Buy Swann's Way from Amazon US Amazon UK
The Greek Coffin Mystery is solid; in some ways, it was ahead of its time. Whether it has aged well is a matter of opinion. I'll read an Ellery Queen but I wouldn't go out of my way to buy one.
Buy The Greek Coffin Mystery at Amazon US Amazon UK
Buy Haroun and the Sea of Stories from Amazon US Amazon UK
You know what you're going to get with Steinbeck: warmth, honesty, deceptively simple writing on basic and complex themes, and this is no exception. If you have a growing child, get them this book.
Buy Cannery Row from Amazon US Amazon UK
Some say that The Joy Luck Club is stereotyped and I agree, to some extent. Beyond that, it's well written and ultimately uplifting.
Buy The Joy Luck Club from Amazon US Amazon UK
Sigrid Undset won the Nobel Prize in Literature yet is still largely unknown to the general public. Discuss ...
Buy The Wreath from Amazon US Amazon UK
It's comedy, it's satire, it's Voltaire's attack on Leibnitz (and who can blame him for that?) If you like your writing intelligent and challenging, grab Candide.
Buy Candide from Amazon US Amazon UK
Leaves is a collection of poems and prose, with publication financed in 1855 by Whitman himself. 795 copies were printed, his brother George "didn't think it worth reading". George was very wrong! The collection is now thought one of the greatest works in US literature and the poems resonate to this day. With an almost Biblical cadence, they're sharp, funny, gentle, insightful, painfully honest.
I'd prefer people to buy from one of the Amazon links (I get a few cents if you do) but you can get Leaves of Grass, free from Project Gutenberg (in several formats).
Buy Leaves of Grass from Amazon US Amazon UK
Xinran's columns in the Guardian newspaper and she's a very able writer: perceptive, knowledgeable, passionate.
Xue Xinran is child and victim of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, writer on political issues, especially pertaining to women. Some of the accounts she gives are almost fantastical - but then you research and find that she is reporting, not exaggerating - and it looks like Sky Burial fits into that. One to add to the list of books I will read.
Buy Sky Burial from Amazon US Amazon UK
Sadly, I can't find any detailed info on what this compilation will hold but it's Yeats so if you don't already have all the early works, it should be worth looking at for the content as well as the cover.
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep
Buy When You Are Old from Amazon US Amazon UK
Buy The Shadow of the Wind from Amazon US Not yet on Amazon UK
So, there we have it - the 26 books of the Penguin Drop Caps collection. In the main, I approve of their selections, though there are one or two dubious books and I could make a case for many different authors. Those here are worthy if a little safe overall. Still, as I said earlier, I'd be very happy if Santa dropped these down my chimney.
And to leave you with a quote from Walt Whitman:
Shut not your doors to me proud libraries,
For that which was lacking on all your well-fill'd shelves, yet needed most, I bring,
Forth from the war emerging, a book I have made,
The words of my book nothing, the drift of it every thing,
A book separate, not link'd with the rest nor felt by the intellect,
But you, ye untold latencies, will thrill to every page.