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Rdrs Dgst Cndnsd Bks

September 25, 2011
by thenestinggame

It has been a fun few days in blog world! Our fireplace and family room were featured on Apartment Therapy.

Overall, people dug the changes we made to the fireplace. The comments, however, flared up concerning this tiny detail:

The fact that we have books turned around backwards clearly means we are illiterate.

The truth is, we just needed some objects to obscure the tacky cord covers, so The South Beach Diet, Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities, plus a few other tomes got pulled out of the giveaway box to live a second life as a decorative touch.

I will say that I have always been a reader. My Dad used to have to FORCE me to stop reading and go outside and play as a kid. This name of this blog is a bad wordplay on one of my all-time favorite books. So, for people to insinuate that these 7 books are the only ones I own and that I am too dumb to realize they are backwards, well, that’s pretty funny to me. But–hey–I’m putting all this out there for the world and will happily take my lumps along with the sugar. I appreciate their comments anyway.

Which brings me to today’s post. More books collected because they’re pretty. So, I’d advise that you stop reading if you find this offensive.

Reader’s Digest Condensed Books.


Condensed stuff was popular in the 50s, I take it. Books. Soup. Milk. Orange Juice. Shrinky Dinks. What was the cool factor there? Science? Adding water? Less packaging? Easier to preserve?

Key Lime Pie ingredients aside, I can confidently say that I prefer the OG version of all of them. But the other day I came across 2 editions of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books and feel in like-a-lot.

I’ve seen them around the blogosphere here and there, but a few Saturdays ago, Taylor and I were getting impulse bagels at this authentic Jewish deli in our ‘hood. While waiting for my whole wheat Everything toasted with butter, I pried myself away from the cookie case and went to check out this rack they have with Used Books. Also cool? They have a “take one, leave one” policy. So I snapped these up and returned later with Eclipse from the Twilight Saga, which is not my cup of blood, and The Book of Ruth, which I’ve had for a decade and never read.

Pretty confident I got the better end of the deal on this trade.

Not only are the covers super pretty and patterned, inside each edition has a bookplate, designed to coordinate with the cover. One of mine was awesomely already filled in.

Even better, the Table of Contents showed Mrs. Eddings’ progress.

Some of the illustrations are super cute as well. I think they could become a fun photo series in a child’s room or office/library–with better shots than mine and less pudgy-pawed fingers turning the pages.

And a quick Google search yields so many images of the pretty covers just waiting to be snapped up at thrift stores and yard sales everywhere.


I think they are, frankly, the predecessor to the redesigned Penguin Classics. Though, to Penguin’s credit, they include the entire book.


I ended up placing my RDCBs on our yet-to-be-properly-styled 50s-era kitchen shelves. Mostly because the colors coordinated with some snapshots I had on hand.

{this photo contains toast coasters}

I would say, in this case, judging a book by its cover is a-ok.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. Willow permalink
    September 25, 2011 4:20 pm

    I am forever shocked that people don’t ask when, what, where or why before making an assumption, and usually its an assumption that is judgmentally harsh and very often cruel.

    The wonderful thing about our homes is just that, its ours. I don’t tell anyone else how to create an environment that they love (or judge them for it), and I’d appreciate that same courtesy.

    Still, have you noticed that its those folks who are both quick and generous with the criticisms that are the ones that can’t take it in return? You handled this ‘situation’ wonderfully!

    Love the Readers Digest condensed books! Haven’t seen any in years, but now I’m inspired to go treasure hunting. (:

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      September 25, 2011 4:29 pm

      Thanks, Willow. My Dad has this saying which I love, “Diplomacy is thinking twice before saying nothing.” But I think the internet has changed things!
      Good luck finding the books! It was fun just to come across the couple I found.

  2. Elaine Smart permalink
    September 25, 2011 5:14 pm

    Such a fun article. Had forgotten about the colorful covers!

  3. Meghan permalink
    September 25, 2011 5:18 pm

    Oh, %$@. I had about 300 of these that I could have given to you. The estate sale people sold them all for something like a dollar.

    It’s always funny to me how off-topic the comments can get on AT. I remember one woman who posted an innocent question asking what colors would look nice with her cabinets and got back approximately nine jillion pieces of strident, unsolicited marriage advice.

    I think my favorite one, though, was a post about a busy mom who’d come up with a clever system to streamline meals. That one devolved into a horde of hipster foodies basically accusing her of poisoning her children because she didn’t stroll on foot to the farmer’s market through a dappled Parisian sunset every afternoon to lovingly squeeze the organic produce she’d be cooking that night.

    Apparently I am a heathen, since I thought the backward books looked neat. I remain confused as to why it’s cool and awesome to re-cover every book you own in blank paper and not okay to get the exact same color effect by turning them backwards, where at least you don’t have to shuck them to find the book you want.

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      September 26, 2011 9:16 am

      Thanks, Meg! I’m sure the books you had have found happy homes.

  4. Kerri permalink
    September 25, 2011 10:54 pm

    Great topic!! When model homes were plentiful for us to decorate/design, we had to buy everything we could get our hands on at public library sale racks to fill the library/den bookshelves, etc. The builder we worked for HATED RDCB, and gave us such a hard time if he noticed them. I always thought he was crazy, because they look so nice on the cover if its laying on it’s side, or the binding on a bookshelf. Only thing that stinks is that they are all the same size, no variation.

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      September 26, 2011 9:18 am

      Ha! They do look somewhat generic from the spines, but geeez…funny thing to get upset about! Goodwill has zillions of books, too. Taylor got a cool kids encyclopedia set for $3 or something to use for his artwork.

  5. Miranda permalink
    September 26, 2011 9:01 am

    I’m with you. To each his/her own. And I think your books (the backwards ones, as well as the RD ones) look great. (Also a fan of those metal — or wooden? — ‘jacks’ bookends!)

    Also a great fan of your blog, which I recently discovered!

    And I withdrew from AT long ago… between their so-called editors’ abysmal spelling/grammar, and their nonsensical and unevenly-applied policy towards comments… well, it was just time to look elsewhere. Goodness knows there are many, many other places to go for inspiration … your site being one of them!

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      September 26, 2011 9:19 am

      Glad to have you, Miranda!

  6. September 27, 2011 5:21 pm

    Nice finds! I would love the entire Penguin Classics redesigned set so was SUUUPER pleased to find 3 of them at TJ Maxx for $12 each! I’m keeping my eyes open for more…

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      September 28, 2011 11:10 am

      Oooh…what a great TJ’s find!

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