ERIS gems
ERIS gems make available in the form of beautifully produced saddle-stitched booklets a series of outstanding short works of fiction and non-fiction.  

Each title can be purchased separately, but the series as a whole is also available through a subscription.



The Vice of Reading

Saddle-stitched booklet • Published: 2022 • Extent: 24 pages • Trim: 11 x 19.5 cm • ISBN: 9781912475773 • £5 ORDER

“No vices are harder to eradicate than those which are popularly regarded as virtues. Among these the vice of reading is foremost.”

A great American novelist offers a scathing attack on the worst kinds of reading. Edith Wharton argues that the growing cultural influence of “mechanical” readers is having a disastrous impact on the world of letters. A subtly devastating work of social criticism, The Vice of Reading is also a celebration of the voracious and amoral consumption that marks out the very best readers.


Humour as I See It

Saddle-stitched booklet • Published: 2022 • Extent: 24 pages • Trim: 11 x 19.5 cm • ISBN: 9781912475780 • £5 ORDER

“The world’s humour, in its best and greatest sense, is perhaps the highest product of our civilization.”

Stephen Leacock writes a masterful account of how humour works—and of how it very often doesn’t. As well as being remarkably insightful about the various ways in which a joke can fall flat, Humour as I See It is an exceptionally humane testimony from one of the English language’s most gifted humourists.


Story of My Death

Saddle-stitched booklet • Published: 2022 • Extent: 16 pages • Trim: 11 x 19.5 cm • ISBN: 9781912475872 • £5 ORDER

“We are going to Rome to scatter these words of liberty far and wide, words which for seven years have been forbidden like a crime. And with reason, for if they had been allowed, they would have shaken the fascist tyranny to its foundations within a few hours.”

In 1931 the Italian poet Lauro de Bosis flew over Rome in a small plane in order to scatter anti-Fascist pamphlets from the sky. He did not survive the journey, but in Story of My Death he left behind a remarkable testament: a denunciation of Mussolini’s regime and a refusal, even in the face of death, to abandon the cause of liberty.


Essay on the Art of Crawling

Saddle-stitched booklet • Published: 2022 • Extent: 14 pages • Trim: 11 x 19.5 cm • ISBN: 9781912475827 • £5 ORDER

“Serpents and reptiles reach the heights of mountains and rocks, while the most fiery of steeds can never climb there.”

Baron d’Holbach’s 1776 Essay on the Art of Crawling is a delicious satire on the sycophancy and self-abasement rife in the courts of Europe. A penetrating account of the workings of power that applies as much to today’s courtiers as it did to those of the eighteenth century, it also makes a compelling case for the value of moral independence and personal dignity.


Unpacking My Library

Saddle-stitched booklet • Published: 2022 • Extent: 22 pages • Trim: 11 x 19.5 cm • ISBN: 9781912475841 • £5 ORDER

“I fully realize that my discussion of the mental climate of collecting will confirm many of you in your conviction that this passion is behind the times, in your distrust of the collector type. Nothing is further from my mind than to shake either your conviction or your distrust.”

Walter Benjamin was one of the great cultural critics of the twentieth century. In Unpacking My Library he offers a strikingly personal meditation on his career as a book collector and on the strange relations that spring up between objects and their owners. Witty, erudite and often moving, this book will resonate with bibliophiles of all kinds.


The World of Bond and Maigret

Saddle-stitched booklet • Published: 2022 • Extent: 32 pages • Trim: 11 x 19.5 cm • ISBN: 9781912475858 • £5 ORDER

“I invent the most hopeless sounding plots; very often they are based on something I’ve read in a newspaper. And people say, ‘Oh, this is all nonsense’—and then the Russians come along in Germany and shoot people with potassium cyanide pistols.”

Between them, Ian Fleming and Georges Simenon created two of the best-known heroes of modern fiction. In this illuminating dialogue, the authors who gave us James Bond and Jules Maigret discuss (among other things) their approaches to the craft of writing, the origins of their characters’ names, and the critical reception of their novels. It is essential reading for admirers of either man’s work.


The Glory of the Rails

Saddle-stitched booklet • Published: 2022 • Extent: 24 pages • Trim: 11 x 19.5 cm • ISBN: 9781912475834 • £5 ORDER

“More than any other technical design or social institution, the railway stands for modernity.”

In this brilliant essay the historian Tony Judt describes the singular contribution made by rail travel to the development of our shared way of life. From the transformation of urban spaces to the reorganisation of our sense of time, it is impossible to imagine the world we live in without the social and economic changes wrought by rail travel: no other mode of transport can represent with such potency “risk, opportunity, uncertainty, novelty, and change: life itself.”


The Country of the Blind

Saddle-stitched booklet • Published: 2022 • Extent: 60 pages • Trim: 11 x 19.5 cm • ISBN: 9781912475810 • £5 ORDER

“Over the mountains I come,” said Nunez, “out of the country beyond there—where men can see. From near Bogota, where there are a hundred thousands of people, and where the city passes out of sight.”

One of the acknowledged masters of speculative fiction, H.G. Wells conducts in this short story a disconcerting thought experiment. What would become of a community if its members were somehow deprived of sight? How would society evolve in the absence of the very concept of visibility? And what if, one day, a sighted outsider suddenly found himself in this country of the blind?


Dracula’s Guest

Saddle-stitched booklet • Published: 2022 • Extent: 32 pages • Trim: 11 x 19.5 cm • ISBN: 9781912475797 • £5 ORDER

“I felt a warm rasping at my throat, then came a consciousness of the awful truth, which chilled me to the heart and sent the blood surging up through my brain.”

In this intriguing literary fragment—published seventeen years after Bram Stoker’s most famous novel—an English visitor to southern Germany suffers a terrifying ordeal on Walpurgis Nacht: the night when, according to local tradition, supernatural horrors are set free to walk the earth. But perhaps most chilling of all is the appearance of a mysterious telegram purporting to guarantee the Englishman’s safety, a telegram sent by a certain ‘Dracula’…


The Invisible Collection

Saddle-stitched booklet • Published: 2022 • Extent: 36 pages • Trim: 11 x 19.5 cm • ISBN: 9781912475865 • £5 ORDER

“I found it terrible, yet at the same time touching, for in all the years of the war I had not seen so perfect and pure an expression of bliss on any German face.”

An ostensibly whimsical story about the adventures of a Berlin art dealer, Stefan Zweig’s The Invisible Collection is a powerful evocation of the condition of Germany between the wars.  When Zweig’s anonymous narrator sets out for the provinces in search of a lucrative bargain, he finds himself caught up in the slow unfolding of a family tragedy—and is confronted with a unique reminder of the power of art…


A Modest Proposal

Saddle-stitched booklet • Published: 2023 • Extent: 24 pages • Trim: 11 x 19.5 cm • ISBN: 9781912475803 • £5 ORDER

“A young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricasee, or a ragout.”

Jonathan Swift’s 1729 pamphlet is at once a denunciation of the mistreatment of Ireland’s poor and a daringly inventive comic rhapsody. Still shocking in its defiance of good taste and unrivalled in its evisceration of political hypocrisy, this is one of the greatest satires ever written.


The Lottery in Babylon

Saddle-stitched booklet • Published: 2023 • Extent: 18 pages • Trim: 11 x 19.5 cm • ISBN: 9781912475803 • £5 ORDER

“Like all men in Babylon, I have been a proconsul; like all, a slave.”

The affairs of Babylon are dictated by a lottery. Discreetly administered by a mysterious and seemingly omnipotent Company, the lottery can elevate citizens to positions of wealth and power or condemn them to the most shameful punishments. Taking this fantastical conceit as its starting point, Jorge Luis Borges’s short story is a characteristically brilliant achievement—a haunting mediation on the nature of chance, paranoia, and divinity.


The 1854 Oration

Saddle-stitched booklet • Published: 2023 • Extent: 10 pages • Trim: 11 x 19.5 cm • ISBN: 9781912475391 • £5 ORDER

“It matters little where we pass the remnant of our days. They will not be many”.

A powerful lament for an imperilled way of life, the 1854 speech traditionally attributed to Chief Seattle of the Duwamish Tribe is a vital document in the history of the Indigenous peoples of North America. It is also a profound meditation on the nature of time, colonialism, and religion.


A Load of Shit

Saddle-stitched booklet • Published: 2023 • Extent: 10 pages • Trim: 11 x 19.5 cm • ISBN: 9781912475414 • £5 ORDER

“What makes shit such a universal joke is that it’s an unmistakable reminder of our duality, of our soiled nature and of our will to glory. It is the ultimate lèse-majesté.”

John Berger’s essay begins by describing the experience of burying a year’s worth of his household’s excrement. What follows is an extended reflection—at once philosophically detached and  engaged with the inescapable stuff of life—on shit as an allegory of what it means to be human.


The American Dream is at The Expense of the American Negro

Saddle-stitched booklet • Published: 2023 • Extent: 20 pages • Trim: 11 x 19.5 cm • ISBN: 9781912475995 • £5 ORDER

“It comes as a great shock to discover that the country which is your birthplace and to which you owe your life and your identity, has not, in its whole system of reality, evolved any place for you”.

James Baldwin was one of America’s most powerful analysts of the psychology of white supremacy. In this speech he offers a devastating, but also strikingly empathetic, account of the role played by racism in American society.



Saddle-stitched booklet • Published: 2023 • Extent: 32 pages • Trim: 11 x 19.5 cm • ISBN: 9781912475421 • £5 ORDER

“I am not going to be diverted by either fear or favour. I shall tell the unvarnished truth. If anybody asks me where I got my information, I say at once, I’ll not answer if I don’t want to. Who is going to make me?”

Best known as a philosopher and tragedian, in Apocolocyntosis Seneca also produced one of classical literature’s greatest satires. Depicting a posthumous trial in which the recently deceased Emperor Claudius makes the case for his elevation to the company of the gods, this short work brilliantly skewers the pretensions and corruptions of power.