Thursday, August 4, 2011

30 More Days Book Challenge: Day 1

Why stop with a thing that's brought us dozens of readers?  We appreciate all 12 of you.  Really.  Gianna's going to make you brownies.  As I mentioned yesterday, we've decided to continue with the book challenge idea for another month, this time with categories of our choosing. 

Day 1: Favorite Book Jackets

Screw the idiom.  Everyone judges books by their covers, and why not?  Talented people place a lot of energy into matching the perfect cover to a story.  A great cover can lure in potential readers (and a bad one can repel them; see: pink, fuzzy cover on Nick Harkaway's otherwise outstanding novel The Gone-Away World). 


I have been in rooms where I thought a discussion of a book jacket would lead to blows…well, I work in publishing so maybe just slaps...but let's say the arguments can get heated. And I wouldn’t want that job; talk about thankless. No way are you going to make everyone happy. If sales, publicity, marketing, and the publisher are happy you know who hates it? The author. It can be painful.

So many really great book covers in the recent past, some we just blogged about, so I thought I would list a few of my favorites before listing number one (which was pretty easy for me to pick actually). The Hakawati by Rabih Alameddine in hardcover was gorgeous; they changed it for the paperback and it's just not as lush. Susan Faludi’s Stiffed is a really cool iconic shot that just fits the bulk and feel of the book, which is very cool. The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken is near perfect in my eyes as is Let’s Not Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexander Fuller. A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel completely nailed the book and set the tone for a genre. A book that I wish would have gotten more attention because I just love it, and the cover absolutely evokes a time and place, is Carousel of Progress by Katherine Tanney (Austin’s own! What up K?...She doesn’t read this blog….)

Okay the wait is over. My favorite book jacket is, and as I said I didn’t really have to think too hard about this at all (nor do I ever try to think too hard on much), is Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy, front jacket design by Michaela Sullivan. The jacket is breathtaking and I think about that image a lot. I didn’t pick this book up because of the cover; I actually read an incredible review of this book, put the paper down and immediately went to the bookstore to buy it. However…I would have absolutely picked this up and judged it by the cover. And you know what? I would have been right. I mean that’s how I met Liz! [For the record, as adorable as my "cover" may be, Gianna has never picked me up.  For one thing, she's just not that strong.  I'm not a small person.]


Like Gianna, I'm a huge fan of the hardback cover for The Hakawati. I love the opulence of David Mitchell's 17th Century Japan as captured for The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.  I also remember the first time I saw the cover of Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin.  I would have hung that cover on my wall if I had a poster.  I also loved the cover for Michael Chabon's The Final Solution (though I didn't love the book); likewise, I thought the hardcover jacket for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay was indeed amazing.  I really did purchase a copy We, the Drowned based on the cover alone.
My favorite book cover, though, is the one for A.S. Byatt's wonderful The Children's Book.  The classic elegance perfectly matches the words inside, a large, family story about the arts and a loss of innocence in the period leading up to World War I.  I love the color and simplicity of the jacket.  This cover enhances what is already an amazing book.


  1. Seriously, I was contemplating going on with my books as well, I just didn't know if I could come up with enough categories, so I'm just gonna crib yours!

  2. She read it (your blog) today.

    Because I had nothing whatsoever to do with the cover of "Carousel of Progress," I believe I'm allowed to say how AWESOME I always thought it was. Thank you, thank you, Gianna, for all you've ever said about liking my book and wishing it had received more attention. Mwah!

  3. I'll take the Yates's
    Moondogs by Yates - coolest thing ever &

    Revolutionary Road by Yates (the soft focus one with the car)

    Two from my new job that are amazing:
    Modernism is the Literature of Celebrity by Goldman
    Hilda Hurricane by Drummond

  4. Brian is making me look soooo bad right now...