Thursday, January 31, 2013

New Year, New 30 Day Book Challenge, Day 27

Day 27: Favorite Book Cover


We have attacked this question before so we’ve decided to limit ourselves to our favorite book cover of the past twelve months. It wasn’t long before we realized we would have to change that to favorite book covers; there was no way we could decide on just one.

Full disclosure; there are a few books on my list that I haven’t read, a couple that I probably won't read, and I have included a culinary book so you can gather pretty quickly I will never read it.  In fact, let's start with that book because it sure is pretty, and it’s the best book treatment I have seen in quite a while. 

Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts) – cover design by Praline Studios. I came across this book when I was in New York for work a couple of weeks ago, and the cover image here doesn’t come close to giving you an idea of how gorgeous this book is. Go to the Praline website and check out the detail, especially the spine. It’s a complete work of art; how Bloomsbury did this for $50 I will never understand. 

Next up for me is a sentimental favorite which has already won a couple of small press jacket design awards.  We had lots of discussions about this jacket for Let the People In at work, lots of back and forth, but in the end our designer (Lindsay S.) did an absolutely fantastic job. [I totally agree. It's iconic.]

As usual, any time we do a list of any sort, I like to include a story collection; annoying ain't it?  I Am An Exectuioner: Love Stories by Rajesh Parameswaran (call me if you would like me to mispronounce that for ya) [Email me if you want Gianna's phone number] is a book I was drawn to by because of this really cool, really perfect cover design. Oh, I have been burned before, purchased a real stinker that looked pretty (still talking books), but this book was really fantastic. I can't remember if it made my top ten or not (I don't actually read our blog because I've heard it's quite bad), but I did like this book a lot. 

My next book has sat unread on my bookshelf for a year. I quickly became so tired of hearing my blog-partner-in-life go on and on about how good of a read it was, that I decided to put it on the back burner.  Like any life partnership, it's very difficult, and certainly a mistake, to acknowledge the other is right in any situation (I used to be a couples therapist), so while I really want to read Watergate by Thomas Mallon, I think it's best I don't for fear Liz will be right. [First, this is a lifetime gig? Shit. Second, I'm always right.]

This next book is as handsome to look at as Tom Cruise in Risky Business

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright. Some subjects are hard to capture for a book cover. It leads to many different designs, many arguments, and often times one has to just sit down to with a couple of empty soup cans on a string--also known as an e-meter--and process it with your auditor to figure out what's really bothering you (that will be my only crack about Scientology...if you don't include the Tom Cruise comment. Seriously, I am done now). Anyway, my point is that sometimes typography is the way to go and this jacket is an absolute home run. Its thetan-tastic!  [I'm sorry, but this blog, though crappy, remains a pun-free zone.]

I was only going to do five books, but I want to give an honorable mention to The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin. Actually, this author has hit the jackpot when it comes to book covers; her past three books have had really great looks, hardcover and paperback versions. I think historical fiction is a touch genre to cover--it has to be clear that it's a historical novel--but it also has to look modern enough for us to be interested.  I will let you look up her previous books but here is a look at her latest. [A quick shout out for Melanie Benjamin, who was kind--foolish?--enough to answer our horrible questions once. She's made the New York Times extended bestseller list and success couldn't come to a nicer person.]


Yes, I do judge a book by its cover on a regular basis. I don't claim to know anything about good cover design, but like porn, I know it when I see it. It's simple: great covers lure customers into picking up the book. Less simple: nailing hundreds of pages worth of text with a single image. If Gianna hadn't already picked them, both Let the People In and Watergate would appear here. Consider them part of my list, but for the sake of variety, and since you just looked at them, I'll spare you.

Let's start with what I consider possibly the best book cover I've ever seen. Seriously. Peter Mendelsund, the designer, is the genius behind the covers of Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, the gorgeous new translation of Doctor Zhivago, the Jo Nesbo books like The Snowman. His cover for The Flame Alphabet, though, literally made the reps gasp when we saw it as sales conference. That day I wrote a note to a colleague that said "They better not change that one. It's perfect." (Covers often change between sales conference and on sale.) I wanted to own this book for the cover alone. I would frame this cover.

I love the look of The Beautiful Ruins, from the image to the script. It evokes a time and place and draws in readers. Don't you want to know the story that matches this setting? Me too. It's on my to-be-read pile right now.

For shear badassery, it's hard to beat Angelmaker's cover. It captures the clockwork mechanics that play a central role in the novel, it's has a code hidden in the design that's waiting to be cracked, and it's shiny.

My Random House Children's division colleagues loved Wonder, a book about a boy who can't hide his facial deformity from classmates. It's a book that passionately advocates for compassion and crusades against bullying. The cover conveys a message of fragility and surprise without beating you over the head with, like, Eric Stoltz's made-up face from the movie Mask. That would have been too much. This is not.

I was totally charmed by Where'd You Go Bernadette, and I'm totally charmed by this cover. It captures Bernadette's quirky nature and missteps--she's a world class architect trapped in suburban hell that's partially of her own making. It's just cool.

Speaking of cool, this reissue of Invisible Man is very, very cool. I already own Invisible Man, I've already read Invisible Man (it's great and a must read, by the way), so I really don't need this copy. But I want it. 

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