Thursday, August 24, 2017

The "Beautiful Book Covers" Tag

It's no secret that many of us on the literary interwebs love beautiful books.  Not just beautiful because of their sweeping prose, exciting plots, or engaging characters, mind you, but also gorgeous book cover design.  Covers that, when we see them, draw you in or make you stop and stare.  Covers that speak to you in some way, and give you a taste of what the contents of the book will reveal.  It was with this in mind that I decided to explore the Beautiful Books Tag, created by booktuber Jason Purcell.

Choose five of the most beautiful books in your library...

The After Party, by Jana Prikyrl - the cover (a detail shot of original art by Elliott Green, called The Thing Imagines Itself) is a beautiful painting, full of sweeping brush strokes and soothing colors.

The Argonauts, by Maggie Nelson (UK edition) - The watery cover flows across the spine and around both sides of the cover

The Abridged History of Rainfall, by Jay Hopler - I mean, it's an iridescent book cover, evoking rain showers.  So mesmerizing! 

Diving Belles, by Lucy Wood (UK edition) - Mermaids. The sea.  Gold foiling.  Stunning!

Cold Pastoral, by Rebecca Dunham - This poetry collection's cover is beautiful not only because of its watery photo, but for what that photo explores - the effects of environmental catastrophes on the natural world.  What you see is an oil slick that resulted from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling expedition in the Gulf of Mexico.

Choose a beautiful book that features your most favorite color...

Blue is most definitely my favorite color, and the most beautiful "blue book" I own is the hardcover edition of Kirsty Logan's breathtaking short story collection A Portable Shelter. A naked hardback with a blue cover, extensive foiling, and oceanic design elements is something I absolutely love.

Choose your favorite cover of a classic...

The cover of Virginia Woolf's dog-perspective book, Flush: A Biography
Inside, showing the marbled pattern reminiscent of typical 19th century endpapers (and matching bookmark!)

I'm using this space to rave about the most beautifully published books, in my opinion, out there.  Persephone Books is an independent publisher, based in Bloomsbury, London, UK.  They focus on republishing forgotten classics, mostly written by women, and mostly from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They are paperbacks with a dust jacket; the outside of which is dove grey with a white title box.  The inside endpapers are unique to each book, and reflect a fabric that was either of the time period when the book was originally published, or a fabric that is relevant to the story in some way.  They look absolutely amazing together on a shelf.  They are far-and-away my favorite classics' covers.

Choose your favorite edition of a children's book...

I don't have many children's books on my shelves, but one that does have a lovely cover is Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle.  

Do you often buy books based solely on a beautiful cover?

Not exactly.  What usually happens is that I wander into a bookshop (or even sometimes go with a specific book in mind), look at the different editions of a book that interests me, and choose the one that strikes me as the most lovely.  Ultimately, it's the contents on the pages, not the cover, that matters most.  But, a beautiful cover doesn't hurt.

Out of all the books in your library, which one best exemplifies your ideal of a beautiful book?

The Everyman's Library omnibus edition of the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman is just so stunning.  It features my favorite color, has extensive foiling, beautiful character illustrations, and an evocative atmosphere through the intermingling of all these components.

What makes a "beautiful book" to you?  Do you concern yourself with the covers of your books, or having certain editions on your shelves?  Or is this all a lot of nonsense?  If you're interested in doing the "Beautiful Book Covers" tag, then consider yourself tagged.

Librorum annis,