Monday, 25 August 2014

I know you're not supposed to, but I really can't help judging a book by its cover. I've read The Drowning Palace and loved it, but had to deduct a few points because I couldn't stand looking at it. Covers matter to me, because I am a shallow, superficial person.

That said, here are some blue covers for Top 5 Wednesday that don't force me to duck into potted plants to avoid being seen in public with.

Top 5 Wednesday: Blue Covers (of books you own)
1. The Golem and the Jinni - Helene Wecker
At the risk of sounding stupidly poetic (but if there is anything I ought to get stupidly poetic about, it'll be this cover, by the interestingly named Richard Ljoenes), this is a cover you want to get lost in, like a dream you can serenely float through. It gives Central Park a quiet and mysterious magic of its own, in perfect coordination to the mystical protagonists of the story.

I've always been a sucker for the color combination of blue and yellow gold (peacock blue and mustard yellow being my favorite), and this cover is basically everything I could ask for. The beaten gold accents serve a stunning complement to the rich blue hues and the ghostly white spaces.

I just really love looking at this cover. This is one time you can judge a book by its cover and have your astronomical expectations completely satisfied. Yes I'm overselling it, but not by much!

2. Rebus - James Jean
James Jean, famous for his enchanting cover work in equally fantastic graphic novel Fables (among other things, like, y'know, his design work for freaking PRADA), is kind of a god. There's a definite kind of magic to the subjects of his art and an odd sort of inventiveness in the details he slips in the cracks that I can only guess at. If there's an art term for seeing new things every time you observe a piece of art, that would be him in a nutshell, because there's always something to marvel at in a piece of work touched--even breathed upon--by James Jean.

Am I waxing poetic again? IT JUST HAPPENS, OKAY. I've been lucky enough to go to two of his book signing events and both times I was reduced to a blithering idiot at the mere sight of him. But he was a totally nice guy and politely ignored the stuttering compliments that dribbled from my numb lips. He just gave me a kind, understanding sort of smile and let me slink away with the shriveled scraps of my dignity. See. Class.

3. Aurorarama - Jean-Christophe Valtat
 Here, however, is an instance where judging a book by its cover may lead to varying results. I love this cover, from the curious polar bear peering up at the massive and ominous zeppelin, to the absolutely delicious title typography with its artfully excessive curlicues. Happily enough, even the author's name adds a hint of the romantic to it -- it's a fun name to say. The glittering city in the distance adds to the zeppelin's mystery but echoes the hopeful yellows and greens of the ice in the foreground. 

In fact, I did just buy this one solely on the strength of its cover. The story, though, was a bit of an effort to slog through. If you like romps through an arctic steampunk city laden with corruption and vice on every level, then maybe this is the story for you. In the end, I did like it well enough, but the fact that I haven't scrambled to locate its sequel sort of speaks for itself.

4. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - C.S. Lewis
Time for a trip down memory lane! I know everyone's all about The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (and they wouldn't be entirely wrong, because that book is fantastic and makes me cry every. Single. Time.) but The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was one of my favorite books as a kid. It's not just because this was the only Narnia book I owned that had colored illustrations and smooth white paper, which was an absolute pleasure to touch, though that may be part of it.

I loved the sheer adventure of the story, the amazing places they went to and the creatures they found there, and of course, the glorious hero that is Reepicheep. I'm also a lot less interested in Lucy and Edmund than I am in the cranky and unfortunately named Eustace Scrubb--he and I had a lot in common. I've had dreams about the places the Dawn Treader visited, and although I won't admit to this being a particularly aesthetic cover, reading this book over and over again is one of my fondest childhood memories.

5. Cinnamon and Gunpowder, by Eli Brown
Is it cheating if I don't actually own this version? Mine has the more romantic yet infinitely less humorous cover with the background of a map, laden with spices, octopus tentacles, and an old-timey pistol. However, this was the cover that initially caught my eye online and convinced me to pick it up. It tells you everything you need to know about the story! 

I usually prefer to build an image of a story's protagonists in my head, but with a single illustration, this cover portrays Hannah and Owen more perfectly than I ever could imagine. Behold Hannah's confident swagger, bold as the colors of her hair and clothing, as she (deliberately, it seems) spills her tea on Owen's prim and pristine chef uniform. Her face is like, "What are you gonna do about it? Nothing, ha ha! Silly man!" Observe Owen's diffident manner and bound hands, wonderfully at odds with the treacherous yet slightly bespelled look in his eyes. It's just perfect.

I may already own a much beloved copy of Cinnamon and Gunpowder, but I will not be held responsible for my actions if I spot this on a shelf in the future.

SIDEBAR: I know I'm doing this Top 5 Wednesday thing completely out of order. I'll be better next month, I swear.


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