Cormac McCarthy Picador Covers

As with many books now, they only gain world wide attention after they have been made into a film. When Cormac McCarthy's The Road was adapted last year, so too were his books given a new lease of life.

the entire collection

Commissioned by U.K. book publisher Pan Macmillan, British designer David Pearson redesigned the author's entire collection for the Picador reprint. After purchasing a copy of The Road (of course! The famous one! The one that is now a film populated by attractive film stars!) I can state my admiration for the design - it is both interesting, individual, striking, and above all, entirely appropriate. It sets the tone of the writing before one even lifts the front cover, which is a feat indeed considering the scale of the mammoth landscapes inhabited by McCarthy's hardy protagonists - from post apocalyptic urban decay to blood thirsty Mid-Western bounty hunters, all in complimentary fonts. Perfection.

And then I found this one, which must be by the same guy, right? RIIGGGHTT???


I mostly hate Quentin Blake's illustrations. I can't explain why - it's some kind of instinctive revulsion. Yes, I know I shouldn't say it because everybody loves them, but there we are. However, this one here, utilised by the incredible manufacturer's of BEN'S COOKIES, I think is fitting, charming and makes me trust (and also want to eat!) the said cookies.

I can't help feeling Catherine Rayner would strongly disagree with my Quentin Blake verdict. But that's ok. Afer all, I love her work!

the illustrations of Catherine Rayner

I love her illustrations for children's picture books such as Sylvia and the Bird and Augustus and His Smile, both of which she also wrote. They are so free and distinctive, and blissfully uncartoony in comparison to many modern children's illustrations. There's an element of wonder or even (dare I say it) magic suffused through the quality of the images that I find refreshing. They're quite impressionistic, in their own way, which I like a lot. We don't necessarily have to simplify things for children.

Below are a few of her illustrations, more of which you can see over at her official website.


the Collected History of Printing

This is absolutely amazing. It's an installation AND consequently a book (as a kind of buy-product) by artist Xavier Antin. The book is printed through a chain made of four printers each with its own colour and each from a different period of technological design, dating between 1880 and 1976. I can't help feeling like this is a brilliant idea that I can't believe hasn't been explored before. And of course, you can buy the book.

MAGENTA (Stencil duplicator, 1880)
CYAN (Spirit duplicator, 1923)
BLACK (Laser printer, 1969)
YELLOW (Inkjet printer, 1976)

His website is full of wonders.


the doubtless guest

Thanks be to Amber, again.

This book cover has prompted me to go through an Edward Gorey phase. My favorite (and possibly the most famous) of his picture books is The Doubtful Guest, a story that features a weird little creature in Converse and scarf who turns up at the house of his standard late Victorian family and stays for dinner, promptly eating the plates. Then, just as suddenly as he (or it perhaps) arrived, he leaves. Gorey wrote and illustrated many similar books by himself as well as works by other authors during his brief spell working in the art department at Doubleday in New York - including, unsurprisingly, Dracula, by Bram Stoker. He died in 2000, aged seventy five. There's an obituary for him just over here. Claiming predominantly to be self taught, Gorey's illustrations largely focus on strange, gothic and macabre subjects, but always with wit and charm, similar to Maurice Sendak, making him one of the twentieth century's best loved authors.

I mean, how can you not love this little dude??


Where the teenage Wild Things secretly are

My great friend Amber Lundy Leigh sent me these fantastic covers this morning. I have seen both of them recently, so feel it is fortuitous that we can bond over great book covers. The first is a novel I'm sure we all recognise and have read during our angry adolescent period. Then, hopefully later, been re-read with the hindsight of this time, thus revealing the heavy ironic slant that veers across Holden and his entertainingly agitated decisions.

The latter is a collection of short stories by Dave Eggers (who, incidentally, co-wrote the screenplay for the film of Where The Wild Things Are, based on the Maurice Sendak children's picture book. He then went on to publish a full-length novel inspired by the story, entitled, imaginatively, The Wild Things.) I love the way the entire format of the cover is integrated into the design, instead of being formed awkwardly by the illustration and the typography jostling for your attention while not leaving enough space for either. And its reminiscent of so many antiquated images (I'm thinking of those Victorian surgery diagrams one sees in old surgical theatres or medical museums) while remaining stylised and original in its own right.

I can't find anything on either of the illustrators, so, if you know who they are, drop me a line.


well hello there!

Hi. My name's Henry. If you've read my other blog, POP PHILOSOPHY, you may already know this, but the likely hood is that you won't know, and now, even though you know, you may not care especially. But this is a blog where that doesn't matter at all, as it is not about me, it's about books.

Seeing as I have been nurturing a growing obsession with books and their covers, I have decided to devote an entire blog to them. You may notice some flux between the two, but that's okay too, as the content of this will remain fairly niche - books!

What I would really love is to get a dialogue going, so if you have anything to say, please feel free to voice it in the comments box below. It's always nice to meet people as passionate about something as yourself. Go on, don't be a stranger.

To kick start the Aesthetic Book Blog is this wonderful and sinister cover to Charles Bukowski's collection of poems that date between 1974 - 1977. I don't know who the designer is, so give me a heads up if you know. And I can't decide if it's screen print or etching - or both, or neither! Again, any opinions appreciated. Regardless of my ignorance, I still love looking at it. Its got a kind of Medieval/Bauhaus thing going on, which I think really is a winner.

And here's a sample poem, which I neither wrote nor originally uploaded. Instead I found it HERE, on his matching website.

the price
drinking 15 dollar champagne
Cordon Rouge with the hookers.

one is named Georgia and she
doesn't like pantyhose :
I keep helping her pull up
her long dark stockings.

the other is Pam prettier
but not much soul, and
we smoke and talk and I
play with their legs and
stick my bare foot into
Georgia's open purse.
it's filled with
bottles of pills. I
take some of the pills.

"listen," I say, "one of
you has soul, the other
looks. can't I combine
the 2 of you? take the soul
and stick it to the looks?"

"you want me," says Pam, "it
will cost you a hundred."

we drink some more and Georgia
falls to the floor and can't
get up.

I tell Pam that I like her
earrings very much. her
hair is long and a natural

"I was only kidding about the
hundred," she says.

"oh," I say, "what will it cost

she lights her cigarette with
my lighter and looks at me
through the flame :

her eyes tell me.

"look," I say, "I don't think I
can ever pay that price again."

she crosses her legs
inhales on her cigarette

as she exhales she smiles
and says, "sure you can."