I unashamedly judge books by their covers. There, I said it. This obviously doesn’t mean that I will read a book purely for its cover, nor would I dismiss a book simply due to a bad cover, but there’s no denying that one of the first things to grab my attention is beautifully designed artwork, so much so that I’ve often been known to pay more to get different editions shipped internationally because I much preferred the covers.
With all that said, there are many stunning covers on my shelves (and many more I would like to add to them in the future) and when thinking recently about what my tastes seem to be, I noticed two main trends amongst many of my favourite covers. Firstly, I seem to prefer artistic rather than photographic covers, and secondly, I evidently love animal motifs. I thought it was interesting that without even realising it, I had a ‘type’ as it were when it comes to what hooks me in. Here are some examples, some of which I already own; others I hope to get my hands on one day; all of which I love:
The Gracekeepers, Vixen and The Raven King.
The Tusk That Did the Damage, The Collector, The Maker of Swans and The Crane Wife.
Have you noticed any trends in what attracts you to a book cover?
One of my favourite quotes
It’s just a quick, random little post today because I wanted to share a lovely bit of trivia.
I’ve long maintained that a good poem can feel incredibly lyrical and rhythmic, and that a well written song reads like a poem in its own right. I thusly found it really interesting to hear that in Japan, the word ‘uta’ can apparently be used to mean both ‘poetry’ and ‘song’.
I don’t think it can be a coincidence that the country often considered the hub of great poetry writing has noticed and embraced this obvious connection between the two forms.
Do you have any fun or interesting language facts to share?
There’s no more precious gift than beautiful art.
I had a tricky relationship with poetry for a long time. It was something I found fascinatingly powerful as a reader yet entirely unapproachable as a writer. To try and rectify this, I made a conscious decision in the New Year to produce a lot more of my own poems and for better or worse, I’m glad I did. Naturally, when looking to write more poetry, I also spent more time reading it and decided it would be nice to share a few of my favourite poems with anyone else who may be interested in the beauty the written word has to offer.
Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep – Mary Elizabeth Frye: This is, in my eyes, one of the most poignant pieces ever written and it has been a huge influence on my own work. Hauntingly simplistic in its use of language, yet utterly moving in its sheer beauty; I adore it. Allegedly Frye had never written any poetry before and scrawled this verse on a paper shopping bag. Even as it grew in popularity, she only ever circulated it privately, never seeking formal recognition through publishing or copyrighting the piece. This origin story only makes me love and appreciate it even more.
Revelation – Liz Lochhead: I think Lochhead is one of Scotland’s finest poets. I remember first reading Revelation (largely about a loss of childhood innocence) years ago and its vivid use of imagery that engage the senses has stayed with me ever since. It’s very accessible yet no less commanding.
Still Falls the Rain – Edith Sitwell: This incredibly powerful poem is somewhat ‘heavier’ than I normally read and enjoy but something about it just totally engaged my mind. Sitwell’s war imagery is incredible and though it took me a few readings to fully appreciate its many layers, the piece is now one of my firm favourites.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou: Easy to read yet hard-hitting in its message, this poem can resonate in so many ways. The inspiration is touching and the imagery hugely effective.
I could go on, as there are many poems that I love. In the spirit of not rambling on too much however and at risk of inevitably forgetting some, I will leave it at that for now. If you read any of them, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did and please do share any poems you like in the comments. I would love to check them out.
We need to protect the art of writing
I was writing something the other day. Nothing fancy, just a quick note to remind myself of something I had to do later. While I scribbled, my friend leant over my shoulder, took a quick look at the note and complimented me on my neat handwriting. This brief, casual exchange got me thinking.
I love writing things by hand, I always have done. I remember my Primary school teacher, Mrs Stephen, repeatedly telling me that my handwriting was neater than hers, something I took a disproportionate amount of pride in. I think the difference is that I have always seen handwriting as an art form that deserves time and care. I don’t rush when I write by hand; I want it to look nice, so much so I have even been known to tear a page out of a notebook and start again if I felt it wasn’t neat enough.
I think it is sad that this ancient, beautiful and artistic form of expression is dying out in the digital age. Even as someone who wants to preserve it, I still don’t write as much as I could or should. Other than the occasional memo, notes such as character information for my writing projects and correspondence with my Aunt (a habit we have kept up since I was very young), most of my writing tasks are now conducted on a laptop – and yes, I do recognise the irony that I am indeed typing this blog post. It is that I feel is where we have to make the distinction; blogging, emailing and social networking are all well and good for the incredible convenience they offer but I don’t think they should ever exist to the detriment of an art form that is almost as old as we are. We wouldn’t think it fair to dispose of paintings because of the rise of photographs, so why should handwriting suffer this cruel and unnecessary fate?