Beautiful Books, or What I Want for Christmas

Several weeks ago I wrote about book covers, and that although we all know that what counts is what lies between them, we often can’t help but to feel the pull of a beautiful, unusual, or otherwise aesthetically interesting cover. There are, at least for me, some books whose covers I so enjoy looking at, that I let them sit on my coffee table for months on end for the sheer pleasure of having them there.

A few days ago I read this article on Huffington Post Books, about several new series of paperbacks from Penguin Books (already well-known for their covers and wonderfully orange spines), Melville House, Vintage Classics, and Visual Editions. Each of these collections are not only visually arresting in their own right, but also include pretty interesting literary selections. For example, the Melville House collection, titled “The Art of the Novella,” includes shorter, lesser-known novels by famous authors. My inner collector (no, not hoarder), now wants to go out and get every last book in this Pantone-inspired collection of classics, which includes titles such as Mary Shelley’s Mathilda, Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Eternal Husband, and Marcel Proust’s The Lemoine Affair, among 42 others. I think Santa is going to have to bring me a few of these this year.

Here are some of the collections. Maybe they’ll end up on your holiday list, too.

Penguin Books (Penguin Threads)

Penguin Books (Penguin Ink)

Melville House, “The Art of the Novella”

Vintage Classics

Visual Editions


11 thoughts on “Beautiful Books, or What I Want for Christmas

  1. It’s always fun too, to look at the various editions of a book for the cover changes (UK editions, US editions, paperback covers, etc).

    Then there the ‘total packaging’. I was particularly fascinated by this book when I got it from the library. You know there’s something unusual going on when the librarian checking the book out to you starts leafing through it in fascination! It’s a lovely book – and still in my top 10 for the year (I read it in May). “Nox” by Anne Carson

      • You’re welcome, James! And Chaz, I haven’t read it, or anything by Foer, for that matter. I think that completely deconstructed text may be a bit much. Interesting in theory, but not sure how much I’d enjoy the read. Then again, I may be wrong.

  2. These are absolutely beautiful and I must have them all.
    I love covers, I am instantly drawn to particular ones, and will leave them out to look at for a very long time. At the moment I am enjoying having The NIght Circus sitting on the kitchen table. I’ve already read it on Kindle, and brought the hardcover for its lovely design.

    • They are all so beautiful. I’ve already talked myself into getting the “Penguin Threads” books for my daughter (even though she’s’ only three), and I’m definitely going to start collecting the “Art of the Novella” series. Not just because they are so beautiful as a collection, but because although I’ve read nearly every author on that list, I haven’t read many of the books in the series.

      And you’re right, the enjoyment that I get from books doesn’t end when I finish it. I enjoy being surrounded by them, looking at them, etc. Currently I have Robert J. Richard’s “The Tragic Sense of Life” sitting where I can enjoy it.

  3. Wonderful! Thanks for sharing. I particularly liked the Black Beauty cover you posted. I remember reading an article a couple of years ago when e-readers were first becoming popular about publishing houses paying more attention to the design of their books, i.e., they wanted to “fetishize” books and their aesthetic quality.

    I have a copy of Anne Carson’s Beauty of the Husband and whoever does her covers should get an A+.

  4. Pingback: The Illustrations of Ernst Haeckel, the Romantic Biologist | Intelligent Life

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