Apr 18, 2012
The New York Times takes on young adult fiction; Some cool links for those of you who are fascinated by book jacket design, and The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh and Batman Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli.
We've been fascinated by the New York Times website feature "Room for Debate," especially when they tackle literary topics. One topic was book blurbs, and recently they took on the topic "The Power of Young Adult Fiction." There was a hue and cry from the blogosphere when columnist Joel Stein wrote a rather inflammatory editorial called "Adults Should Read Adult Books." We love the idea of different voices debating literary topics (of course we do!) so we wanted to share this section with you, even if some of the entries infuriate us.
We've decided to do another show about book jackets, because we know that you are all fascinated by the topic. Also, many things have come to our attention recently that are worth sharing.
First, Chip Kidd, famed book designer, did a TED talk that has been highly praised. If you have ever wondered how a book jacket is created, and what happens in the mind of the designer, don't miss this 20 minute video. It's highly entertaining, and will make you look at books in a whole new way. For more on Chip's work, see if you can track down a copy of Book One: Work, 1986-2006.
At the same time, Michael found a tumblr site called New Cover, where graphic artist Matt Roeser redesigns book jackets after he's read the books. His designs are terrific, and we are eager to follow Matt's career as a book jacket designer.
Lastly, one of our favorite author friends Matthew Dicks wrote a blog post showing some of the early ideas for the jacket of his new book, Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend. Matt shows the UK cover, the US cover, and two covers that were rejected. I've started reading Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, and so I have some sense of what the book is about. That sense colors my opinion of the four book jackets, though I understand where the ideas of the jackets came from. Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is already out in the UK (published under the name Matthew Green), and will be published in the US this summer.
I loved The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, and I'm very excited that it is now in paperback. This story of a young woman who has "aged out" of the foster care system is a poignant and compelling novel that has made me keenly aware of what happens to foster children once they reach the age of 18. Author Vanessa Diffenbaugh is committed to shining a spotlight on this problem, and her novel does this in a way that is never preachy and is wholly entertaining. I think this is a great selection for book clubs, as there is much to discuss.
Michael starts his segment with a challenge to me: he wants me to read Batman: Year One by Frank Miller, which has just been re-released in a deluxe edition. It looks at the beginning of Batman and what happens when Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham after training to become Batman. It's also a look at the early lives of several Batman characters. The art for this edition is by David Mazzucchelli, who did the amazing Asterios Polyp ("hmmmm," says Ann, intrigued), and is very realistic. There are a lot of "extras" in this edition, and Michael recommends it as a graphic novel for those who think they don't want to read Superhero comics.