I love books. I love the smell of the paper, the way they feel in my hands. I like the creased pages of a well thumbed novel. I like little notes handwritten inside the front cover by friends who've bought me them as gifts. I love using old greetings cards and photos as bookmarks. I love seeing how far through a book I am. I love the nostalgia of looking at a book and remembering when and where I read it. I love the stack of books that lies next to my bed. But most of all, I love book cover illustration.
I won't lie, I'm not a fan of e-readers, and have no desire to own one. It's a regular, circular argument between me and one of my colleagues, who frequently voices the virtues of e-readers - the lack of suitcase space, the lightness in weight, the convenience. It doesn't wash. Give me a suitcase ladened with beautifully illustrated books any day. I'd happily lug it across the world. There are so many reasons why I love books more than e-readers. If you're interested, here are just a few.
A few years ago I was given Faber and Faber's Eighty Years of Book Cover Design. For me, the process of buying a book is as much about the cover as the content. I love new and emerging illustrators and seeing their interpretations of the books I read. I love the creativity, the colour and the feelings they evoke. I love the idea of a book being a work of art of itself. I feel frustrated about bad book covers that bear no relation to the content, or use stock imagery and tired fonts. Most recently, the 50th anniversary edition of Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar annoyed me.
I collect old books, and in particular I love 1950s illustrated dust covers. While admiring my 1950s edition of Alice in Wonderland (below) recently, I thought it might be fun (as it's World Book Day of course) to celebrate the art of books and how different artists have interpreted this famous tale since it was first published in 1865.
1899 - original illustrations by Sir John Tenniel
1910 - illustrated by Mabel Lucie Attwell
1916 - illustrations unknown
1951 - illustrated by the Walt Disney Studio
1969 - illustrations unknown
Recent - Alison Oliver
Recent - Ralph Steadman
Recent - Sara Mulvanny
Happy World Book Day! What will you be reading today?
Liked what you read today? Then why not subscribe? Just click the button: