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Hank Green–Ranting about Books

This video, of Hank Green ranting about book publishing problems, never fails to give me a good laugh. I heartily agree with pretty much everything he says.

0:20 When he starts talking about spoilers in the blurbs and spoilers because of poor layout choices… my copy of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four did this to me. Some book designer thought it would be a good idea to put the last three sentences of the story opposite the Appendix: The Principles of Newspeak. To top it off, my book is a second hand copy and the previous owner liked the last sentence so much he, or she, decided to underline it (!).

So, I’m seven pages into the book, and I come across a footnote that tells me to “see Appendix”. I obey and turn to the back of the book. There, the first thing my eyes can’t help but see, is not the Appendix, but the last sentence–four unforgettable words, underlined in dark pen! It might as well have written like this: SP SPOIL SPO SPOILER!!!  Needless to say, I hold a permanent grudge against both the the designer and the unknown previous owner of my book. 😦

2:10 Books that look like Twilight covers. words to live byI have to say, I was rather horrified and surprised, when I came across Words to Live By (a selection of C. S. Lewis’s writing), a few years ago, in an online bookstore. I still cringe, every time I come across it. As much as I like C. S. Lewis, I would never consider buying this book because of it’s cover. Actually, I take that back. I just realised I would buy it, in one case, only–if I wanted to give a C. S. Lewis book to someone who was also a fan of Twilight! I have yet to meet someone like that.

If we want to talk about design choices and symbolism, I’m really not quite sure what the cover designer was going for here. Surely their target audience wasn’t Twilight fans. I’m thinking that maybe they want to insinuate food for the soul? But more often than not, in Christian symbolism, an apple in a hand means one of three things: temptation, sin, forbidden fruit. The more I think about it the more bizarre this cover choice seems. Why, oh why?!

It also bothers me when two books use the exact same picture as a cover. What’s worse is when you unknowingly buy both of them.

Case in point, my copy of The Diary of an Old Soul by George MacDonald and The Birth of the Modern: World Society 1815-1830 by Paul Johnson. I bought both of these off an online bookstore, secondhand, and the cover photo was not available for either when I made my order. Imagine my surprise when I ended up with the versions that both use The Wanderer over the Sea of Clouds by Casper David Friedrich. The Wanderer Over the Sea of Clouds by Casper David FriedrichIn this case, I really wish the cover designer of The Diary of an Old Soul had a gone with a different cover. Sigh.

2:15  I have a few old books with deckle edges (i e. 80 to 100-year-old; from an era when deckle edges were still a part of the book making process) and I think the deckle edge adds a bit of antique charm to the books. But, I agree, it is annoying (and this is probably more along the lines of what Hank is talking about) when it’s a conscious design choice in modern books, just to make the books seem fancier. Deckle edges tend to get soiled and worn faster than trimmed edges, so I think it’s a pretty dumb design decision and it also looks gimmicky.

How about you, dear reader? Do you have any publishing peeves? (Tom?? I’m guessing you do. 🙂 )  If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comment section below. 🙂

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Mere Coincidence?

So, Tom, you know how yesterday, on the phone, I told you that I just started studying this book on philosophy and you told me all about your travels, including how you saw the world-famous Book of Kells, in Ireland? (Sadly, I’d never heard of the Book of Kells before, and also didn’t understand, at first, what you meant by it being an “illuminated” manuscript. You very kindly explained it all to me.)

Well, today I pulled out the book I’m studying, A Beginner’s Guide to Ideas, and imagine my surprise, when I flipped it open to this. It just happens to be the only page in the book with parts of medieval illuminated Latin texts and I swear I’ve never seen or opened up to it before.

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And then, to top it off, for the first time in over two weeks, I pulled out my George MacDonald: An Anthology (Edited by C. S. Lewis) to read a quote or two. I picked up where I had last left off, and this just happened to be the first quote:

And if we believe that God is everywhere, why should we not think Him present even in the coincidences that sometimes seem so strange? For, if He be in the things that coincide, He must be in the coincidence of those things. Annals of a Quiet Neighborhood by George MacDonald

Mere coincidence? Perhaps a touch of providence… 🙂

Let me, if I may, be ever…

This summer I put away my books and went out to enjoy the world. As much as I love books and reading, I never want to get to a point where they matter more than spending quality time with friends and loved ones or actually going out and living life. I’ve still been reading bits and pieces here and there, but nothing that I would call “real” reading. Starting this week, I’m hoping to slowly get back to regular reading.

Today I pulled out George MacDonald: An Anthology (Edited by C. S. Lewis) and came across this quote which I think is beautiful and profound. It’s gotten me thinking about contentment again and how it’s such a multifaceted word. And now I’m wanting to write a longer post about contentment, but it will have to wait till another time. 🙂

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Let me, if I may, be ever welcomed to my room in winter by a glowing hearth, in summer by a vase of flowers; if I may not, let me think how nice they would be, and bury myself in my work. I do not think that the road to contentment lies in despising what we have not got. Let us acknowledge all good, all delight that the world holds, and be content without it.Annals of a Quiet Neighborhood by George MacDonald