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Gorgeous Books

November 7, 2012

I went to Greece. I came, I saw, I…whatever.

It was a beautiful, life-changing experience, as trips to foreign countries ought to be. It wasn’t perfect. At times, it was frustrating. But it was inspiring.

But this isn’t a travel blog. And I could explain all of the reasons I haven’t posted recently, but this isn’t Livejournal, either. Or…whatever people use these days. Tumblr? I could post photos.

Scooby DooThis was my Halloween costume.
Photo by Robert Walter. ©ArenaNet

Chitchat aside, I do have something to talk about. Gorgeous books.

When I was younger, I had an edition of The Lord of the Rings trilogy with fold-out maps. I still have them, but they’re in sad shape. They’ve been read too many times, and their beauty’s been worn away from something artistic to something antique.

I’d always thought of those books as the exception to the rule. I’d encountered lovely, illustrated children’s books, of course. Then there were those novels that had small pictures at the front of each chapter, like Harry Potter. These books are attractive, but they’re not the gorgeous books that I’m referring to.

A few weeks ago, I picked up Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The cover gives you a pretty good idea of what you can find inside.

Throughout the book, there are bizarre photographs that the author had previously collected. He wrote a narrative stringing the photos together. The story itself is…well, it’s cute, but nothing incredible. What’s amazing about this book is the book itself. The photographs are mesmerizing. Every page has a delicate pattern at the bottom surrounding the page number. Even the inside cover is beautiful.

Photograph credit http://www.agonyclite.com/

It’s just a gorgeous book.

You find them occasionally, where the book itself is art, where the texture of the pages, the font of the print, and the embellishments are all part of the story. These books are immersive in a different way from your average novel. Holding the book in your hands is like holding a physical, delicate world. You know how the story feels, how it looks, as much as you can imagine what it’s saying in your mind.

Any book can draw you into its universe, if you’ve got a shred of imagination and the author has a shred of talent, but a gorgeous book…it can change your whole perspective. I don’t believe fancy decoration is necessary for a fantastic story. But I do believe we shouldn’t limit ourselves. There’s so much you can do with technology, and not enough people take advantage of it.

Talk about technology and books, and of course someone has to bring up e-books. It might as well be me. You might not get the whole “texture of the page” thing, but a digital book doesn’t need to be printed—which means there are no ink requirements. So why have a black and white book?

But that doesn’t mean you should doll yourself up like a ’90s Geocities website. I’m not advocating crap like this:

The people who put together the books that I’m referring to when I say “gorgeous books” knew what they were doing. If you want to make your own gorgeous book, get someone else to handle the design. I don’t care how good you think you are. I don’t care how many NaNoWriMo book covers you’ve designed for your friends. Get it done right.

There’s nothing wrong with a black and white book. But images and designs can be powerful, too, when wielded properly. So next time you see a gorgeous book, cherish it. And don’t forget it.

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From → Inspiration

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