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Showing posts with label LaurieHalseAnderson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LaurieHalseAnderson. Show all posts

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Confessions of a Bibliophile #3 - Judge A Book By It's Cover

Often shoppers judge books by their covers, at least at first glance. Reading some of my favorite authors happened by chance as I picked up one of their books based upon the cover. Steven Brust's early novel Jhereg, is one example. This book came out when I was 13 - it was about an assassin witch. I loved the art work so much I used the font from the cover of this and others in the series to create the designs for one of my tattoos. Another book I picked up to look at just because of its cover was Orphanage by Robert Buettner; first published in 2004 it had a great retro Sci-Fi feel, and it reminded me of many of the early covers of Robert A. Heinlein's books, and in reading the cover I found out it was written in homage to Heinlein's classic Starship Troopers, which is an amazing commentary on war. So of course I had to buy it that very day. Third, The Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman, had something mystical about the cover and it had an effect upon me. I had the book for almost two years before reading it because I did not want the spell of the cover to be broken.

In years gone by I collected every edition of different books. Some of Piers Anthony's books have gone through 5 or 6 cover changes. Many classic science fiction books were originally only available in pulp, paperback editions - cheap to make and cheap to recycle to make new ones. I owned the complete Edgar Rice Burrows Warlord of Mars series originally published between 1917 and 1964. These books were transformational in the years after I first learned how to read. Let me digress for a minute. With a dual form of dyslexia and after repeating grade one, they just kept passing me on in school. I got through my book reports by renting VHS or Beta tapes, and paying close attention in class. The summer between grades seven and eight I was sent to a private summer school, and I went from reading at a grade 3 level to reading at a university level and reading over 400 words per minute. It was this whole world that opened up to me that I never knew existed. Reading became an addiction and books an obsession. I read many DAW books, a publishing company dedicated to Science Fiction books. At the time of their merger with Penguin Group in 2007 they had published 1400 books, and from the inception in 1972 until 1985 their books all had yellow spines and a yellow logo box on the front cover. Therefore as you browsed used book stores you could easily recognize the books even if they were not cover facing.

I am sure that you are aware that a great deal of planning goes into choosing covers for books. Publishers also change covers if a book has been out a while, if response was not what was expected. A few years back a book called The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks came out, in the original prereleases of the book there was no author or title on the front cover. But eventually the American arm of the publisher forces a small black diamond with this info. Later they changed the cover completely so that the title and author was in large blocks on the cover. I personally was more attracted to the original, it was so unique and different it immediately grabbed my attention. I often judge books by their cover, or if I do not know the author their covers induce me to pick up the book or to leave it on the shelf or table. It is all part of how books are marketed to us. The next time you are in a Chapters or Indigo books, check out the tables, check out the books on the end caps of the bookcases. These spaces are rented or sold to publishers. Some tables will be all books by one publisher, some will be thematic or issue focused. But most of these books on tables are there to get your attention, to inspire you to pick it up and hopefully purchase it. Another thing used to draw you to certain titles are book lists. At Chapters you receive a discount on the Globe and Mail best sellers' list, and then there is Heather's Picks. The owner of Chapters-Indigo has a table with her selection of books that influence her and are favorites. The other is Oprah's Picks - the day a book is mentioned on her show most Chapters, Indigos and Coles in Canada sell out. The stores start getting calls to reserve them before the show has finished airing. There is an interesting story about Canadian author David Adams Richards. One of his books was selected to be an Oprah Pick. When his publisher told him this, and that it would dramatically increase sales, he went to look at this list of Oprah's Picks. When he saw the books on the list he did not want his name associated with those other books and opted not to allow his book to be one of her picks. Yet all of these marketing tricks are designed to get you to pick up the book and hold it, In part to judge it by it's cover.

Seldom when book covers change do I appreciate it. I am a creature of habit and like things to stay the same. A few books that have changed the cover art for the worst, in my opinion, are Dust by Arthur Slade, Fidelis by A.R. Horvath, and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Some books that have pulled it off well are Orphanage by Robert Buettner, The Singer by Calvin Miller and Night by Elie Wiesel. So drop me a line and let me know what books you have judged by their covers and whether it was worth it. Yet all in all judging books by their covers has almost always served me well. Seldom have I been terribly disappointed and wished I had not read the book. So as you look at that next book cover, and its placement in the store, consider all the factors in the marketing behind it, before picking it up, flipping it over and reading the back. Yet as always remember you never know what you will find between the covers.

(First Published in Imprint 2009-05-29.)

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Meme Booked by 3 - January 2008 - Best of 2007

Meme Booked by 3 - January From Shelly's Bookshelf!

1. List up to 3 books you read in 2007 that you loved.

Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart - Fr. Jacques Philippe
Twisted - Laurie Halse Anderson
Sherman Oak and the Magic Potato - S. William Shaw

2. List up to 3 books you read in 2007 that were disappointments.

Their Kingdom Come: Inside The Secret World of Opus Dei - Robert Hutchison
You Suck: A Love Story - Christopher Moore
The Sea Within: Waves and the Meaning of All Things - Peter Kreeft

3. List up to 3 authors you discovered in 2007 you definitely will put on your Must Read list.

S. William Shaw
Dr. Kevin Vost
Fr. Jacques Philippe

Answer in the comments or leave a link to your answers, please. I'm looking forward to seeing what you list. You can also see my complete list of books read by year here, favorite books each year here and favorite authors here.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Twisted by: Laurie Halse Anderson

Twisted
Laurie Halse Anderson
Viking Press
ISBN 9780670061013

Laurie Halse Anderson is the author of 5 novels and 3 picture books. Her books have been nominated for numerous awards and many recommendations. Each of her books that I have
read has been excellent and this one is no exception. The dust jacket states "Everybody told me to be a man … Nobody told me how." Anderson captures the essence of the journey from a boy to a man.

Tyler Miller had been caught defacing school property, and now he is a hero to some, and an outcast to others, and is trying to find his way in the world. He has done community service all summer at the school, and worked for a landscaping company.

Now he must return to school and face the students and teachers who know what he did and the punishment he received for it. The school year begins badly; at a party he is knocked into a tray of glasses and cuts the feet of the Alpha female of the school, who happens to be the women of his dreams, Bethany Milbury.


Tyler is forced to take Bethany a cake as an apology for the accident. They become friends, and seem to be sort of dating. Then Bethany gets trashed at a party, and Tyler does the right thing. Yet Tyler broke his curfew from the court and that is just the beginning of some serious problems in his life. Unfortunately someone takes advantage of Bethany while she is drunk and most people think it is Tyler because of his reputation.

Most people think he did it. The cops keep coming by. He is attacked in school and out of school. He struggles with what to do, how to be a man. Can he learn how to be a man; can he take control of his life that seems completely out of control?

This book does an amazing job of capturing the angst of growing up, of finding your place in the world. It shows clearly the transition from boy to man, and then end of high school and moving on to the rest of life.

Anderson, as a woman, surprised me with he ability to write about becoming a man; her insight and clarity are awesome. This book should become a classic. Much like her earlier novel Speak I believe this book should be on the reading list for every high school or university Children's Literature course.

The book leaves you wanting more. The reader will want to know what happens next. Where is Tyler in a year, 3, 5 or 10? These questions will haunt you after you finish the book.

Anderson's blog is Mad Woman in the Forest.

(First Published in Imprint 2007-09-28 as 'Short Titles With Varied Depths.')
For my review of Speak click here.

Sunday, 16 October 2005

Speak by: Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak
Laurie Halse Anderson
Penguin

Melinda Sordino, a student with good grades and great friends, has made some mistakes. At the end of a summer party she calls the cops, yet when they arrive she doesn’t tell them anything. Back at school the next year, her friends won’t speak to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her as the fink who wrecked everybody’s party, and her grades start dropping. Her relationship with her parents deteriorates quickly. She becomes sullen, and withdrawn. However this picture is not the whole story.

Her parents know something is wrong but cannot get her to open up. Her only hope is her art teacher; he realizes something is very wrong and through the assignments he gives her tries to draw her out.


This is a story of a girl who is abused, and who doesn’t know how to talk about it, but in keeping it inside she is self -destructing. Can Melinda find her voice and speak of her sorrow, or will her silence destroy her?