Why I Love Broken Spines and Crinkled Pages

Before you start yelling–yes, I know, that was a controversial title, but bear with me.

Recently, Ava @ Bookishness and Tea had a post on her blog where she wondered if being a book blogger has made her shallow. Basically, before becoming a book blogger, she didn’t care what her books looked like, but now that she is incredibly protective of her books’ physical appearances, sometimes to a ridiculous extent.

I connected with a lot of the things she said. I love having my bookshelves look pristine. I love it when I get a new copy of a book and it is perfect, and I’ve gotten angry when books I’ve ordered come less-than perfect, even if they are still in pretty good shape. I never read books with the dusk jacket on because I want it to stay safe  so that it will be forever gorgeous on my shelf.

However, I also love it when my books get worn out. I actually pride some of my favorite books in being so worn that you can barely read the spines. Which got me thinking…

Why do I simultaneously love perfect and well-worn books?

Loving perfect books is simpler to understand, so I’ll start with that one. This applies to hardcover books more often for me, because it is actually possible to keep dusk jackets pristine (basically, never let them leave the house). Hardcover books in shiny dusk jackets are gorgeous–I think all of us can agree. They photograph well, look cohesive when they are a part of a series, and give bookshelves an air of “aren’t you jealous of how pretty I am.”

My gorgeous TOG books (which for some reason don't include TOG itself)
My gorgeous TOG books (which for some reason don’t include TOG itself)

Sometimes I try to keep books in pristine condition because I know that they will be important to me. If I can tell that I love a book from the beginning pages, or if it is part of a beloved series, I am more likely to take care of it as I read it. I’ll have visceral reactions to getting food smudges on pages or accidentally crumpling pages. It is a way to show respect for the book, to keep it in good condition.

However, I cannot keep all of books in perfect condition. I read in the morning while I eat breakfast, so there are some crumbs/smudges on my pages. I’ve never been one to dog-ear pages or write in books, but my books do get crammed in my backpack, under my lunchbox and pummeled by the constant in-and-out of binders and notebooks through my backpack. Paperbacks get their covers bent, some pages get accidentally smeared. And for the most part, this sucks.

these books are in gorgeous condition, right?
these books are in gorgeous condition, right?
wrong... (under the dusk jackets)
wrong… (under the dusk jackets)

However, some of my favorite books–the ones that I should logically want to look perfect–are absolutely destroyed. I’ve considered re-buying them to have nicer copies, but even the idea of replacing these worn-out books freaks me out. I love how worn these books are.

Why?

For me, a book being worn-out means that it has been read over and over. Most of my favorite books have been read by my sister, my mom, my grandmother, and me. I’ve also reread most of these books at least twice, probably three times–and my sister has done the same. The wear doesn’t come from not loving the books or accidents, it comes from love.

these books have been read a LOT
these books have been read a LOT

A book cannot be read upwards of a dozen times without showing it. Spines break. Covers fade. My favorite book even has a page that has completely fallen out and is tucked into the right place like a bookmark.

wpid-20151124_115825.jpg
whoops…

Then there are the intentional marks: favorite quotes underlined, favorite scenes bookmarked with Post-It notes. Happy faces and hearts penciled into margins. Little details you missed the first time you read it discovered the second and marked for the third.

In these crumpled pages and broken spines are signs that these books have been loved, not just by me, but by my entire family. There is history trapped in these books, and to replace them in the name of cleanliness would destroy that history. When I see these worn-out books, I smile, because they make me remember just how much I’ve loved them throughout the years.

So yes, if I buy a book today, I want it to be perfect. I want it to stand proudly on my bookshelf. I’ll be angry if the pages get smashed or if the dusk jacket gets bent.

But if in five years that book has been read so many times that its pages are marked with love and its spine is broken, I’ll also be happy. I’ll be proud. And don’t you dare take it away from me.


What do you think? Are any of your beloved books worn out? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

Judging Books By Their Covers (part 2)

Yesterday, I commented on books whose covers and titles I really felt captured the essences of the books their were trying to sell.

Today, I rant about covers that aren’t accurate.

Note: Every book posted here is really good. Follow the links in the titles to read the synopses and buy them. I’m just complaining about inaccurate covers, not bad books.


There are a few types of inaccurate covers.

Most of the problems I have with covers share a common denominator: though they draw me in, they don’t sell me the book they’re protecting. They are interesting by virtue of a pretty model or drawing on the cover, not because they represent the story they are supposed to.

When a publisher acts like a pretty girl or a dramatic dress is enough, no matter the plot of the book:

Angel Burn by L. A. Weatherly

cover angel burn

 Since a large portion of this book is people camping in the woods, I think it is a safe bet that she never breaks out a fancy dress and a wind machine.

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

cover VA

 It looks like a badly done selfie.

Born at Midnight by C. C. Hunter

cover born at midnight

Why is she standing in a tree?

Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

cover across a star swept sea

 That dress is now ruined.

  Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

cover shatter me dress

 This dress isn’t even pretty.

 

When a physically strong female character who spends a large portion of the series in fight scenes is depicted in a way that makes her look like a model and eliminates any hint of warrior spirit:

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

cover alice in zombieland

She becomes a BAMF, not a confused girl in a lacy dress.

Die for Me by Amy Plum

cover die for me

The amount to which this cover does not match the protagonist is astounding.

When the cover designer just chooses a random dramatic object and runs with it, acting as if it as something to do with the series:

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

cover shatter me

She doesn’t do magic with her eyes. Seriously.

(This book shows up twice. Neither cover was good.)

 Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout

cover halfblood

There might be one scene with a flower in it.

 

When the cover of the book just doesn’t match the inside aesthetically:

Shadowland by Meg Cabot

book 1

 She’s an awkward high school student dealing with ghosts. Not whatever this is.

 

When the image on the cover DID NOT HAPPEN. EVER.

Out of The Easy by Ruta Sepetys

cover out of the easy both

Neither of these.

Are there any books I missed? Feel free to suggest more in the comments.

Judging Books By Their Covers

In spite of the expression’s metaphorical accuracies, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” has always struck me as bad advice taken literally. My first impression of a book is its cover and title, and authors and publishers should work as hard as they can to make these two both appealing and accurate. I don’t want to pick up a book that they’re selling as a paranormal romance only to find out that it is middle grade fantasy. I don’t want to skip over an incredible book because its cover and title were so lackluster I didn’t notice them on the shelf.

Here I’d like to give a shout out to some of the best titles and covers I’ve come across. (Basically, I’m out of post ideas, and judging other people is always fun.)

All books are judged on accuracy and intrigue of titles and covers. Synopses given are Amazon’s.

All of these books are REALLY good. I would recommend all of them. (I may have already for some of them.) Follow the links in the titles to buy them on amazon.


The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness:

cover knife of never letting go

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him — something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn’t she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd’s gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

My note: This title, on top of being memorable and intriguing, is actually very relevant to the novel, and ties into some of the largest reveals of the series. While the cover appears plain, the scrawled words encroaching on the image are tied in throughout the novel, one of my favorite little tidbits the author/publisher through in to make the story come alive.

 

The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer

cover vigilante poets

Witty, sarcastic Ethan and his three friends decide to take down the reality TV show, For Art’s Sake,that is being filmed at their high school, the esteemed Selwyn Arts Academy, where each student is more talented than the next. While studying Ezra Pound in English class, the friends are inspired to write a vigilante long poem and distribute it to the student body, detailing the evils of For Art’s Sake.But then Luke—the creative force behind the poem and leader of the anti-show movement—becomes a contestant on the nefarious show. It’s up to Ethan, his two remaining best friends, and a heroic gerbil named Baconnaise to save their school. Along the way, they’ll discover a web of secrets and corruption involving the principal, vice principal, and even their favorite teacher.

My note: I absolutely loved this book. The cover is simple but captures the aesthetic of the book–a major focus on high school life. The title is fun and accurate.

 

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

cover beauty queens

The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream Pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.
What’s a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program – or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan – or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?

My note: I know the above description sounds horrible, but this book is awesome. It’s girl power and anti-bigotry, done really well. If you haven’t read any of Libba Bray, you should. This one is my favorite of hers.

 

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

cover Blackbirds

Miriam Black knows when you will die.

Still in her early twenties, she’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, suicides, and slow deaths by cancer. But when Miriam hitches a ride with truck driver Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be gruesomely murdered while he calls her name.

Miriam has given up trying to save people; that only makes their deaths happen. But Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim. No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.

My note: This cover looks kinda plain on first inspection. IT IS NOT.  After reading the novel, you should look back at the cover and appreciate just how much work the cover designer went to. Chuck Wendig even gave him an entire paragraph in the acknowledgements, thanking him for his great job.

 

The Night Circus by Erin Morenstern

cover night circus

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.

My note: I can’t even say anything about this book. It is incredible. So worth reading, and the cover really captures the feeling of the book.

 

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

cover rebel belle

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper’s destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.
Just when life can’t get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she’s charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper’s least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him–and discovers that David’s own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.
My note: (I already reviewed this book.) The cover is not necessarily directly accurate to the novel, but it does encompass certain themes and elements of the story.
What covers do you love? Feel free to tell me about them in the comments.