A series devoted to beautifully designed things found in unexpected places.
I remember watching Reading Rainbow before I even knew how to read. LeVar Burton did everything he could to convince me that I could fly just as high — possibly twice as high — as a butterfly. He presented books as the next frontier of discovery; every page a map leading to the great unknown, the answers to all of life's problems, or just the monster at the end of the book. But no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't do it. Maybe I was a slow reader, maybe I didn't read the right books, or maybe I had ADD. Whatever the case, I convinced myself I wasn't a book person and left books alone.
Fast forward about twenty years and I'm almost finished with a 1,000-page novel that I've been reading in my spare time for pleasure. Confession: I recently read The Great Gatsby for the first time because when required to read it in middle school, I opted instead for the poorly adapted movie version. Something has changed me. I could tell you it's because I'm older and wiser and a faster reader and I don't, in fact, have ADD — but that would make for a rather boring (and even more off-topic) blog post. So here's the "real" reason for my conversion: I judge books by their cover. There, I said it. Graphic design has turned me into a snobby book cover critic who only reads books with pretty covers.
So an independent publishing house like McSweeney's is a breath of fresh air amidst a market of dull cover designs and digital e-books that leave the cover out altogether. Dave Eggers, a prolific writer and storyteller, founded McSweeney's over a decade ago and it has since grown to a well-established publishing house that produces a quarterly literary journal, a monthly magazine/journal, a quarterly DVD magazine, and most pertinent to our discussion, beautifully written, well-designed books. I love this publisher not only for their bold art direction, but for the production quality they put into real books, resulting in beautiful works of art. But don't take my word for it…
Even the most avid Kindle reader can see that the beauty in these books runs deeper than mere content. It's their tangibility that gives them that final sense of connection with the reader — the feeling of a leather- or cloth-bound cover on your fingers; the surprise of finding what's beneath a die-cut; the addition of beautiful marbled end-pages. It's these small moments of intimacy that make real books worth their weight. So whether you're a book person, an E-book advocate, or just a fourth grader struggling to get through the first page of Sarah, Plain and Tall, I invite you to pull up a fancy chair, have a seat and read a good book (hint: you'll know the good ones by their cover).