I borrowed this great book from the wonderful library in the municipality of Montreal where I work as a designer (Côte Saint-Luc). It has an appealing premise. The editor asked people from various walks of life, such as scientists, authors, artists, actors, to come up with his or her ideal bookshelf. It’s a variation on the “what would you take with you to a desert island” question. Illustrator Jane Mount then created some beautiful illustrations of the book spines.
As someone that has worked in bookstores for many years before I became a designer, and as an avid reader, I’ve spent many hours looking over the spines of books. Book cover design has always fascinated me and it’s interesting how such a small amount of real estate has to grab a reader who’s skimming over the shelves.
Going through the book, I realized how easily I could recognize the books just from glimpsing the spines. It’s a tribute to Jane Mount. She has a particular style, but the cover spines are unmistakable. Kudos to whomever chose the size and format of the book. Its proportions are unusual (more horizontal than is typical of books, but not too wide) and it’s just so perfect for the content.
As a bookworm, I also appreciated the textual content. It’s really fun to see how certain titles make it onto the shelves of such seemingly different people. It was nice to see some books that I really loved make it into the book. Some of the contributors seemed to take a snapshot of what they would be reading right now, rather than the choices they would make for a permanent collection. I also appreciated how difficult it would be for me to narrow down my choices from all the books I’ve enjoyed over the years. It was refreshing to see that I’m not the only one who has very eclectic reading tastes and that well-written science fiction could sit comfortably beside some great literature and non-fiction titles.
What I’m reading right now: This Explains Everything—Deep, Beautiful, and Elegant Theories of How the World Works. Some of the theoretical physics goes over my head (even though I’m a huge fan of science writing), but it’s a fascinating collection of mini essays by people answering the question posed by Steven Pinker: “What is your favorite deep, elegant or beautiful explanation?”.
Last book read that I really enjoyed: Blue Asylum by Kate Hepinstall. Beautifully-crafted novel that takes place in an asylum on a remote island during the American Civil War. Interesting treatise on human rights and how society views people that don’t necessarily agree with the status quo.
Hope you’re reading a great book right now!