Saturday, January 30, 2010

50 Most Captivating Book Covers of All Time

Can you judge a book by its cover?

Saturday morning diversion: went looking for original 1951 cover of the late J.D. Salinger's classic The Catcher in the Rye and stumbled into this amazing resource that had so many favorites.

Judging the Book: 50 Most Captivating Covers of All Time

The author states in part:catch22-cover

“They say that you can’t judge a book by its cover, but every year publishers spend loads of time and effort getting designers to create covers that will stand out from the crowd of books on the shelf and get consumers to take them home. The cover may not tell the story, but it is certainly an important part of how people choose and remember their favorite books.”

There was a categorized list of the various “captivating covers,” many of which this reader was able to not only identify, but had actually read over the ages. The covers truly “have stood out for their innovative designs, great artwork or just plain eye-catching images…” Here are the categories represented:

  • Classics The Great Gatsby-Fitzgerald
    Many of these covers have become as iconic as the books they represent.
  • Non-Fiction
    From memoirs to philosophy tomes, these books have covers that make them stand out.
  • Modern Works
    Take a look at these covers to see some inspiring and intriguing artwork.
  • Innovative Designs
    The cover designs on these books take the art form to new places with fresh ideas and new ways to bring in readers to the material.
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy
    From the bold minimalism of Chip Kidd to the lush illustrations of Michael Whelan, these book covers are hard to forget.
  • Children’s Literature
    These books have memorable artwork both inside and out.

Found it quite interesting that the cover for Jack Keroac’s On the Road had been illustrated by none other than Len Deighton, On the Road-Jack Kerouac the British military historian, cookery writer, and novelist, perhaps most famous for his spy novel The Ipcress File. He obviously went on to become a great author in his own right, but before all that he designed the cover for Keroac’s classic beat generation book.

Another was Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends, the children’s classic which he wrote and did the cover art and illustrations. This poet, singer-songwriter, musician, composer, cartoonist, screenwriter, and author of children's books sometimes styled himself as Uncle Shelby, especially for his early children's books. Lesser known was that he also wrote for Playboy, and his writing was in a class of its own…  but his drawings are whimsical and endearing enough to stand alone.

In any case, visit the page and see how many if them that you recognize. You may be surprised at what you’ll find.

Original 1951 cover of the late J.D. Salinger's classic The Catcher in the Rye


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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Deteriorata / Desiderata

You are a fluke of the universe.
You have no right to be here.

"Deteriorata" is a famous parody of San Francisco radio and television personality Les Crane's spoken word recording of "Desiderata." It was recorded by National Lampoon as part of their 1972 National Lampoon Radio Dinner album. Les Crane himself admitted to preferring this version over his own Grammy-winning recording of the original poem. Voiceover talent Norman Rose read the "poem" and then-little-known Melissa Manchester was a background singer on the chorus section of the song.



Go placidly amidst the noise and waste, and remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof. Avoid quiet and passive persons, unless you are in need of sleep. Rotate your tires. Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself; and heed well their advice, even though they be turkeys.

Know what to kiss - and when. Consider that two wrongs never make a right, but that three do. Wherever possible, put people on hold. Be comforted, that in the face of all irridity and disillusionment, and despite the changing fortunes of time, there is always a big future in computer maintenance.

You are a fluke of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
Whether you can hear it or not,
The universe is laughing behind your back.

Remember the Pueblo. Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate. Know yourself. If you need help, call the FBI. Exercise caution in your daily affairs, especially with those persons closest to you... That lemon on your left, for instance. Be assured that a walk through the seas of most souls would scarcely get your feet wet. Fall not in love, therefore, it will stick to your face.

Gracefully surrender the things of youth: the birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan - and let not the sands of time get in your lunch. Hire people with hooks. For a good time, call 606-4311, ask for Ken. Take heart in the deepening gloom that your dog is finally getting enough cheese. And reflect that whatever misfortune may be your lot, it could only be worse in Milwaukee.

Therefore, make peace with your god, whatever you perceive him to be: hairy thunderer or cosmic muffin. With all its hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal, the world continues to deteriorate. Give up!

You are a fluke of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
Whether you can hear it or not,
The universe is laughing behind your back.

~ National Lampoon, 1972

Note: The word "Deteriorata" is a portmanteau of "Desiderata" and deteriorate. There's a decent video of the original music from the National Lampoon album here:

For those so interested in reading the original from which the above was based, it was written by Max Ehrmann in 1952, and can be found here: Desiderata.

Above all, remember this:

  • Whether you can hear it or not, The universe is laughing behind your back.