Thursday, August 2, 2007

Poking Fun at Books

The Book Trout flips through many, many books each day at the shop or out bookhunting and must rely on her visual acuity to discern which titles to purchase and shelve and which to leave behind. In the course of a day of scanning book covers and jackets, it is possible to be floored by the utter luridness of some crazy jacket art or weird book design. Mind you, this might mean that the book is a winner and deserves its spot at Old Saratoga Books (usually in the vintage paperbacks sections or pantheon of 1960s-70s fiction), but more often than not, the offending book merely gets a head shake and perhaps a toss into the to-be-donated/recycled box.

I've recently come across a highly entertaining blog, Judge a Book by its Cover, whose long-suffering librarian author must scan through many cheesy books each day. She heroically musters the strength to review these book design disasters and hilariously dissects them on her blog. Very entertaining stuff.

Another website maintained by Seattle booksellers, Pistil Books, maintains an equally enthralling analysis of horrendous book packaging, The Museum of Weird Books. From "Looking Forward to Being Attacked", a women's self-defense book featuring lots of helpful photos of trench-coated felons with paper bags over their heads (remember the Unknown Comic on the Gong Show?) to "Bomba the Jungle Boy in the Steaming Grotto" (politically-incorrect juvenile literature from the 1930s) to "Face Lifting by Exercise" (older beauty and fashion books are always a blast to peruse), this Museum provides an interesting excursion into the biblio bizarre. I must say that I retain a degree of affection for one of the books highlighted in the Museum, Peter Beagles' 1975 craft classic "American Denim: A New Folk Art", which I checked out of my local library numerous times in my youth. I was one of those groovy chicks who embroidered her teen jeans, bucking the tide as a self-styled bohemian as most of my peers sailed into the Danskin and Bonjour jeans phase of the late 1970s disco era.

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