These books are just too pretty!
It’s the pretty ones that give me pause. As a clerk for The Seattle Public Library, I handle hundreds of books every day without being able to stop and look through any of them. But every once in a while one catches my eye, a real stunner, and I make note.
Recently I’ve noticed that many of the beautiful novels coming across my desk all have something in common: McSweeney’s Press. From Dave Eggers, the twisted genius that brought us the magazines McSweeney quarterly and The Believer, comes a plethora of books with gorgeous covers and end sheets.
A flat image doesn’t do these art pieces justice: each have etched covers and metallic highlights along with their skillfully executed illustrations. It is rare to see modern novels like this constructed of such beautiful materials. In the generation that saw electronic readers such as the Kindle become popular enough to require a waiting list and the future of print media become uncertain, it is encouraging to us library folk to see print media with something to offer that electronic resources can’t compete with. These books are tactile, the physical object has intentionally been made part of the experience of reading.
Take a closer look at McSweeneys and it’s “many, very smallish divisions.” Particular gems include the Collins library, a collection of obscure Victorian “forgotten classics” including an English manual that Mark Twain called “absurd and perfect.” Interested in taking a better look at — and feel for — a McSweeney’s publication? You can look them up in the SPL catalog by clicking on Advanced Search and entering “McSweeney’s Books” under Publishers Keyword.
Here are a few suggestions to get your started:
- The Secret Language of Sleep by Evany Thomas
- Bowl of Cherries by Millard Kaufman
- Vacation by Deb Olin Unferth
- Icelander by Dustin Long
- Here They Come by Yannick Murphy
- The Facts of Winter by Paul Poissel
~ Brandi H