Beautiful Keepsake Books

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I’ve written previously on this blog about how I used to be really wary of electronic readers. Then one day my boyfriend gifted me with a pretty pink Kindle reader and I fell in love all over again. The best things about the Kindle? You can carry your entire library around with you and you can purchase a book anytime you want – plus the price of books are fairly reasonable on the Kindle compared to their real cost in hard copy form. However, I do miss the feel and touch and smell of real books, the excitement of purchasing a new book and flipping through its pages (Kindle, for all its amazing-ness, still needs to work on its ability to flip through pages and pick out pages at random).

And when it comes to illustrated books, the Kindle still has nothing on the real deal. Sometimes, there’s an incredibly beautiful, well-designed, gorgeously illustrated book that you just have to buy in hard copy form. Sometimes it comes with a cover that you can run your fingers over and feel the raised patterns of the illustrations or the soft, fuzzy cloth-like texture, like that of Susanna Clarke’s The Ladies of Grace Adieu. Sometimes it’s the beautiful gold and silver leaf lining the edge of your pages or the crinkle feel of the page itself, like an ancient manuscript from another civilization. Sometimes, it might not even be classically beautiful. Sometimes it’s the intriguing notations in the margins, designed to look as if someone had owned this book before and their story on the margins is a story you’re following as well. Whatever it is, it’s just a book you have to have, to touch and gloat over and leave on your coffee table for your visitors to flip through and enjoy as well.

And book publishers, particularly small presses, are catching on to the wonders of these beautiful, unique books. It’s more than just about presenting a book with an eye-catching cover that will sell well – in fact, books designed merely to sell copies tend to end up looking homogenous after awhile (think, for example, of the trend of YA books constantly featuring girls with their backs turned to the reader). These are books where you realize a lot more thought and consideration has gone into its physical concept, as well as love, care and creativity. And that’s what makes you want to reach out and buy the book and take it home and gloat over it for a little while, marveling at its beauty and cherishing it for the keepsake that it is.

I thought I’d list some of the really beautiful books that have caught my eye lately, for your viewing pleasure: 🙂

I Wonder by Marian Bantjes

Marian  Bantjes I Wonder Cover

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Marian Bantjes is a designer, typographer, illustrator and writer. Consequently, it’s no surprise her books, like I Wonder, are such lovely, personal works of art. It almost seems like some rare antique book stolen from a secret monastery. Buy this for yourself or as a gift for a loved one. Run your fingers along the raised designs and read Bantjes’ thoughts and articles. Allow the book to inspire your imagination and your creative processes.

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Guilldermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities

GuilleGuillermo Del Toro Cabinet of Curiosities

Guillermo Del Toro

I’ve written about the Guilldermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities and I’m including it on my list again. Guillermo’s sketches are weird and peculiar, even nightmarish, the product of his imagination, and it is his imagination laid bare here in this published journal of his, with his own handwriting and notes that compile the creative processes that led to movies like Pan’s Labyrinth. A true creative process laid bare upon the pages of a book.

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S by J.J Abrams and Doug Dorst

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There seems to be a trend of filmmakers turning their hand to books! In this case, it’s JJ Abrams of Lost fame who collaborated with author Doug Dorst. The book, S, is an intriguing concept in itself – it’s almost a book within a book. S features the novel, The Ship of Theseus written by an author named VM Straka. And then there are the notes written on the margins of The Ship of Theseus, telling the story of two college students exchanging notes while trying to figure out what really happened to Straka who apparently died a mysterious death after finishing The Ship of Theseus.  Adding to this air of an Indiana Jones-esque literary hunt are inserts within the book such as handwritten letters, postcards and photocopied articles.

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Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction

Wonderbook

Wonderbook is a pretty helluva special creative writing manual by Jeff VanderMeer. It’s a must-have for any wannabe science fiction and fantasy writer and features contributions from some pretty big author names – think Neil Gaiman, George R R Martin and Ursula K. L e Guin among others. There are writing exercises, interviews and a whole lotta gorgeous illustrations and artwork. What more could you ask for?

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Penguin Hardcover Classics

coralie-classics-2And let’s not forget the classics! How beautiful are these cloth-bound editions of Penguin Book classics designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith? A warning – tactile lovers will not be able to put them down.

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