We’ve all been told never to judge a book by its cover but have we all listened? Probably not. At one point or another you’ve probably most definitely judged a book by its cover and who can blame you – it’s hard not to! Whether you’re perusing Barnes and Nobles (or an indie bookstore) or glancing at Amazon Books, chances are you’ve noticed a book based on its bright colors, large font, steamy couple on the cover, textured surface, and so on. That is what the artists and publishers behind a book want – they want you to notice it. I stumbled upon an infographic recently published by Invaluablewhich uncovers key points about the process of creating book covers and offers some awesome fun facts behind 18 famous book covers!
Here are some interesting tidbits and publishing secrets using 18 of the most famous book covers out there!
Joan Didion is more than just an author; she’s an icon. She is an essayist, novelist, journalist, and everything in between. Didion is one of the most famous authors of all time. After the 1968 release of Slouching Towards Bethlehem, she gained a cult following of avid fans that has yet to cease.
And I, personally, am a part of that cult. I love Joan Didion with an intensity I could never begin to fully explain. From the moment I read On Self-Respect, she owned a part of my soul. I collect her essays like they’re going out-of-style (which they never will, obviously). She’s the writer I turn to whenever I feel my own writer’s block creeping in; she never fails to shake up my thoughts and make me see things differently.
Also, she’s taught me so much, and I don’t just mean in the emotional sense! She has taught me aboutwater, about the Women’s Movement, all about the state ofCalifornia (which I will be relocating to for the next six weeks in, like, four days and Didion has helped soothe my very anxious East Coast heart more than I could ever thank her for.), New York City, and so, so much more.
Joan Didion is above all else; she exists on a plane that is entirely her own. Her writing is bold, honest, dry, descriptive-yet-casual; she can make anything relatable, interesting, and easy to understand. She is the Queen of words. And, what better way to honor her ever-growing legacy than with some lesser-known facts about the wordsmith herself?
1. Didion is an insanely killer cook.
While everyone in the 1960’s was wasted out on hallucinogens and party favors, she spent her evenings cooking elaborate meals for dinner parties of thirty-to-forty guests.
2. Nancy Reagan loathes her
After interviewing her for The Saturday Evening Post in 1968, Reagan was less-than-thrilled to find the piece dripping with Didion’s famed bluntness and ever-so-slightly-sarcastic edge, calling her a “bitch” and a “hack”. (Also, how angering is it to see someone refer to Queen Didion that way? Show some respect, Nancy!)
Image Via LGBTQ Nation
3. She told Vogue she spoke Middle English.
In her application to Vogue in 1965, Didion wrote “middle English” when asked what languages she speaks. (Didion’s dry humor has been winning for decades.)
Image Via James Howden
4. Warren Beatty was Didion’s not-so-secret admirer for years.
Apparently his love and constant come-ons to his close (and married) friend were a running joke amidst their inner circle.
Image Via Interview Magazine
5. Harrison Ford was hired by Didion to help renovate her home in Malibu.
This was years before his own fame would erupt, and Ford has publicly spoken about how grateful he was to always be invited to Didion’s house parties, even when he was simply working as her carpenter.
(Can you spot Harrison Ford back in his carpenter days?)
Image Via Gauchazh
6. A babysitter predicted her daughter’s death
In 1966, the babysitter Didion hired to watch over her daughter Quintana told her Quintana had an “aura of death surrounding her”. Quintana passed away on August 26, 2005 at the age of thirty-nine.
Image Via The Cut
7. She freezes her manuscripts
Didion would put her manuscripts in a plastic bag and stick them in the freezer whenever she had writer’s block. (Even Joan Didion struggles with writer’s block!)
Image Via Vanity Fair
How lucky are we to be alive at the same time as this literal legend? Long live Joan Didion, huzzah!
So, we all know reading is the greatest hobby there is. It allows you to escape into other lives, worlds, and galaxies, but it also allows you to learn new ideas, facts, and ways of interpreting and understanding the world around you. Not to mention it allows you to touch, smell, hold, rub your face on the beautiful, fragrant capsules of wonder known as books.
2. The word for loving the smell of old books is ‘Bibliosmia’. Similar to carbon-dating, scientists can analyze the chemicals responsible for “old book smell” to determine the age of a book. The process is called “material degradomics”.
3. The three most read books in the world are The Holy Bible, Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, and Harry Potter.
4. Nevada, Texas, and Mississippi have the highest ratio of customers to bookstores in the United States.
5. Dr Seuss invented the word ‘nerd’, using it in his 1950 book ‘If I Ran the Zoo.’
6. 68% of books sold worldwide are bought by women.
7. The term ‘bookworm’ originates from insects who live in and feed on the binding of books.
8. The most expensive book in the world is the 1640 Bay Psalm, which sold for $14.2 million.
9. The largest book in the world is The Klencke Atlas,which measures 1.75 meters tall, and 1.90 meters wide when open.
10. Fools Of Nature by Alice Brown was the first book to be described as a ‘bestseller,’ in 1889.
11. 1453 saw the first ever book published: the Gutenberg Bible. It was printed by the inventor of the printing press, Johannes Gutenberg.
12. Longest novel ever written is Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust, containing an estimated 9,609,000 characters.
13. Tsundoku means “to let reading materials pile up in one’s home and never read them” in Japanese.
14. Charles Dickens owned a bookcase which functioned as a secret door in his house, and was populated with fake books bearing amusing names including Jonah’s Account of the Whale, The Lives of a Cat which came in nine volumes, and The Art of Cutting Teeth.
The Harry Potter exhibition at the British Library contains many fascinating insights into the Potterverse, including original manuscripts and various pieces of inspiration behind the books. It also includes J. K. Rowling’s original sketch for the Hogwarts castle and grounds.
Image Via Cosmopolitan
In the sketch, Rowling has included the lake containing the giant squid behind the castle, with the greenhouses and vegetable garden on the right hand side. These are where the castle’s supply of magical herbs and plants come from, as well as where the students study herbology. In front of the school is the Forbidden Forest and Hagrid’s hut. The Whomping Willow is also sketched, famous for destroying Mr. Weasley’s flying Ford Anglia at the beginning of The Chamber of Secrets, when Harry and Ron crash the car into it. Opposite the forest is the Quidditch stadium with changing rooms on either side, and between the forest and the stadium is a promenade, leading, she has noted, to Hogsmeade.
The Harry Potter exhibition also contains the original synopsis of the first book, as well as original drafts and manuscripts, which reveal such details as the fact that Dudley was originally called Didsbury, and Professor Trelawney was named Enid Pettigrew.