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Book Cover of the Week: New Renderings of the Night Trilogy

Wednesday, July 20, 2016 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

While Sophie Segal, one of Jewish Book Council’s interns this summer, was researching her essay on the legacies of the late Novel laureates Imre Kertész and Elie Wiesel, I came across some striking representations of Wiesel’s Night trilogy, dreamed up by independent graphic designers:

Definitely a strong departure from the standard paperback edition. What do these aesthetics contribute to the books they cover, or does an artistic element somehow detract from the work as Wiesel intended? I’m curious to hear other readers’ thoughts on this—please chime in using the comments section below!

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Book Cover of the Week: Revolutionary Yiddishland

Tuesday, July 12, 2016 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

Following up on last week's simple artworkon a biography of Karl Marx, let's expand the design and discourse to all of "Yiddishland":

Revolutionary Yiddishland: A History of Jewish Radicalism by Alain Brossat and Sylvia Klingberg is a journey across the Jewish socio-political movements arising out of a population of roughly 11 million in the dense archipelago of communities stretching from the Baltic Sea to Russia's western borders. Tempered by an unusual muted pink, the stylized book cover captures the energy of the history it examines: socialists, Communists, Bundists, Zionists, Trotskyists, proletariats, and intellectuals steeped in the religious traditions of their families and swept up in "the great current of revolutionary utopian thinking" of their time. An attempt to recover the rich radical history of a lost realm and working class, Revolutionary Yiddishland will be on the shelves September 2016 from Verso Books.

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Book Cover of the Week: Karl Marx, Greatness and Illusion

Tuesday, July 05, 2016 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

While the contents of a philosophy-packed biography of Karl Marx is almost certain to send my head spinning, the clean lines of its book cover are enough to set it back on straight:

Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion comes out this September from Belknap Press, condensing the life and oeuvre of one of the world's most influential intellectuals into 720 pages of history and thought. The simplicity of the book jacket's design is a great pairing for the whirlwind of information within, balanced and bold. Just don't stare at it too long—it'll make you dizzy.

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Book Cover of the Week: They Were Like Family to Me

Tuesday, June 28, 2016 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

If you're surprised to discover that Helen Maryles Shankman already has another title due out this October, look closer:

For reasons the author attributes to "the mysteries of the book business," Scribner has decided to change not only the original artwork for In the Land of Armadillos but the very name of the book itself in a "reprint edition" of Shankman's debut collection of short stories, which came out in February. The announcement of these changes was met with a wide range of responses from readers, writers, and friends of the author last week—as well as here in the office! " I think it's a good sign that they're changing the title and cover," one fellow writer commented on Shankman's post. "It means they are still very invested in the book."

While it sounds like the cover you see above is still far from finalized, it's a great sneak peak. What are your thoughts on the new book cover and title? Weigh in in the comments section below!

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Book Cover of the Week: I'm Supposed to Protect You from All This

Tuesday, June 21, 2016 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

It took opposite journeys for a mother and daughter to each find themselves at the start of their adult lives: one needed to leave France to discover herself; the other needed to return to Paris to discover her family—the side that “didn’t have dealings with the Nazis. They occasionally traded goods with the Nazis,” as her grandmother insists.

The other side, as you may have guessed, is immortalized in the three-volume graphic memoir Maus: A Survivor’s Tale. Lest you think I’m going on a cartoonist craze after last week’s feature, Nadja Spiegelman’s memoir has little to say about her father or his work. Instead, I’m Supposed to Protect from All This is about the relationship between Nadja and her mother, New Yorker art director Françoise Mouly, strained by the echoes of Mouly’s own upbringing between two eccentric parents and the families that raised them, in turn.

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Book Cover of the Week: Hot Dog Taste Test

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 | Permalink

If you own a Netflix account—or a subscription to Lucky Peach, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, or McSweeney's—you've seen Lisa Hanawalt's work. This week, the designer and producer of BoJack Horseman releases a collection of her graphic essays in Hot Dog Taste Test:

Hot Dog Taste Test also features never-before-seen sequences of graphic memoir, including illustrations of her travels to Argentina, where Hanawalt's great-grandparents settled after escaping pogroms in Odessa, to join her mother's family in Buenos Aires on summer retreats to La Cumbrecita. You can preview sections of the book here and see how the creator of the most famous horse since Mr. Ed fares as an equestrian in the Sierra Grandes.

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Book Cover of the Week: The Reason for Flowers

Tuesday, June 07, 2016 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

One of my very favorite Jewish holiday traditions is coming up: beflowering one's home for Shavuot! Owing to a midrash that Mount Sinai spontaneously blossomed into flower with the transmission of the Torah at its top, a lovely (but often overlooked) custom emerged of decorating homes and even synagogues with visually and fragrantly appealing flora. And what better way to declare the spring is here?

With floral arrangements to be made, this is the perfect week to revisit Stephan Buchmann's delightful book The Reason for Flowers: Their History, Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives—now available in paperback! Trust me, the content is as enticing as the book cover—which is even more glorious in textured hard copy than the striking image you see above. One of my favorite nonfiction reads in the last year and likely the best book on flowers I've encountered yet, Buchmann's approach blends beauty with science, sociology, and good writing. Beyond accessible, The Reason for Flowers is an engaging and enjoyable read, packed with fascinating knowledge about the plants around us.

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Book Cover of the Week: Barbra Streisand's Jewish Lives Biography

Tuesday, May 17, 2016 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

What's a girl to do at 74 years old with a No. 1 selling album for every decade since 1964 to her name?

National treasure Barbra Streisand is still glowin', she's still crowin', she's still goin' strong: Streisand's longtime manager announced yesterday that the iconic performer is embarking on a North American summer tour this August, beginning in Los Angeles and concluding in Toronto, to herald the release of a new album. Which mean's it's a good time to share the book I have enshrined face-out on my shelves since April:

This black-and-white profile shot is the perfect portrait to grace the Yale Jewish Lives Series biography entitled Barbra Streisand: Redefining Beauty, Femininity, and Power. Taken from Steve Schapiro and Lawrence Schiller's project to capture the young entertainer over the course of her first five years in Hollywood, the image captures Streisand's distinct appearance and ambition, the face and drive of the woman who inspired and empowered generations of Jewish girls to see themselves as gorgeous, talented, and unconquerably funny. Dedicated to the author's daughters (and son-in-law) and "all those who have ever been told they could not succeed," Neal Gabler's examination of Barbra Streisand's career and legacy highlights how her refutation of conventional standards and expectations "converted her Jewishness into a metaphor for outsider-ness that would eventually make her the avenger for anyone who felt marginalized and powerless." I feel infallible just looking at her photograph on the book cover.

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Book Cover of the Week: Here I Am

Tuesday, May 10, 2016 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

It's been over a decade since Jonathan Safran Foer's last novel—Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close—was published. But as fans of Foer's fiction may or may not have already heard, the hiatus ends this September, with the release of Here I Am!

Following a family in crisis over a three-week span in Washington, DC, Here I Am promises a welcome return for readers who loved Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Everything Is Illuminated. Mark your calendars for "Jonathan Safran Foer's most searching, hard-hitting, and grandly entertaining novel yet" to hit up your local book store, and look for more from the author in the months to come here at Jewish Book Council!

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Book Cover of the Week: Warp

Friday, March 18, 2016 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

You know how some shows take a few episodes to find their legs? I initially gave up on Parks and Recreation, for example, disappointed in the early run of a program I had greatly anticipated, and returned a couple seasons later to what by then quickly became one of my favorite comedy sitcoms of all time. After seeing the show through its finale I went back to the beginning of the series and discovered the brilliance of the early episodes I had shunned: though the humor had evaded audiences at the start of Parks & Rec, the writers were subtly developing the comedic arteries of the show, laying the foundation for the rest of the sitcom's seven-season run. Rewatching Season 1 with the full anticipation of what would follow made appreciate it on a whole new level.

The same can be true when it comes to books: an author's debut flop transforms to treasure on the merit of their later works, prized for the early strains of the writer's more popular books and progression it showcases.

Just such a phenomenon is promised with the re-release of Lev Grossman's first book, originally published in the late '90s. Tor Books revealed the cover for the September 2016 edition from St. Martin's Griffin earlier this week, attesting that "this re-publication of Grossman’s debut novel shows the roots of his Magicians hero Quentin Coldwater."

The author, for his own part, was a little more self-effacing: "St. Martin's published my first novel WARP in 1998," he announced this week on Facebook. "Unsatisfied with the amount of money they lost on it last time, they're republishing it (with an introduction by me) in September. Here's the new cover."

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