The ProsenPeople

Book Cover of the Week: Wuthering Heights

Friday, December 19, 2014 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

Emily Brontë died today in 1848 at 30 years old, after falling ill from exposure to the elements during her brother’s funeral. (Some believed that the true cause of death was a broken heart over her sibling: Emily gave out not three months after Branwell’s death.) Deeply distrustful of doctors, she refused medical attention until her final hours.

Wuthering Heights, her only surviving novel, was first published just one year before her death.

In general, book designers assigned to Wuthering Heights don’t seem too enthused about the project: most covers for the novel feature strikingly similar variations on a bare tree—that or a lone woman looking very unhappy. Penguin’s 2009 edition—pictured above: cover on the left; back on the right—is a refreshing exception.

There are also a couple designers who took on Emily Brontë’s only novel as an artistic exercise. Although these book covers don’t appear to feature on any marketed edition of Wuthering Heights, it seems worth it to share a couple standouts:


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Book Cover of the Week: Ishmael's Oranges

Friday, December 05, 2014 | Permalink

Posted by Chava Lansky

Ishmael's Oranges by debut novelist Claire Hajaj tells the parallel stories of Salim and Jude. Salim is a young Palestinian boy living in Jaffa who's life is thrown upside-down in 1948. Jude is a Jewish girl living with her family, all of whom are Holocaust survivors, in the north of England. Their paths collide in 1960s London where they fall in love despite the many challenges their backgrounds provide. Hajaj follows the journey of those cast adrift by war and the individual and universal conflicts that ensue. The beautiful cover illustration depicts the detachment and anonymity of a life in exile.

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Book Cover of the Week: After Birth by Elisa Albert

Thursday, November 13, 2014 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

As we await the release of Sami Rohr Prize finalist Elisa Albert's forthcoming novel, the newly unveiled book cover for the British edition of After Birth was sent to the Jewish Book Council in the last week, and it's a winner:

Elisa Albert is the author of The Book of Dahlia: A Novel and How Is This Night Different?, a collection of short stories circling around Jewish holidays and rites of passage. Through the narrative of a new mother striving to befriend and aid a transient, trendy neighbor in her sleepy college town, After Birth, due out in February from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, explores the challenges of first-time parenting and postpartum depression, interfaith marriage, and the second-hand trauma of the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors. And yes, breastfeeding features heavily.

If you're in the New York area, come out to hear Elisa Albert speak about After Birth at our new literary series Unpacking the Book: Jewish Writers in Conversation.

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Book Cover of the Week: A Thousand Pieces of You

Wednesday, November 05, 2014 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

Yesterday was not only the 2014 United States midterm elections; it was also the release date for the first installment in a new Young Adult Fiction series, Firebird:

A Thousand Pieces of You by New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray has been long awaited in the literary blogosphere, which has taken a particular interest in the novel's book cover. It's not hard to see why.

Basking in comparisons to Cloud Atlas and Orphan Black, the novel's story sounds like The Amber Spyglass with cool new gadgets. Protagonist Marguerite Caine's parents are renowned physicists whose crowning achievement is the Firebird, a device that enables travel through alternate dimensions. When her father is killed, Marguerite pursues his murderer through worlds accessible only to those wielding her parent's invention. But with each new dimension she traverses, Marguerite's mission becomes less and less clear.

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Book Cover of the Week: When Books Went to War

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

It's Banned Books Week, the literary world's defiant celebration of books that have lamentably been censored in schools, bookstores, and libraries. Censorship and the destruction of books both sacred and profane have made no small stain on Jewish history throughout the world, even today.

At the Jewish Book Council, we thought we'd focus this week on efforts to encourage reading and freedom of expression. Did you know that while Nazi Germany decimated over 100 million volumes during World War II, the United States Army and Navy distributed over 140 million books to its servicemen fighting abroad?

Almost every American publisher joined the Council on Books in Wartime, which printed and distributed 1,200 titles in travel-sized paperbacks designed to fit in the pockets of standard issue military uniforms. The Victory Book Campaign collected over 18 million donated books from American civilians. Novels considered classics today were propelled out of obscurity by their popularity among the soldiers who carried them through battles and marches.

Now get out and celebrate the First Amendment!

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Book Cover of the Week: Jane Austen Cover to Cover

Friday, September 19, 2014 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

There’s nothing so thrilling as finding an intriguing edition of a book you love from who-knows-when to take home with you and place next to the other seven copies of The Master and Margarita (my personal bibliophilic collectible of choice) on the shelf.

(Moving past Russian literature of varying translation and censorship,) I don’t think I’ve ever entered a used book store without taking at least a glance at their Jane Austen stockpile. Just to see what’s there—it’s not like I don’t already possess multiple copies of each novel across bookshelves and storage boxes in four different states. So imagine my delight at discovering Quirk Books’ forthcoming visual book, Jane Austen from Cover to Cover: 200 Years of Classic Covers!

“The covers gathered in this volume represent two hundred years of publication, interpretation, marketing, and misapprehensions of Jane Austen’s works, but underneath the variety of images one thing remains the same: the text that left the pen of a woman in Hampshire, England, two centuries ago,” author and Austenblog editrix Margaret C. Sullivan observes in her introduction to Cover to Cover. “No matter how beautiful, tacky, infuriating, beguiling, silly, or strange the packaging may be, the story inside never changes.”

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Book Cover of the Week: From Bombolini to Bagel

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

Having worked with Jacqueline Gmach in her role coordinating the San Diego Jewish Book Fair for many years, the Jewish Book Council was thrilled when she announced the publication of a book of her own—a memoir of her life journey from Tunisia to France, Israel, Canada, and eventually the United States:

So now I know what bombolini are, and my mouth is watering!

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Book Cover of the Week: The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.

Friday, September 05, 2014 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

I revisited Adelle Waldman's debut novel over Labor Day, recommending The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. to a friend who sadly experienced some major heartache this summer. And this novel is so. Good.

My forlorn friend's immediate response to the book? "Great cover art!"

This is not the book cover he saw. Apparently, this is what The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. looks like in Australia? But the original is pretty great, too.

Update: Henry Holt & Co. verified that the image pictured is the UK edition!

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Book Cover of the Week: Bespotted

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

We loved seeing everyone's pictures of and with their canine friends for National Dog Day this week! Dog lovers and Disney fans alike will adore this new book from Counterpoint Press, out next week:

Bespotted: My Family's Love Affair with Thirty-Eight Dalmatians by memoirist Linda Grey Sexton is a beloved children's film come to life, the story of how a new litter of puppies impacted a New England family and inspired the Pulitzer-winning poetry collection by Anne Sexton (the author's mother), Live or Die.

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Book Cover of the Week: In the Spirit of Homebirth

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

Whether homebirthing is your steez or not, there's no denying the delight of this book cover:

In the Spirit of Homebirth: Modern Women, an Ancient Choice is a collection of stories across a panoply of cultures, socioeconomic classes, religions, and environments from women and their families who opted for this contemporary expression of an ancient tradition in childbearing.

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