This week’s culture round-up

  • Flavorwire tells us that these are the 20 most iconic books covers ever . It’s interesting that most of the books on the list are books that middle-class adolescents are expected to read.   This is not to say they’re not iconic covers, just that someone with more mental energy than I have right now could probably say something about the politics of canon formation.
  • From the Paris Review, an article about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the Hound of the Baskervilles .  I was such a Sherlock Holmes fan when I was a teenager.  I couldn’t start reading The Adventures without going on to read the entire series. The Hound of the Baskervilles is not my favourite, but I do like its gothic atmosphere.

4 thoughts on “This week’s culture round-up

  1. “20 most iconic books covers ever”
    The heavy bias towards high-school reading lists is weird, and boring after a while. To be uncharitable, it makes me think that the list-writers stopped reading after high school. (Or that they assembled the list assuming that their audience did.)

    I would also love to try thinking more about canon-formation and what’s considered “valuable” and “teachable,” but… nope, brain is also uncooperative right now.

    I did enjoy the tidbits about the authors’ reactions to the art! I would also have been interested in hearing more from the publishing/marketing side – what, practically speaking, actually makes a book cover iconic, for example? Who makes the decision that every reprint of Gatsby from here unto doomsday will have that same cover art?

    • When I saw this list I couldn’t help wondering if these covers are iconic, not because they are the most striking covers ever created, but because these are the books that the kind of people who compile this sort of list remember because they read them during an impressionable stage in high school and the first year of college, which is when I read most of these books!

      Only two female authors on the list too, which makes me wonder if the covers of books by women are less “iconic” because they have been less read or, perhaps, had cheaper production values than all these “classic” books by men.

      I agree that the book publishing/marketing side is more interesting.

      • “because they read them during an impressionable stage in high school”
        I had this thought as well, so I was also wondering why then there weren’t any children’s books covers featured!

        P.S. I just noticed your Twitter sidebar and can’t help but want to congratulate you on your Giant Leek. (It reminds me of the episode with the naughty parsnip in Blackadder, if you’ve ever seen the series.)

  2. I was also wondering why then there weren’t any children’s books covers featured!

    It’s a very limited list – perhaps should be retitled “Most iconic covers featured on the books you will read on your freshman literature courses”.

    I love Blackadder and that episode is classic – “Reminds me of our wedding night. We had turnip then too”.

    I was quite alarmed when Andy walked in brandishing the leek at me. We’ve eaten half of it now and I’m not sure what we’re going to do with the rest.

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