Books to Judge by their Covers

Having (pretty much) finished my literature degree, I decided it was also time to finish my blogging break. There’s a whole world of books still to read! And let’s face it, no one has time for sub-par stories, so here are my top five creative covers to books I probably haven’t read. They look great, though.

  1. Jules Verne – Journey to the Centre of the Earth (Brazilian edition, designed by Carlo Giovani)

[Brazil] Journey to the Centre of the EarthIt’s 3D and beautiful and 3D. And we all thought Jules Verne couldn’t get any better.

2. Ray Bradbury – Farenheit 451 (Design by Elisabeth Perez)

[match] Farenheit 451.pngIt’s a literal matchbook. This design is smart and cool and a little terrifying. (Spoilers just so we’re all on the same page – it’s a Dystopian about burning books)

3. Lauren Beukes – Zoo City (Designed by Joey Hi-Fi)

Zoo CityHow amazing is this typography, though? This blows my mind.

4. Mary Shelley – Frankenstein (Designed by Pol Alert)

[meat] FrankensteinWhy yes, that is real meat. This one is so grim that I nearly didn’t include it…but someone spent all that time sewing slabs of raw meat together, and I think we have to honour that.

5. On Such a Full Sea – Chang-Rae Lee (Designed by Yentus and Markerbot Studios)

[3D] On Such a Full SeaI just can’t get over the 3D stuff. It’s just a slip, so you can take it off and still have a wonderful reading experience, but I guess you’d have to store it by itself rather than on a shelf? It looks cool, but maybe not practical at all?

So there were my top five creative book covers – what books would have made it onto your list? And how are we feeling about 3D covers?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!



The Ethics of Frankenstein

Real life isn’t a series of interconnected events occurring one after another like beads strung on a necklace. Life is actually a series of encounters in which one event may change those that follow in a wholly unpredictable, even devastating way.

Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park

I’m assuming we’re all at least aware of the story: ambitious scientist Victor Frankenstein takes it upon himself to inject a collage of human parts with the spark of life. He creates what he immediately labels as a monster, and rejects his creature. Left alone, the ‘monster’ must discover for himself humanity, and their immediate rejection.

What I’m interested in looking at is where the characters went wrong, and what they should have done.

The Creation of Life

Frankenstein took it upon himself to ‘play God’, and try to benefit the human race through his creation of a larger more powerful version of a man. Is it okay to attempt to create life? Is that our responsibility? And more importantly, should Frankenstein not have found a team of fellow enthusiasts to keep him in check, and to help with assessing the risks of his endeavours? To my mind, one of Mr Frankenstein’s greatest flaws was his tendency towards solitude, despite the negative effects on his health. I think he needed a confidant to help him work through the massive ethical issues he was dealing with.

Because the history of evolution is that life escapes all barriers. Life breaks free. Life expands to new territories. Painfully, perhaps even dangerously. But life finds a way.

– Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park

The Label

As soon as Frankenstein set eyes on his creation, he stopped calling it a man and switched to using terms like monster, creature and – interestingly – demon. The connotations of demon are that the creature – that we know came to life by the hands of a man – belongs in hell. Was it really the ugliness that made him so repulsive to every human he encountered? Was Frankenstein in the right to immdeiately damn what he had made? Is death so untouchable that attempting to reverse its effects is essentially horrific and unnatural?

The Definition of Human

What is the definition of human? Frankenstein’s monster was made from human  body parts; he felt and thought and bled. Was it solely the fact that he had not always been alive that made him ‘demonic’ rather than a man? There are lots of religious allusions in this book: was the unnatural creation of the creature what damned it, and if so, how is that just?

The Promise

This particular paragraph may contain spoilers. There comes a point where the monster approaches his maker and asks for a mate, promising to take the new creature and hide in the South American wilderness, never again to be seen by man. Frankenstein agrees, and then goes back on his promise. I’m definitely of the opinion that to go back on his promise was cruel, but that to have made such a promise with such uncertainty was also very wrong. Should a second monster have been made? Was it fair of the monster to ask for another conscious creature to be made for a purpose contracted on her behalf?

Science has attained so much power that its practical limits begin to be apparent. Largely through science, billions of us live in one small world, densely packed and intercommunicating. But science cannot help us decide what to do with that world, or how to live. Science can make a nuclear reactor, but it cannot tell us not to build it. Science can make pesticide, but cannot tell us not to use it. And our world starts to seem polluted in fundamental ways—air, and water, and land—because of ungovernable science.

Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park

I think questions like these are really interesting – and important – to think about, especially in the ‘safe’ context of a fictional situation. I’d love to hear where you stand on some of these issues, and what you would have done should you have been in the same dilemma. Was Frankenstein really blameless?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!