Reading you under the table since 2012

Cover Lust: Classic Covers and Sentimental Favorites

by

Susan Dennard

I thought I’d take a different approach to Cover Lust this week and peruse old books. Books whose covers are utterly timeless or books whose covers remind me of the story within.

For example, Catch-22–a book I have read so much, the pages are barely attached to the spine and almost every other sentence is underlined. The cover is both eye-catching to a modern reader and heart-warming (at least to me).

The same for Slaughterhouse-Five, a book I first discovered in high school and still quote regularly. Just seeing those bold colors, and I get a little thrill. If you’ve never read Vonnegut, you should. You absolutely must, in fact.

And this book goes straight to my heart. I adored Nancy Drew growing up–I mean, I literally read all 56 original books (yes, I still remember how many there were) over the course of my 3rd grade summer break. Just a glance at one of these covers, and I feel 100% invincible (‘cos admit it: Nancy was The Master) and 100% adventurous (I mean, Nancy and crew got to go everywhere). Plus, a single glance at the cover, and I can tell you vaguely what it’s about. For example, The Spider Sapphire Mystery took Nancy to Africa, and I distinctly recall she and swoon-worthy Ned getting a furious rash after touching a poison suitcase. Oh, the intrigue!

But once I grew out of Nancy Drew, I moved onto the gothic mysteries of Mary Stewart. From Greece in The Moonspinners to France in Nine Coaches Waiting, Mary Stewart featured kick-butt heroines, sexy male leads, and a whole lot of mystery. But my favorite still remains The Moonspinners. That Mark was just too sexy–even to my 14-year-old self.

Finally, the book covers that really set my heart on fire–but literally hold NO modern appeal (because seriously, she’s wearing neon spandex and atop a neon dragon on a neon sky. It’s a lot of neon)–are the covers for The Dragonriders of Pern series.

I. Loved. These. Books.

I still love these books. No other world has EVER made me want to give up my entire life as much as Pern. I would still trade this ol’ world for a shot at being a dragonrider or a Harper or a dolphin rider or anything in Pern.

What about you? What covers do you think have timeless appeal? Or what covers instantly make you feel warm and fuzzy inside?

Susan Dennard is reader, writer, animal-lover, occasional animal-rescuing-superhero, and cookie-monster. Her debut, Something Strange & Deadly, will be available from HarperTeen on July 24th, and you can learn more about her on her blog or twitter.


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27 Comments

  1. Posted March 22, 2012 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    Oh, those Pern covers. I would be right there with you, Sooz. In fact, if it wasn’t for a mutual love of the amazing worlds Anne McCaffrey built, I’d never have met Meg, and WRECKED never would have been!

    I have so many old covers I love. If I hadn’t gone to Pern I’d have wanted to be a talent, so Lyon’s Pride: http://ia700801.us.archive.org/zipview.php?zip=/12/items/olcovers36/olcovers36-L.zip&file=366222-L.jpg and I always adored this cover of The Magician’s Nephew: http://inklingsfocus.com/images/en/eng_MN_fontana_1980_box.jpg

    Sigh, swoon. Great topic!

    • Posted March 22, 2012 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      Yay for Pern-bonding!!

      And wow…those old Anne McCaffrey covers. I mean, they’re exactly the ones I remember picking up…but they are pretty hideous if you look at them objectively. I remember thinking CRYSTAL SINGER and KILLASHANDRA were the most beautiful covers ever.

  2. Posted March 22, 2012 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    Great covers, Sooz! One of my all-time sentimental faves is the cover to CHARLOTTE SOMETIMES by Penelope Farmer. There have been maybe a half a dozen covers, I’d guess, but this is the edition I read:
    http://www.goodreads.com/book/photo/1369702.Charlotte_Sometimes
    Thanks for this great post! :)

    • Posted March 22, 2012 at 6:57 am | Permalink

      After posting that link, I realized the cover seems really “blah” if you don’t know that the reflection in the mirror is the same dorm room in a different time. I realized when I looked again that the tiny pic doesn’t do the cover justice. :p

      • Posted March 22, 2012 at 10:39 am | Permalink

        Oh wow! I DIDN’T notice it was a different time until you pointed it out! Ha! How cool! I used to analyze covers so thoroughly when I was a kid–look at all the little details and decide how well it matched up to the book. ;)

  3. Posted March 22, 2012 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    The Nancy Drew covers for sure, but also the old school Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables covers. Those were the books I read so many times the spines cracked and the pages fell out.

    • Posted March 22, 2012 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      Ahhh, I had an old library-bound LITTLE HOUSE that was my mothers. I can very, very clearly remember what it looked like… And ANNE OF GREEN GABLES–I checked that out at the library, and ALSO have such a vivid memory of its cover. GOSH, books have a lot of power, huh?

  4. Bri L.
    Posted March 22, 2012 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    The cover of THE GREAT GATSBY is one of my all-time favorites: http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1326004420l/4671.jpg
    There have been a lot of covers for Fitzgerald’s book, but I love any of them that use the painting featured on this one!

    • Posted March 22, 2012 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      Oh yes! I recall that cover!! And it’s definitely one of those images that I think transcends time–it would still totally work for modern readers. :D

  5. Posted March 22, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    LOOOOVE this post!!! Honestly, my favorite old-school cover is this one for THE HERO AND THE CROWN: http://faculty.salisbury.edu/~elbond/crown.gif

    And then I just looove the old covers for THE CHRONICLES OF PRYDAIN (THE BLACK CAULDRON in particular): http://img.dooyoo.co.uk/GB_EN/orig/0/8/2/6/7/826793.jpg I absolutely adore the way Eilonwy’s sword is on her shoulder like that. <3

    • Posted March 22, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

      I JUST looked at THE HERO AND THE CROWN in the library!! SUCH an epic, old school cover.

      And ::sigh:: PRYDAIN…Lloyd Alexander…::sigh::

      • Posted March 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

        I know, right? I just SIGH every time I think about PRYDAIN. My love for Taran knows no bounds!!!!!!

  6. Posted March 22, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    The original cover to Charlotte’s Web will forever make me all warm and fuzzy: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/f/fe/CharlotteWeb.png/200px-CharlotteWeb.png <333

  7. Posted March 22, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    That’s the very pic I posted when Anne McCaffrey passed. <3 <3

    • Posted March 22, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

      Oh, Anne. :( I love those 80s covers–all of hers. My childhood is in all those books…

  8. Posted March 22, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    PEEEERRRRRNNN. Omg. I know you I have already geeked out about Pern to the max, but yeah… I spent countless hours staring at the covers to the Dragonriders books, tracing and retracing and learning to draw dragons.

    And CURSE YOU, Sarah, for stealing the Prydain books. I was totally going to go there.

    Hmm… it’s not really an old book, but I love the original US hardback cover of The Golden Compass: http://www.marshall.edu/library/bannedbooks/Images/goldencompass.jpg

    And when I was little I absolutely LOVED this book called The Farthest Away Mountain, and the cover still makes me giddy (though I can’t find a better picture of it, bleh): http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1190922026l/1961104.jpg

    • Posted March 27, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

      Meg–I. Did. THE SAME THING. With the tracing and retracing of dragons…and people too. I had a Harper I used to draw over and over again–my RPG character. ;)

  9. Posted March 22, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    I’m with you on the Pern novels. I read them to shreds growing up!! I even had the companion book The People of Pern.
    http://www.amazon.com/People-Pern-Anne-McCaffrey/dp/0898656354 Which is amazing!
    Also, The Golden Compass: http://texturized.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/the-golden-compass.jpg
    And…Firebird by Mercedes Lackey: http://www.goodreads.com/book/photo/176803.Firebird

    • Posted March 27, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

      PEOPLE OF PERN!!! I HAVE IT TOOOOOOOO!!!!!! And yes–that version of the Golden Compass is TOTALLY the one I know too!!!

  10. Posted March 22, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    I also love the Little House covers, and the covers of Lois Lenski’s books, Carolyn Haywood’s books, and Ida Vos’s books. For adult books, some of my favorites are the covers used for Hermann Hesse’s books during their 1960s/1970s-era editions. Demian and Steppenwolf in particular are some of my favorite of these covers, though some of the pictures on older editions of his books are also nice.

    I really hate the current trend to “update” classic covers on children’s and young adults’ books. I’ve looked up a number of old favorites on Amazon and saw these modern-style pictures that don’t match the stories at all, like for Hitty: Her First Hundred Years, Understood Betsy, the Little House books, and Carolyn Haywood’s books. Do they think modern children won’t want to read a book if a drawing is a little old-fashioned?

    • Posted March 22, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

      I know that when I was a kid, the old covers didn’t turn me off. Obviously I still went for Nancy Drew and The Moonspinners!! And I sure read through any and every book of my parents’…but I guess publishers think they can get MORE readers with a new look??

  11. Posted March 22, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    The cover of Dragonflight is SO awesome. I love it, and it always makes me want to reread :)

    • Posted March 22, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

      I KNOW. That one and the Dragonsong cover–even though I hated the Dragonsong cover as a kid (Menolly was so ugly on it!)…but nowadays, my heart just instantly melts at the sight of it. :)

  12. Daphne Vivienne
    Posted March 23, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    What a fabulous, thought-provoking post. Thank you so much for writing it–it brought me back to my childhood years!!!

    You are SO incredible–such an inspiration to the whole YA community!!!

    • Posted March 24, 2012 at 12:02 am | Permalink

      Oh. pfffffft. Make me blush. But I’m glad I “brought you back”. That’s what those covers do for me too. :D

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