Friday, February 10, 2012

Some books just plain don't work as ebooks, people: YA edition

I'm not a Luddite, I swear. I have a phone that can take videos of my cat and post them on Facebook and can keep me connected to my work email in a way that is both comforting and annoying. I have a big gigantic TV, a tiny, credit-card size slim iPod, and a (dream of replacing my eight year old) near-perfectly functioning laptop. I like touching all the breakable things in electronics stores. I'm all about the fun shiny-screened things.

But despite all that, I like me my physical books. And I honestly don't think that it's just because I'm a bookseller. I think it's my old-fashioned soul, my tendency to want to touch things that I think are lovely and beautiful, hold them, own them. (I was recently told by the dear boyfriend when I suggested that I might start collecting vintage cake stands that I need to stop collecting one thing before I start collecting another thing. Absurd, right? You're with me on this one, right?) Surrounding myself with books, shelves and piles and bookcases packed full, is the closest thing to bliss I can think of (I mean, a few dozen cake stands would be nice, too).

But even for you people (I don't mean that to sound like "you people" in that condescending way my Brit Lit Survey professor used to say freshmen year, I think to discourage as many of us as possible from continuing with our English major) who are into ebooks, there are a few books every season that just simply don't work as ebooks. Trust me. You need to hold these physical
books in your hands and experience them as objects.

#1. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman
Illustrations by Maira Kalman (just one of the coolest people ever in the world) on lovely, heavy, shiny paper are something you just should not miss. Period. Plus the story is sweet and so right on (if you've ever been a 15 year old girl you'll get it), and the illustrations of the totems of Min's love for Ed (a bottle cap, a love note, a ticket stub) are so iconic and real, it almost feels like looking at a scrapbook of your own first love.

#2. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
(inspired by a story idea by Siobhan Dowd)
This novel has intense, fantastic, scratchy, dark, wonderful ink illustration/collages (I'm sure there's an art word for this that I just don't know) by Jim Kay that give this book the quality of a lonely, dark nightmare-- just the way Conor, whose mother is dying of cancer, is feeling. Candlewick really tricked this baby out too
with nice thick glossy pages and beautiful endpapers.

#3. The Wikkeling by Steven Arnston
This is a magical book about a magical place called Addition where children are watched by cameras where magical things happen, like a magically scary creature called a Wikkeling appearing. And guess what? Holding the book feels a little bit magical, too. It's nearly square in shape, with textured cloth over board and delicately eerie endpapers. Total art object.

But don't take my word for it. You've got to feel them to believe it.

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