30 Day Book Challenge – Day Eight

The challenge for day eight is something that I am really happy about because it means that I get to gush about one of my favourite things in the world – design. I won’t claim to be an expert or anything of the sort; I just really love good designs, great pieces of artwork.

When a book cover is done right, it can sell a book better than the synopsis for me sometimes. The old saying goes “don’t judge a book by its cover”, but it’s really hard not to when something in your brain is screaming at you that something has been designed poorly. It is true on both sides that I have found books that I have adored that have pretty naff covers and books I have hated with great covers. That’s just life, but when a cover comes along that just appeals to me in a way that strikes me and urges me to get that book, I have a tendency to follow that urge.

So, that is what I am talking about today.

I did have a list of covers I loved, but I narrowed it down to one because that’s what the challenge demands.

Therefore, a cover that I have to say I really adore and struck me from the moment I first heard of the book is:

Me & Earl and the Dying Girl
by Jesse Andrews

The story follows narrating character, Greg, who has managed to get through the entirety of his time at high school by being a casual acquaintance to his peers rather than an actual friend. He drifts from group to group, never sticking around long enough to grow attached to anyone. The only friend that he really has is a boy named Earl whom he often simply calls his co-worker. They create crappy films together parody other big-named titles. One day, Greg learns that one of his classmates, Rachel, has been diagnosed with terminal leukaemia so is forced by his parents to go spend time with her. This soon turns into a full friendship once Earl shows Rachel their films, the school finds out about them and the boys are asked to make a film in dedication to Rachel.

I adore the cover of this book for so many different reasons. For one, the bright colours are such a nice contrast to the subject matter of the book. The last book I’d read about teenagers with cancer (I think you can guess which one that is) had a very limited palette: blue, white and black. “Me & Earl” has three bright colours, simple illustrations of the characters (nothing that really defines anything other than skin and hair colour), and each segment is set up like a stage. The titles are props, the characters in motion are held up by a string just like every other set piece on display. It’s the subtly of that design that hints to the boys and their filmmaking. Everything has a shadow too, showing the depth of everything, like a spotlight has been put onto them. Just like a stage.

The typography for the title is also amazing. The parts of importance are bold and straight. “Me”, “Earl”, “Girl”. The words and phrases like “and” and “and the” are put into a different font, a curlier font. And this may just be my own interpretation of it, but the inclusion of the word “dying” in that font also suggests to me the unimportance of that characteristic. Rachel’s inclusion in the title is defined in two ways but the design makes you subtly aware that only one way is important. She is included as “Girl”, just like “Me” and “Earl”. Bold, capital letters, a solid stage piece. The fact that she is also “dying” doesn’t matter to her character, it’s just a thing that happens to be happening to her.

But hey, those are just my thoughts on the cover. It’s a really lovely design and I’m glad that I bought that version before the movie cover tie-in took over the market…

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