Ana at Things Mean Alot book blog has a fantastic post up today about the Emily of New Moon trilogy by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery: Emily of New Moon, Emily Climbs, and Emily's Quest. Ana gives a in-depth review of the three books that I want to share with you all because Ana shows just why these books were ahead of their time, in how Emily is portrayed, and the choices she makes. When I read the books as a child - they are among my favourite books growing up - I loved them because Emily stays with her dream of writing. Ana shows how this still makes the books strong reading for girls today, almost 100 years later. The cultural values versus art and the freedom to choose one's destiny, a powerful message even today. Maybe always, for women, and for artists and creative endeavors. Her post also shows why some day I expect to see all her posts collected in a book - and which I will buy, to go back over and reread and learn something every time.
What hit home to me too, other than Ana's powerful, thoughtful review were the covers of the new Vintage editions of the books on her post. They are delightful. I wouldn't mind getting a copy of these to have on my shelf. But as I was looking at them, I very much wanted to show to Ana the editions of the books that I read when I was a girl, growing up. These covers made such a strong imprint on me that to me, they are the covers of Emily of New Moon, Emily Climbs, and Emily's Quest. So, here they are:
I'm sorry for the covers, they are the best I can find online. I do not have copies now to take pictures myself for you. Looks like I will be buying some now, these have evoked such a strong memory in me today.
What I wanted to say was how powerful the memory is with these covers associated with these books for me. I read these books when I was young, about 12 and 13 years old. I loved them fiercely, and Emily was a role model for me in my own struggles to believe in myself as a writer and to not give up. Her struggles were my struggles, though ironically Emily Starr had much for belief in herself which I am only now recovering for myself.
In today's world, with kobo and e-readers, I wonder how much we will remember of books we read online, in 10 or 20 years' time because of the lack of presence of the book, including especially the cover. For me, a book is associated with smell, texture, colour, the cover, the art on the cover, the pages, the feel of the pages, the print size - everything that goes into making that book, touches all five of my senses. It is a real physical experience for me to read.
I have a kindle e-reader finally installed on my computer, and have 4 books on it now to read, that aren't available in any other form. I am learning how to read on my e-reader, though I have to remember that I have books on my computer, which I still don't often do. I do have to say though, that I think I am realizing because of the e reader that I need that physical presence of the book, the feel of it, the weight of it, in my hands, to make it become a part of me.
I really want to talk about book covers, and book art, and how much they matter in how a book impacts on us as readers. I have to admit here that a book cover does affect if I will buy a book or not. I have bought books in spite of the cover, because I desperately wanted to read them, but an element of pleasure is missing because I don't enjoy the cover. I am always relieved when I can find the book in a cover I like and can replace the ugly one! It might be me, but that's how I am with books. There is an intense pleasure I have with them, and these striking 1970's art covers from McLelland and Stewart are covers that are indelibly imprinted on my mind. They and Emily go together for me.
So the cover, the art on the front cover, is a part of the book experience. I wonder what the changes in the covers mean over the years? Just googling Emily of New Moon book covers was eye-opening. There have been so many different editions of the Emily books, and each cover reveals something of what the publisher thought would appeal to readers of that day. It is quite eye-opening to see the changes. One day I might do a post about the cultural changes revealed, but it's late already, and I think I want to do a better post when I am not so late at night. Or maybe Ana could do another brilliant post on such a topic.....
Do you have book art that affects you this way? Do you respond to the covers of books? Does it matter which edition you read? And do you have childhood favourites, or favourite books in general, that you must have in a certain edition? I'm really curious how the experience of reading and books and cover art affects you, so please let me know in the comments, or better yet, write a post, and let me know. I'd love to know if I am the only one who gets pleasure out of looking at the covers of books as well as reading them.
PS If anyone knows who the artist is who did these covers, I'd love to know. I've tried looking and no information is available.
A very long time ago on this blog, I posted about the first book in the series, Emily of New Moon, here, when I reread for the Canadian Book Challenge.