What Are You Reading (offline, that is)?

what are you reading jenny

We're huge fans of Jenny Volvovski's work. She is a member of the award-winning creative group Also with Julia Rothman and Matt Lamothe. She has been re-imagining book covers for the books that she's read, and we've thoroughly enjoyed following along on From Cover to Cover. In our minds, any project that combines reading and design is awesome. This is no exception. Here, Jenny shares her reading list, along with her re-imagined covers. 

From Cover to Cover is a project I’ve been working on for more than a year now. It has a very simple premise: I read a book, and then design a cover for it. I started it because I love to read, and always think about a book’s cover before buying the book, while reading it, and after I’m done. I also wanted to have a project independent from my client work, where I could have the freedom to do whatever I wanted, without worrying about feedback and revisions. Book covers are a great medium for graphic designers because so much content has to be condensed into a single image. The cover has to relate to what's in the book, but also not give too much away.

I wanted all the book covers I made to feel like part of a series, so I gave myself restrictions; a color palette (green, white, black) and limited type choices (Futura, typewriter, hand drawn/handmade). I always prefer working with a set of limitations, so this made the project both more challenging and more fun.

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray

Skippy Dies will probably be made into a movie. It’s a very plot driven novel that follows the adventures of a couple of teenage boarding school boys (and eventually girls and teachers) at Seabrook College in Ireland. It covers typical school-age topics like love, and bullying, but also some very non-typical ones, like opening a portal to a parallel universe. The story starts with Skippy dying (this is not a spoiler) at a donut shop and that’s primarily why I chose donuts to be the main visual elements on the cover. Donuts are mentioned later on in the book as a metaphor for life. I also like to think of each donut being a metaphysical stand-in for the main characters in the book.


Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas was recently made into a movie, and I am not quite sure how they pulled it off, but I would recommend reading the book before seeing the movie (sage advice). The book consists of 6 seemingly unrelated stories starting with travel journals of an American notary traveling in the Pacific in the 1850s, and ending (kind of) with the adventures of a clone in a post-apocalyptic future in Korea. There is a thread between all of the stories, which I will not give away, and as you turn the page and start over with each new narrative it’s really exciting to find out how the previous story relates to the next. Since so many topics, characters and time periods are part of the story, it was hard to pick a visual for the cover that made sense with all of them. So, I decided to make the focus of the cover the structure of the book. There are 6 stories, they start chronologically (earliest time period first). The first 5 are interrupted, the 6th starts and concludes at the center of the book, and then the initial 5 are concluded in reverse chronological order. So, the folded paper on the cover is a reflection of that. The type is printed on top of the paper, so some spills from one piece of paper to the other, like the overlapping stories. The shadows and the white paper give a “cloud-like” effect to the cover.

The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall

Since there’s a running theme of books being made into movies, the Lonely Polygamist fits quite nicely, as reading it feels like watching the continuation of the HBO show Big Love. The book follows Golden Richards, owner of a fledgling construction business, husband to four wives, father to twenty-eight children. He of course, is unsurprisingly cracking under the weight of all the responsibility. In order to deal with the stress Golden has an affair. And not-surprisingly this doesn’t solve his problems. For the cover of the book, I made the title and author name act as a family tree for Golden Richards’ family. He is represented by the white O in the middle, his wives are the bigger letters connected to him, and the smaller letters represent the children (there weren’t exactly the right number of letters to account for all 28 children, but I thought this was close enough). And, if you look closely, one letter stands away by itself with no linear connection - representing the affair.