Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Art of French Kissing: Chick Lit Stories & Covers

Famous Art Meet Famous Authors...

          When I was in the sixth grade, we studied a new painting and its artist every Friday. There was painting, after portrait, after scene, after new age art lined up all along the border high atop the wall around the entire perimeter of the classroom. I have so many fond memories of the stories behind the paintings. One of my favorites was by a man named George Seurat called, Sunday in the Park. I don’t know what exactly it is about the painting that makes me so happy – maybe it’s the idea that people are lazing and lounging about together at a park, presumably on a Sunday, adding even more to the relaxing tone of the painting. Women stand tall with parasols in their beautiful and colorful clothes and hats, some with children, others with friends. Some families enjoy a picnic and others share a good laugh. There are boats in the calm blue water on the left. There is green grass aplenty and trees in summer foliage. I guess it’s the collective ambiance of the famous artwork that has always spoken to me and emitted the same happy thought and feeling I get when I look at it.

          Remember when you were little and all the books you read had authors and illustrators? For almost every page of text, there was a coinciding page of pictures. I mean before I could even read, I would flip through such books to get an idea of their story through the pictures. The books I read today might not have illustrations on the inside anymore, but they still have cover illustrations – some books even have multiple cover art for each release.

          When I choose the next chick lit book I want to read or buy, especially if it’s a new author or unfamiliar title, I’ll be the first to admit, I judge books by their covers. Like the Seurat painting, I look for book covers to elicit that same feeling of happiness. They don’t need to look like that same day in the Park, however, but I do look for similar qualities of tranquility, vibrancy, friendliness, togetherness and happiness. Interestingly enough, at least when it comes to book covers in the chick lit genre, this can be conveyed in a myriad of ways. For example, I have been really drawn to the new I Heart series by Lindsey Kelk. Each of the books’ covers has a continuing thread of color, feeling and portrait that ties them together. They are done in cartoonish pastels, with a woman, who is clearly traveling to or from somewhere, but she doesn’t look rushed. She looks at peace, like the women in Sunday in the Park. She looks happy in her new surroundings ready to embark on any adventure as she looks into the happy scenery of her new city, be it New York, Hollywood or even Ooh La La, Paris. There is something about the artistry in these covers that gives the character a sense that she is calmly flowing in the picture towards her new destiny. There is so much said and left unsaid, I was intrigued to go out and buy the first book and I can’t wait to get my hands on the second….and third…

           Maybe it’s just me but I’ve also always been drawn to the more cartoonish covers. Like , look at Kyra Davis’ first four Sophie Katz novels. In pink, red, blue and green, readers get a glimpse at a playful take on the sexy, fun and murderous mystery series. An image of (who I assume to be) the cartoon heroine with her weapon of choice, be it a bar of dark chocolate, a double latte, killer highlights or lip gloss, is set back on a bright canvas of vibrant colors. The covers alone exude flirtation and confidence in a woman on a mission to stop the bad guys. Their seem inviting and happy and make the books desirable to be read. Having listened to most of the books (currently on the 4th), I wonder if my perception is already too biased based on my interest in the characters and the mysteries themselves.

          What do you see in any of the covers of the books you read? What draws you to pick up a book? Do you judge a book by its cover? If yes, does your opinion change about the book or its cover once you read it? Would you ever not read a book based on its cover? Do you have any interest in art or illustrations? If so, do you have any favorite artists or pictures? Does art influence your reading in any way?

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