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Reader Illustrates a Mini Cover for Every Book He Read in 2018

Some readers might make annotations in the margins of books they’re reading in order to better understand the characters, themes, and plot-lines, but one man has taken to creating mini covers for each book he reads. James is an Australian who now teaches in the United States and, in 2018, he decided that he would create a mini cover for each book in order to motivate his reading and to encourage himself to reflect on what he’d read. James shared his work on Reddit, where it quickly blew up. Take a look at his alternative covers, we think they’re good enough to be the real deal.

“It was the third time I tried to read this but the first time I actually finished it, and it was definitely worth the wait,” wrote James “It’s a bleak and miserable trek through a desert of violence and aggression, brilliantly and beautifully written. At times you can almost see an early prototype of McCarthy’s later novel, The Road, with desperately alone characters moving through unforgiving and forgotten landscapes in search of salvation or rather, in search of themselves.”

“I first came across Zenna Henderson in an instagram post by ‘illustro_obscurum’ a year or so ago and have only managed to track down one of her short story collections, that being Holding Wonder. The ideas she shares in these old and yellowed pages are incredible, and while some feel a little stilted with characters too easy to accept and believe the unbelievable, her actual writing is incredible with some hugely poignant paragraphs hiding in her work. There is some definite gold in there, with the shorts ‘The Believing Child’, ‘The Walls’ and ‘You Know What, Teacher?’ being standouts for me. Henderson was a Primary School teacher before writing and she draws on this effectively. Her work wouldn’t be amiss nestled between Bradbury and Gaiman.”

“A deeply unsettling exploration into the effect of isolation and the role of truth. I knew very little going in and was hooked from the start, and I want to leave with with just as much. A slow and glorious build. I would definitely recommend it for those that like their drama with a little drop of poison.”

“Before I start, you need to forget that there was ever a terrible movie based on this book. The movie has as much in common with the book as a Pug has with a Wolf. As far as the novel goes, while it’s often lazily categorised as a Vampire novel, this trivialises Matheson’s work as it’s so much more than that. The vampires allow the central issue of the novel, loneliness and its effects, to be more fully explored, and is one of the key reasons why ‘I Am Legend’ is hailed as the forerunner for the modern zombie film. In the protagonist of Robert Neville we see a man trying to cope in a world he is increasingly isolated from and the challenges faced in the front of a seemingly inevitable end. I enjoyed ‘I Am Legend’ so much I decided to create two covers.”

“Anything I say here will fall far from doing justice to the strength and beauty of the poems held in Omar Musa’s latest collection. The opening poem, ‘The Boys’, is a guttural cry which begins an ebb and flow of ideas, experiences and emotions that leads all the way through to the end. Standouts for me include ‘Ceiling Fan’, ‘eat our myths’ and the notebook snippets for ‘Alchemy’ but there is not a single poem in these pages that is not powerful or provoking.”

“I knew very little about this novel when I started so had no clue as to what to expect. Still, I was surprised. Oryx & Crake is a slow exploration of the end of the world at the hands of corporate genetic experimentation all in the name of the greater good, and I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it. Atwood paints a vivid and, at times, way too feasible image of the future. I struggled at first with Atwood’s narrative structure and found the world building intriguing, if slightly tedious, yet this works wonderfully to sink it’s hooks into you so gently you don’t realise it’s happened until you’re spending an hour and a half sunk to your neck in a cold bath, twisting through chapters without realising it…”

“I was meant to read this novella for my Year 11 English teacher, Mr. Wharton. I didn’t. I figured it was about time that I did. Given that Conrad didn’t become fluent in English until his 20’s, and it was the fifth language he learned, Heart of Darkness is beyond impressive. Yet while the language is rich and syrupy, the sentences are often too dense to navigate easily and I found myself lost often. I fear the book had been built up to much by time and I wasn’t able to appreciate it as much as I should have. Conrad manages to draw everything together in the final few pages where the crux of his narrative lies, and I feel this begins to make up for the drudgery of the earlier journey. There are many hidden gems of phrases and sentences hidden throughout which alone make the novella worth the read.”

“Another surprisingly complex novel with beautifully deep and twisting sentences that spread throughout the pages like paths on a circuit board. You don’t have to look far to see the influence this book has had on technoculture and the development of the Cyberpunk genre. Gibson paints a unique and surprisingly accurate image of the Internet age years before the internet was widely accessible and commercialised, with so many of his ideas still holding strong today.”

“This collection of poetry, inspired by a series of visits to four Louisiana prisons alongside photographer Deborah Luster, is beyond compare. Wright uses a uniquely fractured flow of intricately crafted ideas, quotes, observations and musings from these visits which manage to capture the the humanity of those within the prison system. She manages to do so without judgement or motive, yet all the while still capturing the stark beauty that hides behind the truth and the violence. An incredible read.”

“It’s been about 8 years since I last read this one and it still holds up. The most light hearted take on the apocalypse you could imagine. Gaiman and Pratchett combine so fluidly in the pages to create such an easy and enjoyable read. If you need a break from the constant barrage of bleak shit we face daily, I’d definitely recommend this book about the end of the world.”

“A quick little novella from an author I’ve only just discovered. It’s an unsettling tale of two companions travelling the Danube by canoe who find themselves tormented by unknown forces stranded on a slowly crumbling island in the middle of the river. Despite it’s brief length, it made me feel uneasy for a long time after I finished the last page.”

“I’ve always heard Vonnegut spoken about in revered tones as a genius of Sci-Fi so I was excited to read this one. Unfortunately, I was underwhelmed. There were some very clever moments and flashes of dry humour and sardonic wit, but that seemed fleeting and the rest of the story felt a little flat. I don’t know whether it was because I’d built Vonnegut up so much, I wasn’t in the right space to appreciate it or perhaps I just didn’t get it, but I was unimpressed.”

“I was loaned this by a friend at University some 10 years ago. I never read it, never returned it, and have since forgotten his name. Please, don’t lend me books.”

“The most olfactory piece of writing I’ve experienced. Another recommendation I received that I’m more than happy to pass on.”

“This novel has everything. It has dinosaurs, it has fiery explosions, it has babies getting their faces eaten off. Most importantly, it has enough differences between itself and the movie adaptation that you won’t find yourself with that uncomfortable feeling of deja vu while reading it. A highly enjoyable pseudo-scientific pop Sci-Fi novel so well researched by Crichton that I actually believed that the events were possible to the point where I was wondering why they hadn’t actually cloned any dinosaurs in real life.”

“I’d forgotten just how much I loved this book. The dreamlike description of the slow descent into drug induced psychosis is just sublime and so subtle that, much like the characters themselves, you don’t realise what’s happening until you’re too far gone. The novel follows Fred, an undercover narcotics agent posing as Bob Arctor, an addict living in a house full of other addicts, who is surveilling those in the house while attempting to find the source of the powerful and fictional psychoactive drug, Substance Death, Slow Death or just Death. Dick is at his best with this semi-autobiographical exploration of addiction and identity.”

“I can remember my Dad telling me about reading this book when he was in high school and having to memorise the opening pages, reciting those lines for me, so opening this book up for the first time was it’s own little nostalgia hit. “It is a curious thing that at my age – I shall never see sixty again – I should find myself taking up a pen to try to write a history.” Part Indiana Jones, part Edgar Rice Burroughs, some strangely stilted and formal dialogue but a great recommendation. Thanks, Dad.”

“Hunter really captures the madness and depravity of Las Vegas, turning off the neon lights that illuminate the town to reveal the grim reality underneath. Hunter, as Raoul Duke, is a frenzied narrator, babbling and rambling, not so much as telling a story but rather recounting a series of connected moments and events. Like the city, it’s disgusting yet captivating, easy to get swept up and taken away, but thoroughly and overwhelmingly enjoyable. Three different versions because I had three different ideas for the cover.”

“O’Connor has a uniquely Southern voice to her writing so it was a fitting choice for a quick visit to the South. Each character in this collection of short stories seems to have what Chuck Palahnuik calls a ‘burnt tongue’ in which the accent of the characters are readily evident in the way their dialogue is written. This is just a small element to O’Connors writing but something that, along with her objectionable and unlikeable characters, creates an interesting read. Of the 10 stories in this collection, ‘A Circle in the Fire’, ‘A Late Encounter with the Enemy’ and ‘Good Country People’ are the standouts in my opinion, with intriguingly malicious people let loose amongst lessers.”

“It feels like you can divide the book into two sections; when Meursault can smoke cigarettes, and when he can’t. I mean you have the whole before he murders the man and after, but the cigarette thing is much more apparent. Also directly related. Camus won the Nobel Prize in Literature for this work and I think I can see the appeal of it, with the sparse description and use of emotion, but it just didn’t strike me. The character of Meursault is meant to be this absurdist, existential, anti-hero yet he reads like a shallow, empty toddler, unable to relate to others or see any consequence for his actions. Interesting case study for the unreliable narrator though.”

“I’m so confused. Don’t get me wrong, I loved this book, absolutely loved it, it’s a beautiful experiment in form, but i’m so confused. The novel is part horror story, part academic paper, and has found itself surrounded by an incredibly mythology with readers attempting to decide the deeper meanings embedded within. Danielewski plays with font, colour, structure, and will have you turning your book upside down, flipping back through chapters just to clarify something. My god, it’s incredible. Go pick up a copy now so you can tell me what happened.”

“This was a wild ride. I mean, knowing what John Safran creates, I knew it would be interesting, but there was no way to predict what would happen one chapter to the next. White Supremacy, stolen Mexican money, and lies upon lies upon lies. Safran does an incredible job doling out the information to us so that it feels we’re discovering it just as he does. It was also lovely seeing John’s distinct voice which I grew to know and love in Music Jamboree written down in the page in front of me to the point I could hear the conversations so clearly. An incredible read, and one that has me in the mood for some more True Crime.”

“This book is Harry Potter meets Narnia if Harry and Ginny used Polyjuice Potion to turn into different animals to have sex, Ron was drunk all the time and Voldemort was a Tasmanian who ate people. Also Narnia is real. Except it’s also like none of that because it is entirely it’s own beast, and a thoroughly enjoyable beast at that.”

“Second book in the trilogy, weaving two story lines with the same sardonic humour as the first. Easy and enjoyable read for a relaxing time of year. This time, the wizards who were in fake Narnia, got kicked out, now want back in.”

Pretty cool, eh? We reached out to James to find out more and he explained the books he read were either ones he’d been meaning to read for a while, were recommendations from friends, or old favourites he wanted to revisit. He began with a list of 10 books, but that list quickly grew until he’d read 25. The project was inspired by the #minimonotonebookclub, an online book club created by Australian illustrator, Alexis Winter, where participants would one mini book a month, and explain why they enjoyed the book. After 12 months the project was over. However, James enjoyed it so much he modified it and, instead of becoming a monthly illustration, he began creating a new cover whenever he finished a book. If you enjoyed James’ art then you can follow him on Instagram @houlart.

“This is like Iron Chef meets a porn parody of Star Wars. Lots of cooking, lots of aliens and one giant sex bear. Plus a whole bunch of hidden dicks to make things just that much more interesting. Weird as fuck but wonderful as well.”

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