Saturday, 26 February 2011

The Aesthetics of Persephone (Persephone Reading Weekend)


I must confess: I'm a little shallow when it comes to certain books, especially Persephone Books.  I pass judgement on appearances and texture, colour and font and I covet the book for its looks.  The content is sometimes secondary to considerations but I find that a beautiful Persephone boosts the reading experience and cements a memory of a happy reading session.


I felt this when I held Miss Buncle's Book in my hands for my first ever Persephone reading event.  It was smooth, it was substantial... the pages were clean and white and crisp.  It had a pleasant 'new book' smell inside - a signature scent particular to Persephone books - and it seemed to add to the pleasure of reading the text.


It was a tactile experience and a feast for the senses when I opened the smooth dove-grey covers to reveal a symphony of colour and pattern within.  It was a cosy read, thanks to
D. E. Stevenson, and Persephone made it even cosier by its exquisite taste in printers.


So thanks to that first experience, which is being repeated as I hold my first Whipple, I long to engage as many senses as often as I can.  A little shallow but I think I am among friends who understand...


Happy Persephone Reading!


Pop over to the Persephone Reading Weekend host blogs for interesting posts and fabulous competitions.  Hosted by Claire and Verity.

22 comments:

Paperback Reader said...

Oh, Cristina, you are among friends and ones who fully appreciate the aesthetic appeal of these beautiful books. My love for Persephone Books is much-contributed to by the aesthetic and tactile experience of the books themselves. The fact that I know that my fellow Persephone fans share this "shallow" vanity gives me hope that e-books will never signal the death of the paper book - never when they are published on Persephone paper and bound in grey!

Jaytpinelli said...

Yes, yes, and Yes!!!! They are beautiful books....and best of all, great reading. I never did quite buy that old saying about not judging a book by its cover!!!!

Karenlibrarian said...

I don't think you're shallow -- people like attractive things. And Persephones are so classy, with the smooth covers and the beautiful endpapers. I do buy books based on covers all the time. E-books will never be able to capture that.

Audrey said...

First of all, thank you for all your visits and nice comments...it's been so nice to meet you! And second of all, I don't have a gray Persephone yet but I love (as you might have guessed to look at the endpapers and I've been hiding away the bookmarks that have come with the catalog. So many books now aren't nicely made, so I'm with you on appreciating these (and I haven't even ever seen one!) :)

bookmarksandteacups said...

I often pass on buying (and sometimes I even pass on borrowing) books that don't have just the right feel and aesthetics. I'm with you on the Persephones - they always appeal.

lyn said...

I agree with you completely, Cristina. I hadn't read a Persephone for a few months until I picked up Still Missing for the PRW & I was reminded why I love them so much. As you say, the uniform elegance of the covers, the endpapers, the creamy paper, that Persephone smell. If you're shallow, we're all shallow!

ramblingfancy said...

They're so appealing aren't they? I've even gone so far as to look for a matching cardigan and found myself coveting a grey/cream vase in exactly the same Persephone shades so you're definitely not alone!

irisonbooks said...

I completely understand your experience. These are wonderfully beautiful books.

And I'm very glad to have "met" you and your blog. It looks like one I'd like to visit again :)

Joan Hunter Dunn said...

oh so true. I read Dr. Zhivago recently and really really enjoyed it, but every time I picked my book up the terrible front cover made my heart sink...

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I am very jealous of your collection --just beautiful! (not to mention, stories to treasure as well)

Cristina (Rochester Reader) said...

Paperback Reader: Such wonderful words! I too find it difficult to imagine such beauty being replaced digitally. eReaders have their place and uses, but I think a collection of beautiful books will always be sought after. I love Persephone Classics too... it's difficult to decide which I like better so I'll just love them both :-)

Jaytpinelli: Welcome to my blog! I agree with you... I find myself judging a lot of books by their covers these days. Years ago I wasn't too picky about the condition of a book or the artwork but now I seek out the most attractive if I am to add it to my shelves... even if it's a library read!

Karen: I like to choose attractive covers too and concur with you about ebooks (however convenient, it is not a sensory experience.)

Audrey: You're welcome! And it's been lovely to discover your blog. I think the Persephone Classics are gorgeous too... most of the artwork is quite stunning. Perhaps you might win a dove-grey this weekend... fingers crossed!

bookmarksandteacups: Me too! Sometimes I'll leave behind a library book if it feels strange to handle - unless I'm absolutely desperate to read it!

Lyn: It's lovely basking in the glow of these books. You have a wonderful library and it must be calming to gaze at the books and consider your next read. I must work on acquiring a few more :-)

ramblingfancy: How lovely to get clothing and ornaments to match! It is a divine shade of grey... and so soothing.

irisonbooks: Welcome to my blog, Iris, and thank you for the compliment! I am happy to have found you via PRW - your blog is beautiful and I shall definately be visiting again to read your entertaining posts.

Joan: It's a shame how a poorly-judged cover design can (slightly) tarnish the reading experience. I was reading a library book once that had something really awful on the cover so I popped a cloth book cover over it! That made me feel much better and I was able to concentrate on the text without further distraction or moments of irritation.

Diane: Thank you! I have a very tiny collection of Persephones: 3 with me in South Africa and about 5 in the UK. It's going to be slowgoing building them up but worth it :-)

Bellezza said...

I, too, love the scent (and feel and crackle!) of books. In Kindergarten my friends would tease me for always smelling a book first, so it's fun that you should write of that here. Persephone books were a whole new concept to me, living here in the States, until a few years ago. I'm so glad that events such as these weekend, and the Persephone Secret Santa, brought them to my mind and subsequently to my home! Yesterday I read Little Boy Lost, today I'm hoping to complete Fidelity. We'll see if I can do it. Thanks for visiting my blog, it's so nice to meet you. Have added your beautiful blog to my sidebar. (Which is now at the bottom of my blog. :)

Katherine said...

Yes, i know what you mean about the new book scent! I recently received a copy of Few Eggs and No Oranges in the mail, and I keep sniffing it (often when I'm out in public, which engenders a few odd glances from strangers), because it's got that new book smell.

Desperate Reader said...

They are some of the nicest books to hold.

shereadsnovels said...

I only have a very small collection of Persephones but they do look beautiful on my shelf! I don't buy books based solely on looks but it definitely enhances the reading experience.

chasingbawa said...

Oh I definitely think the look and feel of the book enhances the reading experience. I think what I love the most about the Persephone books, apart from the content, are the bookmarks! I think I'm addicted:)

aliterarywayfarer said...

Cristina, I agree that the presentation of a book is important. I only purchase my favourite reads as I move a lot, and it's a pain to ship heavy boxes of books; therefore, content always trumps looks for me. At the same time, lately when I've been purchasing books, I want to buy ones with pretty covers. I think Persephone does the best job of printing gorgeous books, and part of the joy of them is their beauty.

Rose said...

Christina - I fully agree about the importance of an attractive book (I spent a LOT on the gorgeous cloth/hardcover Virago Modern Classics in 2008 and discovered a lot of authors).

Funnily enough, when I first heard about a set of dovegrey books I was not at all convinced - but you're right, once you touch them it's something special. I've not yet done any sniffing but will get onto that!

Darlene said...

It was such a clever idea to have gorgeous prints as endpapers, hidden by a sophisticated plain cover. They are so much more than 'books' to me and that is saying quite a lot!

Just thinking about it...the endpapers remind me of digging for a prize in a cereal box when I was young. I couldn't wait to see what was inside!

StuckInABook said...

I love the content of these books, of course, but I also adore how they feel in my hands, and how they look on the shelf... perfect.

michelle said...

You are definitely in the company of like minded souls. I'm all for giving books that come packaged with the right aesthethics, a place on a rather high pedestal. You are so right in saying that the reading of a book should engage as many of the senses as possible. I am especially particular about the choice of font used because no matter how good the contents may be, staring at an unsuitable font on each page of the book is equally engaging to my senses, but in the WRONG way!

Cottage Garden said...

The dove-grey covers with their evocative endcovers and bookmarks add immense pleasure to the reading experience. I love the way they look on a shelf or piled one atop another on a side table. Persephone isn't just a read (however excellent) but an experience too.

Jeanne
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