Links on Art, Brains, and Reading

I linked to this on Twitter but I think I neglected to link to it here: Mills & Boon is running a survey about cover art, asking folks to choose their favorites from four choices:

Four different cover treatments of the same book, some photographs, some cartoon

I believe the ones on the left are the current Riva covers, and I confess to really liking the split on the diagonal. But I dislike cartoon covers, especially the preternatual thinness of the women, like they can floss their teeth with their fingertips and use their legs to pick a lock. Which do you like? If you haven't taken the survey, it's still live


If you entered the Sherry Thomas Beauty Bonanza giveaway, the entry is updated with the winners names!

I missed this update last November about the Scottish paper art phantom, leaving sculptures made of books in various libraries. The complete series of 10 is at This Is Central Station.


From Elizabeth S comes this link on the neurosience of reading fiction in the NY Times:

The brain, it seems, does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life; in each case, the same neurological regions are stimulated. Keith Oatley, an emeritus professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto (and a published novelist), has proposed that reading produces a vivid simulation of reality, one that “runs on minds of readers just as computer simulations run on computers.” Fiction — with its redolent details, imaginative metaphors and attentive descriptions of people and their actions — offers an especially rich replica. Indeed, in one respect novels go beyond simulating reality to give readers an experience unavailable off the page: the opportunity to enter fully into other people’s thoughts and feelings.

 

On one hand: Cool! But on the other: I feel like I already knew that.


This article on Pinterest for writers got my attention, as I'd been thinking about how Pinterest has a craft and aspiration theme to it (things to cook someday, rooms to decorate and organize, hairstyles to try when you grow four more arms – wait, that's just me) but not that many mentions of books. To test that out, I started a Pinterest board of bedtime stories that I really love to read, and it seems to fit the community, so perhaps there is room for books as well. 


Since today is the release of the Hunger Games movie, many other dystopian YA novels are being promoted alongside it. Amazon has a deal on five dystopian books for Kindle, today only, including
Maggie Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races ( A | BN | K | S ), which is $1.99 at Amazon and $2.99 elsewhere.

Am I alone in being a little relieved that the premiere is finally here? The media coverage and promotion was so pervasive, I felt like the movie was going to sneak into my home and steal my beer. 


Finally, here are a few ebook deals, including two bundles of three or more novels, and some newly-digitized Rachel Gibson backlist: 

  • Simply Irresistible by Rachel Gibson * $3.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • It Must Be Love by Rachel Gibson * $3.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • See Jane Score by Rachel Gibson * $3.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Trouble With Valentine's Day by Rachel Gibson * $3.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Truly Madly Yours by Rachel Gibson * $3.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Daisy's Back in Town by Rachel Gibson * $3.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Gears in Wonderland by Jason G. Anderson * $0.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Alice in Deadland by Mainak Dhar * $0.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Green Heart by Alice Hoffman * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • A Match Made in Hell by Terri Garey * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Footloose Bundle by Leanne Banks * $9.32 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams * $11.99 * A | BN | K | S

 

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  1. 1
    Joan Silsby says:

    Maggie Stiefvater’s book is The Scorpio Races, not The Scorpio Games. :)

  2. 2
    Lizwadsworth65 says:

    I’m not sold on cartoony covers in general myself, but since the titles in the survey all seemed to be of the lighter-than-air romantic comedy sort, the cartoons got my vote in all instances.  The diagonal covers look darker and edgier to me; more suited to urban fantasy or horror than straight-up romance.

  3. 3
    SusannaG says:

    I’m not madly in love with any of those covers, frankly.  I guess I’m more turned off by the cartoony ones.

  4. 4
    KzoeT says:

    Of the 4 covers I liked the illustrated one on the far right the best. The overly-photoshopped-model-staring-at-me covers are just too devoid of any kind of emotion to spark my interest.

  5. 5
    SB Sarah says:

    OOPS. Will fix!

  6. 6
    Tiona says:

    I like the next to the last on the fart left, myself. She seems to be sharing a secret with you without being as obvious as the last on the left does. Much like. Not into cartoony covers, myself.

  7. 7
    Tiona says:

    far left not fart left, lol

  8. 8
    Lori says:

    I’m not crazy about any of them. If the book was something edgey then the one on the far left would be fine, but it doesn’t work for a rom com. The 2nd from the left reads as YA to me because the model looks so young. I don’t like cartoon covers, but they at least signal fluffy romantic comedy.

  9. 9
    jinap says:

    I dislike the two on the right – they seem really dated to me.  I’m a fan of both on the left, with the edge going to the far left with the diagonal.  It just seems really interesting & edgy and new.

  10. 10
    KarenF says:

    I have a deep visceral hatred for “duckface” pouts on models, so anything but the second from the left.

    Actually, I prefer cartoony covers in general, because live models never manage to capture my vision of the main characters in my head.

  11. 11
    Sofia Harper says:

    I personally want to see the cartoon character influence, on contemp. covers, die a slow death. I really like the second version of that book though.

  12. 12
    ksattler says:

    If the book covers are numbered left to right 1 to 4, I like 4 the best, then 3, then 1, and I don’t like 2.  The cartoon ones seem more light hearted to me which I like. Cover 2 tells me nothing. Cover 1 is unique but I’d think it was a mystery.

  13. 13
    pur8ple says:

    That survey was sad- I’m a huge fan of the diagonal cover, but I thought all of the ones that were shown were terrible. Particularly the half in color/half in black and white one- blech.

  14. 14
    Deslivres says:

    I hated all of them. Why not some really lovely scenery?

    There’s probably an extra level of disjunction between romance novel covers and other fiction covers. Romance novels are more completely about emotional connection/identification with the characters than any other genre. (or it is often the romantic element in other genres which brings in an emotional connection – versus being sucked into an exciting thriller plot or whatever).

    The point being, that depiction of a chick on the front is likely to annoy/alienate prospective readers. Who will be (usually) identifying with the chick when reading it. I know I always liked those old georgette heyer covers where it seemed to be a generic historic image of a regency people, (and often a pleasing barouche) without it being Sophie or Arabella or whoever. There is a similar risk in the image of the dude. If the cover pic is off putting in some way, that’s going to put off a slice of romance novel buyers. In my case, if the fellow looks too young, well….and that’s going to be arbitrary and completely unpredictable. Better to avoid the issue.

    Thinking about Kelley Hunter, they could probably do excellent covers for her books depicting locale. Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney and outback NSW play strong roles in her books, and the mood of Her Singapore Fling could probably be conveyed quite well through an atmospheric image of a Singapore street.

    High Heels would work for a book like Bet Me, but if they aren’t in the plot, they are just annoying.

    Really they should just default to kittens if they are too lazy to stop and think through more what they are putting on book covers. I’m pretty sure most of us simply “put up” with Mills & Boon/Harlequin covers, as opposed to those covers inducing us to buy.

    Just sayin’.

  15. 15
    Flo_over says:

    Creeps me out when the models on the cover are in a clinch with the man but are looking out at me.  DON’T BREAK THE 4th WALL WHEN YOU’RE GETTING YOUR GROOVE ON!!!!  It’s like she’s saying “Look at me, I am awesome for getting my groove on with the hot male lead.  Are you jealous?  You should be.  I am getting my groove on.”  Followed by a pouty face.  If I were the male lead I’d be like “Hey… um… I’m trying to get our groove on but you’re staring at nothing.  It’s creepy and kind of emasculating…”

  16. 16
    SKapusniak says:

    Hmmm, maybe they should just do a plain cover with three straps of pictograms (like the National Park Service and the Warning Signs for Tomorrow ones). One strap each for the couple, and the third for the story over all.

    I mean, I imagine that’s pretty much what they say to the artists: ‘I want her sipping champagne (pictogram: champagne glass), him in a tux (pictogram: tux jacket), in New York (pictogram: empire state builder)’.

    Okay, okay, if you want actual representative art and less old school Penguin cover you can turn the pictograms into a ‘pile of appropriate stuff’ like the Morrowind level up graphic.

  17. 17
    Morphidae says:

    I like the cartoon covers best. The Photoshopped ones look like porn movie posters to me.

  18. 18
    PamG says:

    In my house. that sort of pout is called “making boudin,” and has nothing to do with sexy!

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