Book defacing is a trend that has taken the book community by storm in the past year or so. People who once believed in the practice of keeping books in pristine and perfect condition, are now writing and highlighting all over the pages. The thought still makes some book-lovers skin crawl. But, what happens when you stray even farther? When simply annotating the book just isn’t enough? Well, something like this happens:
This, my lovelies, was once the dust jacket of The Raven King by: Maggie Stiefvater, and it still is, it’s just gotten a bit of a makeover. You see, I’ve been annotating the insides of my books (writing commentary, underlining, highlighting, etc.), for a long time, long before the trend started, and I liked the way that, by doing it, the book became more personal, more mine. But it wasn’t enough. I began to think of other ways I could put my personal touch on my favorite books, and found myself staring at the dust jacket, imagining what cover I could create. And then I created it.
As a Stiefvater collector, I have many spare copies of The Raven Cycle, but The Raven King especially. It’s also probably my favorite book in the series, so it just made sense that it would be the one I defaced. My goal was to create a cover completely dedicated to the character that the book embodies the most, which is Gansey. But I didn’t want to go the typical route. I didn’t want my cover to have skulls with crowns, or ravens on it. I, instead, wanted to focus on the non-magical aspects of Gansey. The things that I love about him the most. With all that in mind, I got started.
My process began with a rough sketch of what I had decided on drawing, and about where on the cover I planned on placing it all. After that, I took some parchment-y like tissue paper, and glued it to the reverse side of the dust jacket (I used one of those glue tape things to do this, considering the dust jacket is very sheen and slick, and I didn’t think regular glue would hold). Then, it was time to draw. I decided to go with Ganseys signature boat shoe, and Sperry in particular, and made it his signature color:
“Aquamarine is a wonderful color, and I won’t be made to feel bad for wearing it.”
I then decided to include a sprig of mint leaves, to represent Ganseys adorable habit of carrying around mint leaves and chewing on them. Then, finally, I included Ganseys fatal flaw: bees. Real ones, not robot ones. For the back cover, I did my best to interpret Ganseys cardboard and cereal-box version of Henrietta, and placed his glasses (his most adorable physical feature) in the center of it all. I then chose a quote that really spoke to who Gansey was as a regular, not touched by magic, person:
“That’s Gansey for you. Only learns enough to be superficially competent.”
The final step, was one that gave me pause for a long time: what was I going to do with the spine? Tons of ideas came to me (coloring it, painting it, leaving it alone so I wouldn’t mess the whole thing up and have to start all over, etc.), but none of them felt right. Then an idea, a risky one, came to mind: fabric. I’ve always loved cloth bound books, and while this wouldn’t exactly be that, I thought I could at least incorporate a little bit of the idea into it. So, with much doubt, I chose some accentuating ribbons, prayed real hard, and glued them to the spine. It worked.
And with that, I was finally finished. The whole process took me about two weeks to complete, but I think it was totally worth it. No one in the world has a copy of The Raven King just like this. This one is completely, and uniquely, my own. And I love it.
So, what about y’all? Do you deface books? Would you ever? Let me hear about it in the comments!