hungry-eyed and weather-stained

twenty-something who likes reading, orange & oranges, & science fiction, among other things. often dreams of parallel universes, multiple timelines & the purpose of her existence; however she has yet to find a satisfactory answer to that last point.

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The Fox and the Star — Coralie Bickford-Smith

3 July 2016 | 0 COMMENTS

It's Sunday and I'm back again, so hopefully I'll get back into the groove of writing and posting here on a regular basis~

Bookshelves in public spaces are interesting — in most bookstores you'll find the goods displayed with in stacks where you can see the front covers and the spines, or on the shelves with both the spines & front covers facing you (I believe this breaks the monotony of solely having the spines face the customers on the shelf, and helps promote the sale of newcomers, bestsellers, special editions, etc. in a subtle manner... and this is why I'm always a bit poorer than I should be). Libraries are different in the sense that almost all books on the shelves are displayed with the spines facing you, with the exceptions of the few in the Highlights section.

With these observations, the way I procure new reading material (that aren't newspapers) differs:
  • I am itching to spend some money but I have no idea what I should bu—OOO LOOK BOOKSTORE! Other less cringe-worthy circumstances include discounts at bookstores I frequent, or when I want to read a specific book as soon as I get home* and not have to wait weeks for Book Depository purchases to arrive.
  • Do I want a specific book or cover that I cannot find in a physical store? Am I on a tighter budget? The Book Depository it is.
  • For design-related literature I tend to visit stores that specialize in such books, or go straight to the publisher's website.
  • Am I in desperate need to escape the sweltering heat while I wait for someone / time to pass and not have any one bother me, or do I want to catch up on some crime fiction? You'll probably find me in the library.

So, in a library, I tend to skim over the shelves and stop when I find a spine that visually excites me, or with an author's name whose books I've previously enjoyed.

Last weekend, I woke up realizing that I had a library book that was overdue for two weeks (!!!), so I begrudgingly dragged myself out in the intense heat and humidity to return it. My lateness amounted to $2.05 (I have a vivd memory of paying the fine and heaving a loud sigh), and I couldn't stand leaving the comfort of the air-conditioned library to go home immediately, so I decided to browse the shelves instead.

Somewhere in the B section of the fiction shelves, I spotted an irregularity which annoyed me: this particular book** had its bottom edges facing me. Evidently I wasn't thinking while I was skimming, but the book was too tall to fit the shelf with the spine facing me, which was why the librarian slotted it in that way.

So I stopped, pulled out the book (which led me to the conclusion that I wasn't making full use of my brain), and saw the prettiest single-colour illustrated cover I've ever seen. Then I saw the author's name, and remembered admiring her book covers for the Penguin Clothbound Classics series.

I borrowed it immediately, and now I want to get a permanent copy for myself which makes this book incredibly special in my opinion.

The Fox and the Star is Coralie Bickford-Smith's first work as an author & illustrator, and comes in a beautiful clothbound hardcover (I checked Book Depository and there's a paperback edition available for pre-order, if you're not into hardcovers). I believe the cover illustrations are stamped in white foil, and I like how the textures of the cloth and the foil help enhance the physical beauty of this book.

The illustrated endpapers are beautiful, and remind me of the Arts and Crafts movement that I learnt about in school. A quick google search reveals that Bickford-Smith was inspired by said movement and the work of William Blake.

The story itself is a charming one about loss and acceptance. Look how adorable the Fox is! As the story moves on, the illustrations and layout of the words on the pages get a little darker and less colourful, which really adds to the story. It was so hard to pick just one page to feature, as I didn't want to spoil the story...

Here's a picture of the back cover, even though it's pretty similar to the front. I like how the Fox is easier to spot because of the space above him where the blurb lies — look at his dreamy face!

I'm dreading the day I'll have to return this — I am this close to getting my own copy but I have to set some money aside for household expenses, like a Responsible Working Adult.

* I hardly read on public transport these days because I don't like the thought of having my picture taken in a sneaky manner as I read without my permission, and then posting it online for everyone to see / scrutinize — I can understand where they're coming from but ughhh it just makes me so uncomfortable.

** Turns out that the Penguin imprint that published this is called Particular Books (pun unintended)!

P/S: Today's photos may look a little different — my camera's battery has no juice in it and I seem to have misplaced the charger (NOTE TO SELF: FIND THE DAMN CHARGER), so I used my phone instead.

P/S/S: I forgot how much I disliked typing in sentence case.

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