A Mere Object

Something that I have definitely disregarded is the physical book versus e-book debate. To me, it’s always been whatever is cheaper, which usually means that it is on my phone. Others have definitely had more of a problem with it. To the generation before me, it looks like I’m just playing games or on social media just because I have my phone out, which is annoying and has pushed me to move back, albeit only slightly, to physical books. There is something about the weight of the book in your hands, and the sound and feel of turning a page that is satisfying I will have to admit.

The book of poetry that I have chosen specifically is Wade in the Water by Tracy K. Smith. I chose this book because it stood out to me the most with the look and feel of it. The look of it struck me the most, the art of the mountains in the mist leading up into the sky, and the shimmering river forking its way through is dazzling in its beauty but also in its simplicity. The font is center stage and quite bold with its type and the way that it’s two-toned, but somehow it’s also subtle in the way that it’s still soothing to the eye. The overall effect is still serenity, like you’re looking into some hidden valley, and you can almost hear the water flowing through. It continues in this vein on the back, a soft gray color highlighting the book’s praises, which cover the back except for the small photo and description of the author. Something different is the insignia of the publisher, it’s actually bigger than the author’s picture. This suggests that it is possibly a big name in the publishing world, that they are a small publishing company trying to compensate, or maybe that this publisher is just really excited to be publishing the works of a Poet Laureate.

Besides the look of the book, there’s also the feel, it’s very soft, more than what one would expect from a book, but it isn’t quite smooth, there’s a little bit of friction, like the cover wishes for you to linger, take your time. It’s not a texture that you can quickly run your fingers over. The heaviness of the pages suggest the same, they’re heavier, this is definitely a book that, when resting, stays closed. Overall, I get the feeling that this book doesn’t want you to rush things. From the title (wade which has a connotation of slowness) to the design, this book wants you to discover it, but then to absorb and savor it. Wade through it. It seems silly that a simple book cover could make you feel this way but as our author says writing has already “fundamentally changed human consciousness” (Borsuk).

Works Cited: Borsuk, Amaranth. The Book.MIT Publishers 2018

Photo by Amazon.com ©️

2 thoughts on “A Mere Object”

  1. I love your thoughtful description of the cover, and how the book invites us to “wade.” You notice/speculate about the size and placement of the publisher’s logo. Graywolf is a big small press (which is not as much of an oxymoron as it might sound). On their website’s history page, they give a fascinating (very instructive, for us) narrative of their growth from small press to ‘big small press’ – with significant budget, institutional support, and affiliation with a large publisher: “Graywolf Press was founded in 1974, in Port Townsend, Washington, by Scott Walker. Graywolf’s first publications were limited-edition chapbooks of poetry, which were printed on a letterpress and hand sewn by Walker and his colleagues. Graywolf was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 1984, and in 1985, thanks in part to generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts and from local philanthropic organizations, we moved to St. Paul, Minnesota. Fiona McCrae has led the press as Director and Publisher since 1994. We joined forces with Farrar, Straus & Giroux for distribution in 2002, and we moved across the Mississippi River to Minneapolis in 2009. Today, Graywolf is considered one of the nation’s leading nonprofit publishers, with a $4 million annual budget. We remain dedicated to publishing poetry, and our lists have expanded to include fiction and nonfiction as well. We publish 30–35 books each year by authors at all stages of their careers, from the United States and around the world.”


  2. I like that you mention how people assume everyone is screwing around on phones and is never doing anything of importance. I usually don’t care what other people think, so I have no problem reading off of my phone when I need to. I still run into the annoying issue of people bothering me more frequently when I use my phone, however. Maybe we should use that “reading aloud” method we wrote about earlier so that people think we are busy talking to people or so people can tell we are reading.


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