Category Archives: Literature

Colorless Tsukuru Book Covers

I was hanging out with some friends in a small book store in Kyoto last week when I saw this volume of Pen Magazine. The art of book cover designs.

book design Pen Magazine


It was genius, even though the Japanese was far above my reading level.   I found myself gazing at the different covers of a translated book, each cover specifically designed for a different country, a reading audience with an image of the world transcribed by unique cultural identities and colored by a symbolism unique to the people who live and speak in a different language.  Fantastic.

Below I’ve complied, less artistically, one of the topics covered in this magazine–the covers of Colorless Tsukuru by Haruki Murakami.  What do you think they say about the people, the audiences’ perceptions of the world?


Japan / China / Canada-USA

Finland / Random House Publisher – with personalizable cover /  Dutch

Germany / Norway / Poland


Interactive Reading

What were your favorite books when you were in elementary school? Did you read anything which struck you as odd and memorable?

I have fond memories of reading books as a child.  Even though I can’t recall the plots of each book I read, I know I consumed the vast majority of a handful of series including Goosebumps, Mr. Men and Little Ms., Chronicles of Narnia, and  Choose Your Own Adventure. Sometimes I wonder where scenes from my dreams originate, and I almost suspect they are directly linked to the worlds (alternate realities)which I believed these stories existed in.

No, the point of this story is not just to reminisce, even thought it’s fun! Rather, I bring these books up to comment on how some types of experimental writing find their way into mainstream culture and are able to draw lots of readers or become a writing practice. Concrete poetry has done this, and so have other forms.

Visual poems highlight the page as a physical object which a reader must interact with. A special element of concrete poetry is its ability to change the manner in which the reader reads the words on the page. Typically, reading direction is from left to right and top to bottom, but concrete poems alter this format and leave the reader to surmise the proper reading sequence. (A technical note: the exploration of the complex interaction between a work and a reader is phenomenology.)

Choose Your Own Adventure books also work on the same premise, bringing attention to the form and involving the reader in a different way than a typical storybook.

Because they are story-length works, instead of selecting the order in which to read individual words or word groupings, these books ask readers to actively participate in selecting the next page to read.  I have no access to a legitimate English library, but if I did, I’d be in the kids section right now, reliving my childhood! (I’m such a nerd)


Never wear black with color

“I’m not sure about the vest. What about a little bit of color to lift it?”

“Absolutely not. Never wear black with color. It makes the color look cheap and the black look boring.”

-Dr. Who Season 1 Episode 12


People, robots, A.I., they’re all filled with different types of thoughts and ideas. So are characters.

In Buddhism, there are five aggregates that compose someone’s mind: first, the body and sense organs ; second, the emotional response and feelings; third, the perception of physical and mental objects; fourth, the impulses, attention, will, habits; and fifth, the awareness and sub-conscious.

The writer’s of Dr. Who gave the third aggregate to AI or robot creatures in the above scene. They have perceptions about how the world should work and ideas about physical objects. How do your characters express or show their thoughts and opinions? Do they pose as experts in a field, or are they so full of opinions that their words shoot past like darting sparrows?

When Elizabeth in “Pride and Prejudice” encounters Darcy, the two have strong willed opinions and ideas on how others should behave. Thoughts directly influence actions. Due to this cause and effect, the primary conflict in the novel feeds directly from this clash.

Whether or not your story’s main conflict derives from a divergence of opinions, when people or AI with different opinions meet, there is a strange dance. Just how your character dances is your choice (or their choice).

Writing Challenge:

Two characters meet. One is head-fast about a certain principal. This principal is true and right. It is just how the universe should be. The other character embodies the exact thing the first character stands against. What happens in the exchange? Is it heated or calm?