To celebrate World Book Day, I’d like to take a moment to recognise McSweeney’s, whose books are born from a love of words and design.
Founded in 1998 by the celebrated author Dave Eggers, McSweeney’s has grown from a small literary journal to an industry stalwart, publishing novels, short stories, poetry collections and other periodicals, like the quarterly Believer magazine.
Opening one of their Quarterly Concern collections – literary journals of expertly hand picked reportage, short stories and artwork – is like diving right into Wonderland. Often the books aren’t traditionally shaped, and have multiple sections folding out like flower petals, other times there are accessories which enable you to immerse yourself further into the stories inside: a comb, a deck of cards. One of the first I ever read had a dust jacket made of an enormous folded comic strip that could be taken off and spread out to be read. There were smaller books tucked inside the folds of the cover, like a literary fortune cookie or a treasure hunt. This is even before you get to the words. Each and every book is lovingly curated into a thing of beauty, both inside and out.
Picking up a McSweeney’s, you’ll be hard pressed to put it down. Every element is meticulously thought through to lure the reader in: thick paper, compartments, little notes and sections of interest for you to seek out, curious titles, and clean typography and artwork. I am a magpie for beautiful books, and McSweeney’s are the shiniest and most coveted in my collection.