Book Love

Artist Paints Humorous Book Covers Based on Foggy Memories

We all have that one book that haunts us, and not because it was scary—I’m talking about that book from years ago that you can only remember tiny bits and pieces of, but never enough detail to successfully find it.

This of course is no strange phenomenon as the human memory is notoriously flawed, but in a Google world, not being able to identify a book (or anything, for that matter) from the past somehow feels even more maddening.

Reddit’s “tipofmytongue” subreddit is one attempt at crowdsourcing answers: thousands post brief descriptions (often flawed, sometimes funny) of the thing they are looking for, and online sleuths try to solve the case. A few unsolved cases from today include “A youtuber who got sued or had his channel deleted or something,” “Male artist with hipster hair and a single name,” and “the song that goes ‘a wada ha he, a wada ha ho, a wada ha ha.'”

Reddit aside, there are hundreds of more forums on the internet dedicated to finding any sort of thing you seek, but the book-related searches have piqued the interest of artist Marina Luz.

In her ongoing series, IF I DON’T FIND THIS BOOK I WILL DIE, or, How We Describe Books When We Can’t Remember the Title or Author, she uses these half-remembered stories as fodder for her painted book covers. The pieces were most recently on display at Park Life Gallery in San Francisco.

Marina Luz's fictional book covers based on foggy memories

The content is pulled directly from the subject line of plot descriptions on book search forums, resulting in fictional titles that are, as she puts it, “alternatively poetic and amusing.”

“With memory being such a fickle thing, it stands to reason that a book written by an author who had hoped to tackle themes of love, loss, mortality, and the very meaning of existence could be boiled down to Complicated Love Story,” she notes.

Marina Luz's fictional book covers based on foggy memories

Marina Luz's fictional book covers based on foggy memories

Luz struck inspiration for this project through her own search for a forgotten book, Iceberg Shows Up Overnight in Front of Hotel, which is still an open case.

Marina Luz's fictional book covers based on foggy memories

Marina Luz's fictional book covers based on foggy memories

Marina Luz's fictional book covers based on foggy memories

Marina Luz's fictional book covers based on foggy memories

Marina Luz's fictional book covers based on foggy memories

Looking at her work brings up feelings of both delight and pity—while a book described as Sad Dead Eagle is funny in its bluntness, one can’t help but think of their own book title that escapes them.

Marina Luz's fictional book covers based on foggy memories

Marina Luz's fictional book covers based on foggy memories

Marina Luz's fictional book covers based on foggy memories

When she’s not making our misremembered books a reality, Luz is busy running her design studio HONEYLUX out of Oakland, CA. The Emmy Award-winning illustrator and artist has had her work appear in the New York Times, VICE, ProPublica, and the Center for Investigative Reporting, among others.

What is the title of your forgotten book? Share it in the comments! Mine is Terrifying Middle Grade Book from the Early 2000s—if you have any ideas of what it might be, please let me know.

All images used with permission from Marina Luz

Jenna Homen

Community Manager at Chronicle Books. When she's logged off, she can be found cooking, camping, or in a museum. You can follow her on Twitter at @jn_na.
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8 Comments

  • Anna-Lisa Sandstrum September 23, 2016 at 10:57 am

    I totally want to read “Something, Something Beverly HIlls”! And I’ll keep my eyes out for “Terrifying Middle Grade Book from the Mid-2000s”.

    Reply

  • Kim Salmi October 7, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    Mine is actually a book I didn’t read but saw in a store years ago and wanted but couldn’t afford …I did read the back cover though and it was s a sequel to the classic Heidi ( one of my favs as a kid ) by a different author …can’t find it and I’m sure ( I think ) I’d know the right version if I saw it s cover again …can’t remember it’s actual title just its a sequel to Heidi ..and there’s more than one darn it to confuse things

    Reply

  • Taylor October 10, 2016 at 7:05 am

    As a child in the 1990’s I checked out a picture book from my local library over & over again. The repetitive refrain was “Where’s the baby, where oh where?” and it had rhymes to follow, like, “Is she sitting in her chair?” It was adorable, and I’ve tried to find it online to no avail! I suppose the title for my forgotten book would be, “The Lost Baby.”

    Reply

  • jamie October 24, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    This body of work was shown at Park Life Gallery which is oddly not referenced, though the name of the Exhibit was mentioned.

    Reply

  • Jennifer Greenlees March 10, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    Luz’s lost book. . . Could it possibly be Arctic Fire by Paul Byers? It was published in 2011. It does not look like an iceberg was literally dropped in front of a hotel, but “portable” icebergs and a hotel do seem to feature in this story.

    Reply

  • Ellen Padgett March 11, 2017 at 7:51 am

    My childhood (in the 1960s) lost book would be titled “Itchy Bear” about a bear cub who ignored his Momma Bear’s advice and wanders into a patch of poison ivy. It may have been set in the autumn as I remember fall-colored leaves in the illustrations. And there may have been a circus tent illustration on the last page. But I may also be combining two lost books because the circus tent kind of doesn’t make sense with the “Itchy Bear” plot.

    Reply

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