Let me be the first to admit that I actually despise running for exercise or recreation. For those of you who are avid runners, major kudos to you, because I feel like every time a pair of running shoes and I hit the pavement or treadmill, it’s like my legs are screaming, “Why, why are you doing this to me?! Why do you hate me so much?“
Yet it’s covers like these that make me give the notion of running a second thought. But only for like, a millisecond.
The cover art for Wendelin Van Draanen’s The Running Dream makes me want to send a fan letter to the art director, designer, and editor responsible for visualizing such a simple and dreamy (see what I did there?!) piece of art for its story.
It’s one thing to hand over a cover with a generous amount of negative space and slap a one-word title in Helvetica Neue on it. It’s quite another to paint a canvas that has gentle movement and inspiration written all over it in shoelaces and simplicity. The Running Dream’s cover doesn’t feel presumptuous. It’s not trying to be something that it’s not. It doesn’t seem to want to do anything but tell its story, not caring whether its audience is YA, MG, or adult.
I’ll delve a little deeper into an analysis of the title’s typeface (because, you know, it’s fun). The fact that it’s a handwritten typeface (and not Helvetica Neue) speaks volumes to me. It personalizes the story. I can imagine that I’m about to open a journal and read an intimate account of Jessica’s struggles after she loses her leg in a car accident. I can know from this cover what her life was all about before that accident. And while I know that struggles are guaranteed to follow, the sparseness of the cover and choice of white expanse actually makes me feel hopeful.
See? This is what a cover with nothing but 6 words and shoes on it can do to me.