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The Glance Reveals

Our publisher, Biblica, did something I’ve heard is kind of rare: they let their authors have a hand in choosing the cover design for the book. Biblica created three different mock-ups and let us weigh in on our favorite. All three covers were cool, but Jordan, Dan, and I found common ground on the cover art that eventually made it onto the front of Besides the Bible.

Not long after this, I finally got my hands on a book I had been wanting for months – a book-length essay by Robert D. Richardson called First We Read, Then We Write: Emerson on the Creative Process. I must have picked up this book a half-dozen times at the bookstore, but I never pulled the trigger. I made a special trip into town when my local library got a copy. I was halfway through First We Read when a surprising thing happened. Walking past my desk, I saw the book out of the corner of my eye. That’s when it hit me that the Ralph Waldo Emerson book had the same cover art as Besides the Bible.

I know it’s not uncommon for books to share cover art.

It even happens to literary masters like Ivan Doig.

But what surprised me was how long it took me to notice that the book I was reading right now was shod in the same cover as the book I just co-wrote. Then I remembered an Emerson quote from First We Read, Then We Write: “The glance reveals what the gaze obscures.” I couldn’t see what was right in front of me; the identical covers were only visible in passing.  I made a mental note to myself: Ralph Waldo Emerson seems to be right about almost everything. So pay attention.

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