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Simone is a young law student and he is passionate about reading, literature and books. He created his original project “side_book” in which he mixes his love for reading and art, redrawing many famous literary masterpiece covers with his brothers.

Le notti bianche

Hello Simone, tell us something about yourself. How did the idea of redrawing the cover of the milestones of world literature come about?

To explain how this project was born, I must first tell you how I fell in love with literature. It’s a particular story.

As a child I always wanted to imitate what my older brother did, so if he read I wanted to read too! The problem was that I was a child and I didn’t understand anything of what I “read” because in reality I wasn’t able to read, I just turned the pages. Over the years, I discovered that behind those inked pages there were hidden worlds, experiences and dreams written by authors who lived a life full of emotions and relationships. The more the years passed the more I fell in love. When I was attending secondary school I realized I had a problem: I constantly forgot the important lessons a book can give. So I started writing down the fundamental points of every book and also added a short personal comment. I’m still keeping some of those papers.

At first I read these pages by myself, then my close friends also started reading them because they were curious.

So, I decided to start a blog and I was very happy because I saw that my blog was read by many people I didn’t know and who appreciated what I wrote about the books. From that moment on I started many collaborations with writers, editors, engineers, architects and journalists.

After a while, a really significant moment occurred in my life. My older brother Gabriele moved to another house. At that precise moment the idea of “side_book” was born, a project that united two brothers: a writer and law student, the other a doctor and painter.

I don’t even know precisely how this idea came to my mind. I think it was the story and the strong bond with my brother that suggested this project to me. A powerful common thread that has always linked my brother and me. This is our way (among others) of maintaining a very strong connection that allows us to dream and make others dream too.

“A book evokes feelings, teachings and above all tells stories that come from the author’s personal background”

Do the covers you redraw belong to books you have read before or also to books you simply heard about but have never “explored” by reading?

The covers I redraw always belong to books I have read before. Then, through the most important moments I have highlighted, Gabriele creates the illustrations using a singular sensibility.

Marocco senza Veli

il visconte dimezzato

I guess your passions are literature and art, aren’t they? What is your favorite book and who is your favorite artist? And why?

My favorite book is “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho because it represents life in both physical and mental aspects. In this book the concepts of love, spirituality and science are intertwined between with the aim of realizing a simple shepherd's dream. I think this story is unique as much as essential.

Speaking of art, my favorite artist is Van Gogh because of his paintings, his life story and the special connection with his brother that reminds me of the relationship with Gabriele.

In your Instagram bio I read that you also write literary criticism. What are the points you try to deepen in your analysis?

A book evokes feelings, teachings and above all tells stories that come from the author's personal background.

When I write my analysis, I observe how these three elements blend in the script. Writers experience very emotional and particular moments in their lives and need to express them through writing. I try to relate to the author and understand how his life was translated into a story.

A book is something that teaches you a lesson, something that can make you live many lives and experiences outside of your ordinary life allowing you to be rich in imagination and full of many experiences. There’s a quote that makes what I do easy to explain:

“By the age of 70, anyone who doesn't read will have lived only one life. Those who read will have lived 5000 years: they witnessed the killing of Abel by Cain, they were present when Renzo married Lucia and when Leopardi stared at infinity. Reading is immortality that works backwards”. - Umberto Eco.

Pride & Prejudice

The Alchemist

Do you use any particular techniques to realize the covers?

I don’t know exactly what kind of technique my brother uses to realize his covers, but I do know that he draws using a graphic tablet.

Do you think a book can be judged by its cover? They say you should never stop at first impressions, but in the end that’s what most people do. Do you think that making the cover of a book catchier can “attract” the attention of a reader?

I think it’s impossible not to judge a book by its cover. The cover is an integral part of the book. Ironically it would be like saying “Don’t judge the book by its content”. It’s insane because the cover belongs entirely to the artwork.

What I strongly believe in is that it is not fair to deceive readers by using covers that communicate nothing or convey a completely different message compared to the one contained in the book.

“A book is something that teaches you a lesson, something that can make you live many lives and experiences outside of your ordinary life”

If you had to give the title of a book to this difficult period that the art world is experiencing, what title would you give it?

“L’arte è senza tempo”

I chose this title because I think art is cutting-edge and will never be fully understood. What I mean is that art is so present in the history of the world that sometimes it’s taken for granted.

Art is endless and timeless.

What does it mean to you to read, draw and create?

It means believing in a world that can change thanks to the love and passion of those who write, read and draw. Thanks to those who believe in a world that looks forward and continues to grow and develop. Otherwise there’s no point in wasting energy and time in this world.

In your opinion, why do young people dislike reading nowadays? Why don't they fully appreciate the milestones of literature?

Sometimes it is precisely the readers, writers, authors and critics who put themselves at a higher level, thus creating distance with young people who aren’t able to appreciate this kind of attitude and I understand them. I’ve never tolerated big words: reading is so much fun it can’t be explained.

What I’m trying to do is show how reading can evoke the same feelings as a night out with friends or how it can connect people from all over the world. This is what other colleagues and I do.

I can’t convince anyone that reading is fun. I’m just trying to shape a dream of mine that it’s taking shape thanks to reading.

The famous Netflix TV series “The Queen’s Gambit” is about the game of chess. Most people considered chess a game for losers. This series is giving chess another light.

My project is as real as my brother and I.

Are you reading something or working on some covers at the moment?

Actually yes! The illustrations of “Crime and Punishment” and of “Debolezze” by Marco Dell’Amura (emerging poet and writer) are in progress. Then, I’m about to receive three books from different authors who have asked me to make a commentary on their works and some illustrations.

“Art is endless and timeless”

I Promessi Sposi

The Lord Of The Rings

Follow Simone and his book covers on Instagram.

Interview & Article by

Sara Orlandini

Image Credits

Simone D'ercole

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