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8 Nail Art Designs Based on YA Book Covers

by KB Meniado

I wanted to do something to personally celebrate Bookbed’s eighth year, and my initial idea was to dress up like book covers or characters for eight days. (I watch too many Buzzfeed videos, I know.) I couldn’t afford to do so, lifestyle-wise, so I opted for something that was more practical but also more challenging. Therefore: nail art designs based on book covers. I never do anything to my nails except to occasionally cut or bite them and I’m not a nail technician by any means, but I assure you I tried my best.

This project ran for 16 days, which meant I was changing my manicure every other day. (I do not recommend this, it is not healthy for your nails.) Because I’m not a pro, it took me—please don’t laugh at me—at least two hours on the average to finish just one hand. There were times it got frustrating, in which I had to redo everything or change books because nothing was going right. But I persevered. So I hope you enjoy these as much as I enjoyed doing them!

First things first!

Here is the list of ~tools~ I bought and used for this project:

  1. Five bottles of nail polish in different colors. Not mentioning any brands (because unlike with YouTubers, nobody sponsored this), but they were White Satin, Super Black, Mango Shake (yellow), Candy Pink and Midori Appletini (light green).
  2. Additional three bottles of nail polish—French White, Berry Red, Royal Blue.
  3. Peel-off base coat (which turned out to be useless for me), fast-dry top coat, three bottles of nail polish remover.
  4. Toothpicks (for the “drawings”), cotton buds, cotton balls.
  5. Books. I wanted to do just YA ones, and my choices, which I made every day, no plans whatsoever, were a mix of my favorites, those that I read around the time I was starting Bookbed and whatever I first saw on my YA shelf.

Day 1 – Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne (UK)

My feelings about this book: Loved it when I first read it in 2015. Evie, the main character, has OCD, and I liked the depiction of her experiences of having a mental health disorder. Honest and hilarious writing. Read my Goodreads review here.

My nail art ~journey: I had to redo this thrice. The Super Black and Mango Shake kept blending together, and I had no vinyls, only toothpicks to deal with the lettering and symbols. (This was also the time I gave up on a peel-off base altogether because nail polish remover was quicker to use.) Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t expect perfection, I mean who did I think I was. But I liked the final version enough that I proceeded to post it on my Instagram.

Day 2 – Take Three Girls by Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell and Fiona Wood (AU)

My feelings about this book: Three awesome Aussie (Aussome?) YA writers in one book! (Thanks to my cousin, Trish, who bought this and brought this home for me.) Intense, heart-squeezing, insightful.

My nail art ~journey: At first, I couldn’t figure out how to smudge the nail polish colors together in a way that they would look pretty. I applied Midori Appletini first and then dropped Mango Shake and Candy Pink droplets around but it was just a mess. Eventually, I figured out that I had to apply each color alternately to achieve my desired effect.

Day 3 – Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (US)

My feelings about this book: Here’s an excerpt from my Goodreads review posted in 2013:

I just loved this, page by page, and unlike several people, I did not cringe reading about Simon Snow. This was like Fanception, and my fangirling heart wants to read it again and again and again.

I have yet to reread it, oops.

My nail art ~journey: This wasn’t the book that I originally chose to do that day, but after four freaking hours of disappointment after disappointment, I picked this one up and only after an hour, I had these nails. Nail polish colors I used were similar to Day 2.

Day 4 – Looking for Alaska by John Green (US)

My feelings about this book: Still John Green’s best work, in my honest and humble opinion.

My nail art ~journey: This book was the one that made me waste an entire Sunday afternoon (see Day 3) but I didn’t want to give up on it. My idea was to draw white flowers in honor of Alaska, but with the base coat I used, a blend of White Satin and Mango Shake, they couldn’t stand out. I made eyelashes on the bottom half of my nails instead (which looked a lot like pubic hair, I’m sorry) and then decorated the top half with Candy Pink doused with White Satin-colored, cobweb looking “hair strands.”

Day 5 – Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

My feelings about these books: Love them. By the way, I met Matthew Quick in 2015.

My nail art ~journey: The easiest I’d done—all the nail polish (Berry Red, French White, Super Black) behaved and followed all the lines! Finished this in less than an hour. (I was getting goood, haha.) I realized after I took these photos that Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli could have been the inspiration for these nails as well!

Day 6 – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Bloomsbury) and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Scholastic) by J.K. Rowling (UK)

My feelings about these books: ALL. THE. MAGICAL. FEELINGS.

My nail art ~journey: This was actually a request by my high school classmate and friend Tetle via Instagram. (Thank you, Tle!) I was distracted by thoughts of my then very ill cat (to whom I dedicated this to), but I managed. Used French White, Royal Blue, Super Black on newly trimmed nails. Just in case it’s not clear, those are stars on my pinkie, the rest self-evident.

Day 7 – Kamikaze Girls by Novala Takemoto (JP)

My feelings about these books: People have mixed opinions about movie tie-in versions but I’ve got no qualms with them; in fact, I love this edition. Which was gifted to me by friend Laurene back in 2010, I think? (Thank you!) Also, I saw the movie first before I read the book. I enjoyed both, no issues. (Related: “Bookbed turns 8: 8 Ways to Encourage More People to Read”)

My nail art ~journey: I chose this because that day, July 7, was Bookbed’s birthday, and this was the only book I had around that had literal clouds on the cover. Applied only one coat on each nail (both Candy Pink and Royal Blue washed with French White), and no acetone nor nail polish remover was even involved. Finished in 30 freaking minutes *drops mic, rather, nail polish wand*

Day 8, last day – Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen (US), Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (FR/KR)

My feelings about these books: Unparalleled. I wish I wrote these. (That copy of The Little Prince has the original French text and the English and Korean translations. Bought it in Bosu-dong Book Street in Busan in 2016.)

My nail art ~journey: I take back what I said about Day 5 because THIS was the easiest of them all. I even had to paint on a cracked egg, a chick! and a sunny-side up (haha). Speaking of the chick, doesn’t it look like The Little Prince himself? *wink* The eggs can be the asteroids!


What do you think – should I do more nail art? What books do you suggest I do next? ☁️


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