The 13 Best Book Covers
Better Than Looking at Your Phone
Well, it’s the final month of a long, strange, terrifying summer. I don’t have anything good to say about it here, except that (as you may have surmised) it has been populated by quite a few excellent book covers—some of them as strange as These Times, but most of them better. In case you’ve resorted to wallpapering your rooms with the stripped jackets of new books (what, who knows what you’re up to in that apartment), or if you just want to bask in the beauty, here are a few of my favorites of the month.
I haven’t been this in love with a book cover in a long time. It’s so weird, so moody, so beautiful, and so perfect for this icy, mysterious novel. It feels almost like a forgotten, damaged photograph, something you’d find in a trunk in the attic and wonder about. And the pop of blue in the title? Extraordinary.
This cover is all about the astoundingly beautiful artwork by Toyin Ojih Odutola, framed perfectly and simply by a white jacket and elegant typography. I want to hang it on the wall.
This cover is a whole mood: the slightly off primary colors, the prone woman (is she sleeping?), the tilted text, and the polka dots on the umbrella, which lend it all a sense of insanity. It’s just the kind of cover that would make me want to read this book, even if I hadn’t heard anything about it.
Here’s another one that’s all about the art, and whose designer managed to augment a beautiful image perfectly with the text treatment. But what art!
Where to start? I love the playing cards (all spades), the portrait, the edge of definition on the Jack, the type treatment (I’m always a sucker for a bleeding edge), the bold colorway, the distressing. It looks like an object you’d want to keep forever.
Anything that evokes both Magritte and an endless maw of empty space is going to become an instant favorite in my book.
I don’t have any idea what’s going on here; if the previous cover made me think of Magritte, this one makes me think of Dalí—a digital Dalí. But I want to keep looking at it, trying to figure it out, and that’s half the battle, isn’t it?
I love the way the faces in the photograph almost dissolve into an abstract pattern, an effect enhanced by the slightly translucent quality of the subtitle and supplementary text. But then you look closer, and the image is not abstract at all, but rather perfectly chosen.
This is certain a category of book cover, and it’s one of my favorites: a blank field populated by one odd object, probably at some bizarre scale, plus minimalist text treatment. Think Elif Batuman’s The Idiot, or Odie Lindsey’s Some Go Home, which was one of last month’s favorites. The success always depends on the choice of object, and this horse figurine is a success in my book.
It’s very cool and sort of upsetting and absolutely unexpected, much like the book it covers.
Clearly this cover has some kinship with the previous one (and both designed by Jayas!), but with a different angle—several in fact. It’s disturbing in the most compelling way.
I love the hand lettering (and doodles!) here, and the sense that the entire cover is an annotation of one jazzed-up passport photo.
It’s designed to be hypnotic, and it is.