Design

Cool Book Covers

Best Book Covers

Book covers are insanely good these days — like miniature works of art. “Often we’ll see 10 to 15 ideas for one book,” says Andy Ward, vice president and editorial director at Random House. “The covers that I love most are beautiful but also convey the idea at the heart of the book. That’s really hard to do. When designers get that right, it’s magic.” Here are a few of our favorites over the last couple years…

Best Book Covers

“When designing covers, I try to imagine someone browsing at Three Lives bookstore,” says art director Megan Wilson, who has been at Vintage and Anchor Books for 23 years. “You really want someone to pick up the book. I love simple covers.” What doesn’t she like on covers? “The backs of people’s heads,” Wilson says. “It’s a cop out.”

Fascinating, right? What books — and book covers — are you loving these days?

P.S. The best books this fall, and cool typography.

(Unabrow design by Zoe Norvell. Manual for Cleaning Women design by Justine Anweiler. The Girls design by Peter Mendelsund and Oliver Munday. Munich Airport design by Anne Twomey. Olio design by Jeff Clark. Dept. of Speculation design by Jon Gray. The Mothers design by Rachel Willey. First Novel design by Suzanne Dean, photograph Stephen Banks. Was She Pretty design by Leanne Shapton. The Lonely City design by Henry Sene Yee, photograph by Jerome Liebling. The Nix design by Oliver Munday. Methamorphosis design by Peter Mendelsund. Alena design by Abby Weintraub. The Italians design by Nick Misani. Girls on Fire design by Jack Smyth. Hold Still design by Mario J. Pulice, photograph by Robert S. Munger. Trans design by Joanna Walsh. Pond design by Alex Merto. Liar design by Jake Nicolella.)

  1. Amanda says...

    I love that Megan Wilson said she imagines people browsing at Three Lives bookstore because I picked up a book there recently based on it’s beautiful cover and loved every moment of reading it! “The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty” by Amanda Filipacchi – the back says “Murakami meets 30 Rock” which was so true, so good.

  2. Vanessa says...

    I purchased “The World to Come” by Dara Horn purely based on the cover. I’d never heard of her before, but I thought the book was so pretty and I had to have it. Imagine my surprise when I read it and discovered this was a truly brilliant novel! One of my favorites.

  3. My favourite book cover has always been the master and margarita cat personally :)

  4. I love looking at book covers! So crazy and amazing how far we have come! I love the shirt tag cover! So fitting!

  5. Fasten your seatbelts, because I LOVE BOOK COVERS.

    I am obsessed with the cover of my favorite book- The Secret History by Donna Tartt (also perfect for Halloween!). Now that I think about it, I love ALL three of her covers!

    For new books, I love the covers for The Mothers by Brit Bennett and The Wonder by Emma Donaghue. Book covers really catch the eye, and I am totally a proponent of reading a book based on its cover. What’s the worst that could happen, you love the book?

    I really enjoy giving book-themed presents to people, and highly recommend this Etsy store for personalized jewelry! So inexpensive, and they do an amazing job :) (and no, they didn’t pay me to say that!)

    https://www.etsy.com/listing/178085962/miniature-classic-novels-book-earrings?ref=shop_home_active_11

  6. Emily S. says...

    Love these! I discovered Three Lives and Co. this summer. What a great shop and perfect place to find new books to read!

  7. I arrange my books by color and have always found it interesting that the majority of books I have (some chosen by the cover, some by recommendation) are white/cream, navy blue/black, and randomly turquoise. I wonder if these are the colors most appealing to the masses or varies person to person? Incidentally, these are the colors I decorate with as well. Hold your gasp I promise that’s not how I choose books (ha ha).
    One of my favorite covers and books is “I Know This Much Is True” by Wally Lamb. The cover has changed but the original was black with a black and white close up of twin babies.

  8. I first read The Martian entirely because of its bold orange cover. :)

    • I was just talking to someone about how orange is an underrated color. This cover definitely does orange justice!

  9. I definitely judge (actual) books by their covers. If I like it, I buy the proper paper book, if not, I read it on my kindle. Book shelf space is too precious to clog up with ugly covers!

    Will be suggesting a couple of these for my next book club meeting tomorrow.

  10. Olma says...

    I find it interesting that I picked books by their cover in the UK and I usually liked the book. When I moved to the US I discovered that they have different covers for books. I tried to pick them by their covers as I had always done but it didn’t work. I often picked books that I just didn’t enjoy.
    Funny how powerful a cover can be.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      how interesting, olma! book cover trends are so different in different countries.

      for example, here’s the US cover of my late my brother-in-law’s book:
      http://amzn.to/2eg1vIo

      and here’s the UK cover:
      http://cupjo.co/2ejwvGq

      so interesting, right?

  11. Audrey says...

    I really like Emma Straub’s book covers.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      me too!!!!

  12. Lucia Berlin’s son is like an Uncle to me. I shared this with him! Love all of these.

  13. Nancy French says...

    My favorite book cover is The Girl with the Pearl Earring. It is a beautiful painting and a beautiful story.

  14. so would anyone else NOT read the book Girls on Fire merely because there is a loose hair on the cover. it makes me gag a little looking at it, a hair – pulled out of someone’s head. gah…I would be trying to brush it off all the time. loose hair grosses me out.

  15. Sophie says...

    The following stand out for me:

    Orphan Train
    The Ninth Life of Louis Drax
    Girl in Translation
    City of Thieves
    A Fine Balance

    All great reads too. That said, I don’t pay as much attention to covers as I used to because I read mostly on the Kindle. And some of the best novels I’ve read had so-so covers.

  16. These covers are fantastic, I am intrigued by A Manual for Cleaning Women and Liar by the covers alone! I rarely buy books anymore, but I love reading on my kindle when I have downtime. I used to read so much, but it’s amazing how with the internet and a million easy ways to entertain ourselves, reading now is something I must make an effort to partake in. It’s a way to unplug, even sometimes when I don’t feel I want to. It’s good for the soul!

    Xoxo http://www.touchofcurl.com

  17. Love these creative book covers.

  18. Erin says...

    I once bought a book called Ten Cocktails for its beautiful cover and display it in my apartment. It has yet to be opened though and is purely an aesthetic buy.

  19. Carrie says...

    I have two rules for book covers 1.) MUST be paperback! Much more comfortable to read than a hardback. 2.) Can’t be a picture from the movie (if it’s been made into a movie). Those are the worst.

    • Laura R says...

      I haaaate movie covers haha. And I’ve always resented that hardbacks come out so much sooner than paperbacks since I also prefer paperback, and it sucks not getting what you want if you’re excited to purchase a new book.

  20. I love book covers so much, but very rarely am I enticed by images of people! I love symbolic simple images like Alena and Dept.of Speculation that you have featured in this post! I’ve written a book (not in a way I’d ever be published) and I’d love to see what a professional could produce for my story. A lovely post Jo x

    http://www.englishgirlinnewyork.org

  21. Jules says...

    I love the english edition (Pantheon) of Marguerite Duras’ “The Lover” (L’amant) – It’s actually her young self on the cover and it’s hauntingly beautiful.

  22. So fun! I did NaNoWriMo a few years ago (National Novel Writing Month… wherein you write a 50k word novel in the month of November): http://nanowrimo.org/, and one of my favorite parts about participating (aside from writing a novel) was the cover contest, 30 Covers in 30 Days! They pick a random NaNoWriMo novel (participating authors can submit their synopsis) and a designer creates a cover for it. By the end of the month, there are 30 awesome, creative, artistic covers. My book was never picked, sigh, but I loved logging on every day to see the new cover, learn about another writer’s book, etc.

  23. Oona says...

    I loved The Girls. Unsettling and gorgeous at the same time. But definitely not a light read.

  24. Kathryn says...

    Oh I love these ❤️

  25. I love talkingcovers.com. Unfortunately it hasn’t been updated in a few years, but it’s a blog where authors and designers share the background design process for book covers. Also, I really like the covers for the books: Girlchild, Rich and Pretty, and Snapper.

    • Thanks for the recommendation!

  26. Currently reading Six of Crows and its sequel, and the art on both of those is amazing–plus the pages are black and red!

  27. Leah says...

    Three Lives bookstore is literally what it looks like to dream of New York City.

  28. I’m so guilty of choosing books and wine by the cover/label! The nice thing: sometimes it totally works.

    LOVE Unibrow. Making a list of the rest of these suggestions.

    Thanks!
    http://www.mangotomato.com

  29. meredith says...

    My sister’s photography was recently featured on a book cover of a book her friend wrote. I thought that was very sweet that her friend used her opportunity to include my sister.

  30. My daughter and I always joke about how we literally judge a book by it’s cover because we love good designed book covers! We also really dislike when the book has been turned into a movie and they use actor from the movie as the book cover!! I like Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, Bright Shiny Morning by Jame Frey, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, anything by Charley Harper, The Catcher in the Rye by Salinger and my all time favorite is I Married Adventure by Osa Johnson!!

  31. Furiously Happy! Great book and hilarious cover.

  32. Lauren says...

    I just finished Commonwealth by Ann Patchett which is a wonderful book with a beautiful cover. Highly recommend it for a great read and a pretty book to have your bedside table :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes to this! i went to nashville a couple weeks ago for work, and the airport bookstore had a HUGE display of a million copies of her book and it looked so awesome. a really beautiful cover.

    • Awads says...

      i was just about to post the same thing!! i can almost taste the orange juice ….great read!

  33. yael steren says...

    It’s so sad but now that I read on a kindle I don’t pay attention to book covers as much. I didn’t really think about it until I read this post. I used to love seeing the Harry Potter book covers!!! xx yael

    http://www.yaelsteren.com/blog

  34. Wow! These books are so pretty. I’ve been dying to read The Girls. I guess I’ll have to read this book now.

  35. Lisa says...

    I LOVE the cover of The Girls, I still have it on the shelf on my nightstand – and I read it months ago. Honestly, the book cover is better than the book’s content (I wanted to love it but I just….didn’t!)

    But that cover – one of the best I’ve seen.

    • Giulia Doyle says...

      I did not love it either. I found it quite disturbing actually, but I do love the cover. It’s got that great visual hippy feel.

    • Andrea says...

      Amen! Book was OK.

  36. Wonderful! Now you just need one for children’s books!

  37. Such a great topic! I used to keep a blog for my book club and a recurring feature was different covers (international versions) of the same book. Fascinating!

  38. Oh man…I want to go read all these books right now just because of their covers!

  39. Mandy says...

    I think ‘A Million Little Pieces’ nailed it.

    • HJM says...

      I agree, and you can always spot it on people’s bookshelves! I see it a lot in editorial photos of color coordinated bookshelves, as well.

  40. Bárbara says...

    These are indeed lovely covers!
    As a book cover designer myself it would be nice to credit the hardworking designers behind them.

    Here are some of the ones I know:
    Unabrow – Zoe Norvell
    Manual for Cleaning Women – Justine Anweiler
    The Girls – Peter Mendelsund and Oliver Munday
    The Mothers – Rachel Willey
    The Nix – Oliver Munday
    Methamorphosis – Peter Mendelsund
    Alena – Abby Weintraub
    The Italians- Nick Misani
    Trans – Joanna Walsh
    Pond – Alex Merto

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you, barbara!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      PS we’re on it, thanks for the push!

    • Bárbara says...

      Much appreciated guys! :)

    • Karyn says...

      Ha! I guess I first read this post after it was updated to include the designers’ names and I was very impressed that it had done so — nice job Bárbara and CofJ! I love, love, love the work of book designers :)

    • yes! as a book designer i was happy to see the designers credited. Thanks Barbara!

  41. Ashley says...

    Emma Straub’s Modern Lovers is a brilliant book with a shelf-worthy cover.

    • heather says...

      Ha! I’ve had the same thought. The covers on those books totally belie how intense and cerebral they are. I’ve actually thought the same thing about the titles.

  42. Laura C. says...

    Hahaha! You’ve made me remember that many years ago, a lovely group of ladies and I were chatting on a romantic novel forum and one of the topic was “Tremendous covers”, we were posting links of old-fashioned romantic covers and it was like laughing for DAYS!! I mean: https://www.google.com/search?site=webhp&tbm=isch&source=hp&ei=Pk0GWKSSH4GTU-eJn9AF&q=romantic+book+covers&oq=&gs_l=mobile-gws-hp.1.0.41l3.0.0.0.2466.1.1.0.1.1.0.479.479.4-1.1.0….0…1c..64.mobile-gws-hp..0.1.72.3.hf_5SvDWfTQ
    Sorry for the long link, but I could not pick just one!
    The cover says it all!

  43. My husband and I are bookstore owners and one of my favorite things to do is walk through the shop and look at all the pretty book covers on display. Miniature works of art, indeed! For me, typography is key. Right now I’m really into the cover of Margaret Atwood’s latest book Hag-Seed.

  44. Ooh I love a good book cover! We should all be feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is beautiful (& great content) and two other favorites this year are Relief Map by Rosalie Knecht and Dancing with a Tiger by Lili Wright!

  45. stephanie gustafson says...

    The cover of The Mothers was the first one shown! Brit Bennett said at a reading that they all instantly fell in love with it.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is awesome!! such a great cover. it’s so beautiful and also really jumps out on a table/shelf.

  46. Katherine says...

    I love the Penguin Classics ‘Threads’ Covers! In particular the one for Emma.

  47. Frankie Rose says...

    I received The Mothers in the mail a couple of days ago and it is such a pretty book! The story is excellent so far as well! I also loved the book Sweetbitter and the cover is gorgeous.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Yes, I loved the cover of Sweetbitter, too! xox

  48. Emmanuella says...

    Love this post! I picked up “a girl’s guide to hunting and fishing” because the cover was so cool and I thought it was a literal girl’s guide to hunting and fishing.. haha, nope. :)

    • heather says...

      This is one of my favorite books of all time. The cover is perfect. For a while there I was buying up every copy at used book stores and handing them out to any friend who would take one. I later learned that many of them just put the book on the shelf because they actually thought they were guides to hunting and fishing.