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My Five Favourite Book Covers Right Now

We all know we shouldn’t, and yet we all do. You know what I’m talking about. (No, not that). Yes, that’s right…. Buy a book because of its cover.

As ebooks sales decline and physical books recover some lost ground, some commentators have put this down to the power of the book cover. You only need to go on Instagram for a micro-second to comprehend the appreciation (festishisation?) for the beauty of books –  books being playful with fairy lights, books relaxing on beaches, books lying seductively on beds. You can’t create that kind of reverential ambience with your Kindle Fire or Kobi, no matter what.

As a consequence of this renaissance of the beautiful book cover, when I walk into a bookshop these days, more than ever I think, I’m confronted with a visual feast. This makes it oh so much harder for me to resist – not that I’m complaining too much, mind.

Here are five books I bought recently simply because I love their covers.

The Mothers

by Brit Bennett

Cover designed by Rachel Willey

As I casually scanned my local bookshop shelves one day, my eyes kept jumping back to this book. How could it not?  At first the cover is one thing, but on closer inspection it’s morphs into something different. Now that I’ve read it, I can attest that the novel inside lives up to its packaging.

Hansel and Gretel

by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Lorenzo Mattotti

An image of this cover came through in an email alert from another local bookshop. Within hours I was driving to the shop. I walked in, bought it, and walked back out again. And now it’s mine. It’s not a hugely different take on the fairy tale, but it’s a beautiful book to hold, and the illustrations are outstanding.

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly

by Sun Mi Hwang

Cover by Brianna Harden

With this book, it’s not just the art on the cover, but the texture and size of the book too. It’s small and slim and the paper is slightly rough to the fingertips. Plus, how could anyone go past a title like that, and with the first chapter called ‘I refuse to lay another egg!’? If that’s not enough, there’s more simple but lovely illustrations inside.

The Essex Serpent

by Sarah Perry

Cover inspired by the tiles of William Morris

Sarah Perry has said, ‘if the book had had some more conventional historical fiction cover – a woman striding out over marshland, for instance – it would have misrepresented the book and I think been far less appealing to readers. And I would have been appalled!’. (See here). This cover is nothing short of beautiful, and it’s rising very close to the top of my reading pile. Can’t wait to get stuck into this.

The Nakano Thrift Shop

by Hiromi Kawakami

Cover by Natsumi Hayashi

Quirky. But also really inviting. Natsumi Hayashi’s website has a series of photos like the one on this cover, all called ‘Today’s Levitation’.  There are women flying around tatami rooms, up escalators and across lakes.  But I think this photo is my favourite. I just know I’m going to love this book.

For more excellent book covers, see The 50 Coolest Book Covers. For something a bit racier, see 30 of Literary Fiction’s Most Risqué Book Covers.

Tell me about the books you’ve bought because of their covers? Did they live up to their packaging?

This is a site about books and about tea, and how we should read more books and drink more tea. Sometimes, it’s hard to know what books to read and what tea to drink. This is where I can help out.

9 Comments

  1. Totally agree – I recently bought The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly and I love the cover! Also when I did a post about book covers, I picked The Nankano Thrift Shop as an example of a gorgeous one – those photos are so engaging. Happy reading 🙂

  2. Great choices. The cover of The Mothers is pretty much perfection for me – same as you, I bought it based on the cover alone.

    That version of Hansel & Gretel is sensational – hope you enjoy it.

    • My boys weren’t as convinced as me on Hansel and Gretel as the pictures aren’t in colour. I intend to explain at length why that’s superficial and irrelevant ….

  3. You should check out the link to the tiles of the guy William Morris; I’d have them in my bathroom in a flash.

  4. I keep picking The Hen… up in the bookshop, but I have a self imposed book buying ban in operation until I’ve at least halved my unread pile. I also want The Nakano Thrift Shop. I loved Strange Weather in Tokyo, which has another Natsumi Hayashi photo for its cover. She and her husband are on Instagram as @hisajihara_and_natsumihayashi. Their stuff is ace.
    As you know, I LOVED The Essex Serpent, and Sarah Perry is totally right about the cover.
    I can’t think what the most recent book is that I bought because of its cover. I bought Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama because of the shocking pink edging to its pages. My most recent purchases have been down to reading other people’s reviews! I did buy The Young and Prodigious T S Spivet for its cover and the layout of the book, but that was ages ago.

    • I had a book in my hand today in a bookshop and after much torment put it back- I too have a self imposed ban. My reading pile is actually a safety hazard.
      I didn’t realise that was her husband…
      I’ve picked The a Essex Serpent for my book club’s July book. Fingers crossed it goes down well. Either way, I know I’m going to love it.

      • Maybe I’ve made an assumption that they’re married. I know they moved to Beppu from Tokyo and started working together as photographers. Maybe 2/2.5 years ago, her yowayowacamera insta account changed to what it is now & she posted something about the change that made me think they were married. Perhaps because my Japanese isn’t very good!

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