Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Book List: Best and Worst Covers

The Book List is a weekly meme hosted by Rebecca at Lost in Books. Last week’s topic was book covers we love while this week’s is the opposite, covers that fell flat. Since I didn’t get a chance to post last week but meant to, I thought I’d share both. Note that despite the title of my post, these are not necessarily the best and worst out there (not even according to me), just some of my faves and very-much-not-so-faves from among the books I own.

Covers I love

1. Aberrations by Penelope Przekop: I actually have a collection of covers that resemble this one, but this is the best of the lot and I love it. The colours are so crisp, the hair really looks like it’s in motion, and the whole cover really works with the story. (Too bad I didn’t love the book more.)

2. Ammonite by Nicola Griffith: This is one of the few books I’ve bought for its cover (as I already owned a copy), although funnily enough I don’t think it really works that well with the story. I find it hard to explain why it appeals to me so much!

3. Deadly Slipper by Michelle Wan: I love superimposed photos and this one works so well as it beautifully blends the two main elements of this story. Too bad I couldn’t even finish reading this book!

Covers I hate

1. A Fortunate Age by Joanna Smith Rakoff: This cover is boring and what’s worse, from looking at it, I have no idea what the book is about.

2. Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean by Douglas Wolk: You would never know from looking at this cover that this book was published in 2007. I can’t imagine what the cover designer was thinking.

3. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar is one of those unfortunate classics to never have had a really good cover, although this one is definitely the worst of the lot.


  1. I think I have the Bell Jar and I have to agree about the cover I don't like the one that is on mine.

  2. I think we share the same tastes - the covers in the first group are very inviting, while those in the second = terrible.

  3. I love the cover for Aberrations and Deadly Slipper is growing on me. I don't really like the one for Ammonite, but I think it is because I am all "bright colors and flare" or something.

    I agree completely with the 3 covers you hate. Reading Comics is very comic-like but could have been done in a much better way to resemble comic book writing.

    Thanks for participating this week! YAY!!!

  4. From a designer's point of view, sorry, I have to disagree, the three covers you list look completely cheesy--and the ones you hate--each one is attractive and well made. I've a strong suspicion that this is because the first three are mass-market titles and intentionally cheesy--and the latter three are literary fiction.

  5. Totally agree with you on all counts!

  6. +JMJ+

    I actually like the retro-futuristic look of the Reading Comics cover.

    The The Bell Jar cover is just irredeemable, though. =S

  7. I agree with your picks. I think my favorite is Ammonite - it's gorgeous. I have The Bell Jar and if I remember correctly the cover is pretty boring.

  8. That Bell Jar cover literally hurts my eyes. I always wonder who signed off on a cover like this and what were they thinking??

  9. my copy of 'the bell jar' has a different cover--i think it's purple and doesn't feature that optical illusion pattern. i agree that these 3 are lackluster!

  10. Great picks for both of them! I love these questions ... I'm going to do a post on it too.

  11. Cindy, I don't know what's up with the bad Bell Jar covers! I guess because it's a classic it doesn't need a good cover to sell it?

    Sarah, I found it surprisingly difficult to explain why I liked the first three covers -- glad to hear we share the same tastes!

    Kathy, thanks!

    Rebecca, I loved this question so much I'm tempted to do more posts answering it. (Would that be OK?) I think Ammonite is actually my favourite of the three!

    Anonymous, well, to each their own, I guess, although I honestly can't see how you can argue that The Bell Jar cover is attractive and well-made! It looks to me like the book designer didn't even bother for that one.

    Thanks, Jill!

    Enbrethiliel, yeah, I can see how the Reading Comics cover might appeal, although it doesn't work for me.

    Darlene, yay, Ammonite is my fave too!

    Kathleen, it was published in 1966. I think that probably says it all!

    Nat, I clearly like colourful covers best!

    Jenners, I'm off to check out your post!

  12. You can do as many book cover posts as you want to!

  13. Yay, thanks, Rebecca. I have a feeling I'll be doing more!