The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture



Lions and tigers and bears! Oh my! I’m kicking off a new series today on animal book covers. The first post is on ‘beasts’ — mostly ‘wild’ beasts, but one or two more domesticated (and dead) animals may have nosed their way in. Other posts series will look at birds, bugs, reptiles and amphibians, and quite possibly sea creatures and farm animals (unless someone pays me a large amount of money to stop before that). Thanks to all the designers, ADs, publicists and others who have been helping me with images and credits. If you notice that some information about a cover is missing, please let me know.

American Spirit by Dan Kennedy; design by Gabrielle Bordwin (New Harvest / May 2013)

Animals of My Own Kind by Harry Thurston; design by David Drummond (Vehicule Press / April 2010)

Annabel by Kathleen Winter; design by Bill Douglas (Anansi / June 2010)

Beasts! by Jacob Covey; design by Jacob Covey / Unflown (Fantagraphics / February 2007)

The Bedside Book of Beasts by Graeme Gibson; design by Scott Richardson (Doubleday Canada / October 2009)

Brothers & Beasts edited Kate Bernheimer; design by Isaac Tobin; illustration by Lauren Nassef (Wayne State University Press / January 2008)

Caribou by Charles Wright; design by Jeff Clark / Quemadura (FSG / March 2014)

Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn; design by Sharon King-Chai (Electric Monkey / June 2013)

chronic city
Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem; design by Miriam Rosenbloom (Faber & Faber / December 2009)

Company of Liars by Karen Maitland; design by gray318 (Penguin / January 2008)

Doppler by Erlend Loe; design by Nicolas Cheetham (Anansi / October 2012)

Eeeee Eee Eeee by Tao Lin; design by Kelly Blair (Melville House / April 2007)

The Extinction Club by Jeffrey Moore; design by Michel Vrana (Hamish Hamilton Canada / April 2010)

Feral by George Monbiot; design by Jim Stoddart (Penguin / May 2013)

The Good Suicides by Antonio Hill; design by Christopher Brand (Crown / June 2014)

Gottland: Mostly True Stories from Half of Czechoslovakia by Mariusz Szczygiel; design by Christopher King (Melville House / May 2014)

Goya’s Dog by Damian Tarnopolsky; design by David Gee (Penguin Canada / August 2007)

Hope A Tragedy
Hope A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander; design by John Gall (Riverhead Books / January 2012)

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle; design by Emily Mahon; illustration by SHOUT (Modern Library / October 2002)

Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle; design by Coralie Bickford-Smith; illustration by Despotica (Penguin / March 2008)

How I Came to Haunt My Parents by Natalee Caple; design by David Gee (ECW / May 2011)

Hunger by Lincoln Townley; design by Matt Johnson (Simon & Schuster / May 2014)

Jaguars and Electric Eels by Alexander Von Humboldt; design by David Pearson; illustration by Victoria Sawdon (Penguin / February 2007)

Knife Throwing Through Self-Hypnosis
Knife Throwing Through Self-Hypnosis by Robin Richardson; design by Natalie Olsen / Kisscut Design (ECW / September 2013)

Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch; design by gray318 (Canongate / March 2011)

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling; design by Alice Stevenson (Penguin India / 2014)

The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa; illustration by Hans Tillman (Vintage / September 2007)

Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith; design by Mark Ecob (Abacus / August 2003)

Me and the Devil by Nick Tosches; design by Keith Hayes (Little Brown & Co / December 2012)

Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi design by Helen Yentus with Jason Booher (Riverhead / September 2011)

Morning in the Burned House by Margaret Atwood; design by Kelly Hill (McClelland & Stewart / September 2009)

Natural Acts by David Quammen; design by John Fulbrook III (W. W. Norton / May 2009)

The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane; design by Charlotte Strick; illustration by Ariana Nehmad Ross (Faber & Faber / October 2013)

Layout 1
Off Course by Michelle Huneven; design by Rodrigo Corral; photograph by Gregori Maiofis (FSG / March 2014)

The Orphan Masters Son by Adam Johnson; design by Lynn Buckley (Random House / January 2012)

Panther by David Owen; design by gray318 (Constable and Robinson / May 2015)

Pastoralia by George Saunders; design by Rodrigo Corral (Riverhead / June 2001)

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson; design by Matt Dorfman (Riverhead / December 2011)

Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow; design by Susan Dean; illustration Natasha Michaels (William Heinemann / August 2007)

A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright; design by Bill Douglas (Anansi / October 2004)

Station Eleven by Emily  St. John Mandel; design by Nathan Burton (Picador / September 2014)

Stories II by T. C. Boyle; design by Greg Heinimann (Bloomsbury / October 2013)

The Tattooed Soldier by Hector Tobar; design by Jim Tierney (Picador / October 2014)

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt; Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich (Dial Press / June 2012)

This Book Will Save Your Life by A. M. Homes; design by Paul Buckley (Penguin / April 2007)

Tigers in Eden by Chris Flynn; design by W.H. Chong (Text Publishing Co. / October 2013)

The Tiger's Wife-Tea Obreht
The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht; design by James Paul Jones; illustration Wuon Gean Ho (Phoenix / March 2011)

Tooth and Claw by T. C. Boyle; design by Paul Buckley (Penguin / September 2005)

The Transcriptionist by Amy Rowland; design by Keith Hayes (Algonquin Books / May 2014)

The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma; design by Alison Forner (Penguin / March 2014)

Wolves by Simon Ings; design and Illustration by Jeffrey Alan Love (Gollancz / January 2014)

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  1. A stunning collection–thank you so much for gathering those together.

    If you are ever so inclined–I would love to see a collection of covers featuring ripped and torn paper. Having just worked on a project like that and looking for examples–they are harder to come by than you might think (The Goldfinch notwithstanding) and now I know why . . . it’s not easy to pull off successfully.

  2. Do peacock’s next …. please.

  3. Wow. Ripped paper would be tough!! As for peacocks — there are a couple of them in the upcoming post about birds.

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