The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Book Covers of Note June 2016


Something of a bumper post this month, with lots of black and white covers for some reason. Perhaps it’s a thing…?

Addlands design Jenny Grigg
Addlands by Tom Bullough; design by Jenny Grigg (Granta / June 2016)

barkskins-design Jaya Miceli
Barkskins by Annie Proulx; design Jaya Miceli (Scribner / June 2016)

The cover of the UK edition (Fourth Estate / June 2016), designed by Anna Morrison, is an interesting contrast:
Barkskins design by Anna Morrison

Boy-s Own Story design Ami Smithson
A Boys Own Story by Edmund White; design by Ami Smithson (Picador / June 2016)

But What If We’re Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman; design by Paul Sahre (Blue Rider Press / June 2016)

The Chaplin Machine by Owen Hatherley; design by David Pearson (Pluto Press / June 2016)

Crow-Girl design Mendelsund and Munday
The Crow Girl by Erik Axl Sund; design by Peter Mendelsund & Oliver Munday (Knopf / June 2016)

death confetti design Jacob Covey
Death Confetti by Jennifer Robin; design by Jacob Covey (Feral House / June 2016)

Essex Serpent design Peter Dyer
The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry; design Peter Dyer (Serpent’s Tail / June 2016)

Fen design by Suzanne Dean
Fen by Daisy Johnson; design Suzanne Dean (Vintage / June 2016)

The Girls by Emma Cline; design Peter Mendelsund; lettering by Jenny Pouech (Random House / June 2016)

The cover of the UK edition (Chatto & Windus / June 2016), which makes intriguing use of ITC Avant Garde Gothic,1 was designed by Suzanne Dean:

girls UK

Goldfish JKT_final

Goldfish by Nat Luurtsema; design by Anna Booth (Feiwel & Friends / June 2016)

(This has a fancy spot gloss that makes the school of fish appear to shimmer)

How to Ruin Everything design Ben Denzer
How to Ruin Everything by George Watsky; design by Ben Denzer (Penguin / June 2016)

Human Acts design Tom Darracott
Human Acts by Han Kang; design by Tom Darracott (Portobello Books / January 2016)

Infomocracy design Will Staehle
Infomocracy by Malka Older; design by Will Staehle (Tor Books / June 2016)

ink and bone design Ervin Serrano
Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger; design by Ervin Serrano (Touchstone / June 2016)

In the Dark in the Woods design Kate Gaughran
In the Dark in the Woods by Eliza Wass; design by Kate Gaughran (Quercus / April 2016)

Is That Kafka design Erik Carter
Is That Kafka? 99 Finds by Reiner Stach; design by Erik Carter (New Directions / April 2016)

Invincible Summer design Justine Anweiler
Invincible Summer by Alice Adams; design by Justine Anweiler (Picador / June 2016)

Lost Time Accidents design Pete Adlington
The Lost Time Accidents by John Wray; design by Peter Adlington (Canongate / June 2016)

The cover of the US edition (Farrar, Straus & Giroux / February 2016), designed by Janet Hansen, is another fascinating contrast:
Lost Time Accidents design Janet Hansen

The Muse cover art Lisa Perrin
The Muse by Jessie Burton; design by Ami Smithson, cover art by Lisa Perrin (Picador / June 2016)

Naked Diplomacy by Tom Fletcher; cover design by Jonathan Pelham (William Collins / June 2016)

Nitro Mountain design Oliver Munday
Nitro Mountain by Lee Clay Johnson; design by Oliver Munday (Knopf / May 2016)

The Panama Papers_9781786070470
The Panama Papers by Bastian Obermayer and Frederik Obermaier; design by James Paul Jones (Oneworld / June 2016)

Rasputin design Ed Kluz
Rasputin and Other Ironies by Teffi; design by Eleanor Crow; cover art by Ed Kluz (Pushkin Press / May 2016)

Scar design CS Neal
Scar by J. Albert Mann; design by Christopher Silas Neal (Calkins Creek / April 2016)

sex object design by Lynn Buckley
Sex Object by Jessica Valenti; design by Lynn Buckley (Dey Street / June 2016)

White Sands design Pete Adlington
White Sands by Geoff Dyer; design by Peter Adlington (Canongate / June 2016)


Similar Posts:

1. You can read Steven Heller on the story of Avant Garde here. Thanks to Adrian Shaughnessy for the link


  1. The Proulx cover (the one with the two birds) could be a monoprint; roll some black ink over some material (the different thickness of the material – where the seams meet – would have provided the variation of tone) put two bird cut-outs over it, then run through the press. More likely that the birds were introduced via photoshop though, given the level of detail.

    I came across this cover a while ago, another monoprint – I’m guessing he rolled up a sheet of glass/perspex with black ink, then wiped the excess away with a rag before printing. The red was added later and might have just been applied by pressure (ie, like a potato print).

  2. Hi Aonghus,
    That was the effect I was going for, I wanted a earthy wood print feel to it. The texture is a ink print and I did add the birds in with Photoshop, had I had more time I would have loved to have produced it wholly as a print. (actually you have really inspired me to do it!) I love that Wolves cover, its beautiful.

  3. Thanks so much for comment Aonghus, and thanks for taking the time to reply Anna!

    The cover art for Wolves is by artist/illustrator Jeffrey Alan Love. There’s a post from 2014 about his process on, but I’m not sure that’s how he still works. He posts a lot of sketches on Twitter if you’re interested.

  4. Beautiful covers for this month! My process is still somewhat like the Tor post, but with no digital work except for scanning. Everything happens in the real world now, just acrylic and ink on paper. The Wolves cover was the same – acrylic and ink on paper.

  5. Your cover is really nice, Anna. I’m not sure using stencils would have necessarily added anything to it.

    That’s a really interesting process, Jeffrey. Ironically I’ve praised this particular cover before (and drawn the same erroneous conclusions about how it was created) on a site not unlike Tor’s – Black Gate.

  6. Oh my goodness, these covers are SO inspiring! I’m looking for ideas for my own book cover. I’ve definitely come to the right place. Thanks so much.

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