The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

July 20, 2017
by Dan
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50 Books / 50 Covers Winners 2016

AIGA and Design Observer announced the results of the 2016 50 Books | 50 Covers competition while I was on vacation. You can find all the book selections here, and the cover selections here. I always look forward 50 Books | … Continue reading

December 13, 2016
by Dan
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The Rest of the Best

When it comes to choosing the year’s best book covers, it seems that everyone is at it these days… “These covers are challenging without being impenetrable and playful without being precious — none of which is an easy task for … Continue reading

December 13, 2016
by Dan
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Series Design 2016

Some of the most interesting and innovative book covers in the last few years have been designed as part of a series — designers and art directors seem to have more leeway with backlist titles (especially so if the author … Continue reading

December 7, 2016
by Dan
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Notable YA Book Covers of 2016

Hot on the heels of my annual covers post, here is my look back at the year’s young adult book covers. As in previous years, this list is a somewhat crowd-sourced affair, so I must thank all the designers and Twitter-folk who … Continue reading

November 27, 2016
by Dan
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Notable Book Covers of 2016

It is that wonderful/awful time of year. Wonderful because we get to look back at some of the amazing work people have done over the past 12 months. Awful because lists are arbitrary and someone always misses out. I’m not going … Continue reading

November 11, 2016
by Dan
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The Angelus Trilogy Design by Jason Booher

These Jason Booher covers for the paperback editions of Jon Steele’s The Angelus Trilogy, published by Blue Rider Press in August, bring a whole new meaning to ‘side eye’ I love that they use Albrecht Dürer etchings as part of the design… … Continue reading

November 7, 2016
by Dan
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Book Covers of Note November 2016

I’m not sure anyone is paying too much attention to book design this week, but if you’re looking for a few minutes diversion from the awfulness of almost everything, here’s this month’s selection of quirky, beautiful, and otherwise interesting book covers… Black Water by Louise … Continue reading

November 5, 2016
by Dan
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The London Library Designs by David Pearson

I mentioned Pushkin Press‘s ‘Found on the Shelves’ series earlier this year. The books celebrate 175 years of The London Library, and four more are coming out this month. The entire series has covers designed by David Pearson and, I’m happy to say, three … Continue reading

October 13, 2016
by Dan
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Book Covers of Note October 2016

Busy, busy October… here are this month’s book covers of note… Aluta by Adwoa Badoe; design Michael Solomon; cover art Shonagh Rae (Groundwood / September 2016) American Ulysses by Ronald C. White; design Eric White; photograph © Colorized History, colorized by Mads Madsen … Continue reading

September 23, 2016
by Dan
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Cynan Jones Covers by Jenny Grigg

I’m a little late to work of Welsh novelist Cynan Jones, but I recently finished reading his award-winning 2014 novel The Dig, and it’s not hard to see what all the fuss is about. The writing is beautifully spare and intimate, and the … Continue reading

September 12, 2016
by Dan
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Book Covers of Note September 2016

It’s September. It’s busy. All We Shall Know by Donal Ryan; design by James Paul Jones (Transworld / September 2016) Art of Memoir by Mary Karr; design by Robin Bilardello (Harper Perennial / September 2016) Before by Carmen Boullosa; design … Continue reading

August 15, 2016
by Dan
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New Penguin Essentials

The latest additions to Penguin’s ‘Essentials’ series, released this month, have some rather splendid new covers, including Jon Gray‘s wonderful design for Embers by Sandor Márai, Julian House’s typographic design (with echoes of Robert Brownjohn) for The Spy Who Came … Continue reading

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