The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

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

I swear that these posts are taking me longer and longer to compile, but rest assured there are some wonderful covers this month: All the Time in the World by Caroline Angell; design by Lucy Kim (Henry Holt / July 2016) … Continue reading

April 8, 2016
by Dan
1 Comment

Book Covers of Note April 2016

All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage; design by Mario Hugo (Knopf / March 2016) The Assault by Harry Mulisch; design by Oliver Munday (Pantheon / April 2016) The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan; design by Matt … Continue reading

February 10, 2015
by Dan
4 Comments

All Heart

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I thought I would share a few book covers that use hearts as part of their design… All About Love by Lisa Appignanesi; design by Jamie Keenan (W. W. Norton / July 2011) … Continue reading

September 19, 2014
by Dan
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50 Books / 50 Covers 2013 Winners

If you’re an American book designer you probably know already that the winners of the 2013 Fifty Books / Fifty Covers show were announced yesterday. Organized by Design Observer in association with AIGA and Designers & Books,  50/50, which recognizes the best work in … Continue reading

August 18, 2014
by Dan
10 Comments

Lost in the Plot: Maps on Book Covers

Who doesn’t like a good map? From sophisticated charts to intricate, idiosyncratic drawings to directions drawn on the back of napkin, maps explain the world two-dimensionally. They are flights of imagination anchored in our knowledge of the world — much like books … Continue reading

May 22, 2014
by Dan
4 Comments

Getting to the Point: Arrows in Book Cover Design

As I was collecting images for my recent posts on triangles and book covers, I started thinking about the use of triangle’s directional cousin, the arrow. Inspired by a vintage cover design by Elaine Lustig and Jay Maisel, I thought … Continue reading

January 16, 2013
by Dan
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Midweek Miscellany

A great post on designer Josef Müller-Brockmann at I Love Typography: A student from the back of the room shouted out a wish to see JMB’s business card. As JMB casually pulled the business card out of his coat pocket, … Continue reading

December 18, 2012
by Dan
16 Comments

Favourite Covers of 2012

For the past couple of years now (since Joseph Sullivan put the Book Design Review on ice in fact), I’ve been posting a short list of my favourite covers for books for the year. Now that thing for the New … Continue reading

August 3, 2012
by Dan
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Something for the Weekend

Somehow I missed that the second volume of Baltimore came out in June. It will soon be on the ‘to read’ pile along with the new Darwyn Cooke ‘Parker’ book The Score. And just so you have ample advance warning: The … Continue reading

June 8, 2012
by Dan
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Something for the Weekend

A stunning jacket design by the great Isaac Tobin for After Freud Left, published by University of Chicago Press. You can read my interview with Isaac from 2009 here. Bauhütte to Bauhaus — A fascinating overview of the Bauhaus by Frank Whitford, … Continue reading

December 7, 2011
by Dan
3 Comments

My Favourite Covers of 2010

At the end of last year, Joseph Sullivan, curator of the late lamented The Book Design Review, asked me to write about my favourite covers of 2010. I’d always stayed away from such posts in the past because it was Joseph’s … Continue reading

June 19, 2010
by Dan
0 comments

Something for the Weekend

An Ethics of Interrogation — Another stunning cover design by Isaac Tobin (via This Isn’t Happiness). My Q & A with Isaac here, if you missed it. Isaac also has at least two covers in AIGA’s 2009 selections for 50 … Continue reading

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