The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

December 1, 2015
by Dan

Notable Book Covers for 2015

Back in 2014, there were signs that book cover design was maybe, just maybe, having a moment. Suzanne Dean was on the BBC. Peter Mendelsund was on… well, everything. But if 2015 has felt a little quiet by comparison, there … Continue reading

November 9, 2015
by Dan

Book Covers of Note November 2015

Next month I’ll say goodbye to 2015 with my annual list of my favourite covers of the year. Until then, here’s November’s book covers of note, my last monthly covers post for the 2015: Baddeley Brothers by The Gentle Author; design David Pearson (October 2015) … Continue reading

October 7, 2015
by Dan

Book Covers of Note October 2015

A little bit later than scheduled, here is my October selection of book covers. There are three from Verso, and two by James Paul Jones, but I think it’s still another month of interesting, diverse, and eclectic work. I hope you agree… … Continue reading

July 2, 2015
by Dan
1 Comment

Russian Plays in Translation Designed by John Gall

The brilliant John Gall has designed a wonderful set of minimal book covers for Theater Communications Group’s Russian drama series: A Month in the Country by Ivan Turgenev (Theatre Group Communications / February 2015) The Inspector by Nikolai Gogol (Theatre … Continue reading

May 26, 2015
by Dan

Today in Micro-Trends: Rotate 90°

Turning the picture sideways is not exactly new (the brilliant John Gall and Paul Sahre were experimenting with it years ago), but there has been a spate of commercial covers making use of images rotated through ninety degrees in the … Continue reading

November 19, 2014
by Dan

The Great Discontent: John Gall

Just fantastic interview with book designer and art director John Gall at The Great Discontent: I find it hard to think about design in terms of changing the world, but it’s important to think about design in terms of the decisions … Continue reading

October 7, 2014
by Dan


Book designers, bless them, really do like to put a bird on it. Following on from wild beasts and reptiles and amphibians, here is my latest post looking at animals on book covers, ‘Birds’: Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer; design by … Continue reading

September 23, 2014
by Dan


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 … Continue reading

July 17, 2014
by Dan
Comments Off on Books on Book Covers

Books on Book Covers

It started, innocently enough, with a tweet from my friend Steven Beattie, book review editor of Canada’s Quill & Quire magazine, about the cover of The Most Dangerous Book, Kevin Birmingham’s new ‘biography’ of Ulysses by James Joyce, designed by Ben … Continue reading

May 12, 2014
by Dan

Book Covers of Note May 2014

Another month, another selection of beautiful book covers… The Axeman’s Jazz by Ray Celestin; design by Jo Thomson (Mantle May 2014) The Bees by Laline Paull; design by Steve Attardo (Ecco May 2014) Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige; design … Continue reading

December 10, 2013
by Dan

50 Covers for 2013

I decided to go in a slightly different direction with my covers list this year (see my lists for 2012, 2011, and 2010). It’s just a straight up list of the fifty covers designs with a few annotations and links … Continue reading

December 18, 2012
by Dan

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

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