The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

June 8, 2016
by Dan

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 by Tom Bullough; design by Jenny Grigg (Granta / June 2016) Barkskins by Annie Proulx; design Jaya Miceli … Continue reading

March 8, 2016
by Dan

52 Women Book Cover Designers

If you follow the Casual Optimist on Twitter, you will know that a couple of weeks ago design studio Aishima asked people to tweet about inspiring women graphic designers using the hashtag #celebratewomen. As today is International Women’s Day, I thought … Continue reading

December 14, 2015
by Dan

52 YA Covers for 2015

As my 2014 post was such a hit, here is my second annual look at the past year’s young adult book covers. This isn’t my speciality, so this list is a lot more of a crowd-sourced effort than my very personal adult list. A special thank you to … 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

February 10, 2015
by Dan

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

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

June 16, 2014
by Dan
1 Comment

Memento Mori

The threat of death… A warning… A memento mori… A comprehensive visual history of the human skull is surely an entire Steven Heller book in the making (I guess we’ll just have to make do with a Wikipedia page for … Continue reading

June 22, 2011
by Dan

Midweek Miscellany

There’s been much speculation online about who designed the wonderful hand-drawn cover for Big Machine by Victor LaValle (pictured above). Thanks to the nice folks at UK publisher No Exit, I can finally identify the designer as Lynn Buckley, who originally designed … Continue reading

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