The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

February 13, 2017
by Dan
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Book Covers of Note February 2017

A little later than usual — between one thing and the apocalypse — but there are some great covers out this month, including at least one contender for cover of the year: The Bear and the Serpent by Adrian Tschaikovsky; … 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

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 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

October 18, 2016
by Dan
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New Directions Sebald Designs by Peter Mendelsund

Peter Mendelsund‘s covers for the new New Directions editions of W.G. Sebald’s classic novels The Emigrants, The Rings of Saturn, and Vertigo, are rather special. The books will be published November and are available individually and as a set.

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 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

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

June 8, 2016
by Dan
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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

June 2, 2016
by Dan
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A Window onto a Window

In this profile of Peter Mendelsund in the June issue of Rhapsody Magazine, there is a lovely bit about the designer’s architect-artist father: In the living room of Knopf associate art director Peter Mendelsund’s Upper Manhattan apartment, inspiration is everywhere: a battered, sea-green … Continue reading

December 1, 2015
by Dan
16 Comments

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
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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

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