The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

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

August 18, 2014
by Dan

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

July 18, 2014
by Dan

A Book on a Book on a Book

The brilliant Jason Booher, whose cover for A History of Histories featured in my previous post, kindly just sent me his original design for the book. I think this could be the meta-cover to end all meta-covers. Sadly, the editor decided … 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

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

May 22, 2014
by Dan

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

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