The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

January 22, 2016
by Dan
0 comments

The Cycling Anthology Jersey Designs by James Paul Jones

The Cycling Anthology_Killed Cover_1

James Paul Jones‘s unused covers for The Cycling Anthology (pictured above) were some of my favourite designs from 2015. Based on famous cycling jerseys, I liked that they were a nod to insiders, but that you that didn’t need to be a cycling fan to appreciate the stylish minimalism of the designs.

When I learnt that they were passed over in favour of a more traditional, illustrative approach, I asked James about his work on cycling books, and why the jersey covers didn’t go to press.

The Cycling Anthology_Killed Cover_2

“I’ve always loved sports but I didn’t count myself a cycling enthusiast until my last year working at Orion Publishing where I was given the job of art directing the photo shoot for David Millar’s book Racing through the Dark,” he told me. “Working with David opened my eyes to the cycling world, and I was lucky enough to work on Sir Bradley Wiggins’ book a couple of years later.”

“Coincidentally David Millar writes beautifully about cycling and has a few essays as part of the Cycling Anthology,” James continued. “I also just finished designing his latest book, The Racer a few months back — all cycling enthusiasts should grab a copy! The contact sheet of ‘tour scars’ is one of my favourite plate sections we’ve ever done, and the back cover features one of the final jerseys he ever wore. Complete with rips, holes and bloody marks from one of his most brutal crashes. As soon as we saw it we knew it had to be featured somewhere, and the photographer captured it brilliantly.”

The Cycling Anthology_Killed Cover_3

The Cycling Anthology presented a different kind of challenge, howeverOriginally self-published, it collects original writing by some of the world’s best writers on the sport, as well as cyclists themselves. Now published by Yellow Jersey Press (an imprint of Penguin Random House), the new volumes of the anthology presented James with an opportunity to repackage the series as a whole, and to experiment with a new look for the covers.

“I wanted to present the editors and authors with two options. A more traditional route, and an option that would hopefully resonate with the cycling community. The jerseys were the latter, and one of the first things I researched. I really wanted to make that connection with the cycling community, and the target market is very design conscious which helps. They are so iconic in the cycling world it just seemed to make perfect sense.”

The Cycling Anthology_Killed Cover_4

The design of the first volume was inspired by the world champion rainbow jersey. The second by the famous blue and white Bianchi jersey. Volume three was based on the ‘King of the Mountains’ polka dot jersey and the fourth on the Molteni jersey worn by the great Eddy Merckx. The fifth volume was inspired by the chequered shirt of the French cycling team Peugeot. “There were so many jerseys I wanted to include,” said James. “I also recommend David Sparshott’s poster of Cycling Jerseys for anyone wanting to admire the greats in his signature illustration style. Just gorgeous.”

Cycling Jerseys_David Sparshott

Despite the obvious appeal of these new designs, the publisher decided to stay with a familiar look to the series. “I think the authors wanted to retain some elements from the original designs, which we did on the final covers with the illustrations, and I’m happy with how they turned out,” James told me. “The illustrations are by the talented Simon Scarsbrook. Volumes 1-3 used the original artwork, and we commissioned Simon to come up with two more illustrations for volumes four and five. He was great to work with and they work really well as a series.”

The Cycling Anthology Series

James kept the stripes from the world champion jersey and used them across all the final covers to help unify the series. “The jersey covers will forever by one of my favourite ‘killed covers’ and I really wish they would have taken a chance on them as I’m sure they would have done the job and more.” Agreed.

The Cycling Anthology_Killed Cover_5

January 15, 2016
by Dan
0 comments

Some Murder Methods for Modern Mystery Writers

modern murder methods Tom Gauld

Tom Gauld for The Guardian.

January 14, 2016
by Dan
0 comments

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I haven’t seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and I’ve been surprised by my own ambivalence towards it. But as someone who was almost exactly the right age for the original trilogy (give or take a year or two) — and still has a slightly morbid fascination with Star Wars as a cultural phenomenon — I’ve managed to read rather a lot about it

I particularly enjoyed two articles specifically about The Force Awakens. First off, there’s Aaron Bady’s essay Our Star Wars Holiday Special for The New Inquiry:

Every beat in The Force Awakens reminds you that you are watching fan service. It recycles the original Star Wars with the same shameless and joyous abandon that the original trilogy “recycled” chanbara samurai movies, WWII movies, pulp sci-fi, and anything else that George Lucas happened to come across and devour. And this point is worth underscoring: Lucas gobbled up and digested so many different pop cultural predecessors, and did it so directly and shamelessly, that to subject any of the resulting crap to standards of originality is to fundamentally misunderstand how it works, or why. The man literally cut together footage from WWII fighter pilot films and then re-shot it as space battles; his first treatment actually plagiarizes Donald Richie’s description of The Hidden Fortress. But to accuse him of “plagiarism” is like accusing him of making a movie. If it felt good, he released it, and that’s Star Wars: sensation and feeling without thought or coherence. Star Wars is the indescribable goodness of the images and sounds, and the way that goodness overwhelms and digests the rest of it. Star Wars misses the target if it aims. Just let go, Luke. Trust yourself.

Then there’s J.D. Connor’s essay for the LA Review of Books  Making Things Right: “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens”1

Critics have blamed J.J. Abrams, or George Lucas, or Disney (as Lucas and Michael Hitzlik have) for the film’s lack of novelty, but whomever they’ve singled out, the range of causes has been far too narrow, locating responsibility within the production narrative of The Force Awakens. That’s typical. For decades Star Wars has inspired a strangely blinkered sort of criticism that leans on the franchise’s unique success and Lucas’s unique authority to justify treating it as somehow apart from Hollywood as a whole. It has been seen as responsible for the end of The ’70s, but somehow not the product of that ending. Worse, Lucas’s own cod-Jungian narrative theory has governed the understanding of the films’ stories to the exclusion of changes in Hollywood storytelling over the same period.

As a result, criticisms — or defenses — of Star Wars’s narrative retreading are misguided, not because the film is narratively innovative, but because critics continue to regard it as far more immune to the broad tendencies in big-budget Hollywood filmmaking than it is now or ever was.

Both articles probably contain spoilers (if that matters to you), and although neither one convinced me that I must actually go see The Force Awakens, they seem to be clear-eyed assessments of where it sits vis a vis the original film.

January 14, 2016
by Dan
0 comments

On Jerks

Measure Yourself

In an excerpt from his new book Measure Yourself Against the Earth, philosopher Mark Kingwell considers jerks:

[O]ne premise of the jerk theory is that any one of us might be a jerk at almost any time, given the right conditions—a bad day at work, cramped travelling conditions, too much humidity—there is more to the failures here than cases of what we might call Excessive Entitlement Disorder, or EED. Presumably, most of us do not suffer from this condition; such people are merely the bellwethers of the system, the perverse canaries in the coal mine of plutocratic society. Of course, we must allow here for the fact that such people’s behaviour does not strike them as unseemly.

When the asshole is comprehensively reified—or when EED is well advanced—there is little sense on his own part that there is anything wrong with the picture except that he’s still waiting for that damn martini. Did you send down the street for it, or what? Such blindness is part of the true asshole. The jerk, again by contrast, may come to perceive that his behaviour has been bad, that he has failed his fellow citizens in not treating them as peers. This may happen soon after the behaviour, especially when the immediate circumstances change (I get that cool drink, we get out of the small car, the air clears); or perhaps when, relating the event to a friend in search of validation, he instead receives a rebuke.

Regret may be rare and hard to come by, but the general sense that jerkiness is associated with perceived and maybe temporary superiority, rather than with entrenched entitlement, offers at least the chance of asking oneself: Hey, was I being a jerk?

January 11, 2016
by Dan
1 Comment

Book Covers of Note January 2016

Oof. Hello, January. This is all rather soon isn’t it? But here we are, a new month, and another selection of new book covers (with a few ‘old’ ones that I missed in the excitement at the end of 2015). Happy New Year…

Print
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders; design by Will Staehle (Tor Books / January 2016)

Bird design Kelly Winton
Bird by Noy Holland; design by Kelly Winton (Counterpoint / November 2015)

Blizzard design Devin Washburn
The Blizzard by Vladimir Sorokin; design by Devin Washburn (FSG / January 2016)

Childrens Home design Jaya Miceli; Art by Valerie Hegarty
The Children’s Home by Charles Lambert; design by Jaya Miceli (Scribner / January 2016)

Fine Fine design by Dan McKinley
Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine by Diane Williams; design by Dan McKinley (McSweeney’s / January 2016)

A note from the book on the cover art:

“The art on this book’s cover is unsigned and was created for a romance novella published in Mexico City in the 1960s that appeared in serial form. This piece was produced using collage and gouache overpainting on illustration board, and the back reads “El Angel No. 64.” The printer of these covers held on to the originals for decades, and the entire collection was recently purchased from his warehouse. Works are available from the Pardee Collection Gallery of Iowa City, and ‘El Angel’ is provided courtesy of Diane Williams and Wolfgang Neumann.”

Gamelife design Alex Merto
Gamelife by Michael W. Clune; design by Alex Merto (FSG / September 2015)

Girl Through Glass design Jaya Miceli
Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson; design Jaya Miceli (Harper / January 2016)

goodonpaper-FINAL
Good on Paper by Rachel Cantor; design by Adly Elewa (Melville House / January 2016)

Ministry of Nostalgia design Andy Pressman
The Ministry of Nostalgia by Owen Hatherley; design by Andy Pressman (Verso / January 2016)

1956
1956: The World in Revolt by Simon Hall; design by Alex Kirby (Faber & Faber / Janaury 2016)

A nice US / UK compare and contrast for The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie:

Portable Veblen design Jo Walker
Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie; design by Jo Walker (Fourth Estate / January 2016)

Portable Veblen design Oliver Munday
Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie; design by Oliver Munday (Penguin Press / January 2016)

Prose Factory design James Paul Jones
The Prose Factory by D. J. Taylor; design by James Paul Jones (Chatto & Windus / January 2016)

snow queen sanna annukka
The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, illustrated by Sanna Annukka; cover art by Sanna Annukka (Hutchinson / October 2015)

This looks absolutely beautiful, but I’ve seen very little about it online, much less seen it in person. Apparently Sanna Annukka has also illustrated an edition of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Fir Tree. It looks wonderful too.

Splitfoot design by Nico Taylor
Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt; design by Nico Taylor (Corsair / January 2016)

Stargazers Sister design Oliver Munday
The Stargazer’s Sister by Carrie Brown; design by Oliver Munday (Pantheon / January 2016)

stones of muncaster cathedral design MS Corley
The Stones of Muncaster Cathedral by Robert Westall; design by M.S. Corley (Valancourt Books / December 2015)

13-8 design Shepherd Studio
13.8 by John Gribbin; design by Shepherd Studio (Icon / October 2015)

This Is The Ritual design Greg Heinimann
This is the Ritual by Rob Doyle; design by Greg Heinimann (Bloomsbury / January 2016)

January 8, 2016
by Dan
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George Saunders: On Story

Storytelling, at least from my experience of it… I think it’s a stand-in for day to day life. So, when you come to a story with this attitude we’ve been talking about, which is kind of hopeful, generous, not to pushy. It’s like ‘well, what are you? I don’t know.’ You know, when you try to leave your ideas about the story at the door… those things are so much like what you do with the person in your life that you love. You come back to them again and again and try to intuit their real expansiveness, and you try to keep them close to you, you try to give them the benefit of the doubt. So in that sense you could see revision as a form of active love. It’s actually love in progress, I guess.

Author George Saunders on story:

These unadorned outtakes of Saunders just talking direct to camera about his writing process are even better:

 

 

January 2, 2016
by Dan
0 comments

#Alchemists

alchemists tom gauld

Tom Gauld for The New Scientist. 1

December 22, 2015
by Dan
3 Comments

Series Design 2015

In my last post on the book covers of 2015, I thought I would take a look back at some of the series that caught my eye this this year…

origin

Stephen Baxter / Manifold; design by Mike Topping (Harper Voyager / 2015)

Stephen Baxter / The NASA Trilogy; design by Mike Topping (Harper Voyager / 2015)

9781784870751

Vintage Bronte; design by Suzanne Dean; lettering by Lily Jones; cover art Sarah Gillespie; picture research by Lily Richards (Vintage / 2015)

Noam Chomsky; design by David Pearson (Pushkin Press / 2015)

Rachel Cohn; design by Lizzy Bromley (Simon & Schuster / 2015)

Freemans design by Michael Salu
Freemans; design by Michael  Salu (Grove / 2015)

The very first Freeman’s anthology was published in fall this year, but hopefully this design will set the tone for the rest of the series. The second volume is scheduled for next year.

Vintage Feminism; design by Matthew Broughton (Vintage / 2015)

9780241252321

Little Black Classics; design by Jim Stoddart (Penguin / 2015)

(There are an awful lot of these!)

C. S. Lewis; design by Kimberly Glyder (HarperOne / 2015)

Media and Public Life design by David Gee
New Directions in Media History; design by David A. Gee (Polity Press / 2015)

New Modernisms; design by Daniel Benneworth-Gray (Bloomsbury / 2015)

The Things They Carried

Tim O’Brien; design by Jo Walker (Fourth Estate / 2015)

The Penguin Book of the British Short Story Volumes 1 & 2; design Matthew Young (Penguin /2015)

Jesus Son_rounded

Picador Modern Classics; design by Kelly Blair (Picador USA / 2015)

Pushkin Vertigo; design by Jamie Keenan (Pushkin Press / 2015)

Month-in-the-country-mech_670

Russian Plays in Translation; design John Gall (Theater Books / 2015)

Segal

Radical Thinkers Volume 9; design by Rumors (Verso / 2015)

This isn’t a new series of course, but this set marked a colourful change of direction. You can read about the design here.

Fatale design Steve Panton

Serpent’s Tail Classics; design by Steve Panton; series design Peter Dyer (Serpent’s Tail / 2015)

Lionel Shriver; design by Stuart Bache (HarperCollins / 2015)

Mark Twain; design by Isabel Urbina Peña (Vintage / 2015)

Wildcat Series; design by Jamie Keenan (Pluto Press / 2015)

December 15, 2015
by Dan
0 comments

Ever Wanted Something More?

high-rise

Although the early reviews have not been especially kind to the Ben Wheatley film adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise, the trailer looks amazing.  The Anthony Royal Architecture website is also a nice touch.

I can’t wait.

December 14, 2015
by Dan
3 Comments

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 all the designers who have made suggestions in the past couple of weeks  — you know who you are! — and if there are any burning omissions, please let me know in the comments!

Birdy Jet Purdie
Birdy by Jess Vallance; design by Jet Purdie (Hot Key Books / July 2015)

Big Lie design Jet Purdie
The Big Lie by Julie Mayhew; design by Jet Purdie (Hot Key Books / September 2015)

conviction-design-maria-elias-cs-neal
Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert design by Maria Elias; illustration by Christopher Silas Neal (Disney-Hyperion / May 2015)

Cut Both Ways design Erin Fitzsimmons
Cut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian; design by Erin Fitzsimmons (HarperCollins / September 2015)

Zebulon Finch design Lizzy Bromley illustration Ken Taylor
The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch; design by Lizzy Bromley; illustration by Ken Taylor (Simon & Schuster / October 2015 )

Delicate Monsters design Kerri Resnick
Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn; design by Kerri Resnick (St. Martin’s Griffin / June 2015)

Drop design Maria Soler illustration Levente Szabó
Drop by Katie Everson; design by Maria Soler; illustration Levente Szabó (Walker Books / August 2015)

Dumplin design by Aurora Parlagreco illus Daniel Stolle
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy; design by Aurora Parlagreco; illustration by Daniel Stolle (Balzer + Bray / September 2015)

eden-west-design-matt-roeser
Eden West by Pete Hautman; design by Matt Roeser; illustration Dadu Shin (Candlewick / April 2015)

Emmy and Oliver design Sarah Nichole Kaufman illustration Matthew Allen
Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway; design Sarah Nichole Kaufman; illustration Matthew Allen (Balzer + Bray / June 2015)

Everything Everything design N C Sousa
Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon; design by N. C. Sousa; cover art by Good Wives and Warriors (Delacorte / September 2015)

Extraordinary Means cover art by Julie McLaughlin
Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider; cover art by Julie McLaughlin (Simon & Schuster / June 2015)

This lung-tree illustration is just incredible, but it is worth noting that this UK cover is actually an adaptation of the killed US cover (HarperCollins).

Fans of the Impossible Life design by Jenna Stempel; art by Mia Nolting
Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa; design by Jenna Stempel; art by Mia Nolting (Balzer + Bray / September 2015)

5 to 1 design by Jennifer Heuer
5 to 1 by Holly Bodger; design by Jennifer Heuer (Knopf / May 2015)

game-of-love-and-death-artwork-cs-neal-design-nina-goffi
The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough; design by Nina Goffi; illustration by Christopher Silas Neal (Scholastic / April 2015)

9780399568909
The Golden Yarn by Cornelia Funke; design by Mirada (Breathing Books / December 2015)

History of Blood and Glitter design Kelsey Premo Jones cover art Sam Weber
History of Blood and Glitter by Hannah Moskowitz; design Kelsey Premo Jones; cover art by Sam Weber (Chronicle Books / August 2015)

I Am Princess X
I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest; design Phil Falco; cover illustration by Kali Ciesemier (Scholastic / August 2015)

Ill Give You the Sun design Maria Soler; illustration Sophie Heywood
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson; design Maria Soler; illustration Sophie Heywood (Walker Books / April 2015)

Walker Books also reissued Jandy Nelson’s The Sky is Everywhere with matching cover art by Sophie Heywood.

Theresa Evangelista‘s design for the hardcover of I’ll Give You the Sun was on last year’s list.

Infinite In Between by Carolyn Mackler; design by Michelle Taormina; art by Matthew Allen
Infinite In Between by Carolyn Mackler; design by Michelle Taormina; art by Matthew Allen (HarperTeen / September 2015)

Island cover art Chris Riddell
Island by Nicky Singer; cover art by Chris Riddell (Caboodle Books / October 2015)

Lottery Boy design Jack Noel
Lottery Boy by Michael Byrne; design by Jack Noel (Walker Books / May 2015)

Madness So Discreet design Erin Fitzsimmons
A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis; design by Erin Fitzsimmons; cover art by Brooke Shaden (Katherine Tegen Books / October 2015)

Mosquitoland design Theresa Evangelista illustration Andrew Fairclough
Mosquitoland by David Arnold; design by Theresa Evangelista illustration Andrew Fairclough (Viking Books / March 2015)

My Heart and Other Black Holes design Jenna Stempel
My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga; design Jenna Stempel (Balzer + Bray / February 2015)

Nest design Jon Klassen
Nest by Kenneth Oppel; design Lucy Ruth Cummins; cover art Jon Klassen (Simon & Schuster / October 2015)

It also looks pretty spiffy with the jacket removed.

Next Together design Jack Noel
The Next Together by Lauren James; design Jack Noel (Walker Books / September 2015)

Night Owls design Leo Nickolls
Night Owls by Jenn Bennett; design by Leo Nickolls (Simon & Schuster / September 2015)

panther
Panther by David Owen; design Gray318 (Corsair / March 2015)

Placebo Junkies design Ray Shappell
Placebo Junkies by J.C. Carleson; design Ray Shappell; photograph by Christine Blackburne (Knopf / October 2015)

PS I Still Love You design LR Cummins
PS I Still Love You design Lucy Ruth Cummins; Photography by Douglas Lyle Thompson (Simon & Schuster / May 2015)

Although this is really a variant to the cover of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (on last year’s list), I still think it works really well.

queen-of-bright-shiny-things-design-anna-booth
The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre; design by Anna Booth; photography by Jon Barkat and Gary Spector (Feiwel & Friends / April 2015)

Rest of Us Just Live Here
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness; design by Erin Fitzsimmons; cover art by Josh Cochran (HarperCollins / October 2015)

It should be noted that this cover glows in the dark.

The UK version was designed by David McDougall for Walker Books.

Save Me design Richard Deas photo art Adam Andrearczyk
Save Me by Jenny Elliott; design Richard Deas photo art Adam Andrearczyk (Swoon Reads / July 2015)

Show and Prove design by Christian Fuenfhausen
Show and Prove by Sofia Quintero; design by Christian Fuenfhausen (Knopf / July 2015)

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda design by Alison Klapthor illustration Chris Bilheimer
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli; design by Alison Klapthor; illustration by Chris Bilheimer (Balzer + Bray / April 2015)

Six of Crows design Rich Deas
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo; design Rich Deas (Henry Holt & Co / September 2015)

Song for Ella Grey design Liz Casal
A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond; design Liz Casal (Delacorte / October 2015)

Symphony design by Matt Roeser
Symphony for the City of the Dead by M. T. Anderson; design by Matt Roeser; illustration by Kikuo Johnson (Candlewick / September 2015)

Thing About Jellyfish design Marcie Lawrence
The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin;design by Marcie Lawrence; illustration Terry Fan and Eric Fan (Little Brown & Co / September 2015)

Tonight the Streets design Elizabeth H Clark
Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales; design Elizabeth H. Clark (Farrar, Straus & Giroux / September 2015)

trouble in me
The Trouble In Me by Jack Gantos; design by Christian Fuenfhausen (Farrar, Straus & Giroux / September 2015)

Tiny Pretty Things art Sean Freeman design Michelle Taormina
Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton; design by Michelle Taormina; cover art by Sean Freeman (HarperCollins / May 2015)

Vengeance Road illustration Teagan White
Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman; illustration by Teagan White (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt / September 2015)

walls-around-us
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma; design by Connie Gabbert (Algonquin Books / March 2015)

we-all-looked-up
We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach; Lucy Ruth Cummins; photographer Meredith Jenks (Simon & Schuster / March 2015)

I still prefer the title-less version!

Willful Machines design Dan Potash
Willful Machines by Tim Foreen; design by Dan Potash (Simon & Schuster / October 2015)

Winterkill design Will Steele illustration Studio Helen
Winterkill by Kate A. Boorman; design Will Steele;  illustration Helen Crawford-White (Faber / November 2015)

Will and Helen’s cover for Darkthaw, the sequel to Winterkill is also rather lovely.

The US cover for Winterkill designed by Maria T. Middleton with art by Shane Rebebschied was on my list last year.

Wolf Wilder illustration Dan Burgess design Lizzy Bromley
The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell; Design by Lizzy Bromley; cover art by Dan Burgess (Simon & Schuster / August 2015)

The Winter Place design by Paul Coomey
The Winter Place by Alexander Yates; design by Paul Coomey (Simon & Schuster / October 2015)

(This probably needs to be seen in person as the blue is, I believe, a metallic finish, and the back cover is the image reversed in a lovely orange-red).

Wonders of the Invisible World design by Lynn Buckley
Wonders of the Invisible World by Christopher Barzak; design by Lynn Buckley (Knopf / September 2015)

X
X by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon; design by Matt Roeser (Candlewick Press / January 2015)

December 10, 2015
by Dan
0 comments

Update

too tired

Pretty much.

YA covers for 2015 coming soon.

(Cartoon by Bruce Eric Kaplan for The New Yorker)

December 1, 2015
by Dan
13 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 were still plenty of reasons to be cheerful. This year’s list includes over 120 covers by 60 designers, and there is little doubt in my mind that this really is a golden time for book design.

Thank you to all the art directors, designers, and publicists who have supported the blog this year, and who make posts like this possible. Thanks too, to my local bookstore TYPE for letting me browse their shelves.

Act of God design Janet Hansen
Act of God by Jill Ciment; design by Janet Hansen (Pantheon / March 2015 )

Also designed by Janet Hansen:


Almost Famous Women design by Na Kim
Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman; design by Na Kim (Scribner / July 2015)


angry-youth-comix
Angry Youth Comix by Johnny Ryan; design by Keeli McCarthy (Fantagraphics / February 2015)


Beatlebone design Rafi Romaya
Beatlebone by Kevin Barry; design by Rafi Romaya (Canongate / October 2015)


Beauty is a Wound design John Gall
Beauty is a Wound by Eka Kurniawan; design by John Gall (New Directions / September 2015)


boo-design-isabel-urbina-pena
Boo by Neil Smith; design by Isabel Urbina Peña (Vintage / May 2015)


Book of Numbers design Suzanne Dean cover illustration Carnovsky
Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen; design by design Suzanne Dean; illustration Carnovsky (Harvill Secker / June 2015)

(Oliver Munday’s cover design for the US edition of the Book of Numbers published by Random House is also great.)

Also designed by Suzanne Dean:


boring-girls-design-david-gee
Boring Girls by Sara Taylor; design by David A. Gee (ECW Press  / April 2015)

Also designed by David A. Gee:


Bream Gives Me Hiccups design Jean Jullien
Bream Gives Me Hiccups design by Jean Jullien (Grove Atlantic / September 2015)


Capitalist Unconscious design Keetra Dean Dixon
The Capitalist Unconscious: Marx and Lacan by Samo Tomšič; design Keetra Dean Dixon (Verso / December 2015)


Complete Stories design by Paul Sahre
The Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector; design by Paul Sahre (New Directions / August 2015)


curiosity design by Sonia Shannon
Curiosity by Alberto Manguel; design by Sonia Shannon (Yale University Press / March 2015)


Dismantling design Zoe Norvell
Dismantling by Brian DeLeeuw; design by Zoe Norvell (Plume / April 2015)

Also designed by Zoe Norvell:


Drinking in America Rex Bonomelli
Drinking in America by Susan Cheever; design by Rex Bonomelli (Twelve Books / October 2015)


Double Life of Liliane
The Double Life of Liliane by Lily Tuck; design by Abby Weintraub (Grove Atlantic / September 2015)


Early Stories of Truman Capote design David Pearson
Early Stories of Truman Capote; design by David Pearson (Penguin / November 2015)

Also designed by David Pearson:


Etta-front final
Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper; design by Gray318 (Penguin / January 2015)

Also designed by Gray318:


Fear of Dying design Olga Grlic
Fear of Dying by Erica Jong; design by Olga Grlic (St. Martin’s Press / September 2015)


field-notes-from-a-catastrophe
Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert; design by Patti Ratchford; illustration by Eric Nyquist (Bloomsbury / February 2015)

Eric’s illustrated cover for The Best American Non-Required Reading 2015 is also spectacular.


First Book Amanda Weiss

The First Book by Jesse Zuba; design by Amanda Weiss (Princeton University Press / November 2015)

Also designed by Amanda Weiss:


fox and the star
The Fox and the Star, written, illustrated and designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith (Particular Books / August 2015)

Also designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith:


Generation design by Harriet Sleigh
Generation by Paula McGrath; design by Harriet Sleigh (JM Originals / July 2015)


hall-of-small-mammals
Hall of Small Mammals by Thomas Pierce; design by Grace Han; cover art by Kate Bergin (Riverhead / January 2015)


hausfrau
Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum; design by Gabrielle Bordwin (Random House / March 2015)


Hotels of North America design by Keith Hayes
Hotels of North America by Rick Moody; design by Keith Hayes (Little, Brown & Co. / November 2015)


how-to-run-a-government-design-barnbrook
How to Run a Government by Michael Barber; design by Barnbrook (Allen Lane / March 2015)


i-am-sorry
I Am Sorry to Think I Raised a Timid Son by Kent Russell; design by Peter Mendelsund; hand lettering by Janet Hansen; photography by George Baier IV (Knopf / March 2015)

Also designed by Peter Mendelsund:


italians
The Italians by John Hooper; design by Nicholas Misani (Viking / January 2015)

Also designed by Nick Misani:


kl-design-alex-merto
KL by Nikolaus Wachsmann; design by Alex Merto (Farrar, Straus & Giroux / April 2015)

Also designed by Alex Merto:


A Manual for Cleaning Women design
A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin; design by Justine Anweiler; photography Jonathan Simpson (Picador UK / September 2015)

Also designed by Justine Anweiler:


The Mare design by Oliver Munday
The Mare by Mary Gaitskill; design by Oliver Munday (Pantheon / November 2015)

Also designed by Oliver Munday:


Mislaid design by Allison Saltzman
Mislaid by Nell Zink; design by Allison Saltzman (Ecco / May 2015)


Modern Romance design by Jay Shaw photograph by ruvan wijesooriya
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari; design by Jay Shaw; photograph by Ruvan Wijesooriya (Penguin / June 2015)


motorcycles ive loved design by rachel willey
Motorcycles I’ve Loved by Lily Brooks-Dalton; design by Rachel Willey (Riverhead / April 2015)

Also designed by Rachel Willey:


munich-airport
Munich Airport by Greg Baxter; design by Anne Twomey (Twelve Books / January 2015)


muse design by gabriele wilson
Muse by Jonathan Galassi; design by Gabriele Wilson (Knopf / June 2015)


musical-brain
The Musical Brain by César Aira; design by Rodrigo Corral and Zak Tebbal (New Directions / March 2015)

This is actually a rather special lenticular cover that imitates the effect of flashing neon.

Also from Rodrigo Corral:


Of-Beards-and-Men-design-Isaac-Tobin
Of Beards and Men by Christopher Oldstone-Moore; design Isaac Tobin (University of Chicago Press / December 2015)


9780691165073
One Day in the Life of the English Language by Frank L. Cioffi; design by Chris Ferrante (Princeton University Press / March 2015)


Only Street in Paris design by Strick&Williams
The Only Street in Paris by Elaine Schiolino; design by Strick&Williams (W.W. Norton / November 2015)

Also from Strick&Williams:


on-the-way-design-alban-fischer
On the Way by Cyn Vargas; design by Alban Fischer (Curbside Splendor / April 2015)

Also designed by Alban Fischer:


Paulina and Fran illustration Kaethe Butcher typography Nina LoSchiavo
Paulina and Fran by Rachel B. Glaser; illustration Kaethe Butcher; typography Nina LoSchiavo (Harper Perennial / September 2015)


PawPaw design by Kimberly Glyder
PawPaw by Andrew Moore; design by Kimberly Glyder (Chelsea Green / September 2015 )

Also designed by Kimberly Glyder:


poser
The Poser by Jacob Rubin; design by Will Staehle (Viking / March 2015)

Also designed by Will Staehle:


Pretty Is design Lucy Kim
Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell; design by Lucy Kim (Henry Holt / July 2015)


Real Life Rock design by Rich Black
Real Life Rock by Greil Marcus; design by Rich Black (Yale University Press / October 2015)


Racism design by Daniel Gray
Racism by Mike Cole; design by Daniel Benneworth-Gray (Pluto Press / November 2015)


The Racer design by James Paul Jones
The Racer by David Millar; design by James Paul Jones; photograph by Nadav Kander (Yellow Jersey / October 2015)

Also designed by James Paul Jones:


Secret Chord Jaya Miceli
The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks; design by Jaya Miceli (Viking / October 2015)


so-youve-been-publicly-shamed
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson; design by Matt Dorfman (Riverhead / March 2015)


sphinx design by Anna Zylicz
The Sphinx by Anne Garréta; design by Anna Zylicz (Deep Vellum / May 2015)

Also designed by Anna Zylicz:


Syriza design by Jamie Keenan
Syriza: Inside the Labyrinth by Kevin Ovenden; design by Jamie Keenan (Pluto Press / September 2015)

Also designed by Jamie Keenan:


Trans Design and illustration Joanna Walsh
Trans by Juliet Jacques; Design and illustration by Joanna Walsh (Verso / September 2015)


utopia-of-rules
The Utopia of Rules by David Graeber; design by Christopher Brian King (Melville House / February 2015)


Vegetarian design Tom Darracott
The Vegetarian by Han Kang; design by Tom Darracott (Portobello / January 2015)


Veiled Sun design by David Drummond
The Veiled Sun by Paul Schaffer; design by David Drummond (Véhicule Press / January 2015)

Also designed by David Drummond:


weathering
Weathering by Lucy Wood; design by Greg Heinimann (Bloomsbury / January 2015)

Also designed by Greg Heinimann:


9780241972762
Whisky Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer; design by Richard Bravery (Penguin / June 2015)

Richard’s white, black, and orange cover for London Overground by Iain Sinclair published by Hamish Hamilton is also fun.


woman-who-read-too-much-design-anne-jordan
The Woman Who Read Too Much by Bahiyyih Nakhjavani; design by Anne Jordan & Mitch Goldstein (Stanford University Press / April 2015)

Also designed by Anne Jordan & Mitch Goldstein:


why-information-grows-design-richard-green
Why Information Grows by Cesar Hidalgo; design by Richard Green (Allen Lane / June 2015)

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