The Best Book Covers

I’m reading the first book from my 2011 Resolve to Read list: “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  It’s a very beautiful book, but it can be confusing, partly because all the characters are named after each other.  (Probably why there’s a family tree in the front.)  And remember Spirograph?   That’s how the story works.

However, it’s still a lush and delicate and lovely book to read, and it has a gorgeous cover to match.

It inspired me to comb my shelves (and the Internet) for other cool covers.  If you can think of more, share them in the comments!

“The Foreign Correspondent” by Alan Furst

It took me a while to get used to Alan Furst’s style, but now that I’ve read four or five of his books, I can say that I’m geniunely a fan.  Few of his stories have real endings, which can be pretty frustrating sometimes, but because his books share characters and overlap in space and time, I’ve learned to read Furst books like they’re pieces of a torn-up photograph.  One piece will have a woman’s face; another will have a dog; another will be a boat on the lake.  I’ll never have all the pieces, but I end up with a pretty clear sense of a wider event.  Long story short: if you want to read Furst without going crazy, treat the books like vignettes.

The book covers match this beautifully.  Every Furst cover is a tinted photograph of a hazy wartime scene – a dim stairwell, a shipyard at night, or this couple.

“The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril” by Paul Malmont

The title pretty much explains everything – there’s a cloud of death, and it’s in Chinatown.  The characters, though, are all real-life pulp writers like L. Ron Hubbard and Walter Gibson, creator of The Shadow. “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men…” That guy.  There’s plenty of faux-pulp lit out there, but this cover with its kitschy fonts and “torn” edges stands out for me.

“Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister” by Gregory Maguire

I love the covers of Gregory Maguire’s books because you get two covers for the price of one!  The inner cover does a very Harry Potter-ish job of revealing clues to the plot – in this case, that the prince is extremely charming and that stuff catches on fire.  Fun!


“The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” by Michael Chabon

Okay, now we’re getting into books I’ve never read.  This cover has made me pick them up in the store on more than one occasion, though.  Has anyone read him?

“Midnight’s Children” by Salman Rushdie

The first time I was tempted to read Rushdie was because of a beautifully illustrated cover.  I love the font and the illustration, but when I checked the book out from the library, I couldn’t finish it.  I wanted to like it – it’s supposed to be about the politics of India and magical children all born at midnight the day of India’s independence – but the plot never got rolling.

However, Salman Rushdie apparently gets all the ladies.

“The Shadow Lines” by Amitav Ghosh

Drapes of red fabric, an upside-down guy on an elephant, elegant font, clean composition – sold.

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15 thoughts on “The Best Book Covers

  1. I know they say don’t judge a book by its cover but sometimes thats hard, especially when the cover is so pretty. I have definatley been sucked into buying books because the cover is pretty only to be disappointed

    • I haven’t read it for a couple years (it was a college lit book) but I remember generally liking it. It’s another very dreamlike book in terms of plot structure, especially because it jumps around in time.

      I went back to re-read a couple page and discovered something: this book does not use quotation marks. You’ve been warned.

    • Great, thanks! For Furst, I recommend “Foreign Correspondent” or “The World At Night.” The second one actually has a sequel, “Red Gold,” but I haven’t read it yet.

  2. Chabon’s “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” is one of my favorite books ever ever EVER. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, dense, wild, radiant and thoroughly entertaining. I highly recommend it!

    • I would love to be able to read it in Spanish – the translation is already beautiful, so the native language is probably gorgeous.

  3. As someone with a graduate degree in English, I feel ashamed to admit that I have only read one book in this list! I think my favourite book over out of all of these ha to be Chabon’s. I am just a sucker for that kind of (what my BF calls a “hipster”) aesthetic.

  4. I’ve read the Yiddish Policeman’s Union. Was drawn in by the concept but the cover sealed the deal. Great concept. Apparently, there were some who wanted Alaska to be the new Jewish homeland instead of Israel. So this is an alternate history seeing what would have happened. Very interesting. Highly recommend.

  5. Same with Kate, I read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay by Chabon last year around the same time I went to NYC (I love reading books that simultaneously fit into exciting things in my life). His writing is very elaborate, character-driven, too dense at first for me until I got into the plot more. I ended up really liking it though, and that particular book is cool because it’s about 2 comic artists and the Chabon’s writing itself took on an entertaining, comic tone. You have to tell me how you like this one because I haven’t read it!

  6. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Covers | Ruby Bastille

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