A good book is a good book, regardless of its packaging, but a great jacket design sure does make it better. To celebrate the brilliant and hardworking graphic designers of the book industry, here are my top ten favorite book covers of 2016.
10. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
This cover is the work of Oliver Munday, who, though he has the misfortune of sharing a name with the worst day of the week, is a seriously gifted graphic artist. You can find an archive of his other cover designs here and new work on his Tumblr here. This cover almost feels like a board game with Cora and Ridgeway appearing as tiny play pieces in the larger system of slavery the story takes place in.
9. The Girls by Emma Cline
This is a case where the book cover outstripped the book itself. Liz Cosgrove is the artist behind this pop art cover, which is strongly reminiscent of Andy Warhol. My favorite element is that stilted little heart on the woman’s forehead. To me, it symbolizes the free love atmosphere of the sixties gone horribly wrong. The girl on the cover is exactly how I pictured Evie when I read the novel.
8. To the Bright Edge of the World by Ewoyn Ivey
This book was designed by Fearn Cutler de Vicq of De Vicq Design. Alaskan photographer Stephen Nowers is credited as being responsible for photo digitization and manipulation, so I’m assuming he was involved in the image overlay on the cover. I feel like this cover perfectly captures the spirit of the Alaskan wilderness.
7. Upstream by Mary Oliver
Alas, the artist behind this minimalistic beauty is not listed on the copyright page. I love the photo that serves as a backdrop for the simple, elegant text. It suits Oliver’s literary aesthetic to a tee.
6. The Muse by Jessie Burton
This cover is absolutely magical. It was designed by Shannon Nicole Plunkett. She used common stock vectors and breathed life into them with this enchanting arrangement. The gradient background brings a bit of light to the design and gives it a slightly otherworldly feel. The cover alone makes me want to buy the book without even knowing what it’s about.
5. The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride
This cover is also by Oliver Munday. I love the collage and how the image of the woman is pieced together with floral elements.
4. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
When I first saw the cover of Behold the Dreamers, I immediately knew it would be on this list. The designer is not listed on the copyright page, but whoever they are, they did an amazing job with the rich coloring and texture.
3. The Nix by Nathan Hill
Oliver Munday again?! Yes, Oliver Munday again. This guy is having an epic year. This cover contains exactly none of my favorite colors, but that giant 3D block text grabbed me from the first. Go big or go home, am I right?
2. The Stargazer’s Sister by Carrie Brown
This is yet another Oliver Munday creation and it has to be one of the coolest book covers I’ve ever seen. The cutaway painting and the illusion of depth (I haven’t seen the book in person, so I’m assuming it’s just an illusion) coupled with the gorgeous font and the star-like paint flecks is just stunning.
1. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
This is, hand down, the most amazing book cover I have ever seen. It was designed by string artist Dominique Falla, who must have the patience of a saint to practice this painstaking medium. For a closer look, here is a behind-the-scenes video about Falla’s process:
What are your favorite book covers of 2016?