I am a firm believer that you can–and should–judge a book by its cover, as well as its title. After working for a book publisher and now as a book reviewer, I have come to the realization that the time spent perfecting a book’s title and cover art is usually a pretty good indication of how successful the publisher thinks it will be.
If they take the time to think about reactions from their intended audience and implement them in the design and promotion of a book, it usually means that they believe the book will do very well. It also often means that the book has clear themes and subjects that translate into attractive titles and covers.
10. The Coffins of Little Hope by Timothy Schaffert
The whimsical art on this book contrasts nicely with a darkly intriguing title, setting up the expectation of a book that handles positive and negative elements of a story well–a promise that was delivered in full.
9. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
The bleak scenes and sometimes harsh, sometimes lyrical prose within the book are echoed perfectly in the stark simplicity of this book’s title and design.
8. No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July
What a fantastic title! There’s something that tugs at me every time I read it. And the cover design does not try to compete with the beauty of the title, though its Post-it-bright colors are an eye-catchingly novel idea.
7. How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu
More than the title, I loved this cover. The chaos of the different guns arrayed across the dustjacket is offset by their orderly rows. One can’t help but wonder if living safely in a sci-fi universe requires rows of Day-Glo handguns.
6. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
This is the kind of book that you move from side to side for far too long, watching the light illuminate and then hide the shadows of hands grasping for the main character. A fantastic glimpse of what is to come for our heroine!
5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
Between the entrancing title and the creative cut-out cover art, I was hooked by this book. The title reflects the speech and tone of the rest of the book, while the unusual cover alludes to the black-and-white, cut-and-dried worldview of the main character, Christopher John Francis Boone.
4. The Subversive Copy Editor by Carol Fisher Saller
It’s likely that I would’ve bought this book for its clear guidance and unsurpassed wisdom, but such a creative cover sealed the deal. It looks so much like a well-handled (and well-loved) manuscript!
3. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris
I simply could not get over the title of this book. It is so sweet, so telling about what kinds of daring, unorthodox animals Sedaris will invent within the pages of this slim book.
2. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
The eerie, mystical feeling that this book imparts–the way the bare branches intertwine like bony fingers to form the letters of the title–I love it! The hauntingly beautiful cover makes up for the fact that I can never say “Her Fearful Symmetry” without stuttering. (But nothing can offset the terrible story itself; this is one of the worst books I’ve ever read.)
1. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
The paperback’s frenetically colorful, startlingly multidimensional cover is a wonderful indication of the well-developed and fascinating characters of Egan’s book. Not to mention the attraction of the heaps of awards and praise that decorate the outside and inside covers!
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each Tuesday, bloggers create top ten lists about reading, writing, blogging, and more!
Categories: Book Lists, On Writing
Heh, Squirrel Meets Chipmunk, for sure! 🙂 Curious Incident as well..
Top 10 Tues | 2 Giveaways
Love this post! I appreciate book covers so much and like the way you not only chose good book covers but wrote WHY they are good book covers… fascinating and I agree with all your choices. I love how you married the cover art with the work inside and wish I could have you critique the covers of all the books I love. Other recent covers that struck me as quite good were Perfection by Metz and The Art of Racing in the Rain by Stein. I’m imagining you probably read The Art of Racing in the Rain, I’ll check to see if you reviewed it. Thank you!
Thank you! I really enjoyed writing this post, and I’m glad my descriptions made sense! The Art of Racing, actually, is an interesting choice–I love the cover; every time I see it, I want to pick it up and flip through the pages. But the dog-narrator is described as a brown mutt, not a golden retriever! Rather than changing the picture of the dog, though, I would’ve changed the narrator to a golden. But I’m biased – a big golden fan 🙂