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Never Judge a Book By Its Cover

They say you should never judge a book by its cover – but we must admit to having swooned from time-to-time at the sight of some covers that could easily double as works of art!

There are many who believe that the best book covers are those that become symbols of the stories they represent: iconic designs that feature simple, yet powerful visuals that integrate so closely with the story over time that it becomes almost impossible to ever imagine a different design!

To celebrate the beauty of book covers, we’ve compiled a list of 5 of our favourites.

1. ‘The Little Prince’ by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

With illustrations drawn by the author himself, ‘The Little Prince’ is a book whose story we simply cannot separate from its cover, and the watercolours within. When Saint-Exupery left the manuscript and the original illustrations with a friend before he went to war, he told them: “I’d like to give you something splendid, but this is all I have.” Needless to say, we feel he gave us a lot more than just “something splendid”, and both the story and the cover are considered iconic in our eyes!

2. ‘Everything is Illuminated’ by Jonathan Safran Foer

A cover design that could be said to have originated the revival of hand-lettering and book cover typography, the cover of ‘Everything is Illuminated’, designed by John Gray, stood out in stark contrast to the clean graphics that were fashionable at its time of publication (2002). Gray advises that he was inspired by old handwritten signs he’d see posted at churches for his design, which has easily become one of the most popular book covers created in the last twenty years.

3. ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood

While the book was published back in 1985, the story has remained popular, with reprint after reprint seeing an array of different cover designs. Our personal favourite is a recent cover from 2017, which was created by Noma Bar and released to match the launch of the TV series. Artfully employing negative space, and the rich contrast of red, black and white, it’s a powerful visual that catches the eye of any prospective reader, while hinting at the dominant themes within.

4. ‘A Clockwork Orange’ by Anthony Burgess

Originally designed in 1972, David Pelham’s cover for ‘A Clockwork Orange’ is impossible to forget once you’ve seen it. The bold and robust visual is a striking symbol of the story, even making reference to the film adaptation by Stanley Kubrick.

A captivating fantasy that’s inspired generations ranking highly on the lists of must-read since it was first published in 1937, ‘The Hobbit’ has seen more than one beautiful cover design in its time. We’ve chosen this as our personal favourite by virtue of its honouring the author’s original vision. When the book was first published, Tolkien wanted the illustration to feature a red sun, but budget constraints rendered it impossible. That’s why we think it’s so special for the 75th Anniversary edition to include what Tolkien originally wanted.

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