This nonfiction title from the author of Eat, Pray, Love is an exuberant and pragmatic celebration of the creative spirit. And fittingly, the cover is colorful, inventive, and—well—explosive. (Check out this behind-the-scenes video showing how they captured the cover.)
The main character of Bryan Washington’s interconnected stories is a boy coming to terms with his racial identity, his tense family dynamics, and the discovery of his sexuality. The myriad voices speak from working-class Houston neighborhoods through times of danger, pleasure, and immense joy—summed up perfectly in this one-of-a-kind cover image.
I Am Radar
This bold and graphic book cover is shockingly apropos of Larsen’s ambitious and glittering novel centered around a remarkable radio operator. At 650 pages, it might be difficult to pick up—but if you do, you won’t be able to put it down.
The entire Penguin Threads series turns the covers of beloved classics (like Emma and Black Beauty) into delights of the visual and tactile sort. You know once you open them you’ll get the joy of a wonderful story—but did you expect to see the back of the cross-stitching pattern?
Fates and Furies
This powerhouse novel from Lauren Groff is a masterpiece, and the cover follows suit. The bold white title standing firm against the crashing of big, blue waves begs an easy comparison to the tumultuous marriage depicted in the story. The sweeping drama and exquisite detail in this wild, surprising story is sure to capsize.
Eleanor & Park
“Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.” This rightfully hyped YA romance about two misfits is obviously going to elicit all the feels. But one look and you might guess (correctly) that there’s something smart, unique, and lastingly impactful inside the cover.
Looking for Alaska
The intriguing curl of smoke evokes precisely the sort of tone to expect from Looking for Alaska. The story—now recognized as “genre-defining”—follows boarding school student Miles Halter in the before and after of his obsession with the reckless and fascinating Alaska Young.
Holding this book in a store, you could find the cover amusing without initially grasping why. That’s because beside the full text of the title there’s a glossy, nearly invisible tagline that reveals the insights you’ll explore in this witty, provocative look into the science of the subconscious mind.
This shrewd New York story follows six childhood friends, introduced at an arts summer camp, whose adult friendship is tested by the successes and failures of their self-declared Interesting-ness. Spanning decades and covering the entire emotional spectrum, it’s only fitting that the entire color spectrum finds its way onto this artful cover.
Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish
This is one cover that makes the thought of buying the eBook seem wholly sacrilegious. Small, round cutaways reveal the title in relief from the cover illustration of the novel’s pivotal, mysterious redhead. Crack it open to reveal the first of many eye-candy illustrations contained in this one-of-a-kind novel, written masterfully in rhyming couplets.
The Art of the Novella is a series of worthwhile short reads that would make Pantone proud. The elegant, colorful covers on all 56 novellas included in the series are a surefire way to transform the full length of any bookshelf into a rainbow of uncontested literary merit.
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
A mere first impression of this layered (literally and figuratively) book jacket may not do it justice. But once you read the heartbreaking and whimsical story of a man excommunicated from his friend group—“A perfect combination, the five of us. Like five fingers”—the intricate symbolism of this genius cover sinks in.
The Opposite House
This gorgeously disorientating cover is as dizzying as the story inside it. Two young women from different worlds search for the truth about faith and identity, and the novel’s alternating narrators explore the thin wall between myth and reality. Perfect for readers who don’t mind being swept away and flipped upside down.
Yes, in fact, that is a beautiful woman embracing a fish. Melissa Broder’s genre-bending tale of obsessive love and Sirenic fantasy on Venice Beach is as alluring as its come-hither cover suggests.
The Book of Heaven
In her reimagined Old Testament, Patricia Storace revisits the Garden of Eden from Eve’s point of view, imagines Abraham’s wife Sarah transformed into a new sort of woman, and so much more. This irresistibly tactile cover begs to have a hand brushed across it, and the stories are equally—if not even more—inviting.
The Flame Alphabet
In the world of The Flame Alphabet, children’s speech has turned deadly—the only hope of survival is for parents to flee their offspring. The encroaching, childlike flames perfectly elucidates the growing sense of panic in Ben Marcus’s malevolently good story.
Policing the Black Man
Angela J. Davis
An anthology penned by criminal justice experts and legal scholars invested in the Black Lives Matter movement, a book this necessary calls for a powerful opening image that—like its messages about racial profiling, implicit bias, and the disproportionate imprisonment of black men—calls for immediate attention.
Set in England during the early 20th century, Tom McCarthy’s protagonist, Serge, grows up with a troubled older sister and a father focused on inventing wireless communication and running a school for deaf children. The novel spans the highs and lows of the era, weaving an intricate path for an unforgettable character.
But What If We're Wrong?
If loving this cover is wrong, we don’t want to be right. Through reported, interconnected pieces, cultural critic Chuck Klosterman turns our modern, culturally held beliefs upside down by considering the possibility that everything we thought was true might be oh so wrong.
Riverhead Books, creators of the Big Magic cover, struck multicolored gold once again with this gorgeous rendering of Brit Bennett’s dazzling novel The Mothers, which follows young Nadia Turner down roads not taken.
Voices in the Night
Steven Millhauser is known for the strange lenses he puts on small-town life, and this collection of stories—a touch surreal, a touch dark, like its uncanny cover might suggest—is no exception to that rule. It’s a book both startling and familiar.
Do you believe in love at first sight? Sometimes that special book will catch your eye across a crowded bookstore, and you’re instantly smitten. Those colors! That typeface! A provocative cutaway! It’s so visually striking that you can’t resist picking it up—and when you do, it feels as good as it looks. Whether it’s a stunning revisualization of a classic or a contemporary novel that makes a great first impression, here are 21 books that are as beautiful on the outside as they are on the inside.
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