Our favourite book covers of 2014

Elke Power and Bronte Coates share some of their favourite book covers of 2014

The Best 100 Poems of Gwen Harwood by Gwen Harwood

The elements of this cover are perfectly judged by designer Peter Long. At first glance, the exquisite image and simple text are evocative and inviting, and this impression only deepens with every admiring look. The cover is a fantastic match for the poetry within.


Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Described as ‘the story of a modern marriage’, this unusual book’s cover – which depicts a single wooden piece pulled loose from the puzzle it’s resting on top of – perfectly matches the book’s form and content. The design is crisp and elegant, and for me, there is also something deeply melancholic about it, with that single piece of wood just out of reach of the rest of the puzzle. Crisp, elegant and deeply melancholic are also all words I would use to describe the narrative, which I highly recommend.


Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s ‘Learned’ by Lena Dunham

I do love a bold, text-only cover. The classic (but not heavy) font choice, size and placement on the bright, white cover of this design all indicate that this book holds its own but doesn’t take itself too seriously. The grey and pink contrasting colours are an elegant yet fun combination and that precise shade of pink (used sparingly) is a great visual nod to the spunk to be found within.


Bobcat and Other Stories by Rebecca Lee

Our reviewer for this debut short-story collection wrote, ‘While Bobcat could be labelled as realism, each story seems to be on the cusp of something strange or weird, which gives them a special electric air.’ And certainly, this strangeness pushing against reality is depicted by the cover image of a bobcat chewing on a black glove. I also like how this bobcat is directly referenced in the title story which is set at a dinner party – one guest is a woman whose arm was eaten by a bobcat.


The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

I love that the designer for this cover commissioned the construction of a real miniature house and that every object was built and placed inside the house for the cover photograph. The art, design, lighting and even the framing of the title all reference elements of the story, yet this close attention to detail feels light-handed. The overall effect is charming, but it’s also a little unnerving – just as a miniature version of a real house and the people who live there should be.


Blood & Guts: Dispatches from the Whale Wars by Sam Vincent

This simple yet dramatic design fills me with a delicious sense of dread. The whale is caught mid-leap as it plunges into the ocean, it’s tail surely to follow soon – surely an invitation for the reader to ‘plunge in’ straight after. The cover effectively portrays a sense of action, suggesting a pacey rather than reflective read, while the thrash and spray of the water coupled with the dramatic red and black font also hints at the violence to be found between these pages.


The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman

This eye-catching design makes it clear that matters of the heart are at play, yet there is nothing cloying about it (nor about the superb writing inside). The handwritten scrawl of the title font could be representative of the dominant occupation among the characters – the book is set in the Brooklyn literary scene and almost all the characters are writers of one kind or another – while the mismatched halves of the heart suggest both emotion and analysis, signalling that this is a work of literary fiction rather than romance.


Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

I had to include this cover because the illustrator Noelle Stevenson (who also goes by the name Gingerhaze) is one of my absolute favourite comic artists and, apparently, she must be one of Rainbow Rowell’s as well. In this great blog post, Rowell talks about how having Stevenson illustrate her cover is a dream come true and explains how the comic artist’s style (“whimsical, smart, funny, feminist”) is a perfect match for her book. I happen to agree!


Acute Misfortune: The Life and Death of Adam Cullen by Erik Jensen

This dramatic cover immediately conveys a sense of the darkness and light of Adam Cullen’s life as adroitly depicted by Erik Jensen in this unusual biography (which was named one of our top ten non-fiction books of the year). The stacked canvases clearly place the book in the art world and the splashed paint suggests energy, excess and a hint of violence. Despite the inclusion of three endorsement quotes, the cover does not feel at all busy – instead, this arresting design is strangely elegant.


Dress, Memory by Lorelei Vashti

I think this is such a fun design. The dark blue against the pink background feels really fresh while the author’s pose is stylish and confident, which I love. The single words of praise from musician Clare Bowditch, author Romy Ash and former Vogue editor Kirstie Clements neatly dotted across the page point to the wide appeal of this memoir of a decade spent in dresses. Our reviewer said it was, ‘a joy to read’, and that’s exactly what this cover says to me.


Cover image for Not that Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's  Learned

Not that Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s  Learned

Lena Dunham

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