Book by its Cover


Finally, FINALLY, the sun has deigned to grace us with its presence here in the UK. Hordes of Londoners took to the capital’s parks to lick ice lollies, read books and burn themselves to a sickly pink crisp. Long may this weather continue and, if it does, here’s some brilliant and beautiful books to shade your eyes as you catch some rays…

The Colour of Milk by Nell Leyshon (Fig Tree)
I love this woodcut design for the cover of Nell Leyshon’s unforgettable novel, which tells the story of a young farm girl, Mary, in 1831, who is sent away to work for the local rector and his family with devastating consequences. The bold, but minimal use of colour provides a nice foil to the delicate black-and-white images of the natural world that form the central illustration.

Jubilee by Shelley Harris (W&N)
I couldn’t really let this week go past without having some jubilee-related cover to get us in the mood for our four-day weekend. And what could be better that this? Shelley Harris’s fantastic debut is about an Asian heart surgeon with a shameful secret, whose life changed when a photo of him at a jubilee street party in 1977 captured the hearts of the nation. I love the book, I love the author (check out her hilarious blog and see her alternative version of what the cover might have looked like…), and the treated photographic cover comprises everything that we’re after this weekend: blue skies and bunting. Bring it on!

How To Eat Out: Lessons from a Life Lived Mostly in Restaurants by Giles Coren (Hodder & Stoughton)
A tasty morsel now from one of my favourite Times columnists. If you’re a foodie fan or you’re after some laugh-out-loud writing, Giles Coren’s book about eating out anywhere and everywhere is one for you. OK, it may have caught my eye because of Coren’s sickeningly smug, yet exceptionally handsome face (no? Is it just me that thinks that?!), but what I really love about this cover is the chalk-on-blackboard type. So ridiculously simple, and yet so effective. It reminds me of the brilliant hardback cover for The Art of Fielding. Though I am glad I didn’t have to copy edit this one…

Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace (Ebury Press)
This hilarious, heart-warming, boy-meets-girl debut, is the story of how down-in-the-dumps Jason Priestly decides to turn his life – and his love life – around after a brief encounter with a girl on Charlotte Street leaves him with nothing but her disposable camera and a long shot at finding her. The cover perfectly illustrates the quirky, fun, but touching story. I love the mix of black, white and yellow, and Joel Holland’s funky illustrations hit just the right note.

Snake Ropes by Jess Richards (Sceptre)
We have the super-talented Dan Funderburgh – and of course the creative folks at Sceptre – to praise for Jess Richard’s gorgeous hardback debut novel about a girl searching for her missing brother in a weird and wonderful world where nothing is quite what it seems. I don’t think the online picture will quite do this one justice, but the design is printed directly to the board and picked out with silver foil. The subtle snake-skin pattern of the background adds that extra special touch, and it shows a pleasing eye for detail that they’ve extended the snake/rope pattern to the title page inside. Very pretty!

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