Book By Its Cover

The Pillow Book of the Flower Samurai by Barbara Lazar (Headline Review)
This has to be a strong contender for my favourite book cover ever. It’s so gorgeous, with beautiful Japanese decorative details and sumptuous matte gold foil. This is one of those books you need to buy in hardback if only to adorn your bookshelves. Lazar’s debut, set in twelfth century Japan, is the story of Kozaisho, a young girl who journeys from the safety of her family home to the Village of Outcasts.

A Trick I Learned From Dead Men by Kitty Aldridge (Jonathan Cape)
Ooh, I really love this cover for Kitty Aldridge’s novel about life and death! At first glance it looks light and cheerful, and I love the use of vibrant autumnal colours, but the eerie floating bodies underground – not to mention the ghostly ones in the sky – add a real touch of menace and creepiness to the design.

The Truth by Michael Palin (W&N)
This is the second novel from the incomparable Michael Palin. It’s the heart-warming tale of an ordinary man – the wonderfully endearing Keith Mabbut – on an extraordinary journey. The cover is a brilliant mixed-media-esque creation that uses a simple, plain background, tropical colour, delicate watercolour and ink, and brilliantly casual crayon type. Sounds messy, but, miraculously, they all work so well together!

Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-cream Float Before He Stole My Ma by Kerry Hudson (Chatto & Windus)
This hilarious debut tells the story of a Scottish childhood spent in filthy council flats; a dysfunctional family full of screeching women and drunken men; and an irresistible, irrepressible heroine, Janie Ryan.
OK. I love this book primarily for its absurdly long and bizarre title! But on top of that, I think this cover is really cool. Undeniably fun and eye-catching; I like the bubblegum brightness, and the joy that’s conveyed by the jumping girl illustration and the bold, cartoony type.

Our Kind of People by Uzodinma Iweala (John Murray)
HIV and AIDS are still big, scary, abstract concepts that most of us struggle to make sense of in relation to our own lives. In this honest portrayal, novelist and doctor Uzodinma Iweala meets individuals and whole communities in Nigeria who are struggling to understand both the impact and meaning of the disease on a daily basis. This is a stark cover for a stark subject. The illustration looks like nothing at first, but take a closer look and you’ll see those beautiful, stylised African heads.


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