The Critic’s Favorite Book Covers

Sometimes, the cover of a book is just as important as the content inside of it. A book cover can make or break whether or not you buy it. A book cover can foreshadow an aspect of the plot, or even reveal the entire thing, without even a crack to its spine. Book covers are often memorable, unique, and aesthetic, making novels a great addition to your bookshelf. Some can be tacky, featuring close-up, awkward and posed photos, while others are artistic masterpieces. However, even if we’d like to believe that good covers indicate good books, this isn’t always the case. But who needs substance when you can have style, right?

Below, we have compiled a list of some of our favorite book covers:

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (Taylor Jenkins Reid)

Evelyn Hugo is famous for her appearance, particularly her emerald green ballroom dress. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, follows our main character, Evelyn Hugo, through her seven marriages. Although Evelyn is a famous actor, she tries to be very private in the media and newspapers, which I believe that this cover conveys perfectly. We get a glimpse of Evelyn’s glamour with the focus of the cover depicting her large green dress, however, her face is covered. Although we see Evelyn’s prominent blonde hair and her pearl necklace, both of which are a huge part of her character and appearance, we can’t see her eyes, and it feels almost as if a part of her is being hidden, which reflects the story, in which Evelyn has a huge secret. The cover gives us a glance of Evelyn’s character, therefore convincing the reader to pick up the novel, which is why it is my favorite book cover. 

Lovely War (Julie Berry)

Julie Berry’s Lovely War, a novel following four teenagers, set during WW2, chronicles both the happiness and heartbreak that comes with young love. The characters experience the various tragedies and horrors of WW2, from bombings to gun warfare to racism within American troops. However, through it all, love, represented by the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodiote, who is narrating the story, prevails. The cover of this novel represents this concept perfectly, as a woman dressed in pink, most likely Aphrodite, holds a tiny Eiffel Tower circled by war planes, representative of the events of WW2. This simplistic yet striking cover is at once beautiful and meaningful, as it hints at the tragedies to come in the novel yet remains optimistic that love will prevail even in the face of war. 

Brave New Girl (Rachel Vincent)

Dahlia 16 is supposed to be nothing special, just another clone out of five thousand identical girls. At least, that’s what we’re told, until she begins acting independently. Until she starts acting unique. The cover of the book captures this change flawlessly. In a seemingly endless line of identical girls in the same clothes, Dahlia is shown wearing a pink dress and jewelry. While the others around her stare blankly into the distance, Dahlia is looking into the “camera.” The cover foreshadows the most important part of Dahlia’s character development in a single image, which is why it is my favorite book cover.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club (Malinda Lo)

The book Last Night at the Telegraph club adopts an illustrative style for its cover, showcasing the vivid nature of San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1950s. The coming-of-age story follows Lily Hu as she grapples with her sexuality and her identity as a Chinese-American. Under an intentionally placed street light, we see Lily and another woman angled toward each other, suggesting a close bond of friendship between them—that could turn into something more. The tension between the two women along with the diverse background behind them suggests the themes of intersectionality found in the book. This cover is a perfect example of how one image can convey a thousand words, as the intricate illustrations prepare us for Lily’s coming-of-age story as she comes to terms with her lesbian identity and her culture. This expressive and beautiful book cover is crafted skillfully and certainly captured my attention.

The Islanders ( Meg Mitchell Moore)

Set on Block Island, a microscopic dot in the ocean about an hour off the coast of Rhode Island, The Islanders follows three strangers whose lives become intertwined over one summer spent on the island. This perfect summer read is only made better by its cover, which depicts a beautiful beach and a woman in the center (who is assumed to be the character Joy, a native of Block Island), gazing out into the water with binoculars. It is unclear what she is searching for, and it is definitely intriguing enough to make you want to read the book and find out.

Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)

Brave New World is a classic dystopian novel that takes on a new perspective on the industrialization of the world, which is perfectly depicted in its ingenious cover. Taking place centuries into the future, Huxley creates a world in which humanity’s pursuit of efficiency has completely erased the need for childbirth, and humans are instead genetically engineered at birth, physically and mentally, to fit their predetermined job. The novel’s cover perfectly captures the essence of what the reader will dive into, depicting humanity as a well-oiled machine that will never break. This reflects the uniform mindset of the citizens as they stay obedient to governmental control, utilizing drugs to create a permanent state of happiness in their cities. As the story progressed, I began to see how this system was flawed. Its parallels to our current society makes us reflect on how industrialization has truly taken a hold of our daily lives, which is why Brave New World has my favorite book cover.  

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (J.K. Rowling)

As the introduction book to one of the most successful series of all time, the cover of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is, in most cases, the very first thing people see before divulging into the wizarding world. With the cover highlighting some main points in the story, such as Hogwarts, quidditch, and the mystical & magical aspect of the book depicted by the running unicorn, the cover lets the reader understand that once the book is opened, it will transport you into a world unlike any other ever imagined. Additionally, the unicorn running away from the school while Harry is shown flying towards it foreshadows the type of character he is: one that runs towards the danger. Meanwhile, it can be said that the rest of the characters are the unicorn, running away from it, which already tells the audience some of Harry’s most defining characteristics.