Hello, friends! I am so excited to bring you today’s post, you have no idea!!! I’ve always wanted to break down into detail what I love about books — and now is the time. With every post, I will be sharing with you why I love certain aspects of a book and showing you examples of books I love. I’d be so happy if you joined me on this journey through books!
Today’s topic is one I know all book lovers have very strong opinions about — BOOK COVERS! What makes a book cover great for me? And what are the most beautiful book covers I’ve ever seen? What about those ~fancy~ details that some covers have???
Book covers can be so, so beautiful! I’m totally one of those people who is influenced to read books based on how pretty a certain cover is. I would say that reading other people’s reviews is just a tad bit more persuasive than just looking at covers. What can I say??? A beautiful book cover makes my heart skip a beat and dream of all the possible stories that could be inside…
And so today I am bringing you a post dedicated completely to beautiful book covers! I hope you take my challenge and also write a post like this (and link it back to me so I can read it!!!)
So, what makes a cover beautiful?
There are a few very particular things I look for in a book cover. If it has one (or more!) of these elements, I’m probably going to love it to death and want to buy it. At the same time, there are also things I see on covers that I absolutely hate (*ahem, shirtless ripped men*). But here at Bookish Rita we like to focus on the good. So what are, after all, these things that make book covers so irresistible?
🌼 people on covers (sometimes!) 🌼
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that bookworms are in look for covers that don’t have people on the cover. BUUUUT! I’ve been seeing a lot more covers featuring models that actually look stunning. And this is a change I’m 100% on board for!
So how do you avoid ending up with an ugly cover featuring a person (*ahem* Obsidian) and end up holding up a masterpiece??? Well, I’ve come up with a few points to guide cover artists in that direction.
Don’t listen to me really…
Note: I’m 100% talking about actual models on covers. For this reason, I haven’t included any cartoon-ish depictions or drawing of people — more on that later!
- Please, no half-naked muscular men. I’m begging you! I know I’m not the only one who hates covers that display men’s bodies, right? They’re so cringey to look at and super uncomfortable to read in public.
- Have models pose and not just stand awkwardly. I can’t tell you how many books I have seen that have super awkward poses on the cover. Either the model’s arms are just hanging there or they look confused/trying too hard. I know I’m being picky, but this is such a turn-off for me!
- People on covers should reflect the feel of the book! If a book is a historical fiction novel set in Asia and follows Asian characters, maybe —just maaaaaybe— there shouldn’t be any white or ambiguously Asian models on the cover? This goes for so many other cases (be it in terms of genre or age) but you get me point, right?
- Stock photos are a big no-no… I know not all publishers (and especially not self-published authors) have the money to hire photographers and models for their cover shoot. But then, please, don’t use those awkward stock photos as the cover…
- Do include other elements to the cover — it’s not just about the model! I always love seeing covers that integrate the model with decorative elements (take To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before as a perfect example!)
🌿 Here are some of my favorite covers that feature people on their covers. To see the book on Goodreads, just click the title below the covers! 🌿
🌼 I really love the Always Never Yours cover because it has beautiful lettering, flowers that add a nice pop of color, and the whole cover just screams cutesy young-adult romance. I haven’t read it yet, but the cover really makes me want to pick it up!
🌼 Strange Weather in Tokyo also has one of my favorite covers because of how intriguing it looks. Why is the girls floating? Why is she in a store/restaurant? Plus, her outfit looks amazing and exactly my style…
🌼 The cover for To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (and the whole series, really) is also amazing, in my opinion, because it places Lara Jean (the main character) in a setting that is very important to the book: her room. Doesn’t this cover scream “home-body who writes!!!” to you?
🌼 Lastly, this cover is a little different from what I usually love but, nonetheless, it’s great: The Pisces. The woman on the cover is edited in a way that makes her look more like a drawing while still glowing. It gives me a very 1950s vibe, and makes me think of those trashy Fabio romances — but done in a good way this time around!
🌼 nature makes an appearance! 🌼
I love my flowers (as you can probably tell from my blog) and my plants and leaves. So it’s really no shocker that I love seeing nature elements on the cover of a book. Be it as part of a larger composition or the main composition, nature on covers makes me smile.
🌼 The Careful Undressing of Love has a stunning cover full of color due to how much nature there actually is. You have lemons and their leaves laid out in such a beautiful way that they work beautifully with the lettering.
🌼 Then, the leaves and the golden iron come together so perfectly in The Gilded Wolves cover, at least in my opinion! I’m just sad I didn’t like the novel as much as I loved the cover…
🌼 The Island of Sea Women is a novel I’m d y i n g to read that also has nature on its cover (totally unrelated facts, shhh). Not only is there the sea, but my favorite thing about the cover are the twigs and plants drawn on the actual cover picture.
🌼 illustrations of people 🌼
Perhaps better than having actual people on the cover of books is having drawings/illustrations of people there. To me, they have so much more charm and look generally super awesome. In my opinion, the best designs are those that simplify features to a point in which the characters are pretty much one-dimensional.
🌿 These are all covers with incredible designs that I love. Whoever did the art for these covers deserves a raise because holy hell are they pretty!!! 🌿
🌼 The cover of Do Not Say We Have Nothing joins some of my favorite aspects of cover design. It has the silhouette of a person drawn in a simple manner, an explosion of color, nature, and a landscape tucked away on the background. Wow.
🌼 Elsey Come Home masters perfectly this technique of simplifying features and using pale colors to draw attention. I love how they posed Elsey on the cover — it makes me even more intrigued to find out who she is.
🌼 I have not picked up Fumbled (or its prequel) but the cover makes me really to pick it up. Again, we have the simple, one-dimensional features of the character that I love. Her earrings, too, are a hint to what the novel centers around: football.
🌼 While the cover for Paper Girls doesn’t have simplified designs like the other three do, it’s still a very enticing cover. I love the facial expressions of the girls and the color scheme of it all.
Note: Honestly, this might be my absolute favorite type of cover design. There are so, so many of books on my Goodreads shelves that have people drawn as cartoons on the cover that choosing just four was hard…
🌼 couples (aka I love all that love) 🌼
I’m unashamedly love-trash. I love everything that’s about love. A romance set in the past? I need it. A romance set in a fantasy world? Please, give it to me. A 600-page book about the workings of a relationship? I die. And so in the same trend, I love it when there’s a couple featured on the cover.
But this is such an easy thing to mess up — much like having people on a cover!!!! So once again, here is my recipe for (not) disaster.
- I really hate ~lusty~ couples on the cover of my books. You know those vampire/supernatural novels that were insanely popular in 2014? They had covers with what I call a ~lusty~ couple. Basically, they had a (oftentimes half-naked) man and a (half-naked, too) woman draping her body around his. Oh, and they’re both either *passionately* looking in each other’s eyes with their mouths partly open, biting each other’s necks, or staring with seductive eyes into the camera (aka at the reader). I don’t know what it is about these covers, but they make me so uncomfortable…
- Don’t forget that romance is not just a heterosexual genre… I don’t think there are nearly enough f/f and g/g couples on book covers. I need that gay love in my covers to match the beautiful gay stories!!!
- Couples don’t need to be kissing for the cover to be cute! I love seeing the two characters just be goofballs around each other — and this can translate very well into a cover! For example, a couple who is always messing with one another, just a smirk or a suggestive look makes the cover adorable!!!
- Uhmmm… no 18+ material pleaseandthankyou. I swear I have seen some books that have people *ahem* making love on the cover. Of course it’s nothing explicit but still??? It’s so awkward and cringey to read in public……..
🌿 These are my honorable mentions — all books that win in my book when it comes to having cute, adorable and lovey-dovey covers. 🌿
🌼 This has to be one of the cutest young-adult covers ever. I mean, This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story has an adorkable couple sitting cute-ly on a couch that reminds me of Friends and then has a great yellow-blue color combination… Couldn’t ask for better.
🌼 Although I wasn’t the biggest fan of the couple in Emergency Contact, I have to admit that the cover is adorable. The drawings are great, the gold lettering, and the pink background all come together perfectly.
🌼 Fangirl is that book I will never shut up about. Levi and Cath are two of my all-time favorite book characters — and their relationship is pure perfection (they’re my OTP), as is the cover. There’s really nothing I can add without being repetitive.
🌼 Meet Cute is my favorite romance trope (I think!) and this is such a sweet cover!!! I love the drink, the drawing of the woman’s face, and the straws. Talk about cute! Honestly, this is a high priority on my TBR once it comes out.
🌼 illustrated objects 🌼
This may sound a little odd, but I really love seeing objects in the covers of books — even more if they have some sort of connection to the plot of the novel. I think this goes hand in hand with the fact that I love graphic design and love it when artists deconstruct an idea into a simple object. But it’s not limited to that!
🌿 To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, look at how gorgeous these book covers are! 🌿
🌼 The cover of Book Girl is an obvious favorite. It has books and what looks like a super comfortable reading chair as the focus!!! Plus, that mix between reality (the chair) and drawing (the bookshelves and books) is really, really innovative and great, I think.
🌼 Educated has a beautiful cover that I only really looked at in detail some weeks ago. Do you see that little black figure on the base of the pencil head? That’s the silhouette of a woman!!! I felt like a genius (even though I shouldn’t have) when I noticed it…
🌼 The Theft of a Decade also has a great cover and it’s been intriguing me for months now! I’m waiting for it to come out so I can sink my teeth into this (most likely) depressive look at the economy.
🌼 Kang’s Human Acts is the last book I am mentioning in this category, if you will. I have never read it, but I love how odd the cover looks. Why is there a cute little bird on the torso of a human skeleton? And why does this cover look so peaceful???
Of course, there is a ton more to say about beautiful covers. You could probably write a whole book about what makes a great book cover and what makes an awful cover. But there is one more little thing I want to bring up — and that is ~~~special elements~~~ you can find in book covers!
Have you ever noticed that not all covers feel the same? When you look at a picture, sure, they look pretty much all the same. But when you hold up a book and run your fingers across the cover, there’s actually a lot of differences! And this is what this mini-section is all about!
🌿 peak-through windows 🌿
I adore it when covers have a little whole in them that reveals what the next page has printed on it. A terrific example of this is the upcoming novel by Savannah Brown titled The Truth About Keeping Secrets. I couldn’t find a picture that made it very clear, but I think you can get the gist of it in these two photos!
Credit: I got these two photos from Savannah’s Twitter (here) but her cat looks just like mine!!! Isn’t she an absolute cutie?
As you can probably tell, the little keyhole is literally a hole! So, when you open the cover, you see that there is an actual keyhole-shaped hole (what even is English???) that shows a small drawing inside. I think this is so cute and different!
🌿 embossed lettering on covers 🌿
I love it when we have embossed lettering on covers. Some words pop out and some pop inwards, as to look less noticeable. And I don’t think a book has ever done it better than Why I Am No Longer Talking to While People About Race. There is so much meaning behind the choice to display “to White People” in white and “sinked” lettering. I think it’s a brilliant design idea for a book that truly sounds amazing…
Another great instance of a book using embossed lettering on the cover is Nineteen Eighty-Four, as published by Penguin Books in this redacted edition. If you’ve read the book, it makes complete sense why the title is redacted (or censored) and the lettering in low-volume on the cover.
🌿 shiny appliqués 🌿
I love everything that sparkles!!! And this is why I love it when my books have shiny appliqués. I don’t mean just gold-coloring in general — rather, actual gold- or silver-colored material applied ON the cover. This way, when you run your fingers through the cover, you can feel the two different textures: one because of the appliqués and the other because of the cover.
Romanovs: 1613 — 1918 is a great example!!! I have a physical copy at home and the golden parts of the cover do have a different texture. If you have never read it, I highly recommend it if you want to find out more about Russia’s history.
Although I have never touched it (I’m sorry!!!) I’m pretty sure Fierce Fragile Hearts also falls into this category. The cover is so pretty, with the golden appliqués in the shape of flying birds.
And this is it for today’s EXPLORE THE BOOK post! I would really, really love it if you joined me on these posts — I promise even more prompts are coming your way!
What is your all-time favorite cover style or your favorite cover?