It’s been a while since I’ve done a BBC post (despite my intention to publish at least one of these per month). BBC is a meme I created to feature beautiful book covers. However, this time I’ll feature eye-catching book spines. After all, when you purchase the book and place it on your shelf, it’s the spine you’ll most often see.
I love beautifully designed book covers, but I also like striking spines. Sometimes it’s the spine instead of the cover that first beckons me, making me pick up the book, read what it’s about, and ultimately buy it. So this post will be all about the spines that call to me from the shelves.
The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
cover design by Ben Denzer
What it is about:
Greer Kadetsky is a shy college freshman when she meets the woman she hopes will change her life. Faith Frank, dazzlingly persuasive and elegant at sixty-three, has been a central pillar of the women’s movement for decades, a figure who inspires others to influence the world. Upon hearing Faith speak for the first time, Greer—madly in love with her boyfriend, Cory, but still full of longing for an ambition that she can’t quite place—feels her inner world light up. And then, astonishingly, Faith invites Greer to make something out of that sense of purpose, leading Greer down the most exciting path of her life as it winds toward and away from her meant-to-be love story with Cory and the future she’d always imagined.
Charming and wise, knowing and witty, Meg Wolitzer delivers a novel about power and influence, ego and loyalty, womanhood and ambition. At its heart, The Female Persuasion is about the flame we all believe is flickering inside of us, waiting to be seen and fanned by the right person at the right time. It’s a story about the people who guide and the people who follow (and how those roles evolve over time), and the desire within all of us to be pulled into the light. (Goodreads)
Why I like the spine: the colors
Every time I see this book’s spine on the shelves. I reach for it. And no, I do not own it. It’s the colors. They call to me. They are bright and bold, so they stand out against anything they are placed next to. The shape of the triangles on the spine also call to me; it’s as if they are pointing to something, directing my focus. I also like that the pattern and colors continue around the book. I’m not interested in reading Wolitzer’s book, but several times I’ve been tempted to purchase it because of the cover design.
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2019 edited by Edan Lepucki
cover design by Molly Egan
What it is about:
An eclectic collection of fiction, essays, poetry, and graphic work selected by high school students with the help of New York Times best-selling author Edan Lepucki. (Goodreads)
Why I like the spine: the colors and font
I love colorful spines because they easily stand out on the shelf. Like The Female Persuasion above, it’s the colors that beckon me whenever I see this spine. That and the font, which seems similar to Comic Sans. I like this about the spine because it calls to the design on the cover, which has a playfulness about it that was probably done to hint at the youths who contributed to the book’s making.
The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri
cover design by Anna Kochman
What it is about:
The unforgettable love story of a mother blinded by loss and her husband who insists on their survival as they undertake the Syrian refugee trail to Europe.
Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo–until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. But what Afra has seen is so terrible she has gone blind, and so they must embark on a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece towards an uncertain future in Britain. On the way, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is Mustafa, his cousin and business partner, who has started an apiary and is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees.
As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all, they must journey to find each other again. (Goodreads)
Why I like the spine: gold bees
It’s the gold bee pattern on the black background that got me. Both the spine and the cover appeal to me. I like the softness of the peach and pink colors on the cover with the large gold flower and bee details, and I like that we get a hint of what the cover is like from the spine. The colors all work well together to create a beautiful overall design. I think this book could be gifted as a present unwrapped and still seem impressive.
From the back flap, I learned that the cover illustration is from a wallpaper sample by William Morris and Company. In my fourth BBC post, which was autumn themed, I featured a book cover with a design that was also inspired by Morris’s textile work — The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry.
Tangerine by Christine Mangan
cover design by Allison Saltzman
What it is about:
The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the accident at Bennington, the two friends—once inseparable roommates—haven’t spoken in over a year. But there Lucy was, trying to make things right and return to their old rhythms. Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy—always fearless and independent—helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country.
But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice—she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. Then Alice’s husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind. (Goodreads)
Why I like the spine: the pattern and colors
I just really like the pattern in the background, which makes me think of Islamic patterns. The colors, of course, work well together. I love seeing blue paired with green because such pairings always make me think of the sea, which is what I thought of when I first saw this spine. The background pattern even reminds me of water. The cover was a surprise. After such a colorful spine, I didn’t expect a cover largely void of color. I expected either the pattern or both colors to be repeated there too.
The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa, transl. by Archibald Colquhoun
cover design by Oliver Munday
What it is about:
Set in the 1860s, The Leopard tells the spellbinding story of a decadent, dying Sicilian aristocracy threatened by the approaching forces of democracy and revolution. The dramatic sweep and richness of observation, the seamless intertwining of public and private worlds, and the grasp of human frailty imbue The Leopard with its particular melancholy beauty and power, and place it among the greatest historical novels of our time. (Goodreads)
Why I like the spine:
Of all the spines in this post, this one is my favorite. I don’t even know why it’s my favorite, but it appeals to me the most although it’s dizzying sometimes when I look at it too long. I like how simple the design is. Simple, but not understated. It easily stands out on the shelf because of the combination of colors used and the placement of the words and lines, and how they all play off each other.
I also like the minimalist design of the cover and that the images aren’t placed on the usual white background, which is often used for covers with such limited content in the design. The cover design is simple, but even so, it calls to several aspects of the book. The lone crown image on a field of green and the type of font used give the essence of wealth, exclusivity, and nobility. But from another angle, the crown becomes a claw that recalls one to the title of the novel. It makes me wonder what exactly the book is about. (It makes me want that spine, that cover design, on my shelf!) Munday discusses his design process for this cover here.
Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar |
Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patty Yumi Cotrell
cover design by Peter Mendelsund (Hopscotch) |
cover design by Sunra Thompson (Sorry to Disrupt the Peace)
What it is about (Hopscotch):
Horacio Oliveira is an Argentinian writer who lives in Paris with his mistress, La Maga, surrounded by a loose-knit circle of bohemian friends who call themselves “the Club.” A child’s death and La Maga’s disappearance put an end to his life of empty pleasures and intellectual acrobatics, and prompt Oliveira to return to Buenos Aires, where he works by turns as a salesman, a keeper of a circus cat which can truly count, and an attendant in an insane asylum. Hopscotch is the dazzling, freewheeling account of Oliveira’s astonishing adventures. (Goodreads)
What it is about (Sorry to Disrupt the Peace):
Helen Moran is thirty-two years old, single, childless, college-educated, and partially employed as a guardian of troubled young people in New York. She’s accepting a delivery from IKEA in her shared studio apartment when her uncle calls to break the news: Helen’s adoptive brother is dead.
According to the internet, there are six possible reasons why her brother might have killed himself. But Helen knows better: she knows that six reasons is only shorthand for the abyss. Helen also knows that she alone is qualified to launch a serious investigation into his death, so she purchases a one-way ticket to Milwaukee. There, as she searches her childhood home and attempts to uncover why someone would choose to die, she will face her estranged family, her brother’s few friends, and the overzealous grief counselor, Chad Lambo; she may also discover what it truly means to be alive. (Goodreads)
Why I like the spines: random footprints | font
With Hopscotch, I like the spine because of the footprints. They made me curious because they seem random and I didn’t see how they relate to the title at first. I understood once I saw the cover and liked the spine even more because the footprints continue from the cover onto the spine. It’s as if something hopscotched all over the book’s cover. (Mendelsund also designed the cover of Kazuo Ishiguro’s the Buried Giant, which I featured in BBC #1.)
With Sorry to Disrupt the Peace, it’s simply the font on the white background that appealed to me. I like those kind of script fonts. The spine is simple and understated with just a dab of color. It works well.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
cover design by Christopher Brand
What it is about:
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.
But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape. (Goodreads)
Why I like the spine: the maze
I haven’t read the book but from all I’ve heard about it and from the synopsis above, it seems that this spine fits it well. The maze makes a great pattern to serve as a background to the shapes surrounding the book’s title, author and publisher names. I don’t care for the cover. I don’t like the color combination or the blocky font. The spine is the impressive part of the design because of the maze.
Lost in the Spanish Quarter by Heddi Goodrich
cover design by Stephen Brayda
What it is about: the colors
Several years after leaving Naples, Heddi receives an email from Pietro, her first love, admitting that he was wrong. Immediately Heddi is transported back to her college days in that heartbreakingly beautiful city built on the ruins of a legendary empire set against the backdrop of a sleeping volcano. The narrow, winding streets of Naples’s Spanish Quarter still sparks the pain of longing and a desire to belong. It is the place she so wanted to call home despite being l’americano. But for Heddi’s tribe of university friends, Naples was the first taste of freedom and an escape from their familial obligations. For all of them Naples is a place that they’ll never forget: the setting of their unrestrained youth.
When Heddi unexpectedly meets Pietro, a fellow student they are immediately drawn to one another and fall into a whirlwind romance. She is searching for the roots she never had, while he is trying to escape his. Naples, alive and fierce, and ultimately elusive, becomes a real university of life.
In this poignant, atmospheric coming of age tale of first love—of a place, of a person—languages and cultures collide while dreams soar and crash in spectacular ways. (Goodreads)
Why I like the spine:
I often get tricked by book covers because sometimes I’ll think the background is from a painting only to learn it’s not; that it’s actually a tree (see Euphoria in BBC #4). This time, I didn’t think the cover is based on a painting, but I later learned that it is. Brayda discussed his process for designing this book cover in Spine Magazine, a magazine that’s all about book covers and designers.
To create this cover, Brayda sought out “unique interpretations of the Spanish Quarter,” which led him to Olivier Roussel’s painting. I love the completed design. I don’t know anything about the Spanish Quarter, but this cover makes me think it’s a vibrant, lively place with lots of personality because that’s what I get from this cover, from Roussel’s painting. I like the font as well and like that it’s in white so that it doesn’t compete with the colors in the background and can stand out in its own way.
I really want to read this book. The cover appeals to me and so do the writing from the bits I’ve read from the book.
Well, that’s it for BBC #6.
I hope you found here some new books with stunning spines to add to your shelves. 🙂