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A Reader of Fictions: Top Ten Things That Make an Appealing Book Cover for Adults

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Top Ten Things That Make an Appealing Book Cover for Adults

Judging a Book by Its Cover, Part 2

YA books get a lot of attention these days for their flashy covers; check out last week's top ten to see which are my favorite. What you should not forget is that adult fiction, and even nonfiction, can have gorgeous covers as well. In my search for covers that I really liked, I found that some different things appealed to me in an adult cover. Neat, huh? Some things I like in any cover.

10. Beautiful Background

While I have never been a nature girl, I still like to look at pretty pictures of it. Still, I prefer the focus to be on something else. So put an interesting foreground with a gorgeous vista behind and I will be more interested in a book's contents. I had a third title for this one (In the Forest by Edna O'Brien, but the cover I like only had small images...).

9. I Love Books and Music

It should come as no surprise to any of my dear readers that I love books and music. For this reason, books that reference these things on the cover make me ooh and aah and generally want to get my hands on the words within. Book lovers cannot deny the beauty of these book-related covers, especially for the ladies Women Who Read Are Dangerous (which my library does not have, so I may have to buy a copy some day).

8. Understated Science Fiction/Fantasy

A lot of sci fi and fantasy covers are just absurd. I even sometimes kind of enjoy that, but my favorites tend to be a bit more subdued. They hint at the magical or incredibly advanced world within their pages, rather than beating you over the head with it. The others can be fun or funny, but these are truly lovely.

7. John Connelly Style

I have only read one John Connelly book (The Book of Lost Things) and I did not enjoy it as much as I hoped. However, I still want to read all of his other books, and even reread the one I already read, because the covers are so amazing. It's the font and the colors and designs that make them some of the best covers I have ever seen. Other authors could have covers like these, but I can only think of Connelly.

6. White and Black and Red (Read) All Over

When it comes to clothing, red, black and white are not among my favorite colors. I wear them plenty, but they have no special attraction for me. For some reason, though, I love them on book covers. The Hunger Games and Catching Fire fit this mold, as well, but Mockingjay's cover did not please me as well (even though I like that color better). Now, I don't know why the people in A Spot of Bother are on that two tier cake, but I love that they are. Also, The Gulag Archipelago consists of three volumes: one with red as the main color, one black and one white. I have so much love for that.

5. Color Contrast

Adult (really is there any good way to say this that won't make it sound like rated M for mature material?) book covers frequently make excellent use of juxtaposition. The contrast in the colors really makes the covers pop, drawing your eye to particular elements. Take, for example, the way the red pops on the Year of the Flood cover or you can't avoid staring back at the girl on The Host.

4. Corsets Still Leave Me Breathless

I still think corsets make for a great cover (they ranked first for YA covers), but there aren't as many good ones in adult fiction. So publishers, you might want to take that into consideration. I really don't know why they're so gorgeous when they're really instruments of torture, but c'est la vie.


There's just something about covers for books about World War II. They're so amazingly distinctive somehow. I can walk around a bookstore and inevitably add one or two to my want to read list just by browsing cover art. These books tend to have a bright color setting off a darker background, a thing you already know I appreciate. Some pretty dresses sometimes, too. Plus, this is a historical time period I really love reading about.

2. So Damn Classy

Some of my favorites don't quite fit in the other categories, so I made one just for them. Sometimes, you look at a cover and you just think: man, that's classy. I want to get me some of that. Well, I do, at any rate. These books are generally classics, which have finally been given a lovely cover. So many are given boring or downright creepy facades, so it's truly worthy of celebration when they're this pretty.

1. Books That Make Me Wish for a Better Wardrobe

This is one of those things I love in any book cover. If there is a gorgeous dress on the cover, I will want it like burning: both the dress and the book. This sometimes gets me into trouble, because there will be Christian fiction that fits this mold; I get all excited and then disappointed. Colleen Coble's book is one of these. Jane Austen spinoffs also fit this mold quite often (see below).



Anonymous Steena said...

I concur to all of the above! The John Connelly style reminds me of Barnes & Noble's Leatherbound Collection (http://i31.tinypic.com/2wrhlc2.jpg). I own almost all of these editions now, even though I have plenty of other copies (Why yes, I do need a fourth version of the Divine Comedy because it is bound in red leather). I love The Thin Man cover. And nothing can make you long for Pre-Feminine Liberation days like taking a stroll through adult fiction. I'm not saying I'm willing to sacrifice my rights for those dresses but I would consider it.

May 18, 2011 at 5:22 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I agree with everything you've said here. I definitely have to add Women Who Read Are Dangerous to my list, too.

May 18, 2011 at 10:04 PM  
Blogger Lynnea (LaLa) said...

I am a sucker for a book with a pretty dress on the cover

March 26, 2012 at 4:43 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, pretty dresses made both the YA and Adult category. Corsets too. They're the only reason I made it through the Luxe series.

March 26, 2012 at 5:41 PM  
Blogger andrea b said...

So many lovely covers! A pretty cover will usually convince me to buy the paper-book instead of the ebook!

I also think that at least 50% of the reasons I want to read The Girl in the Steel Corset is because I just love the cover...

April 6, 2012 at 12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the covers under Beautiful Backgrounds (the landscapes looks like something out of a fairytale or different century), Corsets Still Leave my Breathless and Books that make me Wish for a Better Wardrobe. Although people tell you not to judge books by their covers, I frequently do so, and the dresses are so pretty I almost wish I could live in that century (even if women had little to no rights). But the dresses are so lovely...

April 9, 2012 at 11:49 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, intellectually I know that corsets are women-cages and instruments of torture...but they're soooo pretty!

April 10, 2012 at 8:22 AM  

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