Kia ora to writers, publishers, and especially to the designers, artists, photographers, and models who work on making book covers look so very enticing! I keep an eye out during the year for cool covers and flash-as book production.
Let's go for 2021's Numero Uno first shall we? Well, my favourite book cover in 2021 is Things I learned at Art School by Megan Dunn. I've been obsessed with it since I first spied it on social media, well before it was published. I'm very pleased to report the contents of the book are as splendid as the cover: "My favourite type of book, this - Episodes & Incidents, Arty & Artful, Family, Truthbombs, Antics. This book made me very happy. Also, very sad."
Here's some information on the cover:
- Photographer Yvonne Todd (Megan's best friend ) took the cover photo of Alice in Wonderland.
- The model dressed as Alice is Claudia Miles of Unique Models, marketing student from Hamilton. This was her first job.
- The painting behind Alice is Wheatfield with Crows by Vincent Van Gogh.
Why I like it so much:
- The cover is a total reflector of the contents.
- ORANGE! Zingiest colour on the planet.
- Alice's eyelashes.
- The deliciously serify font.
- The big papier mache pencil.
- The details - Alice in the spine looks like she's about to pop out of the book and get bigger.
Is this the best Bookstagram ever? Why yes, it is.
Megan kindly gave me a comment:
I've always wanted an Yvonne Todd book cover AND I've always wanted to be the woman in an Yvonne Todd photograph. Two birds, one giant paper mache pencil on loan from the Waitakere College Art Department, where Yvonne was working on an artist in schools project...that's how we did it. Yvonne and I have been close friends ever since we met in the 1990s and I showed her work in my gallery Fiat Lux then on Hobson Street, in Auckland. We were both emerging artists and young feckless women in our twenties at the time, and I cover some of our early art capers and what it's like to be under the influence of cask wine, Sweet Valley High covers and one another in my book. And more. (There's always more.) We shot the book cover one day in April at Yvonne's house. It was the model's first ever photo shoot, and we dressed her up as everything from a redheaded Alice in Wonderland to a dodgy smurfette and a low-rent mermaid.The model was wonderful and smouldered as though she was an art school student with a chip on her shoulder and a burning desire to write a memoir about it later.
Behind the scenes photos courtesy of Megan and Yvonne Todd:
Kia ora Megan, Yvonne, Claudia, and the team at Penguin Random House New Zealand. Love your mahi!
- On being a redhead Megan Dunn, Ensemble
- Things I learned at art school links to articles from Megan's website
- Author talk by Time Out Bookstore. Spend an hour with Megan Dunn & photographer Yvonne Todd as they chat about book covers, art school life, wedding shoes and Desiderata. Introduced by Claire Murdoch from Penguin Random House NZ and recorded on Zoom.
THE REST OF MY FAVES
Here are the rest of my top 5 covers. Woman with potato. Bunch of flowers. Coolest car and poet. Weather bombed.
Shoutout to Victoria University Press who name the cover designers on their website.
- Nostalgia has ruined my life Zarah Butcher-McGunnigle, Giramondo Publishing
- Before you knew my name Jacqueline Bublitz, Allen & Unwin
Rangikura Tayi Tibble, Victoria University of Wellington Press
Cover: Xoë Hall
The Alarmist: 50 years measuring climate change Dave Lowe, Victoria University of Wellington Press
Cover photograph: Dave Lowe at Baring Head, 1973
Cover design: Keely O'Shannessy
Here are some of the best with faces front and centre (or sideways).
- Faking it: My life in transition Kyle Mewburn
- Tōku Pāpā Ruby Solly
- She is not your rehab Matt Brown with Sarah Brown
- Sweat and salt water Teresia Kieuea Teaiwa
- The Calling Fleur Beale
- Fifty years a feminist Sue Kedgley
- NUKU: 100 stories of indigenous women Qiane
- Mana Whakatipu: Ngāi Tahu leader Mark Solomon on leadership and life Mark Solomon with Mark Revington
- The Mirror Book Charlotte Grimshaw
- Tikanga: Living with the traditions of te ao Māori Francis and Kaiora Tipene
- Eye of the Taika: New Zealand comedy and the films of Taika Waititi Matthew Bannister
Sometimes the font or typeface gives that wow moment.
- Burst kisses on the actual wind Courtney Sina Meredith
- Bird Collector Alison Glenny, Compound Press, 2021
- I am in bed with you Emma Barnes
- She's a Killer Kirsten McDougall
- Her Say: Survivors of Domestic Abuse Tell Their Own Stories Jackie Clarke and the Aunties
- Uprising Nic Low
The Commercial Hotel John Summers, Victoria University of Wellington Press
Cover: Leon Mackie
- Our Violent Ends Chloe Gong
- Man alone John Mulgan (VUP Classic)
- Whiti Hereaka
BUILDINGS & STREETS
I love that The Gosden Years has as its cover the New Zealand International Film Festival 2017 poster by Ocean Design.
- Selected Poems Harry Ricketts
- Hinemihi. Te Hokianga = The Return Hamish Coney et al
- The last guests J. P. Pomare
- The Gosden Years Bill Gosden
- Every home should have one: The appliance age in New Zealand Terry Moyle
Foliage and flowers - always a winner on a cover.
- Devil's Trumpet Tracey Slaughter
- The Tiny Woman's Coat Joy Cowley, illustrated by Giselle Clarkson
- Toto among the murderers Sally J. Morgan
- Quiet in her bones Nalini Singh
- Petal Power Julia Atkinson-Dunn
ART & ILLUSTRATION
An intriguing painting or a striking illustration, with a fancy bit of typography on top? Winning.
- The Mermaid's purse Fleur Adcock
- I laugh me broken Bridget van der Zijpp
- Atua: Māori gods and heroes Gavin Bishop
- Bluffworld Patrick Evans
- Dad Man Walking Toby Morris
- Bloody Woman Lana Lopesi
The Disinvent Movement Susanna Gendall
Cover design: Sarah Wilkins
Party Legend Sam Duckor-Jones
Cover illustration: Arrangement, Mel Odom, 1979
- Cover Story Steve Braunias
Some covers just feel like they are moving.
Loop tracks Sue Orr
Cover: Greg Simpson
- Falling into Rarohenga Steph Matuku
- Where we swim Ingrid Horrocks
- Year's best Aotearoa science fiction and fantasy volume 3 edited by Marie Hodgkinson
COLOUR & PATTERN
Some bold and more subtle paletted beauties. Chef's kiss to that yummy multicoloured dollop of paint on the cover of Out There and the rowdy 70s wallpaper on Everything Changes. The refined pinks on Greta & Valdin and Dressed are eyecatching too.
- Hellzapoppin' The art of Flying Nun Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū
- Out Here: An anthology of Takatāpui and LGBTQIA+ writers from Aotearoa Edited by Chris Tse and Emma Barnes
- Everything changes Stephanie Johnson
- A Clear Dawn: New Asian voices from Aotearoa New Zealand edited by Paula Morris and Alison Wong
Greta and Valdin Rebecca K. Reilly
Cover design: Sarah Wilkins
- Dressed: Fashionable Dress in Aotearoa New Zealand 1840 to 1910 Claire Regnault
Three views of Rita Angus.
- Rita Angus: New Zealand Modernist Ringatoi Hou O Aotearoa Lizzie Bisley
- Meeting Rita Jenny Powell
- Rita Angus: An artist's life Jill Trevelyan
Best book covers of 2022?
More best book covers
- Literary Hub best book covers
- The Best Book Covers of 2021 Book Riot
- Best book covers of 2021 The Washington Post
- For more on local book covers and design, see the PANZ Book Design Awards
Best book covers of previous years
- Best book covers of 2020
- Best book covers of 2019
- Best book covers of 2018
- Best book covers of 2017
- Best book covers of 2016
- Best book covers of 2015
- Best book covers of 2014
- Best book covers of 2013
- The colourful book covers of 2012
- Best book covers of 2012 - New Zealand's finest