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New For You is a monthly selection of new books, topical titles, and hidden gems - chosen especially for you by our book buyers!
New For You is a monthly selection of new books, topical titles, and hidden gems - chosen especially for you by our book buyers!

Best book covers of 2022 – My pick of New Zealand’s finest

Kia ora to all you writers, publishers, and the designers, artists, photographers, and models who make the book covers of Aotearoa so enticing! I keep an eye out during the year for cool covers and flash-as book production, and 2022 kept me busy looking. This is the 10th Best Book Covers post, the first was back in 2012 when it was just a wall of good looking covers. 

Without further ado ...


Meat Lovers by Rebecca Hawkes
Published by Auckland University Press
Cover art by Rebecca Hawkes
Design by Duncan Munro

This one went straight to the pool room when I saw it back in April via the medium of Twitter. Meat Lovers is Rebecca's first collection of poetry is "hardcore pastoral".

And as the year progressed, it stuck with me. Why do I like it so much?

  • The fonts used are delicioso.
  • The colour scheme is a bit rank, a bit off. 
  • The psychedelic title font looks like MARBLED MEAT (the endpapers also have that marbled meat look).
  • The creepy sexy visceral artwork. So much to unpick in here: food containing body parts and carnivorous plants; face-melding figures on the cow IN RED BAND GUMBOOTS.
  • All this visual astonishment reflects the viscera-dripping poems it contains. 
  • And the bonus fact is this astonishing artwork was painted by the author Rebecca Hawkes. WOAH!

Rebecca had this to say about her work:

I collaborated with the lovely and patient designer Duncan Munro on the cover design. He introduced the shape of the frame and the fonts as a way to showcase my artwork in a cohesive cover, while I focused on illustrating a messy bestiary from the poems. I knew from the start I wanted to paint the imagery myself, if I could get away with it... and accurately advertise the lush gory sensuality of the poems. I wanted something quite psychedelic yet still structured, and Duncan was wonderful to work with to facilitate this.

Sophia from AUP reports:

The cover was a really satisfying collaboration between Rebecca and the designer, Duncan Munro, who pulled together all her references and touchpoints (heavy-metal-meets-art-nouveau-meets-grateful-dead-psychedelia-meets-nz-gothic) into one cohesive design. Rebecca then developed her amazing artwork within the structure of the template, and the whole thing bloomed from there.

Kia ora Rebecca, Duncan, and the team at Auckland University Press. Love your mahi!

Find out more about the creative process behind the cover

P.S. Rebecca's art is also on the cover of The year's best Aotearoa New Zealand science fiction and fantasy volume IV edited by Emily Brill-Holland. 


I'd also like to shout out for the dreamy cover designs of THW Classics  - bringing back works in their classic covers, putting the author front and centre, or playing with colour and pattern.  As usual, our friends at Te Herenga Waka University Press rule at publishing the best fiction, non-fiction, and poetry with jackets that are as sartorially stunning as the contents. 



Some of 2022 best books had the author or subject up front, to great effect - whether via photos or art like Coco Solid's How to loiter in a turf war - another example of a compelling book with a cover illustrated by the author. Talk about multi-talented!

Grand: Becoming my mother's daughter Noelle McCarthy
Bushline: a memoir Robbie Burton
Jim Anderton: His life and times David Grant
Straight up Ruby Tui
Downfall: The destruction of Charles Mackay Paul Diamond
How to loiter in a turf war Coco Solid
Activism, Feminism, Politics and Parliament Margaret Wilson
The Modern Singhs Abbey Singh
Raiment: A Memoir Jan Kemp
How to be a bad Muslim Mohamed Hassan
Indigenous women's voices: 20 Years on From Linda Tuhiwai Smith's Decolonizing Methodologies edited by tebrakunna country,  Jennifer Evans &  Emma Lee
Robin White: Something is happening here Sarah Farrar
A Gentle Radical: The life of Jeanette Fitzsimons Gareth Hughes
Here for a good time: Organised thoughts from a disorganised mind Chris Parker


Some covers played with the idea of faces. 

Notes on Womanhood: a conversation about gender and identity Sarah Jane Barnett
The Surgeon's Brain Oscar Upperton
Thief, Convict, Pirate, Wife: The Many Histories of Charlotte Badger Jennifer Ashton
Everyone is everyone except you Jordan Hamel


I am always a fan of popping colour and a nice use of a font. Boy, there were plenty of good examples in 2022. 


30 Queer lives: Conversations with LGBTQIA+ New Zealanders Matt McEvoy
New Zealand's Foreign Service: a history edited by Ian McGibbon
Finding calm: Managing fear and anxiety in an uncertain world Dr Sarb Johal
We are all made of Lightning Khadro Mohamed
Eddy, Eddy Kate De Goldi
Arms & Legs Chloe Lane
Jumping Sundays: The ruse and fall of counterculture in Aotearoa New Zealand Nick Bollinger
Na Viro Gina Cole
Home theatre Antony Lapwood
Super Model Minority Chris Tse, Design by Greg Simpson (@g.a.simpson)
Crude Common Denominator Pleb Trash Baseline Urge Ass Poetry:  Confessions From the Sick Bay Max and Olive
Museum Frances Samuel. This amazing paper cut cover is by Keely O'Shannessy
Cult trip: inside the world of coercion and control Anke Richter
Girls that invest Simran Kaur
Needs Adult Supervision Emily Writes
Touring Edwardian New Zealand Paul Moon
You sleep uphill David Merritt
Tauhou Kōtuku Titihuia Nuttall
Toi Tū, Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art edited by Nigel Borell


Three books that had the visual punch, inside and out. 

Rooms: Portraits of remarkable New Zealand interiors Jane Ussher
New Zealand gardens to visit Juliet Nicholas
Mountains, Volcanoes, Coast and Caves: Origins of Aotearoa New Zealand's Natural Wonders Bruce W. Hayward. With aerial photography by Alastair Jamieson and Lloyd Home


There are examples of stellar Māori work in all categories, but here are some gathered together that illustrate the stunning pukapuka published this year. 

Te Motunui Epa Rachel Buchanan
He reo tuku iho: Tangata Whenua and te reo Māori Awanui Te Huia
Ko Tāwhaki-nui-a-Hema : āna mahi whakahirahira Hirini Moko Mead ; nā Scott Pearson ngā pikitia
Māori moving images Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū. Features texts in te reo Māori and English by Maree Mills, Melanie Oliver, Bridget Reweti, Ariana Tikao, Nina Tonga and Matariki Williams, as well as interviews with several major artists.
Mokorua: Ngā Kōrero mō tōku moko kauae - My story of moko kauae Ariana Tikao, photos by Matt Claman and te reo Māori text by Ross Calman
Awatea rātou ko te kapa Kawa nā Fraser Smith ngā kōrero nā Piripi Walker i whakamāori.
Kāwai Monty Soutar
Ko Whetū toa me te tangata tūmatarau Steph Matuku nā Katharine Hall ngā pikitia ; nā Kararaina Uatuku i whakamāori.
Tiare Tangaroa me te Taipō Moana nā T.K. Roxborogh nā kōrero ; nā Phoebe Morris ngā pikitia ; nā Kanapu Rangitauira i whakamāori.


There are poetry books in most of the other categories too, but here are some gathered to prove again what I've known for year - poetry covers stand out. 

People Person Joanna Cho
Another beautiful day indoors Erik Kennedy
The Tip Shop James Brown
The Stupefying Nick Ascroft (Cover image: Deal makers by Kushana Bush, 2019)
The wandering nature of us girls Frankie McMillan
Anomalia Cadence Chung
Always italicise: How to write while colonised Alice Te Punga Somerville


Plenty of lovely covers for all ages. 

Lost in the Museum Victoria Cleal, illustrated by Isobel Joy Te Aho-White
Crane Guy Sally Sutton, illustrated by Sarah Wilkins
Amorangi and Millie's trip through time Lauren Keenan
Faraway girl Fleur Beale
Masher Fifi Colston
Sylvia and the birds : how the bird lady saved thousands of birds, and how you can too!  Johanna Emeney & Sarah Laing, illustrated by Sarah Laing


And here are some more that I've admired in 2022. 

Beats of the Pa'u Maria Samuela
Slow down, you're here Brannavan Gnanalingam
Dogs in early New Zealand photographs
Tarquin the Honest: The Hand of Glodd Gareth Ward
How to get a girlfriend when you are a terrifying monster Marie Cardno (cover by Layahimalaya)

On my radar for 2023

There are good covers for 2023 in the offing. Here are four that have caught my eye. 

Past Lives by Leah Dodd
Cover: Charles Edward Perugini, The Goldfish Bowl, oil on canvas, c. 1870
Published by Te Herenga Waka University Press
Find out more

Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton
Cover design: Jon Gray
Published by Te Herenga Waka University Press
Find out more

Lioness by Emily Perkins
Published by Bloomsbury
Find out more

Ruin and other stories by Emma Hislop
Published by Te Herenga Waka University Press
Cover art: Maiangi Waitai ‘When pushed pull’ 2015
Find out more

More best book covers

Best book covers of previous years

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