We’ve all heard the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover.” While those are wise words to go by, it’s fair to assume that every reader has picked up at least one book due to its striking cover. The artwork itself may be beautiful, but the font of the title itself tends to work alongside the cover to perpetuate the tone and general feeling of the content inside. There are plenty of exceptional fonts for all sorts of book covers, but these 21 work particularly well.
The Master & Margarita
This novel, written in the 1930s, yet published in 1966, is a devastating satire of Russian life at the time. It weaves two distinct yet connected stories that follow the Devil and his retinue of a witch and talking black cat. The font used is reminiscent of fantasy in the flowing tails of various letters, harking to the magical realism of the novel. However, it has stark lines and angles that suggest the same air as the early 20th-century aristocracy.
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No Longer Human
Few other fonts could fit Osamu Dazai’s No Longer Human so well. This absurdist novel follows the unreliable narrator Oba Yozo and his experience of living among humans while not feeling like one himself. The cover features a somewhat misshapen, yet still recognizably human silhouette. This is perfect to emulate the apathetic feelings that Yozo felt regarding his own humanity. Further, this extends to the font of the title, decorated with strange angles, atypical proportions, and other abnormal marks. Accordingly, this sets it apart from a normal font, much like how Yozo feels set apart from other humans.
Last Argument of Kings
by Joe Abercrombie
The entirety of Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy uses this font for its covers. Yet, Last Argument of Kings, the finale, really sets the tone for the series as a dark, noir fantasy series with brutal conspiracies and morally grey distinctions between heroes and villains. This ornate font can easily be recognized as something synonymous with medieval fantasy as it looks like something that might’ve adorned a treaty between warring kingdoms. This coupled with the burned, bloodstained page of the cover drenches the book in a solemn timbre.
Marsden Condensed Bold
Burn This Book
edited by Toni Morrison
Firstly, we absolutely do not want this book burned but Burn This Book has a simple yet very appropriate cover. This collection of essays discusses the power of words and censorship, and how literature often informs our views on both the world and ourselves. The simple font takes up the entire cover and focuses on the words themselves. Hence, it drives the idea home as even the title invokes opinions within the potential reader on the topic of censorship.
Lapidary 333 Roman
by Andrew Michael Hurley
The cover of The Loney perfectly represents the style of lonely horror present in the distant settlement it depicts. This novel follows Smith into a remote stretch of coastland with the same name as the novel during a pilgrimage with his church. Furthermore, the other inhabitants are unwelcoming. The font’s metamorphosis at the end accurately shows the folk horror explored. With a title that sounds similar to “lonely,” the font also evokes feelings of solitude as it sits on the dark empty cover.
Things Fall Apart
The font of this edition of Things Fall Apart is what really drew me to it. This first book in Achebe’s African Trilogy explores the African experience as European colonists appeared in the late 1800s, complete with political and religious assimilation perpetuated by the colonists. In addition, the font carries some weight to it, especially as the words themselves fall apart under the pressure.
P22 Da Vinci Forward
by Neil Gaiman
This playfully mysterious font well represents the creepy adventure told in its pages. As Coraline and her family move to a new home, she finds a small locked door with another, seemingly perfect world, hidden behind it. However, the comforts turn sinister as she realizes the other parents there want her to stay forever. The red font pops against the dark cover, and while it seems playful at first with inconsistent curves and loops, it can quickly become synonymous with a dark presence if put into the right context.
by Iasmin Omar Ata
The warped font for Mis(h)adra prepares readers for the style of this graphic novel. This novel follows college student Isaac as he struggles against his epilepsy, a fight that exhausts him in multiple ways. The starkly colored cover depicts binds around Isaac as he falls, depicting his struggles in the novel. Likewise, the font matches this, as its thin and gaunt lettering shows how spread thin Isaac is as he feels his epilepsy may be unbeatable.
Lord of Light
by Roger Zelazny
This is a classic in the science fiction genre. The cover and font attribute themselves to the bizarre and wonderful story of Sam and his rebellion against the futuristic Hindu gods. Thus, the excessive spirals of this font blend well with the abstract, surreal artwork on the cover which I’m sure has left readers in awe the same way the content has.
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Woven in Moonlight
by Isabel Ibañez
This cover sets the scene for the fantastical story inspired by Bolivian politics and history. The book follows Ximena, a member of the resistance against the usurper, Atoc, who also has the ability to weave thread from moonlight. The font, which already looks mystical, plays especially well on this fact as it looks like thread ornately woven from the night sky that takes up the top part of the cover.
Six of Crows
by Leigh Bardugo
One of the many books in the Grishaverse, Six of Crows follows a crew of outcasts led by Kaz Brekker as they attempt a heist that could make them all rich beyond their wildest dreams. Red, black, and grey is a great color scheme for the morally grey, noir world of the Russian-inspired Grishaverse. Consequently, the crow’s wing creating towers is an impressive effect. The font establishes itself as a fantasy novel with spirals and filagree, and the Steampunk-adjacent style adds to the author-identified genre of Tsarpunk.
Who Fears Death
by Nnedi Okorafor
Here’s a sci-fi fantasy novel set in post-nuclear-holocaust Africa, particularly in a region where the threat of genocide looms. The story follows Onyesonwu and her magical destiny to end the genocide of her people. Additionally, the cover is striking in the teary-eyed portrait, and the font attributes to the dystopian sci-fi genre in its geometric design and dots.
Something Wicked This Way Comes
by Ray Bradbury
A darkly fantastic novel about Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show, a horror-filled carnival. I’m fond of the simplicity of this cover, the red and gold accents are betrayed by the dark font. Meanwhile, It very much looks like a carnival or circus poster, and the sharp serifs on the lettering give a sinister air to the novel.
The Complete Novels of Jane Austen
By Jane Austen
The Complete Novels of Jane Austen is a hefty book running at more than 1200 pages but includes all of her classic, timeless works. Another very simple yet very fitting cover, the flower arrangement, and filigree at the bottom embody the charm and wit of Austen’s novels, and the font aids the cover in this. The font, like the cover, is simple yet sure in its presentation.
by Bram Stoker
One of the most famous novels of Gothic Horror, Dracula is a must-read for any horror fan, and few covers could perpetuate the Gothic aesthetic as well as this one. An epistolary novel that follows various protagonists, eventually landing on Professor Van Hellsing and his quest to vanquish Dracula. The black-on-red is naturally sinister and regal in nature. Furthermore, the sharply pointed font, in conjunction with the sharp foliage and dripping blood of the cover, makes it a Gothic classic.
I Will Rot Without You
by Danger Slater
A love story and an eerie foray into Bizarro Fiction about Ernie, whose life is falling apart, and his grotesque love story with his new neighbor Dee. The anatomy and rot-focused book cover, accented with bloodstains, is great to prepare the reader for the aberrant imagery in its pages. The font couples this, as it truly does look like it was written in blood.
by Cherie Priest
This steampunk fiction novel takes place in the walled-off wasteland of Seattle, full of undead and “inexplicable” monsters. Additionally, the novel also has commentary on human greed, as a leading force in the Clockwork Century series is the prospect of gold. The cover of this book looks akin to an old poster with grey and brown overtones. The font, however, is what really sets the time period of the late 19th century to the early 20th century, especially with how it curves so subtly yet dramatically.
by Nikolai Gogol
A satirical tale that follows conniving anti-hero Chichikov as he travels through the Russian countryside, collecting the names, or souls, of serfs off of landowners. The cover, which depicts vague, mannequin-like figures, speaks more of the philosophical meaning in the novel that comments on 19th-century Russian aristocratic view of peasants. Consequently, the font, with its disconnected, almost bubble letters, hints at the satire and scheming that is at the center of the story.
Gods of Want: Stories
by K-Ming Chang
A collection of short stories centered around the experiences of Asian American women mixed with myth. The cover depicts a nine-headed phoenix (potentially a Fenghuang) from a folkloric bestiary from Chinese history, but it has extra some extra red flames that also adorn the font. Accordingly, the font looks similar to East Asian calligraphy, matching the beautiful cover art.
Bleecker Street NF
A Wizard of Earthsea
by Ursula K. Le Guin
This is a classic both in high fantasy and the wizarding school genre, as protagonist Sparrowhawk begins his journey to harness magical words of power. The cover depicts a seafaring adventure with a strange cloud of energy ahead, which looks like typical yet memorable fantasy art. The font of this cover stood out to me, and I could easily imagine the style adorning the walls and books of a magical building and its tomes.
Dreame Patter Caps
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
by James Joyce
James Joyce’s first novel is both a self-portrait of himself and the story of young Stephen Daedalus’ religious and intellectual awakening through art. The cover depicts a monochrome figure and landscape gazing up at a colorful sky. This represents the self-exploration of Stephen. The font is playful and intentional, and coincidentally enough has the word “Dream” in its title. Very fitting for the dreamlike clouds on the cover.
There are so many beautiful and well-fitting book covers and fonts. Still, we hope you enjoyed this list!
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