We’ve shared some of our favorite book covers with you before, but this time we’re changing things up a bit. Like many (though not all!) of our readers, we’re from the United States – but there’s much more to book covers than just what we see here in our home country.
For this list, we’re diving into the wonderful world of international book covers. Here are a few great ones that we found for our favorite novels. Add your own in the comments!
This bold cover lets Ian McEwan’s title stand on its own against a black background. The use of orange and blue is a very cool nod to the setting – those are the colors of the old Prince’s Flag of the Netherlands, as well as those of the current flag of the Royal Family. This cover was designed for the Belgian edition.
Cormac McCarthy’s books have all gotten cool text-heavy treatments from his UK publisher. In each cover, the text dominates and the font recalls the (usually Southwestern) setting of his work. We’re particularly into this cover for Blood Meridian, which uses a sinister carnival-esque font to hint at the disturbing stuff that goes on between the covers.
Noma Bar is a UK-based illustrator who was born in Israel. She’s done a series of covers for Don DeLillo’s UK releases, the highlight of which is the Falling Man cover above. Bar’s cover manages to be minimalist, disturbing, and intelligent all at the same time.
The UK’s latest edition of Thomas Pynchon’s masterwork, Gravity’s Rainbow, has a near-perfect cover. The bombs relate to the plot of the text, while the colors, of course, represent the rainbow. The vertical title seems to fall like a bomb itself.
The sharp edges and crisp lines of this Swedish cover really contrast with the soft edges of the US cover art. For the final book, we think that crispness really works. Harry’s iconic font, of course, is still present.
The U.S. cover of Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn really focuses on the noir and mystery aspect of the story. The French cover focuses instead on the relationship between the main characters. It’s a wise trade-off: we think the French cover works much better.
We’re not sure if this German cover of On the Road is beautiful or hideous, but we like the way it captures the mad spirit of the book. This edition is from the German publisher Rowohlt. It came 1959, a couple of years after the book was published in the US.
The title essay in David Foster Wallace’s nonfiction collection A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again is about his trip aboard a cruise ship. The German cover of the collection runs with that idea, using the cruise ship’s imposing form at the bottom of the design. Wallace’s writing is so sprawling and intimidating that most cover designers have shied away from using concrete images for his work, so it’s nice to see something familiar on this one.
This is a pretty polarizing cover for some fans, and the UK has since switched to the more recognizable (and more well-branded) US cover style. But we think there’s something kind of haunting about this original UK cover. Editions with this cover are hard to find now, so if you have one, treasure it!
The best part about researching this piece was the science fiction and fantasy covers, because some of the foreign artists got so inventive with the images from the books. But this fairly minimalist Lithuanian cover for H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds stuck out from the crowd of tentacles and lasers because of its simple but evocative design.
Stephen Lovely, writer