Thursday, July 13, 2006


Memphis Reads' regulars know that reviewer Beth uses cover art to help her pick the best books to read. Whether browsing the shelves of the Highland Branch Library for a good weekend-read or looking for something to help pass the time at the doctor's office, she loves thrillers and their eye-catching covers. Beth poses the latest Memphis Reads Question and looks forward to reading your comments:

It is common knowledge that many people are visual learners. Stores display items to be visually appealing. This concept is applied to book covers as well.

What books have the most appealing covers?

Points you might wish to consider:

Remember: there's no "right" way to answer a Memphis Reads Question. They're designed to get conversations started. Have fun and check back often--we will post some of your favorite covers below.

Beth, Highland Branch Library

It's never too late to comment on a previous Memphis Reads Question:
What Characters Have Been Unforgettable?
What Makes A Book Unputdownable?
Here are some of your favorites:


I spoke of Killer Dreams cover art, but I haven't spoken of what draws me to a book. I prefer bright bold reds, blues, oranges.... However I am turned off by yellows--both bold and soft! I like to be able to read the title clearly from a couple feet away. The picture should entice me to pick it up. Good (new) examples of this are: Lights Out Tonight by Mary Jane Clark, One Mississippi by Mark Childress and Fortunate Son by Walter Mosley. These are some on the titles that caught my eye just this morning. (I'll try and let you know how they are)
I like book covers with detailed illustrations that offer clues about the characters and plot or that suggest historical, fantastical or other interesting settings.

Although I have been looking forward to Beth’s posting of this question, I feel a bit unsure about my answer. My concern is that I lack the vocabulary (about art) to do justice to Douglas Smith’s cover illustration of WICKED by Gregory Maguire.

The central character is Elphaba, the notorious Wicked Witch of the West. Smith’s depiction reveals that she’s not so wicked after all—she lovingly embraces a small monkey while a wolf and a cat huddle nearby. In fact, Elphaba is an animal rights activist. Her tragic fate, as first imagined by Oz’s creator L. Frank Baum, comes about because she has difficulty sustaining relationships with people. Her green skin may have frightened her mother, but her wit and intelligence are among the traits that eventually attract a small group of friends and even a lover. But, Elphaba CHOOSES to remain separated from the rest of society and her fight against the “Wizard” is almost comical because she is such a poor wizard herself (in school, she had been more interested in science than wizardry).
More about WiCkeD:

1. The first thing to note is that the cover is actually a book flap. It reminds me of a children's book. You first encounter a drawing of the witch only to open the flap to reveal the full illustration.

2. The illustration itself looks like a woodcut. I have been searching the internet and the Library's Databases for more information. I will report back if I learn more.

3. Have you noticed the graphic art for Broadway Show? Nice, but I prefer the book's illustration.
I think appealing cover art depends on the genre of the books. I wouldn't pick up a mystery with a pink cover and cartoon daises on the front. But if I wanted a light read that might be an appealing cover.

I find I'm most attracted to bright colors, with clean designs. The title and author's name need to be clearly evident on the spine and the cover. I like aesthetically pleasing covers, too. I want them balanced and not busy. Simple covers are best, IMO.

Cover art can also date a book. I think that's part of the appeal of simple, modern styled covers. If a book has this style of cover I assume it has been published (or even re-released) recently and is up-to-date.

Kam McHugh
They say you can't judge a book by it's cover, but that's just wrong. The marketing whizzes who commission book covers are reader's advisory geniuses. Each cover is brilliantly designed to appeal to the type of person who would like to read that particular book. Don't like thrillers? You won't pick up a volume with metallic type,or too much red-and-black. Love quirky,intellectual fiction with an arty slant? You'll be irresistably drawn to cover photos in which the human subject's head is cut-off by the edge of the frame. Gentle reads have gentle palettes, African-American fiction readers look for hot, tropical colors. If you can't get enough urban fiction, look for the edgy, graffiti-look artwork. It amazes me how perfectly each cover works to attract the right reader to the right book. Whether cover art is beautiful or ugly, high-brow or low-rent, every cover works to connect books with people.
Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?