Cover story

Penguin’s Art Department chooses 5 favourite book covers of 2016

We asked our designers to tell us about their favourite book covers and the reasons why they are special

1971: Never a Dull Moment by David Hepworth

The temptation, when working on a book like this, is to do a historical pastiche with lots of cheesy, psychedelic type over halftone photographs of guitars and records. But rather than creating an artefact from the past, this design tries to reflect that time whilst sitting resolutely in the present.

The spirit of the book is that this year of seminal albums marked the beginning of a new age in music, so the jacket tries to capture that feeling of freshness and excitement with its bold type and bright pantone colour. The font, Budmo Solid, is anachronistic but captures the spirit of the era and is customised to reflect the handmade type common for the time. 

The photograph of a dull-looking moment in the summer of ’71 (for Anita Pallenberg, Keith Richards, Gram Parsons and Gretchen Burrell) is an amusing contrast to the subtitle and is part of an iconic series images of The Rolling Stones shot by Dominique Tarle.  

Richard Shailer, Deputy Art Director


The Comet Seekers by Helen Sedgwick

This jacket catches your eye with its beautiful, delicate stitching; it’s clear that it has been painstakingly created. The Bayeux Tapestry plays a significant part in the story so embroidery was the perfect medium for the jacket design. Chloe Giordano’s needlework shows the protagonist François and his mother beneath a sky full of celestial activity; capturing the magical, heart-breaking tone of the novel.

The comets on the jacket are inspired by old astronomical diagrams, including Halley’s Comet which appears throughout the story. They hint at the epic scope of the novel and how it jumps back and forth in time. We love how the endpapers add to this beautiful package, with a vintage Comet print from an old Atlas of Astronomy in a vivid blue that complements the jacket perfectly.

Julia Connolly, Senior Designer



Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

The first thing that immediately draws my attention to this book are the bold and striking colours. The cold blue and purple play really well with the warmer hues of the yellow and orange, allowing the white title to pop from the design.

I love the way the typography and illustration marry both physically and symbolically. The word 'Fates' is tied in with the ornate roses conveying a sense of hope, beauty and life, whereas the word Furies intertwines with the sharp, prickly thorns, hinting at a darker side to the book. This cover just keeps on giving. As soon as you begin reading the story of what lurks beneath the veneer of a seemingly perfect marriage, you realise just how genius the rose and thorns motif is.

Melissa Four, Senior Designer


My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

The beauty of this cover lies in its simplicity. The artwork features a simple line illustration and elegant serif text with thoughtful use of negative space. The result is a stark, literary look that reflects Strout’s writing style perfectly.

The imagery of a chair by a window also serves to represent the narrative, which is from the perspective of a woman recovering in hospital and often left alone with her thoughts. The quarter binding is reminiscent of literary classics, but the limited colour palette and unusual alignment of the title give this cover a classy, contemporary twist. 

Jessica Hart, Junior Designer


The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

My favourite book cover over the past year needed to be something that I stumbled across, admired and remembered. Secondly it needed to be more than a beautiful thing – it needed to have a unique concept that aligns seamlessly with the book. The cover for this edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit has both. Published to celebrate what would have been Beatrix Potter’s 150th birthday, it’s part of a series of five classics re-designed by five British fashion designers.

The Cats Brothers began by imagining what Peter Rabbit would be like today. They say ‘he’d be naughty, streetwise and incredibly cool’. Hence his classic blue jacket is now a trendy denim jacket with hand-embroidered vegetable patches. You can feel the raised stitching when you hold the book and the luxurious flat back spine is designed in denim. I love the page edges sprayed in a deep grey and the endpaper design reflecting the lining of Peter’s cool new jacket. 

Dominica Clements, Senior Designer Fiction


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