Mark's Top 10 Book Covers

Book design is a big deal for me. It’s also a big deal for the staff here at Brazos; on any given day you may hear us discussing (or arguing) over the pros and cons of this or that specific book cover. To me, one of the most vital aspects of a book is its cover. Think about it: it’s the sole visual cue a reader is given when reading--there’s nothing else. If you’re reading Don Quixote or War and Peace or Beloved, you’re given one single image for the book: the cover.

My criteria for what makes a great book design is arbitrary. Sometimes I’m not sure why I like a particular book cover and design, it just works. I do know what I don’t like: I don’t like covers which are too literal. I dislike covers that follow trends or are beholden to the zeitgeist, including what’s popular in graphic design. A lot of bestselling books these days look like bags of Skittles, fractured colors or shards of stained glass, all with the same big font. If you buy books or spent time around books, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

In any case, below are my favorite book covers of the past year.

Staff Pick Badge
Jawbone By Mónica Ojeda, Sarah Booker (Translator) Cover Image
By Mónica Ojeda, Sarah Booker (Translator)
$16.95
ISBN: 9781566896214
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - February 8th, 2022

I saw this cover months before the book was published and was in awe. I thought there was no way the novel itself could equal the design. I was wrong. A dark, visceral, masterpiece about youth, trauma, ritual, and horror. The cover speaks for the book without giving anything away.


The Famous Magician (Storybook ND Series) By César Aira, Chris Andrews (Translated by) Cover Image
By César Aira, Chris Andrews (Translated by)
$17.95
ISBN: 9780811228893
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions - September 27th, 2022

Strange, abstract, colorful, like all of Cesar Aira’s fantastical and philosophical stories. The cover perfectly encapsulates the story in unspoken ways. I also love the vibrant colors.


Yesterday By Juan Emar, Megan McDowell (Translated by), Alejandro Zambra (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Juan Emar, Megan McDowell (Translated by), Alejandro Zambra (Introduction by)
$14.95
ISBN: 9780811231572
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions - April 5th, 2022

This cover of this slim Latin American classic (in English for the first time) is dazzling in its simplicity. The cover art references a scene in the book and I’ll leave it at that. Strange, eye-catching, and seemingly effortless.


Nights of Plague: A novel By Orhan Pamuk, Ekin Oklap (Translated by) Cover Image
By Orhan Pamuk, Ekin Oklap (Translated by)
$34.00
ISBN: 9780525656890
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Knopf - October 4th, 2022

I have not yet read this book, however the cover is stunning. The right half encroached by darkness, symbolizing a plague, is clever and effective. A striking and original cover.


Staff Pick Badge
A Horse at Night: On Writing By Amina Cain Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781948980135
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dorothy, a publishing project - October 11th, 2022

There’s a reference to the cover image in Amina Cain’s wonderful book, a quiet, profound love letter to reading, writing and books. Much like the cover, there’s something thoughtful, timeless, and reassuring about the design. Lovely and a bit mysterious.


Valleyesque: Stories By Fernando A. Flores Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780374604134
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: MCD x FSG Originals - May 3rd, 2022

Like the stories in Fernando’s collection, there’s an abstract and surreal game at play. I love this cover and all the imagery that feels akin to a work by Salvador Dali replete with a smirk.


Staff Pick Badge
If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English: A Novel By Noor Naga Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781644450819
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - April 12th, 2022

I love the blend of old photos or artwork with contemporary fonts. The coloring of the letters stands in lovely contrast to the painting.


I Will Die in a Foreign Land By Kalani Pickhart Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781953387080
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Two Dollar Radio - October 19th, 2021

I mean what a cover! Great title, great design and marvelous novel.


New and Selected Stories By Cristina Rivera Garza, Sarah Booker (Translated by), Lisa Dillman (Translated by), Francisca González Arias (Translated by), Alex Ross (Translated by) Cover Image
By Cristina Rivera Garza, Sarah Booker (Translated by), Lisa Dillman (Translated by), Francisca González Arias (Translated by), Alex Ross (Translated by)
$16.00
ISBN: 9781948980098
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dorothy, a publishing project - April 12th, 2022

It’s a given that any book by Rivera Garza will be incredible; this one covers decades of her short stories, the reader invited into an exciting and vibrant range of a singular talent. The cover is absolutely stunning. A photograph with an explosion of red from a scarf or a sheet.


Carnality: A Novel By Lina Wolff, Frank Perry (Translated by) Cover Image
By Lina Wolff, Frank Perry (Translated by)
$17.99
ISBN: 9781635420746
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Other Press - July 19th, 2022

I’m an enormous fan of Lina Wolff and her new book is no exception. Dark, literary, and a psychological page-turner. The cover alludes to the story without giving anything away.


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