Apparently a hot debate raged within independent publishing house Canongate’s offices while picking their favourite 2015 book covers. But the effort was worth it, as Canongate's art department recently tweeted a whittled-down list of the year’s illustrative wonders to only the sharply designed very best.
Here we've collected the 10 for you to look through – which include books by the likes of Michael Faber and Simon Garfield designed and illustrated by the likes of Jonathan Gray and Yehrin Tong. We also chatted to Canongate art director Rafi Romaya about the selection.
Beatlebone by Kevin Barry
Rafi was inspired the “timeless beauty” of designer Alvin Lustig’s work for her book cover design. If anything will prove to be as enduring as Lustig's conceptions, why not Romaya’s surreal, alluring imagining of Beatlebone’s Ireland?
“The abstract cover depicts the island as a creative, magical land floating in a slate grey abyss,” said Rafi. “It has a sadness but also a beauty that reflects the journey you're about to encounter.”
The Book of Strange New Things (dual paperback editions) by Michael Faber
After winning a V&A Book Cover Illustration Award for their hardback design of The Book of Strange New Things, illustrator Yehrin Tong and Rafi Romaya teamed up again – wisely so, judging by their results.
“We echo the look and feel [of the hardback edition], but depict the relationship between the two main characters,” said Rafi. “The use of copper and silver foil on deep blue backgrounds lends the covers an ornate feel reminiscent of old Biblical paintings.”
"When the books are placed facing each other," continues Rafi "Peter and Bea appear to be poignantly gazing at each other from a distance."
Pereira Maintains by Antonio Tabucchi
Canongate didn’t need to search far for the cover designer of Antonio Tabucchi’s riveting international bestseller - in-house Christopher Gale would do the job. Simple, striking and nostalgic, Christopher’s design leaves us glad Canongate looked no further to tell the Portugese love story.
Fup by Jim Dodge
Jim Dodge’s curious 1983 novella is suited to any bloodthirsty fan of oblivion, and every sinister stroke of Harry Horse’s – aka The Scotsman political cartoonist Richard Horne – original illustration shines in this Canongate reprint.
The Honours by Tim Clare
Canongate’s creative bunch do themselves proud again. War looms in Tim Clare’s novel, but so does the hope of fantasy. Pete Adlington’s two-tonal stark, mysterious design holds the key to both extremes.
Muriel Spark (series reissue)
However timeless Muriel Spark’s prose is, Pete Adlington’s twist on the 1950s illustration gives it a twentieth century gleam. What more reason do you need to revisit Spark’s tickling wit?
A Notable Woman by Jean Lucey Pratt
Simon Garfield’s edited diary of ordinary woman Jean Lucey Pratt enchanted ordinary folk everywhere. Designer Neil Gower and art director Pete Adlington’s type is elegantly beautiful, yet still reminiscent of a diary scrawl, with its definitive personal touch.
A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig
After weeks of eating mince pies non-stop, the idea of Christmas might make you cringe. Believe in magic again with the charms of Matt Haig’s novel, and delightful illustration by Chris Mouldink, teaming up with art director Rafi Romaya.
The Seed Collectors by Scarlett Thomas
Some say he’s already book designer of the decade. Fun, bright and alive, Jonathan Gray’s cover design for the extravagant The Seed Collectors is another deserved jewel on heavy-laden crown.
One Moonlit Night by Caradog Prichard
Christopher Gale’s cover is immediately reminiscent of One Moonlit Night, Winner of the Greatest Welsh Novel: with its innocent type over a darkening Welsh village, it brews the fear only children can feel confronted with the grown-up world.