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        50 Timeless and Unforgettable Book Covers of All Time

        • calenderNov 28, 2023
        • calender 12 min read

        While the famous saying goes “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, how can we ignore when the best book covers entice us with their amazing colors, patterns, and magnetic displays? We automatically pick up the book wanting to know more about it. Beautiful book covers have been attracting readers and book enthusiasts for years and years. 

        Bestseller novels and books like The Da Vinci Code and The Alchemist are also known for their famous book covers. The fantastic storylines, powerful elements, and themes depicted on the covers are the things that make a book unforgettable. In this article, we have compiled a list of 50 best book covers of all time from different eras and genres.

        1. Pride and Prejudice (The Peacock Edition)

        By Jane AustenPride and Prejudice book cover.

        The beautiful peacock feathers all across the cover look very enchanting. Illustrated by Hugh Thomson, this cover is one of the many popular book covers designed for this book. The peacock can be seen admiring his flock of feathers proudly. This edition of the book was published in 1894.




        2. A Clockwork Orange

        Clockwork Orange Book CoverBy Anthony Burgess

        Published in 1962, this book cover announces the movie tie-up with the book. Penguin UK’s first edition of the novel introduced the iconic ‘cog-eyed droog’ book cover, which has since become a widely recognized and famous design. The designer did a clever thing by using a cog as an eye, which cleverly connects to both clockwork and the main character Alex. It went on to become one of the best book covers of all time.



        3. The Grapes of Wrath

        The Grapes of Wrath 1939By John Steinbeck

        The cover of this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel depicts the main characters of the story, the Joad family, and how they have to leave their home in search of work. The book cover design showcases themes of the novel like human dignity, injustice, and the strength of community. The cover also represents the challenging times of the Great Depression.



        4. American Psycho

        American Psycho Book CoverBy Bret Easton Ellis

        The book cover art of this 1991-published book was based on a painting by American illustrator and artist Marshall Arisman, who made the book cover himself. The cover is a haunting representation of Patrick Bateman who is shown without eyes, also depicting a lack of conscience.



        5. Brave New World

        Brave New World Book CoverBy Aldous Huxley

        A dystopian novel published in 1932, the story is based on a world where people live in a superficial state of happiness. Being one of the best book cover designs, it portrays the aspects of dystopia and technology in the storyline. A peculiar globe can be seen on the cover to represent the futuristic world written in the book.



        6. Animorphs – The Stranger

        Animorphs Book CoverBy K. A. Applegate

        This well-known fantasy series revolves around 5 humans, the Animorphs, who can turn into any animal they touch. David Mattingly, the artist behind Animorph book covers used a special editing software from the early ’90s, Elastic Reality, to transform children into animals to make captivating book cover art.  


        7. Fahrenheit 451

        Fahrenheit book coverBy Ray Bradbury

        The first cover of this novel published in 1953 was illustrated by Joseph Mugnaini. The cover shows the main character, Guy Montag who burns down houses in which books have been found as a job. The book cover symbolizes fire and paper which are prevailing elements of the story.



        8. When You Are Engulfed in Flames

        When You Are Engulfed in Flames book coverBy David Sedaris

        The cover shows a literal skeleton smoking a cigarette. It represents the title that comes from a tourist advice card, author Sedaris discovers in Japan, where he’d gone to quit smoking. The first-edition cover was designed by Chip Kidd and features a painting by Vincent van Gogh.



        9. Face of an Angel

        Face of an Angel book coverBy Dorothy Eden

        The story follows a young woman who moves into an old mansion and discovers its dark and eerie secrets. The themes of this story are exceptionally showcased on the book cover in a gothic lady with a scary backdrop. 




        10. The Catcher in the Rye

        The Catcher in the Rye first edition book coverBy J. D. Salinger

        Illustrated by the author’s friend, E. Michael Mitchell, this iconic cover prominently showcases a horse image. It directs the reader’s focus to the significant symbolism of horses woven throughout the novel. 




        Need an impressive book cover? We can help!

        11. The Divine Comedy

        Divine Comedy book coverBy Dante Alighieri

        This appealing book cover signifies Dante’s travels through hell, purgatory, and paradise in an alluring manner. The visuals of hellfire, souls, and free birds very clearly show the three elements. The cover indicates the theme of the poetry within. 




        12. Psycho

        Psycho book coverBy Robert Bloch

        Famous book covers having minimalistic typography are not very common. The cover design of this book by Tony Palladino justifies the horror theme of the book through the distressed texture and ‘cut in the middle’ typography.




        13. Frankenstein

        Frankenstein book coverBy Mary Shelley

        Frankenstein has many iconic book covers. One of the best book cover designs is this cover which shows gothic and dark aesthetics featuring the famous monster representing the eerie tone of the book. The scene shows how the monster that Frankenstein created killed his wife. 



        14. The Great Gatsby

        The Great Gatsby book coverBy F. Scott Fitzgerald

        This cover features the painting of a face floating above New York City lights by the artist Francis Cugat is one of the most celebrated and best book covers in literature. Gatsby’s misplaced idealism is represented by the renowned green light shown in the form of a descending tear.



        15. The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry

        Psychopath Test book coverBy Jon Ronson

        The cover of this 2011-published book depicts the core of the book which is based on the experiment devised to test psychopathic behavior and how the brain works immaculately.




        16. Night Shift

        Night Shift book coverBy Stephen King

        The eerie cover of this book which is a compilation of horror short stories, embraces the book’s scary and unsettling theme. The cover makes it clear to the reader that they are about to embark on a journey into the supernatural and unknown.




        17. River Sing Me Home

        River Sing Me Home book coverBy Eleanor Shearer

        Extremely pretty book covers that make us want to know more about the book are not seen very often. This book cover has beautiful hues of orange, blue, and red with a woman’s silhouette representing the main character of the story, Rachel. Around her are birds, representing freedom, adding a layer of dynamism to the cover.



        18. Invisible Man

        The Invisible Man book coverBy Ralph Ellison

        The first edition of the book cover was designed by Edward McKnight Kauffer in 1952. The cover incorporates a man appearing to be in shadows and darkness while looking at something in the light. The scene depicts the theme of the book in which the main character, scientist Griffin has learned how to make himself invisible.



        19. A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea

        A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea book coverBy Dina Nayeri

        One of the most beautiful covers, it portrays the Earth and Sea in pictorial form as mentioned in the title. The female silhouette depicted as a cave or erosion through which the sea can be viewed is a fascinating representation of an Iranian girl who is the center of this story.



        20. A Princess of Mars

        A Princess of Mars book coverBy Edgar Rice Burroughs

        Frank Frazetta designed the captivating book cover of this science-fiction novel. The red backdrop and brown tones clearly show the setting of the planet Mars. Giant green creatures, a beautiful Martian princess, and the lead character John Carter, direct the readers toward the undeniably interesting plot of this book.


        21. The Unbearable Lightness of Being

        The Unbearable Lightness of Being book coverBy Milan Kundera

        This cover has all the qualities, great book covers have. The philosophical themes, play of light and shadow and the hat picked up in the air evoke a sense of weightlessness or lightness in the viewers’ minds.




        22. The Godfather

        The Godfather book coverBy Mario Puzo

        If you know classic book covers, you surely have seen this cover designed by S. Neil Fujita. Fujita’s famous logo design, which portrays a puppeteer orchestrating events, from, behind the curtain resonates with the concluding moments leading up to the last scene. The cover depicts power and control.



        23. The Priory of the Orange Tree

        The Priory of the Orange Tree book coverBy Samantha Shannon

        The alluring elements of best fantasy book covers are incorporated into this cover designed by David Mann and illustrated by Ivan Belikov. The cover shows a beautifully designed orange tree imposed by a magnificent dragon displaying the power, magic, and fantasy in the story within. On the cover is a magnificent beast, the dragon Fyredel, who is a relevant part of the plot. 



        24. The Wealth of Nations

        Th Wealth of Nations book coverBy Adam Smith

        The simple, classic off-white aesthetics of this book cover make it signify the historical relevance of this book. The cover represents the Industrial Revolution that took place in 1750 -1760 in England. Illustrations of people doing manual work with gears on the cover symbolize the industrial processes and the industrial capitalist system. It’s a unique representation of Adam Smith’s ideas about markets, economy, and wealth.



        25. The Master and Margarita

        Master and Margarita book coverBy Mikhail Bulgakov

        One of the iconic book covers, this cover artistically displays the devil who, accompanied by a black cat comes to Moscow. The depiction tastefully showcases how the boundaries between the good and the evil are often blurred.  The illustrator of this 2016 cover was Christopher Conn Askew.



        26. The Maiden

        The Maiden book coverBy Kate Foster

        Based on a real-life case, The Maiden’s book cover has all the elements of beautiful book covers. Setting the historical thriller theme of the book, the backdrop with vines, plants, flowers and peacocks amidst the deep blue shade tells that the story might be more than what meets the eye. 




        27. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

        By J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and The Sorcerers Stone book cover

        One of the most famous book covers of all time, this cover is well-known by people of all ages. The cover reveals an iconic scene from the fictional book, Harry Potter playing Quidditch. Harry floating on the broomstick with Hogwarts in the background gives all the feels of magic, fantasy, mystery, and adventure to the readers.


        28. Intuition: Access your inner wisdom. Trust your instincts. Find your path.

         By Amisha Ghadiali Intuition book cover

        Tuning your inner self to develop your mental, emotional, and spiritual awareness is the theme comprehensible from the artistic and mindfully designed cover. Illustrated by Eiko Ojala, this book cover is an amalgamation of different shades of blue drawing out a woman’s silhouette. The cover has elements required to be the best book cover design. 


        29. Jaws

        By Peter Benchley Jaws book cover

        Designed by artist Paul Bacon, the original hardcover first came out in 1975. This legendary black-hued cover chills our spines. The unaware swimmer in dark water and the monster killer shark approaching silently are what nightmares are made of. 



        30. The Ghost Ship

        By Kate Mosse The Ghost Ship book cover

        Beautiful illustrations of the ship, dark blue colored background, and drawings of sea waves smoothly paint a picture of the aquatic setting of the story. The dark hues on the cover convey the piracy, mystery, and revenge themes in the book to the readers.



        31. The Handmaid’s Tale

        By Margaret Atwood The Hand Maids Tale book cover

        Very prominent in the story and covering half the book cover space, is a very tall wall. It stands out compared to the smaller human figures below. This strongly shows that the wall is impossible to overcome, representing how the handmaids are trapped both physically and mentally. This striking cover was published in 1986.



        32. Instructions for a Funeral

        By David Means Instructions for funeral book cover

        The coffin-shaped letter cover is more than enough to gain relevance with the title. A creative and genius way to show the short story with the same title in the book. When asked about the title, the author said that the story itself has nothing to do with the title.


        33. Jurassic Park

        By Michael Crichton  Jurassic Park book cover

        Designer Chip Kidd’s dream assignment, this iconic book cover tells its own story. Creating an atmosphere of thrill, fear, and awe, the book cover features a T-Rex Skeleton which points towards the narrative within the novel. The dark black skeleton and title of the book against the plain white background create a striking contrast.


        34. Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings

        By Jorge Luis Borges Labyrinths book cover

        The intricate and mysterious play of shadow and light on this iconic book cover is what makes the book, thought-provoking. The cover design displaying the labyrinthine patterns, is as enigmatic as the book itself. 




        35. Pineapple Street

        By Jenny Jackson Pineapple Street book cover

        The novel revolves around a family with old money, living in New York City. The fun and captivating, colorful illustrations on the cover take the readers on a ride to the vibrantly decorated household of the family in the story. 



        36. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

        By Maya Angelou I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings book cover

        A free bird flying in the sunrise hues gives a sense of freedom, exploration, and resilience which the novel follows. The different shades of red and yellow add depth to the design. This cover design showcases a symbolic representation.



        37. Get in Trouble

        By Kelly Link Get in Trouble book cover

        The cover art reflects the magical and extraordinary feel of Link’s short stories. It often shows a surreal image of an upside-down scene that suggests something unusual or otherworldly, pulling readers into the book’s world of unique and engaging stories.




        38. Goldfinch

        By Donna Tartt Goldfinch book cover

        Based on the original 1654 painting, The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius, this is one of the best book covers of all time. According to the story, the main character steals the painting and hides it in a paper. The cover visual distinctly shows a part of the painting which is visible through a small tear in the wrapped paper.



        39. The Performance

        By Claire Thomas The Performance book cover

        The Performance is a novel that explores the lives of three women who go to a theatre to see a play. The unique play of colors with the faces depicts the different shades of the women’s characters and the theatre reference is visible. It shows an abstract formalism.




        40. Children of Blood and Bone

        By Tomi Adeyemi The Children of Blood and Bone book cover

        The book presents a world of magic, power, and danger. Rich Deas designed the cover to reflect the resilience, beauty, and Black heritage of the main young character. The white hair symbolizes Maji, a citizen who can summon magical powers. The cover offers a sneak peek at important issues like racism, oppression, and inner strength. 



        41. Cat’s Eye

        By William W. Johnstone Cat's Eye book cover

        The creepy book cover by Richard Newton shows a cat’s face on a child’s body who is in the arms of a woman. The eerie cat-baby and its ferocious expression with the big green eyes send chills down our spines. It is quite evident from the cover that horror, supernatural, and thrill are the themes of this story.



        42. Ghost Forest

        Ghost Forest book cover By Pik-Shuen Fung 

        The soft colors and symbols used on the cover show the cultural influences in the book. The undrawn face also illuminates a sense of an incomplete identity. It’s a gentle but strong picture that brings you into the artist’s feelings, giving you a hint of the moving stories you’ll find inside the graphic novel.



        43. Winning Minds: Secrets From the Language of Leadership

        By Simon Lancaster Winning Minds book cover

        The brain is the most complicated organ of the human body. These intricate details of the brain are represented by a tangled ball of yarn. A hand pulling the string from this yarn is trying to unwind a mess and show the influence of neuroscience. 



        44. Despair

        By Vladimir Nabokov Despair book cover

        This strange book cover serves as a visual gateway into the unsettling, dark, and mysterious themes of the book. The uncanny image of a human body with a disfigured face attracts the reader’s attention quite quickly. The cover was designed by John Holmes who was known for his captivating style.



        45. Little Rivers: A Book of Essays in Profitable Idleness

        By Henry Van Dyke Little River book cover

        This cover falls into the pretty book covers category. The dark blue background and the beautiful natural elements like fireflies, vines, and flowers in golden and green embellishments are a reflection of the book’s essence.



        46. More Than This

        By Patrick Ness More Than This book cover

        The yellow door amidst the cross pattern in the background symbolizes the death of the main character. Surprisingly, yellow symbolizes death and the novel makes us think about what being alive means. This strikingly variable book cover piques the interest of the viewers.




        47. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

        By Gabrielle Zevin Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow book cover

        This book, written by the popular author Gabrielle Zevin, comes with a captivating book cover. The book’s title stands out on the cover in bright yellow, pink, and blue, giving a lively and optimistic feel. The vibrant background with a dynamic wave illustration perfectly represents the video game design base of the story. Also, the similarity in the font colors represents second chances.


        48. A Small Fortune

        By Rosie Dastgir Small Fortune book cover

        Designed by Nicole LaRoche in 2012, this book has a minimalistic book cover design. A beautiful, fresh shade of blue as the background, and a kettle pouring colorful drops of what can be deciphered as tea show the different shades of the human life depicted in the story.



        49. 1984

        By George Orwell 1984 book cover

        The mystical eye illustration in dark shadows and the use of black and red colors make it a bold display. The eye symbolizes the idea that “Big Brother is watching,” indicating how the government keeps an eye on citizens, watching their actions and words to avoid any political rebellion. Designed by Shepard Fairey, this book cover captures the essence of George Orwell’s dystopian classic.



        50. Flowers in the Attic

        By V.C. Andrews Flowers in the Attic book cover

        A house with a captivating girl, Cathy peering from an attic window, a striking image makes this one of the best covers of the book world. The scared expression on her gives us the sense of being trapped. This unsettling cover perfectly echoes the haunting and dark themes of the story and attracts readers. 



        We hope you are inspired by these book covers to make your own. Book cover design contains complex processes and an artistic vision which can be tricky. But if you need help in creating an enthralling cover for your book, professional self-publishing services are always there. 

        Here are some more resources that you might find useful: 

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        Tanvi Linkedin

        With a foundation in Life Sciences, Tanvi enjoys curating technical writing tips tailored for ESL students. When she's not translating complex concepts into bite-sized nuggets, she can be found playing with dogs or painting landscapes.

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