Cover Trend Alert: Winding Curves

I’ve been mentally filing away the winding roads and coiling snakes of these eye-catching covers for a while now, and some of my recent favorites include The Hike (2016), The Essex Serpent (2016), The Bear and the Nightingale (2017), The World Is a Narrow Bridge (2018), and Once upon a River (2018). When I started trying to compile a longer list, I found it wasn’t too tall a task, perhaps because many stories are fundamentally about journeys, and what clearer way to convey that visually than a circuitous path? In any case, here’s my roundup of the curviest, swerviest spirals and turns from the last few years of book publishing.

The curves on Aaron Thier’s star-reviewed The World Is a Narrow Bridge, David James Poissant’s short fiction collection The Heaven Animals, and Sarah Perry’s star-reviewed The Essex Serpent all come in the form of a snake. Diane Setterfield’s Once upon a River heads in a different animal direction with a river mimicking a swan’s neck. The covers for Drew Magary’s comic fantasy The Hike and Katherine Arden’s star-reviewed The Bear and the Nightingale both suggest adventurous (and circuitous) journeys through wilderness, while Danielle Paige’s Yellow Brick War (the third in her Dearest Dorothy Die series) and the travel romance Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist both use more literal representations of windy roads. Another source of curving cover imagery, the ribbon (or sometimes banner), appears on Carol Rifka Brunt’s star-reviewed Tell the Wolves I’m Home. (See more on this in the honorable mentions section!).

On the nonfiction side, we have a tale of rivers in David Owen’s Where the Water Goes: Life and Death along the Colorado River and Masaji Ishikawa’s star-reviewed A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea.

Now for some honorable mentions, which I’ve loosely grouped into three categories: superthin winds, ribbon/banner winds, and some-other-kind of winds. On the superthin side, we have Eric Weiner’s nonfiction account, The Geography of BlissGraeme Simsion’s star-reviewed The Rosie ProjectPatrick Downes’s YA novel, Ten Miles One Way, and James Klise’s star-reviewed YA mystery, The Art of SecretsFor ribbons and banners, see Ed Tarkington’s debut novel, Only Love Can Break Your Heart, or Anna Funder’s All That I AmFinally, in my very precise catchall category, we have the star-reviewed Children of the New World by Alexander Weinstein, which editor Donna Seaman called a “mind-blowing debut collection of stealthily speculative stores”; John Green’s spiraling star-reviewed Turtles All the Way DownLife of Pi author Yann Martel’s The High Mountains of Portugal; and Carmen Maria Machado’s star-reviewed collection, Her Body and Other Parties.

About the Author:

A former Booklist intern and current Booklist reviewer, Ellie is a reader and writer based in Chicago. She holds a BA in writing from Wheaton College (IL) and is the assistant to the president at Browne & Miller Literary Associates.

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