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TEAM ZOELLA APRIL 14, 2022

Judging Books by Their Covers: 18 Beautiful Books for the *Aesthetes* In the Room

If you’re a sucker for a pretty cover, let this be a cautionary tale for your tbr stack because that teetering pile is about to kiss the ceiling. 

Don’t judge a book by its cover, or so the adage goes but whilst we try not to judge, there’s always room to admire and appreciate art

Cover trends exist because readers do consider the cover before diving into the blurb, particularly now we’re sharing our reviews and latest reads on social media. 

With the arrival of BookTok and Bookstagram, the allure of an aesthetic cover is as much part of the reading experience as the story it holds, and with more people going online to get their book fix, it’s never been more essential for the cover to be as hooky as the synopsis. 

If you’re a sucker for a pretty cover, let this be a cautionary tale for your tbr stack because that teetering pile is about to kiss the ceiling. 

From soft sages and Bottega greens to playful graphic designs and typefaces you can’t ignore, here’s a peek at the hot girl books with beautiful book covers to match. 

Ladies and gentlemen: *them*

1. Black Swans by Eve Babitz

Pink and green should always be seen. As a team of pink and green stans, this book cover will not be wasted on us. 

A collection of nine autobiographical short stories that look back on LA through the 80s and early 90s, Babitz explores decades of dreams, drink, and stoned youth turning Republican. She writes about the Rodeo Gardens, about AIDS, about learning to tango, about the Hollywood Cemetery, about the self-enchanted city, and, most important, about the envy and jealousy underneath it all.

Hot, hazy and filled to the brim with the kind of Hollywood nostalgia Evelyn Hugo would be proud of – no one does hot girl reading material like Babitz. 

Shop it here!

2. The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir 

“My life was hurrying, racing tragically toward its end. And yet at the same time it was dripping so slowly, so very slowly now, hour by hour, minute by minute. One always has to wait until the sugar melts, the memory dies, the wound scars over, the sun sets, the unhappiness lifts and fades away.” 

First published in 1967, The Woman Destroyed is a collection of three stories about three women in crisis, dealing with heartbreak and deception in the city of love and trying to rebuild their lives. Described as a ‘remarkable feat of empathy’, Beauvoir’s words are as exquisite as its green-lipped cover. 

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3. Milk Fed by Melissa Broder 

Another wonderfully weird story from the Women’s Prize longlisted author of The Pisces, Milk Fed is at once a hilarious and deeply compelling novel, combining a wildly erotic love story with a sharp-edged excavation of food, sex and God. What a trio of desserts. 

In her study of female appetite through the lens of physical hunger, sexual desire and spiritual longing, Broder creates a  strange and sensual tale that’s hard to put down. 

Melissa Broder isn’t for everyone but she’s firmly on our list of authors we’d want round our dinner table, that’s for sure. 

Shop it here!

4. Pure Colour by Sheila Heti 

Once upon a time green was a no-go in the cover design world but today, bookshops tell a very different story. 

Minimalist, meditative and effortlessly beautiful, Pure Colour is a treat for the eyes and the soul – ‘an atlas of feeling’ that speaks directly to the power of storytelling and a novel that’s sure to please the aesthetes among us, too. 

Shop it here!

5. Happy Hour by Marlowe Granados 

Happy Hour is an intoxicating debut novel about two young girls partying their lives away for one balmy summer in New York. If the cover and aptly named title tells us anything, it’s set to be the bookish equivalent of an aperitif. A toast to 5* reads!

Shop it here!

6. The Houseguest: And Other Stories by Amparo Dávila

‘Like Poe for the New Millennium’ The Houseguest: And Other Stories is pretty on the outside but just as striking on the inside. 

This collection of 12 short stories provides the perfect lunchtime / holiday read you can pick up and put down at your leisure, albeit whilst checking over your shoulder at regular intervals, just in case. 

With acute psychological insight, Davila’s stories are unsettling, macabre and wondrously creepy, with a pinch of supernatural fantasy. Feel free to pull up a chair but won’t be sitting comfortably!

Shop it here!

7. No Modernism Without Lesbianism by Diana Souhami

Celebrating the women who made a lasting impact on transforming literature and art in the early twentieth century, No Modernism Without Lesbians is an incredibly entertaining, heady slice of cultural history that looks beyond the canon. 

Sylvia Beach, Bryher, Natalie Barney, and Gertrude Stein – a trailblazing publisher; a patron of artists; a society hostess; a groundbreaking writer. They were all women who loved women. They rejected the patriarchy and made lives of their own – forming a community around them in Paris.

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8. I Love Dick by Chris Kraus

Whilst the cover had us at dick (naturally), that is merely the beginning of Kraus’ triumph. I Love Dick is an essential and influential feminist text and one of the most important ‘novels’ (it’s part fiction, part essay, part memoir) of our time. *Reads in the coffee shop just to be insufferable* 

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9. Normal People by Sally Rooney

You would’ve had to have been living cooped up in a sardine tin to miss the hold this book had (read: still has) on the world. Bleak and beautiful in equal measure, Normal People is about two flawed and frustrated characters who develop a relationship that transcends the norm. They struggle together and they struggle apart and when they leave you, you’ll struggle too. 

Sidenote: No wonder there’s a whole TikTok trend dedicated to things you probably didn’t notice on book covers because the sardine tin with Connell and Marianne cuddled up inside is a serendipitous surprise. 

Shop it here!

10. Pond by Claire Louise Bennett 

Exquisitely written and deceptively slender, this daring debut of short stories narrated by a rural recluse sparkles with one-liners and hidden depth. 

From odes to tomato puree and rambling streams of consciousness on the minutiae of everyday life with a tongue in cheek sense of humour, Bennett reimagines what the short story can do. Shimmering and unusual, Pond demands to be devoured in a single sitting. Dive in!

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11. Circe by Madeline Miller

“But in a solitary life, there are rare moments when another soul dips near yours, as stars once a year brush the earth. Such a constellation was he to me.”

Witch. Myth. Mortal. Outcast. Lover. Destroyer. Survivor – Circe deserves nothing less than a mesmerising copper cover. 

Shop it here!

13. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery 

Here’s one to add to your ever-growing collection of Puffin in Bloom editions, featuring beautiful cover art by Anna Bond, the artist behind renowned stationery brand Rifle Paper Co.

 A cottagecore dream before our eyes. 

Anne, an eleven-year-old orphan, is sent by mistake to live with a lonely, middle-aged brother and sister on a Prince Edward Island farm and proceeds to make an indelible impression on everyone around her.

Shop it here!

14. The Betrayals by Bridget Collins

If you loved The Binding, this dystopian romance is a must-read. With her captivating world-building and next-level imagination, Bridget Collins delivers another irresistible novel about a mysterious game and the scholars who study it…

Lose yourself in its magical pages. Time? We don’t know her.

Shop it here!

15. Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors 

Sally Rooney fans, prepare to swoon over Coco Mellors’ sharp and tender debut.  

Set in a richly evocative New York awash with bohemian glamour, Mellors’ wondrously human debut details the temporary magic and long-term messiness of a spontaneous relationship between a beautiful young artist and a wealthy older man.

Cleopatra and Frankenstein is an astounding and painfully relatable debut novel about the spontaneous decisions that shape our entire lives and those imperfect relationships born of unexpectedly perfect evenings.

Everyone will be talking (and posting) about this book. 

Shop it here!

16. Ghosts by Dolly Alderton 

Bury us in pink and green book jackets. 

Dolly Alderton’s sharp-eyed debut novel captures the essence of thirty-something life as only Dolly can, with her signature quick-wit, warmth and accuracy. 

Shop it here!

17. The Red of My Blood by Clover Stroud 

‘Can death bring something good to my life?’

A few weeks before Christmas, Clover’s sister died of breast cancer, aged forty-six. Just days before, she had been given years to live. Her sudden death split Clover’s life apart. The Red of My Blood charts Clover’s fearless passage through the first year after her sister’s death. 

The Red of My Blood is about what life feels like when death interrupts it, and about bearing the unbearable and describing an experience that seems beyond words. Lyrical and hopeful, it is also about the magical way in which death and life exist so vividly beside one another, and the wonder of being human.

Shop it here!

18. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides 

The cover is undeniably stunning but the real beauty of this book comes from reading it. 

This is the story of the five Lisbon sisters – beautiful, eccentric and obsessively watched by the entire neighbourhood. The boys that once loved them from afar are now grown men, determined to understand a tragedy that has defied explanation. The question persists – why did all five of the Lisbon girls take their own lives?

This lyrical and timeless tale of sex and suicide evokes the emotions of youth with haunting sensitivity and dark humour and creates a coming-of-age story unlike any of our time.

Shop it here!

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