The 20 Most Iconic Book Covers Ever

[Editor’s note: While your Flavorwire editors take a much-needed holiday break, we’ll spend the next two weekends revisiting some of our most popular features of the year. This post was originally published September 3, 2011.] We recently read an article over at We Made This in which Nick Hornby writes that “the days of the iconic jacket illustration, the image that forever becomes associated with a much-loved novel, are nearly gone. The stakes are too high now.” If this is true, it’s just another way that advertising is ruining our lives, since one of the things we love best about the book as art object and experience is the way well-designed covers complement and enhance your reading, and the way they figure in your mind when you remember a book. To remember the good old days, and give a little nudge to the new, we’ve compiled a list of the 20 most iconic book covers ever (in our minds), all examples of amazing book cover design. Click through to see the cover art we chose, and let us know if we’ve missed any of your favorites in the comments.

Catch 22, Joseph Heller, 1961. Cover design by Paul Bacon. As a designer, Bacon was known for pioneering the “Big Book Look,” characterized by the title and author’s name in large, strong print, accompanied by a small conceptual illustration.