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Cover Evaluation: Recent Trends in Non-Fiction

By Abbie Wright, Juliette Tulloch, Laura Wallace and Tessa Thejas Thomas

The non-fiction genre covers a broad range of topics and this has paved the way for some beautiful and fascinating book covers. For this edition, our team has been looking at a variety of our favourite non-fiction cover designs from this year so far that will stand out on your bookshelf.

Strong Female Character by Fern Brady

Fern Brady’s incredible autobiographical novel focuses on the intersection of womanhood and neurodivergence, challenging past expectations of what women should look and act like. The book merges comedy with real emotion and has gained incredible popularity. The book’s cover creates an illusion of being tattered and worn, and this emphasises the personal aspect of Brady’s story as it mirrors the image of a journal or diary. The middle of the cover looks as though it has been cut out, and it reveals a picture of Fern and a bit about her background. This immediately tells the potential reader enough to pique their interest and highlight what will be brought up in the book. In addition to this, the strong, bold font used for the title and author work to further emphasise the tone of the book and how Brady’s story, while comedic, is ultimately one with strength and perseverance at its centre.

Why Did You Stay? by Rebecca Humphries

Humphries' bestselling memoir, Why Did You Stay?, was published just last month and echoes two trends within cover designs that are only on the rise as a popular design angle. The memoir takes a dive into Humphries' experience of the cheating scandal that engulfed herself and her boyfriend of the time, an analysis of toxic relationships and a look into the main theme of identity. The brightly coloured background against a harshly defined title, with its emphasis on “stay,” reflects a rising preference for minimalist pop art style designs. One example includes Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love, which also utilises the clever play on crossing out clichés – a statement on overused words in modern memoirs, which are published in the masses each year. The decision to use a classical portrait of a woman holding her head in annoyance speaks to the honest truths that Humphries lays out but within her fierce talent for humour. Best-selling examples of this design in recent years include Otessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation, which utilises seemingly unremarkable paintings of mundane life from the past, to echo the themes of comical toxicity that were present then and still are now. Lastly, the decision to use reviews from mainly strong female authors on its cover echoes the novel’s power and focus on self-worth.

More Than a Glitch: Confronting Race, Gender, and Ability Bias in Tech by Meredith Broussard

More Than a Glitch: Confronting Race, Gender, and Ability Bias in Tech by Meredith Broussard explores racism, sexism and ableism within the modern digital age. Broussard uses her extensive knowledge and life experience working as a Black data scientist to uncover the complex relationship between technology and equity. The cover encompasses the main idea presented in the book: the othering of certain individuals or groups is not accidental, nor is it a “glitch”, but an active part of the systems and codes that make up modern technology. The bold white text used for “glitch” is paired with imagery representative of what a user would see on a screen when a glitch occurs. This provides a hint of colour and draws attention to the main focus of the book. The sub-heading is formatted to mimic standard HTML code that would be written into a system or program against a black background. This seems particularly intentional as Broussard discusses ways in which implicit or explicit biases persist within tech.

More Than a Glitch is a particularly important read as technology continues to develop rapidly and influence all aspects of our lives.

Marram: Memories of Sea and Spider Silk by Leonie Charlton

Marram: Memories of Sea and Spider Silk by Leonie Charlton is both an intimate memoir and a poetic work of travel and nature writing. The author has returned to the Outer Hebrides in Scotland to trek with her friend and their highland ponies. She does this seeking closure after her mother’s untimely death seven years earlier.

The cover is simplistic, with images of islands, a grassy embankment and the sea. The images portraying the islands of the Outer Hebrides. The colours used are light sky blue, charcoal grey and a yellowy green, again, symbolic of nature and the natural light of the Hebrides. The artist has included a drawing of a highland pony on the cover touching on the importance of the ponies in the memoir and how the author came to understand her grief.

The cover artist has used simple and perhaps childlike artwork and imagery, showing the reader that the nature of the author’s memories relates to her childhood on the islands. It successfully gives the reader an impression of the style of the writing and the content of the book, and we love it!


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