Books, Art, & Visual Culture


Writing and design by Melissa Hill, graphic designer.

Bookshop visit: Hill of Content, August 2018

Oh my! I could spend a LOT of money at Hill of Content any time I walk in there. There is always a huge selection of beautiful and interesting books to tempt any literary appetite.

Here are some of the things that caught my eye this time:

1. The Day of the Triffids, by John Wyndham. This Penguin essentials edition is not new, but I haven’t seen it before. I love the bright colours and quirky artwork by Camilla Perkins and I’m a sucker for anything printed on an uncoated stock.

2. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson. I like the modern take on this cover, with the shattered graphics quite nicely referencing a key part of the plot. I think it’s by this David Wilson, although I can’t see it on his website.

3. Shriek: An Afterword, by Jeff Vandermeer. I’m no Jeff Vandermeer fan (Annihilation felt pretty ridiculous to me and I kept picturing this as the creature writing that terrible fungus-wall-poetry) but damn, they keep releasing really attractive covers for his books. These ones are designed by Justine Anweiler so that Vandermeer’s back catalogue can sit nicely alongside the Southern Reach books.

4. I Wonder, by Marian Bantjes. There’s an article on Design Observer where Marian Bantjes talks about her process in designing the cover for the original edition of this book. This particular edition has had an update in its patternwork and features a magical rainbow foil for a bit of extra wonder. Basically, it’s hard not to look at it.

5. How to Love Brutalism, by John Grindrod. This one made me chuckle - that concrete finish is just too perfect and the perfect backdrop for some gold foil. The typography is quite interesting…the forced line breaks are quite discomforting...much like Brutalism itself. Design by Ana Teodoro.

6. Complete Stories, by Clarice Lispector. I really like the boldness of this cover and the fact that the title of the book isn’t on it. All the focus goes to the hypnotic combination of those magenta lines over the author’s intense gaze. The distorted type on the spine combined with the graphic lines give it a quirky, uncomfortable feeling that reminds me of old-school funhouse aesthetics…creepy mannequins, haunted houses, and mustachioed strong men. Designed by Paul Sahre.

7. The Penguin Book of the British Short Story, Volume 2. This is a beautiful tome. It has the classic looks to grace a serious Library. From the lovely warm grey cloth to the elegant typeface (which strikes a lovely balance between traditional and modern), this book says “I’m a very important book that you should have in your collection.”

8. Hollow, by Owen Egerton. This cover, designed by Matt Dorfman, creates such an interesting effect… you almost feel like it is actually layers of cut paper rather than just a photo. I like how it isn’t shy about using a lot of white to set off the bright pops of colour.

9. A Black Fox Running, by Brian Carter. There’s a great article here, where David Mann describes his process in designing this cover. I’m drawn to anything that has a copper foil on a black background and this tangle of copper branches and thorns looks very mysterious.

What do you think of my picks? Drop me a line if you have any thoughts on any of these cover designs. I’d love to hear your insights!