The 22 Most Iconic Book Covers Of All Time

Legendary words, legendary art.

1. Sylvia Plath, “The Bell Jar,” 1978

The 1978 paperback edition of Sylvia Plath’s tragic book, with its title crafted in gothic font, perhaps captures the tome’s mood the best.

2. Joseph Heller, “Catch-22,” 1961

Paul Bacon, an American book jacket designer and jazz musician, created this stunning cover for Joseph Heller’s novel. He also designed covers for One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Rosemary’s Baby and Slaughterhouse-five.

3. James Frey, “A Million Little Pieces,” 2003

Though Frey’s “memoir” was later outed as fictional, the book’s cover, featuring a hand adorned with sprinkles, remains one of the most recognizable of the 21st century.

4. Dr. Seuss, “The Cat In The Hat,” 1957

The artist behind this one? Theodor Seuss Geisel.

5. F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Great Gatsby,” 1925

Francis Cugat’s “celestial eyes” painting appeared on the book’s first printing in 1925 and was revived in 1979 for the Scribner Library paperback edition. Here’s a terrific, more in-depth treatise of the painting.

6. Elie Wiesel, “Night,” 1982

The 1982 Bantam edition of Night adapted the chilling 1958 French edition design for a new paperback.

7. J.D. Salinger, “Catcher in the Rye,” 1951

E. Michael Mitchell, a 20th century illustrator turned computer animation turned CalArts professor, made this cover for Salinger who would only his name and the title on the book jacket — no other type.

8. Michael Crichton, “Jurassic Park,” 1990

The high-contrast art by Chip Kidd, who has also designed cover jackets for Bret Easton Ellis, Dean Koontz, David Sedaris, Haruki Marukami and others, was also carried over into marketing for the 1993 film adaptation.

9. Ayn Rand, “Atlas Shrugged,” 1981

Nick Gaetano created cover art for the 25th anniversary edition of several of Rand’s works, although his crouching golden man on the cover of 1981’s Atlas Shrugged may be the most legendary.

10. Aldous Huxley, “Brave New World,” 1932

Leslie Holland’s steel-hued canvas art perfectly encapsulated the bleak futurism of Huxley’s dystopian masterpiece.

11. John Steinbeck, “The Grapes of Wrath,” 1939

Elmer Hader also designed covers for Steinbeck’s East of Eden and The Winter of Our Discontent.

12. Ray Bradbury, “Fahrenheit 451,” 1953

Joe Pernaciaro and Joseph Mugnaini did this first edition cover for Bradbury’s dystopian novel, which is still the book’s most well-known cover art.

13. J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Hobbit,” 1937

A copy of this first edition of Tolkien’s classic recently sold for £60,000.

14. Mario Puzo, “The Godfather,” 1969

The famous puppeteer cover art, created by S. Neil Fujita, carried over into the promotional design for the movies as well.

15. Anthony Burgess, “A Clockwork Orange,” 1972

David Pelham designed this now-famous cog-eye cover ten years after the book’s original publication in 1962.

16. Harper Lee, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” 1960

Shirley Smith’s cover is simple — and unforgettable.

17. Maurice Sendak, “Where the Wild Things Are,” 1963

Sendak’s classic, still being printed with his original cover art, has been delighting children for decades.

18. Robert Bloch, “Psycho,” 1959

Alfred Hitchcock adopted the same cover art for his movie, and the rest is history.

19. Arthur Miller, “Death of a Salesman,” 1949

Renowned Realist painter Joseph Hirsch made this stark cover art for Miller’s Pulitzer prize-winning play.

20. Margaret Wise Brown, “Goodnight Moon,” 1947

Clement Hurd’s illustrations for this children’s classic help make it one of the most famous tomes of all time.

21. George Orwell, “1984,” 1950

Orwell’s masterpiece has several famous covers, but this mid-20th century edition with the illuminated eye resonates the creepiest.

22. Bret Easton Ellis, “American Psycho,” 1991

Marshall Arisman created this haunting representation of Patrick Bateman for the first English hardcover edition.

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