Best book covers of 2013 – My pick of New Zealand’s finest

This year has been a stellar one in New Zealand publishing, with a crop of splendid books coming out. And there are striking covers that deserve a round of applause.

I have grouped my favourites around themes. The standout for me is how cartoonists/comic artists are creating awesome covers, and not just for comics but for novels too. My two favourite New Zealand covers are Sarah Laing’s stunning illustration for Emma Martin’s Two girls in a boat and the weird skewing of space in the cover image of Pip Adam’s I’m working on a building. You can read about Sarah’s creative process in her blogpost The making of a book cover.
Cover of Two girls in a boatCover of I'm working on a building

Viva comics

Cover of Don't puke on your dadCover of Two girls in a boatCover of Max GateCover of The fall of lightCover of From Earth's end

Colourful eye-pleasers

Cover of Bizarre Bras Cover of BlueCover of The Lost Property departmentCover of New Zealand Interior StyleCover of Promoting Prosperity

Driven by text

Cover of Grumpy old menCover of Inequality

Potent simplicity

Cover of Sell!Cover of Murder at MykenaiCover of The LuminariesCover of The rope walkCover of Letters from Everest


Cover of Snow White's CoffinCover of The Sound of wordsCover of Tear water teaCover of Us, thenCover of Wild Like me


Cover of Wanted, a beautiful barmaidCover of The Royal ballet at 60Cover of Self PortraitCover of Matters of the heartCover of Nga Tau Ki MuriCover of Peter McLeaveyCover of Pictures they want to make

Playing with perception

Cover of I'm working on a buildingCover of Rising to the surface

See last year’s book cover tributes:

Get more from art

cover for Why your five year old could not have done thatI love looking at at paintings. I enjoy looking at the colours, how the artist has used the paint, the symmetries of compositions, and the impact of the whole thing brings me joy. Pragmatist though I am however, I always feel a twinge of guilt. Shouldn’t I be doing something more useful with my time than swanning around art galleries or messing around with paint? I am therefore indebted to an article I came across recently from Jane Norman at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

We are all pretty sophisticated when it comes to moving pictures. The speed with which we can follow and interpret them has been vastly increased due to film and television becoming a part of our daily lives. But what about the kind of static images you would see in a gallery? We are not so good at taking our time to look really at one image. According to her article  Jane Norman believes that

Having learned to think in words most of us must be re-educated to think in shapes and colors and space.

cover for How to look at a paintingShe goes on to explain that the proportions of simple shapes like rectangles can have a great impact on our environment, through architecture for example – something we are acutely aware of in Christchurch at the moment.

Taking note of how our environment is constructed and learning to really look at things can alter the way we relate to what is around us. Or, as the Buddhists would put it, allow us to be more mindful or present – something they believe increases our ability to fully experience the world. Looking at art therefore can be viewed as a sort of therapy for the Rushing Woman’s Syndrome and as such can be indulged in guilt free.

If this is what looking at art can do for us, how to begin? Well  it just so happens that the library has some great books  for both children and adults which can greatly improve anyone’s ability to get more from art. So get to it folks. As we create a new city being all tuned in can only help you look critically at what is to come.