Share Under Cover with Off the Shelf: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at 14 Beautiful Books

Under Cover with Off the Shelf: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at 14 Beautiful Books

Taylor Noel is a marketing manager in the Random House Group. She loves literary fiction and memoirs, but will read any book put in her hands. Taylor shares her book obsessions on Instagram @books_with_taylor.

Do you ever buy books just for their beautiful jackets? Or do you ever wonder how those eye-catching covers are made? One of the coolest things about working in publishing is seeing all the behind-the-scenes action—especially art design. We want to take you under the covers of some of our favorite books, one talented designer at a time. First up is Jaya Miceli, Scribner Art Director and freelance designer.


Self-Portrait with Boy
by Rachel Lyon

SELF PORTRAIT WITH BOY is a prime example of the perfect cover for a book. This debut is a compulsively readable and electrifying novel about an ambitious young female artist who accidentally photographs a boy falling to his death—an image that could jumpstart her career, but would also devastate her most intimate friendship.

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Self-Portrait with Boy
Rachel Lyon

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My Absolute Darling
by Gabriel Tallent

One of the best books of 2017, this is a brilliant, immersive, and all-consuming novel about 14-year-old Turtle Alveston and her fight for survival. While her physical world in the woods of the northern California coast is expansive (as evidenced by the beautiful, woodland cover), her personal world is small and treacherous.

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My Absolute Darling
Gabriel Tallent

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A Separation
by Katie Kitamura

The jacket of A SEPARATION expertly depicts the divisive nature of a young woman's separation from her husband, the end of their marriage, and her search for him when he goes missing in a remote region in the rugged south of Greece. With exquisitely cool precision, Katie Kitamura propels us into the experience of a woman on edge and lays bare what divides us from the inner lives of others.

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A Separation
Katie Kitamura

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The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN has one of the most iconic covers on this list. In this runaway bestseller, Rachel, an unreliable alcoholic, catches glimpses of a couple through the window as she rides the same train on her daily commute. When she sees something shocking one day, Rachel goes to the police and becomes dangerously involved with a chilling missing person's case. There's a reason so many people loved this thriller.

Read the full review of THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN.

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The Girl on the Train
Paula Hawkins

On her daily train ride, Rachel witnesses something shocking among the stretch of cozy suburban homes she once brazenly surveyed. She involves the police and is irrevocably entangled in the mess that unfolds. An obsessive read with captivating unreliable narration, GIRL ON THE TRAIN is a stunning Hitchcockian debut.

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Next Year, for Sure
by Zoey Leigh Peterson

We may have picked this one up for its gorgeous design, but we stayed for the moving and enormously entertaining story. NEXT YEAR, FOR SURE chronicles the tumultuous and often funny year in which a longtime couple experiments with a nontraditional relationship when loneliness persists in the unlit corners of their lives.

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Next Year, for Sure
Zoey Leigh Peterson

NEXT YEAR FOR SURE chronicles the tumultuous and often funny year in which a longtime couple experiments with a nontraditional relationship when loneliness persists in the unlit corners of their lives. This fresh novel by Zoey Leigh Peterson, a transgender woman, is imbued with deep humanity.

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People of the Book
by Geraldine Brooks

It's always fun when book jackets have special effects, and the gold foil on this book is particularly striking. PEOPLE OF THE BOOK is an ambitious novel tracing the harrowing journey of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, a beautifully illuminated Hebrew manuscript, from fifteenth-century Spain to war-torn Bosnia. It falls to a renowned book conservator and a young librarian who risked his live to save it to discover its secrets and piece together the mystery of its miraculous survival.

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People of the Book
Geraldine Brooks

This ambitious, electrifying work traces the harrowing journey of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, a beautifully illuminated Hebrew manuscript, from fifteenth-century Spain to war-torn Bosnia. It falls to a renowned book conservator and a young librarian who risked his live to save it to discover its secrets and piece together the mystery of its miraculous survival.

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An American Marriage
by Tayari Jones

Another book whose cover you've been seeing everywhere, AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE is an exquisite novel about newlyweds Celestial and Roy. They're just settling into the routine of their life together when Roy, a young black man, is sentenced to 12 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. When Roy's conviction is suddenly overturned after five years, he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together-not knowing Celestial was unable to hold on to their empty marriage.

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An American Marriage
Tayari Jones

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The Readymade Thief
by Augustus Rose

Jaya Miceli literally wrapped twine around a pink book to make this textural cover—a clever approach for a clever novel. About a young woman who finds herself involved with the sinister agenda of a society of men hell-bent on destruction, THE READYMADE THIEF is a novel of puzzles, conspiracies, secret societies, urban exploration, art history, and a singular, indomitable heroine.

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The Readymade Thief
Augustus Rose

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Barkskins
by Annie Proulx

With another atmospheric design, BARKSKINS sweeps readers around the globe from America to Europe to New Zealand in an epic story about the decimation of the world's forests. Told from the perspective of two wood-cutters and their descendants over the course of 300 years, the characters face incredible challenges, including the revenge of rivals, accidents, pestilence, Indian attacks, and cultural annihilation.

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Barkskins
Annie Proulx

BARKSKINS sweeps readers around the globe from America to Europe to New Zealand in an epic story about the decimation of the world’s forests. Told from the perspective of two wood-cutters and their descendants over the course of 300 years, the characters face incredible challenges, including the revenge of rivals, accidents, pestilence, Indian attacks, and cultural annihilation.

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Do Not Say We Have Nothing
by Madeleine Thien

Master storyteller Madeleine Thien takes us inside an extended family in China, showing us the lives of two successive generations―those who lived through Mao's Cultural Revolution and their children, who became the students protesting in Tiananmen Square. At the center of this epic story are two young women, Marie and Ai-Ming. Through their relationship, Marie strives to piece together the tale of her fractured family in present-day Vancouver, seeking answers in the fragile layers of their collective story.

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Do Not Say We Have Nothing
Madeleine Thien

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Sing, Unburied, Sing
by Jesmyn Ward

Miceli hand-painted the majestic bird on the front of this National Book Award-winning novel about a black family's road trip through Mississippi to pick up their patriarch from the state penitentiary. An evocative family saga, SING, UNBURIED, SING examines the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power-and limitations-of family bonds.

Read the full review of SING, UNBURIED, SING.

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Sing, Unburied, Sing
Jesmyn Ward

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Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
by Gail Honeyman

Meet Eleanor Oliphant, the heroine gracing the cover of this novel. Eleanor struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she's thinking. Everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. Smart, warm, uplifting, this is the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine who realizes the only way to survive is to open your heart.

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Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
Gail Honeyman

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Little Fires Everywhere
by Celeste Ng

This book jacket is so perfect because it gives you a sense of the small-town setting and the sense of foreboding tugging at your mind as you read. LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town.

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Little Fires Everywhere
Celeste Ng

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White Truffles in Winter
by N. M. Kelby

The jacket of WHITE TRUFFLES IN WINTER is a piece of art in and of itself. Auguste Escoffier was the unparalleled French chef whose impact on restaurants and high cuisine is still with us. He was also a complicated man―kind yet imperious, food obsessed yet rarely hungry, capable of great passion and inscrutable reserve. In this lushly imagined new novel, N. M. Kelby transports us into Escoffier's private world in her novel, weaving a sensual story of food and longing, war and romance.

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White Truffles in Winter
N. M. Kelby

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