The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925. Francis Cugat, a relatively unknown artist at the time, was commissioned to design the cover of the novel while Fitzgerald was still working on it — when Fitzgerald saw the cover, finished before the novel, he liked it so well that he told his publisher that he had “written it into” the book. Hemingway, on the other hand, hated it.
A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess, 1962. On the other hand, it is this 1972 iteration of Burgess’s classic novel, designed by David Pelham, that has truly become iconic. The dust jacket of the first edition, at least in our minds, leaves something to be desired.
The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger, 1951. Salinger was notoriously extremely picky about the art that would grace his novels. The only words that were to be allowed were the author’s name and the name of the book — no blurbs, no quotes, no autobiography — and he preferred simple designs, just lines and color (think Franny & Zooey). It seems he liked this one, crazed carousel horse and all, though he notoriously refused to sign a copy for the designer, E. Michael Mitchell.
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee, 1960. Designed by Shirley Smith, some have criticized this cover as being too simple. However, that hasn’t stopped it from gracing the dorm room walls of book nerds everywhere.
The Godfather, Mario Puzo, 1969. The design for this cover was also done by the inimitable S. Neil Fujita. His heavy, gothic typeface and puppeteer’s hand were carried over to the imagery for the film, so the look may be one of the most universally iconic on this list.
Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov, 1955. Though Lolita has appeared in hundreds of incarnations, this juicy 1973 cover (with that luscious, looping ‘L’) is probably the most beloved. Discounting those emblazoned with the heart shaped Kubrick glasses, of course.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey, 1962. Another design by the prolific Paul Bacon, who is clearly playing with colours.
Lord of the Flies, William Golding, 1954. We think it’s fair to say that most kids since the 1950’s have seen that jungle in their dreams at least once.
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, 1953. Designed by Joe Pernaciaro, this cover has never ceased to frighten us.
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