My Top Ten & Book Give-away Contest

Author CM Harris’s, “Top Ten” Plus One

As a writer who pays the bills with graphic design, I am a sucker for a good cover. Sometimes I’ll just stand in front of my bookshelf and pluck books just to look at the art. A proper cover complements the work and stays with you. Like album covers of yesteryear, they become icons. A well-designed cover says that the publisher respected the work enough to hire a good artist, the right artist. It also means the story is rich with imagery, enough that the artist felt compelled to actually read the book, rather than skim the synopsis or simply take direction from management. So yes, I argue that you can judge a book by its cover. Here are eleven from LGBT writers, which are wonderful for wildly different reasons:

This eerily sexy cover for Sarah Water’s Affinity gets to the heart of the mystery locked within the novel—wherein Waters traps her protagonist in a gauzy, murky realm of desire and repression.

You know that cover you keep going back to as you read the book? Trebor Healy’s Sweet Son of Pan has one of them. There is so much of the lush depth and sensuality inherent to the story. I am not even the target market for this book and yet I can’t stop looking at that flame!

Granted, simply photographing an author and slapping on a title is not exactly original. But don’t your eyes gravitate to Stone Butch Blues each time you see it on a shelf or in an online list? Who can debate the power of Leslie Feinberg’s strong jaw and deep-set eyes?

You could assume the cover of Michelle Tea’s Rent Girl was a breeze because this graphic novel is filled with the brilliant drawings of Lauren McCubbin. They must have been spoiled for choice. I love how the protagonist just stares out at us, without weariness, without contempt.

Dry is Augusten Burrough’s memoir about a writer in alcoholic recovery, or rather—as evidenced by the running ink—relapse. His covers tend toward the clever and deceptively simple. They are the work of designer Chip Kidd who is also a novelist (thus my hero) and is perhaps best known for Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park.

Aren’t the Tess Camillo novels by Morgan Hunt shining examples of a contemporary series just begging to be collected? I love the modern typeface, bright colors and simple graphics. Proof positive our fiction has arrived in the mainstream.

Sometimes it takes a great amount of thought and effort to conjure up the soul of a book. I don’t know if the designer of David McConnell’s The Silver Hearted took two days or two weeks to put this cover together, but it is incredibly compelling and evocative of what the publisher calls a “darkly suspenseful sea-faring novel.”

Each of Ellen Hart’s Jane Lawless covers is a work of art. They also do the workmanlike job of providing the flavor of the region in which they are based (upper Midwest), as well as holding keys to the story within.

I adore Julie Ann Peters’s YA trans novel, Luna. In these two versions we’re given the natural metaphor for transformation but it seems like once she won the National Book Award the publisher didn’t trust that their now broadened audience would understand a moth transforms too. Or perhaps a butterfly is considered more feminine? At any rate, both are lovely.

I’d be hard pressed not to mention the forerunners of our modern queer literature. Aren’t they awesome? (The books that is.) Most likely painted by some misogynist wearing 3D glasses, but I’ll take it! I couldn’t pick just one, so I am opting for Katherine Forrest’s recent collection, Lesbian Pulp Fiction. Wow. Just wow.

Lastly, the first edition of Dorothy Allison’s Bastard out of Carolina might not have won any design awards but the use of Dorothea Lange’s photography conveys this powerful story better than any I’ve seen. The hardscrabble environment? The young girl pushing at the sharp and corroded boundaries? Her mother’s vision partially obscured? Genius.

Well, there’s eleven but there are so many more wonderful covers out there. So, what are some of your favorites?

(A big thanks to Ruta of True Colors Bookstore in Minneapolis for helping me peruse her shelves!)

Every reader who leaves a comment to Michele’s question (above) will automatically be entered to win a signed copy of her novel The Children of Mother Glory. You have until midnight Friday, May 28 to have your say. A winner will be picked at random and notified by email. So be sure to leave your email in order to be eligible. The give-away is open to everyone regardless of geographical location. For more information, read our Contest Rules.

Author Bio
C.M. Harris is the author of the historical novel The Children of Mother Glory (Spinsters Ink, 2009) and forthcoming romance Enter Oblivion (Casperian Books, 2011). Find out more at:

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16 Responses to “My Top Ten & Book Give-away Contest”

  1. Amy Dawson Robertson Says:
    May 10th, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Terrific selection of covers, C.M.! I especially like Dry and Luna. The Morgan Hunt covers are super sharp and reminds me that I need to read her!

  2. Tweets that mention Kissed By Venus » Blog Archive » My Top Ten & Book Give-away Contest -- Says:
    May 10th, 2010 at 10:33 am

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kissed By Venus. Kissed By Venus said: Enter to win a signed copy of THE CHILDREN OF MOTHER GLORY, by CM Harris, here: [...]

  3. Susan Taylor Says:
    May 10th, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Oh, blast! That means I can’t enter to win…but that small problem aside, Michele, I love these choices. Each really capture what the book is about as well as a reader’s imagination, though I have to say “Sweet Son Of Pan” is mesmerizing. I found myself staring at it way past polite, eh, if you know what I mean!

  4. jeanne Says:
    May 10th, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    my knee jerk response was the recent cover on “Warming Trend”-KK. I loved the polar opposites. I must say that I find the “Affinity” cover intriguing.

  5. Lisa Says:
    May 10th, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    I love the Luna covers so much!

    Would love to be entered in this giveaway.


  6. Melissa Chadburn Says:
    May 10th, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    I love Janet Fitch’s White Oleander, Junot Diaz’s Drown, Eugenides’ Middlesex, Nabokov’s Lolita. But my real favorite was an emerald green leather bound gold leafed copy of the Brother Grimm’s Fairy Tales I once owned. It was so regal.

  7. Rebecca Says:
    May 11th, 2010 at 7:15 am

    I love most of these choices, as well. And the Morgan Hunt covers are shockingly inviting.

    One of my own personal favourites is the cover of Lucy Jane Bledsoe’s This Wild Silence. I totally bought the book at the time just based on that stark, almost disturbing, yet somehow peaceful cover.

  8. CMHarris Says:
    May 11th, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Wonderful! Good to hear from everyone.

    Jeanne, great choice with Karin’s book. I love the way the frozen lake yields to the tropical sky.

    Melissa, I believe the Grimm’s collection has been re-released beside other classics in a really cool foil and tooled binding.

    Off to see check out The Wild Silence!

  9. Lisa Says:
    May 11th, 2010 at 10:32 am

    It probably stems from the fact that I started to read them at such an early age, but Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series of kids covers (the proper covers!) always grab me. Pick any of them and they are full of colour and details that make you go back time and time again. I can’t select a favourite although certainly the earlier ones where the entire cover is utilised are better than the later ones that are prone to blocks of colour.

    However, when perusing books in a library, it has to be the title first and cover second… sorry!

  10. CMHarris Says:
    May 12th, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Good point, I guess it is all about the spine in libraries and many of the shelves in bookstores. So, the next installment? “Spines We Have Loved.” (or perhaps not)

    Those Terry Pratchett covers are indeed lush works of art!

  11. Danica Says:
    May 26th, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    I hate how I can’t think of a favourite book when someone asks. There’s just too many good books! So anyway, one of the nicest books I read was Vikas Swarup’s Q & A. Nobody knows what it’s about until I tell them that the movie Slumdog Millionaire was based on it.

    The Morgan Hunt covers seem to speak to me… Maybe I should read them soon.

  12. E.B. Boatner Says:
    May 28th, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    I think Children of Mother Glory itself is one of the very best in your caegory. It’s enigmatic, yet says volumes; it’s still and cenered yet vibrates with energy – and it marvelously envelops the themes and passions in the novel. FIrst rate!

    (Spelling corrected)

  13. Cheri Says:
    May 28th, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    I absolutely agree with the above comment about Mother Glory’s cover. After flinging through my ebook library, I’d have to say that, of those not already mentioned, I like Erin Dutton’s Fully Involved and everafter by Nell Stark and Trinity Tam.

  14. Cheri Says:
    May 28th, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Oh! And The Seduction of Moxie by Colette Moody.

  15. Danika the Lesbrarian Says:
    May 28th, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    I like the Affinity cover, but I think I like the cover of one of Sarah Waters’s other books, Tipping the Velvet, better ( Maybe it’s the nudity. ; )

  16. Toddly Says:
    June 11th, 2010 at 9:16 am

    I really like the cover to Sweet Son of Pan for some odd reason.

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