The week in books

The Guardian - Review - - Review - The lineup of beauty

The best looking short­list of the year has been an­nounced, as the Books Are My Bag read­ers awards re­veal who is in the run­ning in the most beau­ti­ful book of the year cat­e­gory. The six have been se­lected by book­sell­ers for the an­nual event, which cel­e­brates phys­i­cal books and real-life book­shops. And in an era of ebooks and on­line piracy, beau­ti­ful books are more im­por­tant and pop­u­lar than ever. Last year’s win­ner, The Es­sex Ser­pent by Sarah Perry – which was re­leased by Water­stones in an ex­tra shiny edi­tion – sold 287,566 copies and helped its pub­lisher, Pro­file, in­crease its turnover by nearly 7%. Home­com­ing by Yaa Gyasi (Vik­ing)

A bold re­jec­tion of the baobab-tree­and-set­ting-sun cliche book cover that plagued Africa-set nov­els for too long, this de­sign is al­ready be­ing im­i­tated. As King­fish­ers Catch Fire by Alex Pre­ston (Lit­tle, Brown) The book is beau­ti­fully il­lus­trated by the graphic artist Neil Gower, whose work has been adapted for the cover. The Bed­lam Stacks by Natasha Pul­ley (Blooms­bury) This cover will look beau­ti­fully fa­mil­iar to fans of her in­ter­na­tional best­seller The Watch­maker of Fili­gree Street. Tan­gle­weed and Brine by Deirdre Sul­li­van (Lit­tle Is­land) The cover of this “col­lec­tion of 13 dark, fem­i­nist retellings of tra­di­tional fairy­tales” re­calls early An­gela Carters and The Blue Fairy Book – only in deep, fem­i­nist red. The Lost Words by Robert Mac­far­lane (Hamish Hamilton) Ac­cord­ing to the author, “the idea was that read­ers would feel a sense of walk­ing into the book, like a land­scape”. The re­sult is a pub­li­ca­tion that is beau­ti­fully il­lus­trated by Jackie Mor­ris and suit­ably mas­sive. Rav­il­ious & Co by Andy Friend (Thames & Hud­son) As a bi­og­ra­phy of the 20th-cen­tury wa­ter­colour artist, Rav­il­ious & Co had to be good-looking. It was de­scribed as “mag­nif­i­cent” by … none other than Robert Mac­far­lane.

The win­ners of the Books Are My Bag awards will be an­nounced on 21 Novem­ber at Foyles, Char­ing Cross Road, London. See book­sare­my­bag. com for fur­ther de­tails. Katy Guest

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