10 yellow-covered books you must read

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Sarah Shaffi
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10 books with yellow covers that tackle happiness, sunshine, optimism, deceit and cowardice. 

Yellow can signify so many things – happiness, sunshine, optimism, deceit, cowardice – so it’s a perfect colour for a book jacket, since books deal with all those things and more.

But really, a yellow book cover is about drawing attention. In a sea of books in a bookshop, yellow can attract us like magpies to silver.

A book with a yellow cover screams “pick me, pick me”, and you know that any book with that bright a jacket has to be good to live up to its cover’s demands.

Here are 10 books with yellow covers, all of which are just as good on the inside as they look from their bright, attention-seeking exteriors…

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

Smith returns to North London (mostly) in her latest novel Swing Time, which examines female relationships over the years, from childhood friends, mothers and daughters, and employers and employees. Unsurprisingly for Smith, its portrayal of London life, as well as its examination of racial politics and of identity, are spot on.

(Hamish Hamilton, £8.99)

The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey

In The Girl With All the Gifts Carey goes behind the schlocky horror usually associated with zombies and creates a very human character in Melanie, a special young girl whose connection with her teacher, Miss Justineau, could change the world.

(Orbit, £8.99)

The Multi-Hyphen Method by Emma Gannon

Podcaster/blogger/social media editor Gannon’s latest book is for all those dissatisfied with regular jobs and looking to make their own careers and define success for themselves. Motivating and inspiring, this is a career guide for modern life.

(Hodder & Stoughton, £18.99)

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

Friends Frances and Bobbie, who used to be in a relationship and now perform spoken word together, find themselves pulled into the orbit of journalist Melissa and her husband Nick. Rooney’s dialogue is spot on as her characters get caught in realistic situations full of uncertainty and tension, and try to talk their way through them.

(Faber & Faber, £8.99)

The One Who Wrote Destiny by Nikesh Shukla

In 1960s Mukesh arrives in Keighley, in 2018 Neha is diagnosed with lung cancer and her brother Rakesh tries to pursue a career as a stand-up comedian, and in 1998 Ba looks after her two young grandchildren, who are practically strangers to her. This is an epic tale of three generations of family that moves between Kenya and London, but it always feels intimate.

(Atlantic, £8.99)

The Yellow Wallpaper and Selected Writings by Charlotte Perkins Gillman

Perkins Gilman’s short story The Yellow Wallpaper is surely one of the most chilling short stories ever, focusing on a woman who after childbirth is confined to her room and driven to the brink of insanity. This edition from Virago is introduced by the wonderful Maggie O’Farrell.

(Virage Modern Classics, £8.99)

The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht

Obreht is the youngest ever winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction – she was just 25 when The Tiger’s Wife won in 2011. The novel follows Natalia, a doctor, whose grandfather dies in mysterious circumstances while she is visiting orphanages after a war has devastated the Balkans. From fragments of stories her grandfather told her as a child, Natalia finds a clue that will lead her to a tattered copy of The Jungle Book and the story of the tiger’s wife.

(W&N, £8.99)

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, trans by Ginny Tapley Takemori

Keiko has never really fitted in anywhere – people at school and university find her odd and her family worries she’ll never be normal – until she takes on a job at a newly opened convenience store and finds peace, purpose and happiness. But pressure mounts for Keiko to find a new job or a husband, and she is forced to take desperate action.

(Granta Books, £12.99)

The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy

This is the second instalment in Levy’s “living autobiography”, following Things I Don’t Want to Know. In this (fairly short) memoir, twice Man Booker Prize-shortlisted Levy examines what it is to be a woman, a writer in flux, and considers what it means to live with value and meaning and pleasure.

(Hamish Hamilton, £12.99)

It’s All Absolutely Fine by Ruby Elliot

In this illustrated book, Elliot takes a look at the daily struggles many people have with mental health. This originally began life online, with Elliot posting cartoons under the handle RubyEtc. It’s a reminder that everyone struggles at times, some more than others, and tackles everything from anxiety to eating disorders to self-worth.

(Orion, £12.99) has had a yellow makeover on 15 August, to celebrate our Yellow Issue and pay homage to the colour of the season. Read more about the most playful shade of all here.

Images: Courtesy of publishers 


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Sarah Shaffi

Sarah Shaffi is a freelance journalist and editor. She reads more books a week than is healthy, and balances this out with copious amounts of TV. She writes regularly about popular culture, particularly how it reflects and represents society.