Boiling down the essence of a book into a single, striking image is a incredible challenge. Part of the fun of browsing for new books is checking out the various artistic interpretations of your favorite titles—while shamelessly judging each and every unknown by what’s emblazoned on the front.

Lolita: The Story of a Cover Girl is a new hardback—available August 30th—that explores Nabokov’s 1955 man-meets-girl tale through a collection of 80 new covers commissioned by LA-based architect John Bertram. Bertram was inspired after visiting this online round-up of existing copies, and launched a competition soliciting new interpretations from graphic designers and illustrators. The results, along with critical essays examining the various visuals, offer a unique new take on a complex classic.


According to Creative Review, here’s what Nabokov expressed as his ideal take: “I want pure colors, melting clouds, accurately drawn details, a sunburst above a receding road with the light reflected in furrows and ruts, after rain. And no girls.” Something “romantic, delicately drawn, non-Freudian and non-juvenile.” Here's the author himself shuffling through his own collection of foreign copies of the novel, pretty amused at all the different variations:

Which do you feel best captures the spirit of Lolita? And which would you want to sit on your shelf at home? [Creative Review]

By Matt Dorfman.

By Andy Pressman.

By Ellen Lupton.

By Jaime Keenan.

By Jason Polan.

By Rachel Berger.

By Michael Beirut.