During a trip to Toronto, I insisted that I take a detour to go to a bookshop. I had absolutely no need to go, but let’s be honest, do you ever need a reason to go to a bookstore?

And that’s how I found myself in a downtown Indigo. It was a massive, brightly-lit shop and I wanted to explore every single inch. Unfortunately, the massive blisters on my feet prevented me from walking further than the first few aisles on the first floor. Fortunately, that encompassed almost the entirety of the fiction and science fiction sections.

While wandering (read: limping) through the shelves, I started to notice a familiar pattern emerging. Floral patterns, flowers, leaves, petals…lots of flowers on lots of covers. I scoured around for a small handful just to get a better look.

The trio of flower-adorned titles I picked up were:

  • The Familiars by Stacey Hall
  • The Need by Helen Phillips
  • Trying by Emily Phillips

The last two books, The Need and Trying, were obvious in their similarity. This was largely due to them being right next to each other given that the authors’ surnames are both “Phillps.”

One thing, however, became glaringly obvious: all of the authors are women. I’m sure if I picked up another three books with leafy/floral patterns adorning the cover, they would also be stories authored by women. Of course, this may be a coincidence—there are dozens of motifs that are used and reused over and over regardless of the author’s gender. 

For example, Richard Powers’s novel, The Overstory,

features green, leafy imagery on its cover. Yet, it is

strikingly different from these other designs. It’s not

innately feminine in its design; it’s dense and dark,

much unlike the delicate flowers of the Phillips’.


The intention behind the design must be applauded; cover artists are no fools. Emily Phillips’s novel, Trying, features an elegant array of tropical flowers, leaves, and hummingbirds. But looking closely at the arrangement of these items reveals an image: a uterus. Phillips’s story focuses on a couple trying to have a baby and their hopes of starting a family. The use of flowers and feminine imagery becomes obvious, and the design is beautifully executed.

What will be the next up-and-coming artistic trend? Leave a comment with your prediction!

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