In today's increasingly ephemeral world -- where digital platforms like Snapchat, Vine and Instagram hold more of our attention -- magazine covers can crystalize a moment and declare its importance. Pay attention! Remember this! And then there are some magazines covers that are just cool.
Here are the top 10 magazine covers of 2014, in chronological order, plus a few honorable mentions.
The New Yorker
Jan. 20, "Playing in Traffic"
The year opened with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie embroiled in controversy over a traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge. Some alleged that Mr. Christie was playing politics by shutting down two lanes of traffic, inconveniencing thousands of people for hours -- and effectively acting like a child. Artist Barry Blitt seized upon that idea with his cartoon for The New Yorker's Jan. 20 cover.
Feb. 17 - 24, Spring Fashion featuring Lupita Nyong'o
It's been quite a year for Lupita Nyong'o. After winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in "12 Years a Slave," the 31-year-old actress was named People magazine's Most Beautiful Woman as well as Glamour's Woman of the Year. But it was New York magazine that bet on Ms. Nyong'o early when it put her on the cover of its February spring fashion issue with this photo from Erik Madigan Heck.
April, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West
Vogue featured several provocative cover stars in 2014, including Rihanna and Lena Dunham. The April cover with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, however, caused the biggest stir. Some people claimed they would cancel their Vogue subscriptions because of the couple's appearance.
Others questioned Vogue Editor Anna Wintour's choice:
Kim & Kanye are on the cover of Vogue. Anna Wintour has clearly been confunded.— The Dark Lord (@Lord_Voldemort7) March 21, 2014
Ms. Wintour's reaction? "I think if we just remain deeply tasteful and just put deeply tasteful people on the cover, it would be a rather boring magazine," she said in November.
August, The Denim Issue
Hearst Magazines -- publisher of Cosmopolitan and Esquire, among many others -- has shown a proclivity towards innovative print covers. Esquire has been at the vanguard, but recently several of Hearst's other titles have jumped in, including Cosmo, Harper's Bazaar, Good Housekeeping and Women's Day. In August, Marie Claire gave subscribers a cover that unzipped to reveal its Denim Issue.
Aug. 25, Robin Williams
After his death on Aug. 11, Robin Williams adorned the cover of numerous magazines, including People, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly and The Hollywood Reporter. Time magazine had one of the most tasteful and poignant covers of Mr. Williams.
Aug. 25 – Aug. 31, "Race, Class, and The Future of Ferguson"
Time magazine and The New Yorker produced vivid and evocative covers of the protests that engulfed Ferguson, Missouri, after the police killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. But it was a business magazine -- Bloomberg Businessweek -- that created the most striking cover, demonstrating that the racial divide exposed in Ferguson spans generations, including the very young.
The New York Times Magazine
Aug. 31, "Abortion By Mail"
The New York Times Magazine, which comes with the Sunday paper, is getting a multi-million makeover led by new editor in chief Jake Silverstein. So far, the covers are bold, creative and emblematic of Mr. Silverstein's goal of making The New York Times Magazine an absolute must-read every week. This cover was meant to evoke "the emotional response that comes with getting a package in the mail," according to Gail Bichler, the magazine's design director.
September, Edward Snowden
Scott Dadich, editor-in-chief of Wired, described the photo shoot in a Russian hotel room with NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden as the biggest shoot of his life. And it was a huge get for Wired. The magazine hired Platon, one of the world's top photographers, to handle it. What resulted was a cover photo of Mr. Snowden, who is considered a traitor by many people in the U.S, clutching an American flag. It drew the ire of some, but instantly became an iconic image.
November, Noah Galloway
For 26 years, Men's Health has put famous people on its cover. But for its November issue, it broke from tradition and featured a reader. That reader is Noah Galloway, a war veteran and double amputee, who appears in nothing but a pair of shorts. Putting Mr. Galloway on the cover is reminiscent of Esquire's January 2007 cover with another veteran and amputee Bryan Anderson. And like Mr. Anderson, Mr. Galloway's story is deeply inspirational.
Winter, "Break the Internet"
The $10-a-copy culture and arts magazine Paper sought to "break the internet" with its nude shots of Kim Kardashian. The internet didn't quite break, but the print cover created a swarm of attention -- impressive for a 30-year-old magazine that usually barely registered in the digital world.
Sports Illustrated impressed with a throwback cover in March featuring college basketball's Doug McDermott. It recalled a 1977 Sports Illustrated with Larry Bird adorning the cover.
Bloomberg Businessweek fattened up a bottle of Coke for its Aug. 4 - Aug. 10 issue.
And Vanity Fair had some fun with Robert Downey Jr. for its November New Establishment issue.