Judging Books By Covers


The first book I picked up because the cover was pretty. The second, because I like the way the vines look.

I have some strong opinions when it comes to books, possibly about many things that other people don’t care about.  That’s okay; I can live with that.

One of the things that drives me crazy is when a movie comes out, and suddenly the book is released with a different version of the cover to reflect the movie.  I get why they do that; it’s to increase sales.  Associating the book with the movie makes good sense from a marketing standpoint.

But I still don’t like it.

In general, I prefer the older covers, and when I go to used book stores, I can spend several minutes choosing which cover I like best.  For example, I accidentally bought two copies of The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.  This was a great book, but I obviously don’t need two copies of it.  However, I can’t decide which one to sell back to Half-Price Books because I like both covers.

People say “don’t judge a book by its cover,” obviously meaning not to judge something’s content by what it looks like on the inside. It’s true, but I confess that sometimes a book cover will catch my eye, and that’s the only reason I read the description on the back of the book.

These things matter. If they didn’t, all books would be in a plain brown cover with simple black writing. A good cover can hint about the contents. When I’m in the mood to read horror, I’m unlikely to pick something with flowers on the cover, no matter what the title says. Well, unless they’re dead flowers. Or blood spattered… you get the idea.

One of the best choices I made, based on the cover, was John Dies at the End. I spotted it while walking through the library, and when I read the back, I had to give it a try. It was a fantastic book. Runners up are the ones pictured above.

Is the book cover important to you?  What are your preferences?

Judging a Book… And Other Lessons

I’ve had an interesting day today, and I’ve only been awake for three hours.  I feel like I’ve crammed much more productivity and relaxing than I actually have into the last three hours.  Yes, both.  It got me to thinking that maybe it isn’t how much I do or what I do, but how I perceive it.  I was actually surprised when I realized I’ve only been up for three hours.  Maybe it’s time for an attitude adjustment.  Maybe rather than whining about how I’m pressed for time, maybe I can take a step back and realize that sometimes I’ve done as much as I could in those hours.  Whatever the reason for my feeling so relaxed and good, I’ll take it!

One of the things I did this morning was go out for breakfast and read a really good book.  I’ll get to reviewing the book on Saturday, but the focus of this blog is something else.  You know how they say, “You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover”?  Well, I do it all the time, figuratively and literally.  I pick books by authors first based on the cover.  If it catches my eye, then I read the back and see if I’m interested.  There are many good books I’m sure I’ve passed over based on a disinteresting title.  I “judge” people, at least first impression wise, based on how they look, how they’re dressed, their posture, what kind of accessories they’re carrying/ wearing.

Today, I had an experience that made me wonder how often I’m wrong.

I went out to breakfast, and the hostess was a much older woman.  She was tall and thin with brittle, bleach blonde hair in a ponytail.  Her creased face was a roadmap, caked with foundation.  When I first saw her, she wore a pinched expression on her face, and my immediate thought was, “She’s going to be a real b***h.”  When she looked up and saw me walk in, her entire face changed.  Just like that, her smile took 10 years off her face and changed my entire view of her.  She was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and had an infectious laugh that would have cheered me up if I’d started off in a bad mood.

I’m grateful to her for reminding me what I already knew: You can judge a book by its cover, but you’re going to be wrong at least as often as you’re right.  The problem is that you’ll rarely find out when you’re wrong.

It was nice to be wrong today.