Last week, I confessed to passing over The Help many times despite its rave reviews and plethora of awards.
My reasoning for not choosing the audiobook had absolutely NOTHING to do with the book itself, but instead involved the decidedly boring cover. That’s right… the cover.
That sweetly boring graphic rendering of three little birds on a harmlessly fresco mustard cover with an unremarkable purple symmetrical blob with the title in an ordinary font simply did not scream “READ ME” to me.
Example: To Kill a Mockingbird
Am I alone in my cover snobbery? I doubt it. If I was, there would be very little effort involved on the part of publishers to create eye-catching book covers. In fact, many books that are reprinted have the good fortune to have multiple covers over their lifetimes. Take To Kill a Mockingbird,
For example. Here is a sampling of some of the covers it has seen since its début in 1960:
That’s why it’s a sin to kill a ‘mockingbird!
There are actually many more covers out there for this classic. Some are more interesting than others, but all have their own appeal. You can almost see the eras in which they were created, trying to attract the readers of that decade. Some merely show the tree that features prominently in the story, some show Scout, and some display a mockingbird – a symbol that is only referred to as an example of lost innocence:
“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’
Now that I have freed myself by confessing to the sin of judging a book by its cover, I may as well tell you what I think of other current books. Why not?
I like edgy covers like Christopher Moore’s Bite Me or Jonathan Kellerman’s Deception. I’m also fond of the covers of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and the upcoming The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson. I’m not fond of the covers of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books and have summarily avoided them. If I didn’t already have an aversion to Jodi Picoult’s endings to her novels, the cover of House Rules would certainly put me off. Booooring.
Just so you know I can, if necessary, get past a cover if properly motivated. I read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle after taking it out of the library and returning it unread 7 times. I had nothing else to read, so I read it. It was good and I hated the ending, but I did finish it. See? I’m not completely superficial.
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
Just because I got through Sawtelle, don’t expect me to make a habit of it. I will NOT be reading the new Charlaine Harris, Dead in the Family with the cutesy thorny-rose-divided-lovers cover. Not happening.
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