I’m ashamed to admit it, but I do judge a book by the cover. This superficial act has let me down, again, and again. In my defense, when I am a book store looking at books that I’ve never heard of before there’s nothing else to rely on but a book’s cover! The problem with this is manifesting itself in two different ways.
The first occurs when the cover looks really interesting and I get excited about reading the book only to discover the story inside is an epic fail. The latest example was “Rules of Civility.” The cover evoked a “Great Gatsby” feeling and I was set to discover the 1930’s. But instead, I was tricked into reading a book without a plot that was so painful, I put it down after little more than 100 pages.
The second way the cover is deceiving me is even more upsetting. If I’m being honest, a bad cover repels me. I don’t even consider picking up a book with a bad cover. The problem here, is that a lot of really great books have really bad covers!
I walked by “The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Society” so many times because the title was so ridiculous! Also, the odd black figure leaning against a railing does not seem interesting at all. This cover just does not communicate how creative and witty the book was. Why would I want to read about potato peels? I didn’t. But if the title had been, “The Secret Society of Occupied Guernsey Island,” which is a lot closer to what the book was about, I definitely would have picked it up. This was one of my favorite books last year, and it took me years to pick it up because of the bad cover!
I just finished reading “The Zombie Survival Guide” – another book with an awful cover. First, the cover is stark, and the grey background is boring. The weapons look like something a 7th grade boy would draw in the middle of class. Nothing about this cover lets you know how clever and funny the book is! Written as if Zombies are real, the author provides everything you need to know about to survive a Zombie attack, and tells about prior Zombie invasions. I laughed out loud and had a permanent smile while reading this. Again, it took me years to get over the bad cover and pick up this book.
The moral of my sad story, is literally: Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover. These are words to live by. At least as it applies to actual books, and actual covers. I encourage everyone to pick up books that look awful and read a few pages. You might be surprised. I know I certainly am.
Have you had a similar experience? Have you ever been surprised by a book with a bad cover?