Books and Covers

I recently got into an argument with one of my friends about whether or not I should completely dismiss a band based on the fact that I hate their name. There’s an old adage that says, “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” There’s another old adage that says, “what you just said was dumb, and you should feel dumb for saying it.”

Of course you can judge a book by its cover! That’s an important part of the book selection process. I don’t know about you, but I don’t read every book that crosses my path. Usually, I will use various clues given by its cover to decide if it’s something I want to read.

Perhaps it’s by an author that I particularly like or dislike. If it says “Roger Zelazny” on the cover, I’ll probably read it because he was a consistently good author; if it says “Roger Zelazny,” “Amber,” and the name of some other author, I won’t read it because it’s just some jerk cashing in on his most successful series.

I’ll also judge books based on their titles. A particularly catchy title might make me want to read it more; perhaps it’s a clever pun or contains the word “explosion.” That sounds worth my time. Alternatively, if it contains words like “mistress,” “vampire,” or “darkness,” I’ll probably pass on it unless something else convinces me otherwise. (e.g. I’d probably give Lampire: The Exploding Mistress of Darkness Who Was Also a Lamp a shot.)

Then there are cover images. Most books these days have some kind of picture on the front to catch your attention and hint at what the book contains. Sometimes I’ll see what appear to be murder weapons and tools for solving crimes. I’ll usually skip those books because murder mysteries aren’t really my thing. Other times, I’ll see a shirtless man with pointy teeth and a deep purple or red filter over the whole image. Those I will definitely skip because Anne Rice should die in a fire! If I see robots, space ships, swords, or explosions, I’ll probably give the cover a more thorough perusal.

Finally - and let me know if I’m going too fast here - most paperback books have words on the back. These words do the craziest of things! They describe what the book is about. I know! My mind was blown when I first heard about this. “You mean they just tell you what the book is about?” I sputtered. “I didn’t know you could do that! So I can read the back of the book, and it will just tell me if it’s about a topic that appeals to my interests?! That’s the strangest thing I’ve ever heard!”

So yes, you can judge a book by its cover. Is it a complete and fair judgement? Probably not. I’ll bet there’s some really good vampire porn out there that I’m never going to read because Interview With the Vampire was so bad. Is it enough of a judgement to get by? Yes. I would rather miss out on that one amazing Charlene Harris book that I’ll never read because I don’t want to slog through the rest of her and her ilk’s garbage. It won’t keep me up at night. Partly because I don’t feel bad about it. Mostly because I’ll already be awake. I’ll be reading Discworld... with my buddy Vampire Roger Zelazny... still not listening to LMFAO

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