Judging a Book By Its Cover

Sundays are book days. Okay, well I admit, every day is book day for me. But Sunday afternoons are typically when I’ll go wander through a local bookstore.

This past Sunday found me at a Starbucks that is conveniently attached to a Barnes & Noble (neat how that worked out, isn’t it?). I did, I’ll have you know, get a yummy treat at Starbucks, and then of course, I couldn’t pass up the chance to browse through the books. I mean, what’s a booknerd to do when the entrance to BN was right there?

I wasn’t on the hunt for a particular book, so I simply strolled through the aisles, spending most of my time in my fave genre aisles, science fiction/fantasy and mystery.

judgebookcover.jpgNow I’m sure you’ve heard the adage don’t judge a book by its cover. But I admit, I totally did. I judged several books by their covers and in fact bought one simply because of the cover.

Okay, I get that the adage isn’t really meant to be literal. And I get that it is excellent advice for when dealing with people. But I ask you, what to do when you’re actually dealing with books? How do you pick out a new book to read?

I choose some books because the author is one I’ve read and enjoyed before. For example, I’ll pick up any book written by Neil Gaiman, Darynda Jones, Juliet Blackwell, Kevin Hearne, Charlaine Harris, Patrick Rothfuss, (and others) regardless of whether I know what the book is about or not.

I picked up other books because someone recommended it. For example, I got Stolen Things by Stephen Parolini because The Bloggess recommended it. (And I greatly enjoyed it too.) Or I read When Breathe Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi because my book club voted to read it one month.

Then I opt to read some books because of the hype. Some article or maybe a newsletter from a publishing house proclaims the book as a must read. Or it wins the Goodreads Choice Awards or some other accolade or award. I chose Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel because it was a National Book Award finalist and a Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Fiction.

Those are the main ways that I find books. But what happens when I’ve read all my fave authors, no ones given me a recommendation, or nothing hyped jumps out at me. This was my dilemma on Sunday. Hence the judging books by their covers (because I’m incapable of leaving a bookstore empty-handed).

So I wandered the aisles mainly looking at covers. I picked up several, but one cover in particular jumped out at me The Everything Box by Richard Kadrey. (Apparently his Sandman Slim books are popular, but I was not familiar with him.)

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What caught my attention first was that the cover is a striking shade of blue (and blue is my favorite color). It’s almost a perfect, gorgeous blue.

Then I noticed the title is vertical instead of horizontal. And the title, The Everything Box, combined with the tagline starting the apocalypse is not easy, sounded intriguing—intriguing enough for me to flip it over and read the synopsis. And I found the synopsis interesting enough to read the first couple of pages.

At this point I will say I’m not one of those people who go into a bookstore and spend hours reading books without paying for them. But I will read a couple pages to see if I have any interest. And after reading the first couple of pages, I decided to buy The Everything Box. So far, I find the story compelling enough that I’m not sad I bought the book. We’ll see if it continues to captivate me.

And that’s what I did this weekend—I judged a book by its cover.

How to you find new books and new authors to read? Tell me in the comments below. And bonus points if you provide recommendations!

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