First, before I begin my ramble, I want to thank Jo for having me!
Now, let's get down to it:
There’s an old saying that nearly everybody knows: never judge a book by its cover. It’s concise, it’s cliché, and it’s true. But it’s generally accepted to mean not to take something plain at face value: there could be something of true substance and value under that boring wrapper.
I never really considered it from the other side. Until lately.
I am notoriously a sucker for a good cover. Even when I have a sneaking suspicion that the book inside is, well, absolute crap, I still feel myself reaching for the pretty, shiny packaging. I envision it sitting on my shelves, looking at me with its pretty face. I know it’s marketing, and I know I shouldn’t fall for it, and I know I am a sucker. Sometimes, I even read reviews that confirm my suspicions that, yes, it is a crap book, and still I think, ‘But surely such a pretty book has some redeeming value?’ It's pretty poop, and I can’t resist it.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
Of course, this tendency to read pretty books that I know are going to be horrible has backfired on me.
After reading (cheesy, soapy, absurd) and (melodramatic, disjointed, unrealistic and just plain odd) and an assortment of other beautifully clothed books with awful insides, I've developed a bit of a phobia about pretty books.
You see, recently, I’ve got this Pavlov’s dog thing going where I see a pretty book and assume it must be horrible. Even though I’ve heard great things about The Dark Divine and The Devouring, I am terrified to read them. A part of me is so convinced that pretty covers are only used nowadays to mask bad writing. (But there's still that other part of me that wants to own them, even if they are horrible. They're just so yummy to look at.)
I want to read Meridian, and I've heard it's great. I have it sitting on my shelves, calling to me with its pretty self. It's right there others I'm afraid to disappoint myself with,
If I Stay,
and Need. They make a beautiful chorus of potential disappointment.
But with books out there like
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies*,
City of Bones,
Her Fearful Symmetry
and A Great and Terrible Beauty luring me in and letting me down, I'm half afraid to pick up anything.
Even Marked and Shiver sort of let me down.
And I know, I know most of these books are insanely popular; but I have to wonder, how much of that is really due to attachment to the cover? I mean, Megan Fox seems to be pretty popular, but let's face it, the girl can't act.
These books should come with a Reader's Advisory badge:
Warning: contents may not be as pretty as their covers would suggest.
*Okay, okay, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies may not techincally be a pretty cover, but it did call to me. I just had to own it, and once I had, I just had to give it away.
Thanks for such a great guest post, Misty! Make sure you check out Misty's book blog, I am a frequent reader and it's fantastic!
How about you, have you ever read a book because of the cover only to be disappointed? I felt a little disappointed once I finished Need by Carrie Jones, but on a small scale. I've been pretty lucky that I like most of the books I read, so what about you?
I do find, however, that I'm sometimes disappointed with covers that let the content down; not so much that they're not pretty covers, but more that they seem marketed to younger readers than the content is aimed for. For example, the covers for Luisa Plaja's Split by a Kiss and Extreme Kissing - they are great covers, but I think they look like they're aimed for the younger end of teen, where as when reading them, they're for 15/16+. I just think older readers would overlook them for their covers, and miss out. (Though as you all know from when I had my spazz, I love the cover for Swapped by a Kiss). Do you find this? What do you consider cover faux pas when compared to the content?