Wednesday 10 February 2010

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Guest post from Misty of The Book Rat: The Deceptive Lure of the Cover

Today I am lucky enough to share with you a great guest post from Misty of The Book Rat about being lured by a pretty cover, and disappointed with the content. Over to Misty...

the book ratFirst, 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
The Luxe (cheesy, soapy, absurd) and Hush, Hush (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 The Dark Divine and The Devouring 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 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,
Fallen Fallen,
Beautiful Creatures Beautiful Creatures,
If I Stay If I Stay,
Evermore Evermore
and Need Need. They make a beautiful chorus of potential disappointment.

But with books out there like

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Paperback) by Seth Grahame-Smith Pride and Prejudice and Zombies*,
City of Bones (Mortal Instruments, #1) by Cassandra Clare City of Bones,
Blue Bloods (Blue Bloods, #1) by Melissa de la Cruz Blue Bloods,
Her Fearful Symmetry (Hardcover) by Audrey Niffenegger Her Fearful Symmetry
and A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle, #1) by Libba Bray A Great and Terrible Beauty luring me in and letting me down, I'm half afraid to pick up anything.
Marked (House of Night, #1) by P.C. Cast Marked and Shiver 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?


  1. Funny post, great job Misty. Love the part about the warning labels. I admit to quickly falling for a pretty cover. I missed your review of Shiver, I thought that was supposed to be great. Maybe it is the pretty girl senario.

  2. I never got around to reviewing Shiver. I plan to when I read Linger (which I will do, as a friend with an ARC told me it's much better). It wasn't that I didn't like it, but it didn't live up to the fantastic cover. The characters were wooden.

  3. I am just a recent convert to even looking at the cover. I never used to pay any attention to what the cover looks like at all.

    However, I do depend on the cover blurb. Too often I have read the story only to find out that the blurb was terribly misleading.

    Now I want a great cover, blurb and story. for me, I felt that Fallen and Evermore did not live up to their lovely covers. Beautiful Creatures and The Dark Divine did. But I haven't yet read all of the books shown.

  4. I feel you on the pretty covers! Hope you love Meridian. I sure did :)

  5. PS
    I like your description of hush, hush

  6. Love this Misty !! This was so funny and so true.

  7. Ugh. I have the same problem. Apparently, I'm a cover whore. I see a pretty cover, and I have this horrible urge to buy the book.

    I wasn't all that impressed with Marked either, though I think both of us might be in the minority on that one!

    Great post Misty! And thanks for hosting her Jo! :)

  8. Misty - Aww, that's a shame, I really like the sound of Shiver. I still think I'll read it myself though, see what I think.

    I'm also a little worried as I have Blue Bloods and A Great and Terrible Beauty on my TBR pile. I've heard such good things about them from pretty much everyone... except you. Oh dear. I'll keep my fingers crossed for them.

    Also, I have to say, I adored Hush, Hush! The cover is GORGEOUS, and I thought the book was just awesome, I couldn't put it down. And I also really liked City of Bones, though I have no love for either the US or UK cover, I really don't like them. To each their own, I suppose :)

    However, I can agree with you on Marked! I wasn't too keen on it. I much prefer the Vampire Academy series!

    Kathy - Ohh, I've had issues with blurbs sometimes, when they're nothing like what the book is about. I tend not to rely on a blurb all that often, as most books I read these days are recs from reviews, therefore I have an idea what the book is about. It normally becoems an issue when I come to review the book, and only find blurbs/summaties that have nothing to do with the book. It really bugs me!

    Ohh, I liked Fallen and Evermore! It's a shame you didn't. I thought they were really good. Nevermind.

    Natalie - I'm glad you enjoyed the post! :)

  9. I just wrote this long comment about what I didn't like specifically about these books, and how I thought you would like them, Jo, and it didn't save. Damn it.

  10. Oh, it sucks when blogger fails on you like that! So annoying! But thank you for trying, I appreciate it! :)

  11. Awesome guest post! I actually think that Misty needs to take a look at the UK cover for The Devouring. It's ugly as sin, and will hopefully put her mind at rest about the content of the pretty US version!

    I definitely dislike the way that many UK covers seem to be aimed at much younger readers. There's several books I would never have picked up the UK version of if I hadn't originally been intrigued by the prettier US cover.

  12. I know exactly what you mean! But sometimes books don't have an American cover to sway readers, like Luisa's. It's a shame, because a lot of these books are really good! And it's not that the covers are bad, but that they just seemed aimed for younger readers, and so the older ones don't look at them. It's a shame!

  13. Great post - I often buy books just because I love the cover. I have quite a few of the ones you didn't like on my TBR pile so I'll have to see how I get on with them. Hush Hush I even brought in hardback because I loved the cover so much (I NEVER buy hardbacks!!) & I was disappointed that it didn't live up to the cover. I didn't hate it, I just didn't enjoy it as much as I expected to.

    I'm sure I miss out on loads of good reads because the covers don't catch my eye. The only time I'll buy a book with a cover I'm not keen on is if I already love the author or I've seen really good reviews for it.

  14. Awesome post! I am laughing out loud, especially at the Megan Fox comment.

  15. Interesting post! I don't let a good cover sway me too much on how much I like the story but it can sway me in whether I'll buy the book or get it from the library. An exceptionally beautiful cover with a good story is almost always bought. I always read multiple reviews and excerpts of a novel before I decide to read it. The cover of a book is just a great bonus. And Meridian is, I think, just a great as its cover.

  16. Oh good lord, Lauren, the UK cover is hideous! Wow. It's amazing to think two different teams of people can take the same book and come up with something so totally different.

  17. I agree with you to some extent.

    But we all perceive things in a different way. The definition of what is beautiful or bad writing is something that is subjective.

    BTW I really enjoyed reading Hush, Hush =D

  18. I also agree to some extent, but you shouldn't let a few bad books get in your way of other. I read Fallen and I thought it was really really good. Evermore was sorta like a wierd version of Twilight. I'm reading Need right now and it's good. But I have a question. Did you say you read City of Bones and was dissaointed? I LOVED that book! What didn't you see fit about it?
    Btw, I liked your Hush Hush report(: