7 books that prove sometimes you CAN judge a book by its cover.

7 books that prove sometimes you CAN judge a book by its cover.

For the 2015 Reading Challenge, I’m blogging through one category per month, in order. (Don’t worry—you don’t have to read them in order.)

So far we’ve covered:

  1. a book you’ve been meaning to read
  2. a book published this year
  3. a book in a genre you don’t typically read
  4. a book from your childhood
  5. a book your mom loves
  6. a book that was originally written in a different language
  7. a book ‘everyone’ has read but you

The 2015 Reading Challenge. I'm starting now!

“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” the saying goes. But most of us do it anyway.

I certainly do: I can’t think of a time I’ve chosen a book for its cover art alone, but I pick up books because they have a beautiful cover and a great title all the time. (The title is on the cover, after all, and I think this is a huge part of making snap judgments about what we want to read.)

Of course, this cuts both ways. Just this weekend I recommended a book to a friend, and I explicitly told her to disregard its terrible cover. (It was The Ballad of the Whiskey Robber, and if you’re anything like her, you’ll cringe when you click over and take a look!)

I’ve been very careful about which books I’m choosing to highlight here. It’s hard for me to talk about books I don’t like here on the blog (although I am trying to do this thoughtfully). It’s too easy to remember a book you saw on MMD (especially if it has a great cover) and not remember anything else I said about it. That’s why I’m sharing (with one exception) books I chose because of the covers, then ended up reading and loving.

If you’re thinking about reading a book based on the cover, share what it is in comments, and those of us who have read it can weigh in. (I’ll share mine: please tell me what you think!)

7 books I chose because of the cover:

Series: 2015 Reading Challenge: a book you chose because of the cover
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

This is the story of an endearingly cranky bookseller and how his life changed when an unexpected package showed up at his bookshop. For devoted readers, this book is a wonderful reminder of the power of books, and how they can bring people together. But be warned: this book can explode your to-be-read list. At the beginning of each chapter, the narrator recommends a book—or sometimes, a short story—to his daughter, describing what it’s about and why she’ll enjoy it. (He’s a bookseller: he can’t help himself.) I love how the bright cover of the hardback edition seems to beckon you to step inside the story, but don't miss the other editions: the U.S. paperback edition has a fun inside joke (note which book is on display in the shop window) and the U.K. cover is also terrific. More info →
Secrets of a Charmed Life

Secrets of a Charmed Life

I've heard good things about Susan Meissner's historical fiction for years, but I must admit, it was the cover that convinced me to give her latest work a try: it was popping up all over the MMD Reading Challenge pinterest board for this category at the beginning of the year! Now that I've read it, I have a difficult time connecting the stylishly dressed woman on the cover to any characters in the novel, but since the teenage protagonist dreams of becoming a fashion designer it's not too far off. The story takes place during the London Blitz, which is probably why it reminded me so strongly of Kate Morton's The Secret Keeper. Enjoyable and moving. More info →
Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World

Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World

I've gotta tell you: this is the only book on this list I haven't read yet, but I'm hoping to soon. (Publication date: August 18.) But this is Emily's fourth book, and I feel familiar with it already just because she's been doing such a good job sharing the heart behind the story on her blog and social media. (Please go check out the #itssimplytuesday hashtag on Instagram!) The book is about finding grace in our everyday lives: not in the big-deal spotlight moments, but on a regular old Tuesday, the smallest day of the week. This shiny gold cover makes me smile every day I see it: it's carefree and happy and the nod to Emily's bench (that she talks about all the time on her blog) is perfect. More info →
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

The titular hotel is a real place: it's Seattle's Panama Hotel, and it's where Ford's wonderfully titled debut novel opens. But the cover shows us a scene from Seattle's waterfront, beautiful but sad, even wistful—much like the novel itself. In the story, an old man looks back to his 1940s childhood (thanks to a recent discovery at the Panama Hotel) and remembers with fondness his friendship—and maybe something more—with his young Japanese friend Keiko. They lose touch when Keiko and her family are evacuated during the Japanese internment. (I learned so little about this in my U.S. history classes that when I first read the book back in 2009 I kept googling Ford's historical references to see if they really happened. They did.) The prose too often veers from subtle to sappy, but it remains very readable and sheds light on a shameful (and overlooked) period of American history. More info →
Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

This former Summer Reading Guide pick from Arrested Development writer Semple is written in many formats: emails, letters, emergency room bills, police reports, even correspondence between a patient and psychiatrist. The story is unconventional and a little off-kilter, so the author specifically requested a bold, graphic cover that would hint at the comic, satirical story within. She got it: the cover is so eye-catching that booksellers are telling the author the great cover is why the book continues to sell so well. More info →
Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore

Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore

This fast-paced book is mystery, quest, and love letter to the written word, all rolled into one: think Harry Potter meets National Treasure. It's not a technically brilliant book, and it's unlikely I'll re-read it, but its back-and-forth journey between Google headquarters and the literary underground operating out of the title's bookstore is plenty of fun for book lovers. The terrific cover (which glows in the dark) is no coincidence: author Sloan works for Twitter and understands that there's more digital content readily available than ever before. He wanted to make this book something worth buying in the physical edition. More info →
All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See

You don't need me to tell you to read this one: it's everywhere. But I think one of the (overlooked) reasons it's everywhere is that this gorgeous novel has an equally gorgeous cover and title. Pictured there is the walled French citadel of Saint-Malo, situated on the English channel. The book's setting is crucial to the story, and as I read, I kept flipping back to the cover to stare at its scenery and imagine the characters scurrying through its streets. This is a beautiful novel, and entirely deserving of its place on the bestseller lists and awards rolls. More info →

The books I’m currently considering reading because of the cover: The Making of Us by Lisa Jewell, The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty, Oh! You Pretty Things by Shanna Mahin. Have you read any of these? I’d love to hear your thoughts in comments.

7 books that prove sometimes you CAN judge

What books did you decide to read because of the cover? What books have great covers that are catching your eye? Tell us all about them in comments.

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57 comments

  1. donna says:

    Great post, Anne!
    Books I decided to read because of the cover:
    The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman (one of the best books I’ve read in years)
    Oh! You Pretty Things by Shanna Mahin (currently
    reading and loving)
    Kitchens of the Great Midwest
    by J. Ryan Stradal
    The Ice Cream Queen of
    Orchard Street by Susan Jane
    Gilman
    What Was Lost by Catherine
    O’Flynn (check out the UK
    cover)
    Villa America by Liza
    Klaussmann
    Before I Met You by Lisa
    Jewell
    The Restoration of Otto Laird
    by Nigel Packer
    Read Bottom Up by Neel Shah
    Happy reading and thanks for the great recommendations!

  2. donna says:

    Books with eye-catching covers I’m considering reading:
    Love Fortune and Other Disasters by Kimberly Karalius
    The Secret of Raven Point by Jennifer Vanderbes
    The Betrayers by David
    Bezmozgis
    Ana of California by Andi Teran
    Landing Gear by Kate Pulling
    Peony in Love by Lisa See
    Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia

    The Shore by Sara Taylor

  3. Julie Richardson says:

    I recently read City of Ember due to it’s simple, bold (and gold!) cover. Covers like that immediately catch my eye. 🙂 I liked the easy read so much (and even read some parts aloud to my 8 and 9 yr olds) that I’d like to read the rest of the series! And of course, all those Anna Bond books with gorgeous, to-die-for covers make me want to read those classics! The only one I’ve read out of those is Anne and part of Little Women. (gasp! hangs head in shame..)

  4. Wendy says:

    I chose Shadow and Bone as my based-on-the-cover entry. I was only mildly interested in the book, but loved the cover so much that I got it anyway. I’m also a fan of all the paper cut out covers that you see in MG novels lately, like Shiver, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, and A Tale Dark and Grim.

  5. Rachel D says:

    The Lake House by Kate Morton. Loved the way it was written – switching from present day to the past.
    The Good Girl by Mary Kubica. Again written in such a way to keep the reader guessing. Glad I judged by the covers!

  6. Suzy says:

    I picked up my first Terry Pratchett as I was drawn to the cover and now have a complete discworld collection.

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