I’d like to think that I’m a knowledgeable, sophisticated reader, who doesn’t choose what to read (or not read) next based on whim and caprice.
Of course I’d like to think so—but it wouldn’t be true. I’m plenty vulnerable to picking up books, or avoiding them, for the wrong reasons. Here are six examples of wonderful books I nearly didn’t read because I avoided them for stupid, shallow reasons. I’m sharing them today in hopes that YOU won’t make the same mistake.
Surely I’m not the only one who’s nearly missed out on a great book because of a strange title or lackluster title. I’d love to hear your examples in comments.
I read this when it first came out, before I heard all the amazing buzz about it. (There's a reason it vaulted to the top of the bestseller list and stayed there.) Despite my interest in the topic, I was hesitant to pick this one up because it sounded boring. (I hate to admit it.) But when I finally persuaded myself to give it a try I discovered that Cain is a fantastic writer: I wasn't expecting this to be a pageturner but she hooked me from the beginning. I'm currently re-reading this for the third time. That's high praise. More info →
I would never have picked this book off the shelf: I just couldn't get past the awful cover. But a friend with great taste recommended it, and more importantly, she put the actual, physical book in my hands. I gave it a try out of loyalty to her, and I've been recommending it ever since. This nonfiction narrative about a Hungarian gentleman thief reads like a novel, but this true story is stranger than fiction. More info →
Each book in the YA fantasy series The Lunar Chronicles puts a new spin on an old fairy tale. In this first installment, Cinderella becomes a kickass mechanic, despised by her mother and stepsisters because she’s a cyborg. Admittedly, it sounds cheesy, but it works. I'd heard great things about this series but I found this terrible cover so offputting it took me years to give it a try. I'm glad I did. (I'm currently blazing my way through Winter, the series' final book, on audio.) More info →
Nothing about this book description appeals to me, but I trusted my writing partner when she encouraged me to give it a try—especially the audio version narrated by Wil Wheaton. I couldn’t care less about video games or John Hughes movies, but this exceptional book hooked me from page one. I've been recommending it like crazy ever since. I've lost track of how many times readers have told me they never would have chosen this book for themselves, but they absolutely loved it. More info →
I nearly didn't read this book because of the horrible title, and that would have been a shame. I'm so glad I relied on a friend's recommendation, and my own enjoyment of Gawande's latest release Being Mortal, and read it anyway. This brief, engaging book isn't just another productivity book: it's about how to successfully live and work in a world that's becoming increasingly complex. Gawande draws fascinating examples from medicine, construction, and aviation to explain why systems remain vulnerable to human error, and what we can do about it. Highly recommended. More info →
I'd heard great things about this little handbook, but I couldn't get over the fact that it looked like a cheesy gift book—not the kind of thing I typically read. I checked it out of the library anyway, and finally opened it out of guilt the day before it was due. I was riveted. This surprisingly readable guide is packed with fascinating insights and practical tips covering diverse fields like sports, music, art, math, and business. More info →
What books did YOU have to be talked into reading, that you ended up loving? I’d love to hear your examples in comments.