October 22, 2009
We choose our books for more reasons than a camel has fleas: reviews; recommendations; favorite authors; coin flips; buzz; good guesses.
But when we walk into a bookstore “not knowing,” when there isn’t one specific book we’re after, then it’s all about the cover. The cover: the beginning of the journey, the promise of something good inside, like the custard filling in a Boston Cream Pie.
We’ve all trolled the bookshelves, like drill sergeants scrutinizing the troops, looking for something, anything, to pop out at us from a cover.
Sometimes it’s the odd or compelling title. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Devil in the White City.
Sometimes it’s all those soundbite-like blurbs: “genre-busting”; “atmospheric”; “hardboiled”; “haunting”; “unputdownable!”
And sometimes it’s the design or the colors on the jacket.
Whatever it is, a good cover, with all its freewheeling pieces and parts, freezes our feet in place, fixes our gaze, whispers to us conspiratorially, “Over here. Me. Pick me!”
And then, of course, it’s time to crack it open. Time to taste the custard filling inside. Time to decide.
One of the best books I’ve ever read I’d never heard of before I picked it up off the shelf, drawn to the cover of a father and son walking with purpose in the shadows of early morning … by the intriguing title … The Shadow of the Wind.
I’m told you can’t judge a book by its cover. Then again, sometimes it’s all you got going in.
That and your good guess.