February 11, 2013

Don't Judge a Book by its Semi-Erotic Cover

That whole “never judge a book by its cover” advice? Total crap. Unless you mean it figuratively speaking (most people do).

You can usually tell everything you need to know about a book by its cover. Does it have a dog on the cover? The dog dies on page 287. Does it have a renaissance painting on the cover? Count on some steamy scenes, an affair, a murder, and a lot of unnecessary exposition. If there’s an illustration on the cover, it’s an actual children’s book. A sepia photo of a girl on the cover? Don’t waste your time. Trust me.  

I use Goodreads to find books to put on my to-read list. It’s an easy way to keep track of what you’ve read, review books, and find new books that might interest you. AND—you can see the covers of books before you find them on the shelf.

I recently started reading a novel called What I Loved, which I found on Goodreads. I put it on hold at my library. This is the cover I expected:

Makes you think the book has something to do with art, right? Possibly a sad story, a tale of something lost?

This is the cover I got.

You can only imagine my face as the librarian handed it over to me.

Me: This isn’t what it looks like.

Librarian: No need to explain . . .

Me: No, really. It’s not a romance novel—I’m not into that stuff.

Librarian: It’s none of my business what you’re into.

Me: Wait, wait! Goodreads says: “New York 1975—art historian Leo Hertzberg discovers an extraordinary painting by an unknown artist in a SoHo gallery . . .”

Librarian: Fascinating set-up. If you’ll excuse me.

And then I leave, completely humiliated. WHY do people choose such horrible artwork for book covers? Don’t they know that visuals sell? You see the cover of a book before you read the back of it.

Meh. I guess it could’ve been worse. At least this wasn’t the cover:

Did you ever have a book cover take you by surprise? What’s the ugliest book cover you can remember seeing?


  1. Haha, that last one is horrible. I quite enjoy the random sidekick cat though.

    1. My guess is that sidekick cat was the best part of the story.