J asks: Can you judge a book by its cover?
Last summer I was just coming off the final week of comprehensive exams, the last of three where I read nothing but research and wrote opinions and proposals based on the literature in my field. At the end, I was craving escape. But when your go-to relaxing activity is reading, and you’ve just spent a week doing nothing but that in a very un-leisurely way, how do you select the perfect story? One that’s not too demanding, doesn’t carry a heavy cognitive load, does not require interpretation of complex literary themes? …etc.
In the movie version of this library scene…I am scanning the “Recent and Readable” shelf for just such a novel. Zoom in on the book Poor Little Bitch Girl. The cover catches my eye. I mean, look at it. Then the title… “Sound’s pretty shallow,” I thought, “Could be just the thing.” And the author: Jackie Collins has written 29 best-sellers. 90,000 + fans can’t be all wrong. So I checked it out, using the self-scanner (lest a scholarly librarian judge me).
And…? It was perfect. Sex, drugs, rock and roll, and politics all make the scene with beautiful young characters jet-setting from coast to coast. I spent a Saturday and Sunday afternoon under the umbrella on my patio with it. A completely satisfying read.
But before I draw a conclusion based on this one experience—(if my comprehensive exams taught me anything, it’s to weigh the evidence. And one data point is not conclusive evidence)—a few months later my friend lent me Severance Package. Check out the cover…form an opinion of what the book might be about…(if you think comic book style office action thriller, complete with illustrations each chapter, you’re right)…read…and enjoy.
So, can you judge a book by its cover? Yeah. Sometimes you absolutely get what you see…in books anyway.