I remember as a kid perusing the shelves at the junior section of our library trying to find something interesting to read. At the time, about the only books I had to choose from were Sweet Valley High romances (yick), dog stories (boring), or Choose Your Own Adventures (which were always predictable—I always died in the end). Mom tried to help me. “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” she’d encourage. Which usually meant that the books with the sad looking kids on the front were what she thought were good books.
Since then, I really have learned not to judge books by their covers. Shoot, if I let the old Dover thrift editions dictate my reading choices, I’d never read. Thankfully, they’ve started coming aways from that.
However, the point of today’s post is that I believe books deserve to have more than just a bland cover. They should have interesting, enchanting, glittery covers that draw you in and make you want to read. They should make you not be able to resist them. Don’t you feel like you’ve stumbled across a treasure at a used book sale when you discover a quality bound book with a gold lettered title on the spine? Maybe even beautiful illustrations throughout?
I’m looking at my own personal library collection here in my bedroom. There’s a mixture of all sorts—paperbacks, contemporary authors, classics, hardbacks with dust jackets, children’s books, non-fiction volumes, even some really old vintage books. I don’t know about you, but I find the white paperbacks the most boring to look at. It totally messes with the excited, enchanted feel I want my library to have.
No, it’s the thick classic volumes with the illustrations and sewn-in ribbon bookmarks, and the spines that shine when the light from the window hits them that are the ones that satisfy me the most. Those are the ones that beg to be read.
That being said, I do have a place for those white paperbacks. Some of them were given to me by my grandmother. Others are ones I read when I was a girl at our local library, and then later bought when they flushed them out of their system. I have a special place in my heart for those. Others are there temporarily, until I find other versions of the same book that are more interesting to look at.
Something must be said for the cover art. When a person is pictured on the front, (unless it is an old classic painting), you can almost always tell when it was printed for some reason. Something to do with that decade’s interpretation of hair and makeup, even if depicting an historical fiction scene. Today’s cover art may not look old fashioned, but in about 15 years, it soon will. I like timeless covers that won’t have people groaning in several years’ time.
…And don’t forget: chock full of illustrations! At least the children’s literature, anyway. I must have gone through 3 copies of “Little Women” before I finally found the version I’d read when I was 12 years old. It proudly sits on my bookshelf among the A’s.
The way I see it, each book represents a world. The outside cover of that world ought to give a beautiful representation of what’s inside. Books are a written work of art. Their covers should be worthy of them. Okay, okay. If all books were leather bound and gilt edged few would be able to afford them. I get it. It’s just the whole principle of the thing, though.
By the way, there is something to judging a book by it’s cover after all. I mean, if I randomly picked a book off a shelf and saw the cover full of planets and aliens, I’d know there was 99.999% chance I’d enjoy reading it. Give me a copy of a small paperback with a sweaty man and a woman in her nightie? I’d laugh and walk away. But, let’s say we were browsing among contemporary authors and I found a cover with Roman soldiers on horses, swords drawn, rushing into battle. Now my attention is hooked! In this respect, you can use your sense of judgment. You know what you like and what you don’t like. Or, at least, you’re learning!