You can’t judge a book by its cover.
I suspect that old adage came about when books all looked pretty much alike. Hardcovers, usually browns, burgundys, or blacks. Nowadays we are overwhelmed with graphic designs meant to entice us into their pages. And while I basically agree with the old adage I find that I DO just books by their covers. But not in the obvious way of being drawn toward eye candy. I find that if a book’s cover is so plain and unimaginative I tend to steer away from it. At least initially. I’m not so stupid and superficial as to reject a book solely on it’s cover art. But it may slow me down. Okay, there’s my shameless admission.
Right now I’m finishing up Zadie Smith’s newest novel “On Beauty.” And I might add, I’m loving it, still. By the way, the cover is plain, cream colored with delicate red foil lettering. Not eye candy, but pleasing to the eye. What first attracted me to the book was the comparison to E. M. Forster’s “Howard’s End.” I love his writing and that Edwardian feel. While this novel is set in the present day, there’s lovely nostalgic quality to the characters and plot. I am especially drawn into the inner lives of the people who unfold in this book. The writing moves me along and makes me eager to know more about their lives. I want to spend time with them, even have tea with them. Is it great literature? Maybe not, but when a book holds me, as this one does I’m grateful.
Pick up a copy of the NY Times review and see if it doesn’t entice you. Then pick up the book and slip into the lives of the Belsey family and their struggles and joys. There’s beauty here.