Don’t Judge Books by Their Covers
A teacher at my primary school once held up a boring looking copy of The Hobbit, and said ‘Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.’ It was a few more years before I could remain interested in any literature with less pictures than The Beano, but after reading The Hobbit I realised that my boring teacher had said something worth remembering. Had I judged my teacher prematurely?
It’s so easy to fall into prejudices by appearance, it’s what helped Homo Sapians distinguish between food and sabre-toothed tigers. But food is now delivered to our doors and giant felines are only a threat when Tiddles sleeps on your face in the night. The instinct of distinguishing ‘Friend or Foe’ has become ‘Like or Ignore’, mostly thanks to Facebook.
I’ve read a lot of books, I’ve met a lot of people, and I’ve found books are a lot like people. Some are worth reading again and again, others you should really put down after the first few chapters, but you can only find out by taking the time to read them yourself. With today’s modern lifestyle though, it’s hard to find the time to curl up with a good book, so we need to know if it’s worth our precious time beforehand. Anyone who remembers English class will know the torture of putting up with a story they have no interest in, so why read a book you don’t have to write an essay on?
With the sheer number of books being printed, publishers know they have to make their products sell, and there’s a lot of competition out there. It is the same with dating websites. Each user sets up their own profile, which becomes their cover that they are showing to the rest of the world, trying to be read. There are so many user profiles, but not nearly enough time to message and date them all, unless that’s your thing. Books and people are readily available to pick up online, but only one will resent you for putting them down.
With people being just as individual and complex as the books that they read, we need to look beyond their cover in order to be a part of their story. When looking for those perfect stories, here are a few things to keep in mind:
The Genre – Though it would be perfect to pick up a book or a date and instantly fall in love, that mostly happens in films. If you don’t like drama, then maybe it’s time to try comedy. If you want something more serious, try the classics. There are genres and cross-genres out there to suite all palates, all you need to do is have a taste.
The Praises – Book covers without the opinions of critics seem suspect, yet too many seems like we are forced to agree the book is good before even reading the blurb. Also keep in mind the publishers are unlikely to put anything but praise on the cover, and is the book critic of The Sun really likely to sway you? It’s the same with dates. Ask their friends for their opinions and of course they’ll shower their friend with praise, probably. At the end of the day all opinions are subjective, and though it’s interesting to acknowledge another perspective, we shouldn’t let other people’s opinions affect ours. But that’s just my opinion.
The Blurb – This is where the book is allowed to, very briefly, speak for itself. Think of it like a pick-up line. Usually a quote along the lines of ‘I want you to read me so I’m being deliberately mysterious.’ followed by a lengthier teaser of a paragraph to intrigue you. They are usually written by the author, they don’t want to give the whole story away, they want you to keep reading.
The First Chapter – Now you can finally get to know each other. But just because you’ve bought the book doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep the receipt. Reading an entire story that bores you enough to put it down every few paragraphs never bodes well in my my experience, and if you carry on regardless you’ll end up resenting the book for another you could actually be enjoying. Give it a chance by all means, but if your attention wavers enough to look up the synopsis on the internet, it may be time to move on.
So go out there, and read to your heart’s content, but just remember to live your own story!