Judging a Book

I’m about to reveal a secret. I judge books by their cover and/or title. I know shocking, and not necessarily the best way to learn about books. However, sometimes I’ve found that I read the most entertaining and interesting books, because the cover of the book grabbed me, or the title seemed interesting. On the completely other side of the spectrum, I have made errors about what I believed a book may be about due to the title.

Embarrassingly enough, the book I misjudged was The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. A close friend of mine recommended the book and thought it was well written. I had remembered hearing about the book, and said “Oh yeah, a crime/mystery novel.” Clearly, not what the book was about. Michael Chabon writes a coming of age tale about a young man named Art, who begins to discover his sexual identity, has to face his father and decide what he wants to truly do in life.

mysteries of pittsburgh


With this next book, I was a little closer to the mark. Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley, in my opinion is a wonderfully written book, about the struggles of sexuality and how different people may handle different situations. The book is set during the Civil Rights Movement in Virginia. It is about beliefs, and knowing what is right and wrong, and it was a truly moving book. When I first picked the book up, I assumed it was about keeping secrets, and I was pretty close. I loved this book, and would highly recommend it.

lies we tell ourselves

This last title, I have not read yet….but here is my guess. The book is about a girl struggling through ballet school. She wants to be a great ballerina, but with that comes a great many challenges. Pointe by Brandy Colbert is a book that has been on my TBR list for a little bit now, and I’m very excited to finally be able to read it. I’m also curious to see how close my guess is….and what else the book entails.


Sometimes judging a book by its cover and title is exactly what draws a person in, and it gives the reader the opportunity to find some hidden treasures. However, I try not to make this a daily practice, are there any books that have surprised you in what they were about? Have you ever judged a book by its cover?



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8 responses to “Judging a Book

  1. CHabon— ohhh, his writing takes the reader places far beyond some publicist’s coverart! Now, that being said, I’m in a few bookclubs- one of them is The Covergirls– some of it tongue in cheek humor because most of us are serious readers and don’t judge a book by it’s cover …. and some of it because we acknowledge the cover art is what we judge sometimes– marketing is required to make book sales and that in turn, is good for the author… Pittsburgh surprised me, too. Loved it, tho one of my faves by him remains The Yiddish Policeman’s Union…

  2. Plus one for Yiddish Policeman’s Union, with the addition of Wonder Boys and his book ‘Maps and Legends’, which I definitely judged by the cover and really enjoyed.
    I read my first Orhan Pamuk book (Snow) because of the cover, and I was not disappointed. I also find that I am often drawn to the American editions of books because they have that soft grainy paper on the cover, and often seem to have thought more about how to present it.
    But that said, I have thousands of books on shelves around the house, and they have been selected for a myriad of reasons, sometimes for a phrase on the random page it opens to in the store, for a recommendation, because another book references it…or nowadays a blog.
    I love the idea of a book club called Covergirls:-)

  3. I do this all the time, mostly because the depth of my book selection tends to stay in the same range, where covers are almost as important as the contents (as far as getting someone to pick it up goes). I’m slowly breaking out of that and opening myself to more engaging reads from all genres of novels and really gaining some favorite new authors. xD

  4. I do judge books by their covers and sometimes regretted doing so! I like Penguin books, with their plain, striped covers, but in a way I’m still making a judgement based on the cover because I’m selecting a Penguin book.

  5. Doesn’t everyone choose a book like this? :) I also like to run my hand over the dust jacket in bookstores (don’t judge LOL) If it feels rough, I tend to pass it up. If it feels soft I often choose that one.

  6. Les

    Yes, I must admit that I do judge a book by it’s cover. I do have a small problem and have had it for many years. I can’t seem to go into a book store without looking for something to read. I can look at what the book is all about, look at the cover, the printing, and how thick it is. The smell of a new book attracts me for some stupid reason. I have purchased books on a subject, but never seem to take the time to read them. I might start to read, but get bored rather fast. Why, I don’t know. Guess that it’s just something in me. ~ Les

  7. It can be difficult not to judge a book by its cover. The cover of a book is often the thing that will entice someone to pick it up to either read it or look at the description. I admit, I am guilty of doing it as well.

  8. sitanaik

    I used to, in times gone by – with variable success. But, with increasing access to international reviews, book blogs etc. and online ordering and e-readers, I look for books and rarely go by gut feeling any more

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