During a recent conversation, a good friend of mine couldn’t stop bragging about a book she’d recently read and would highly recommend I read as well. The title sounded very familiar. Upon googling it, I recognized its cover illustration and soon realized this to be one of many books I’d previously stumbled upon at the library and totally undermined because I wasn’t all that impressed with its appearance.
Fortunately, I revisited my local library and checked this book out, and it turned out to be one of the best written books I’d ever read. It still troubles me to think that I could have missed out on a really great book simply because I chose to judge it solely by its cover. Needless to say, that incident became an aha moment, prompting me the become more conscious of how I select books based on appearance.
Clearly, it is never okay to judge a book solely by its cover, nonetheless, we all too soon find ourselves in situations where we feel the pressure or need to. If ever you are unsure of a particular book and feel the need make a swift decision based primarily, if not solely on its appearance (perhaps due to time constraints, limited information, last minute gift shopping rush, etc.) keep these basic reminders at the tip of you conscience:
1. Not every book with a faulty cover has a faulty storyline. We all know outer appearance can be misleading. Using the example above, while the book’s appearance was unappealing to me, the storyline turned out to be one of the best I had ever read. I could have easily missed out on a great book because I misjudged its content based on what it looked like on the outside. While I was given another chance at it, be mindful that opportunities are not guaranteed to knock more than once, therefore choose wisely.
2. Not every book with a fancy cover has a fancy storyline. I’m sure we all have our share of stories of books that were amazingly attractive on the outside, and turned out to be a total misuse of reading time. Some, we forced ourselves to read just because… While others, we decided to simply just “let it go!” Keep in mind that, while reading is never a misuse of time, reading the wrong book is. There are many great books out there for everyone. Don’t miss out on them as a result of chasing down “pretty” books.
3. Our young readers are taking mental notes. Kids have the tendency to emulate adults; and the last thing we’d want our kids doing is deciding the value of books based on appearance. Whenever my kids pick out books from our library, the first thing I do is ask them why they pick that particular book. When it becomes apparent that appearance has clouded their judgment, I usually follow up with, “Why don’t you read a bit more to get the scope of the book,” including, preface, headings, table of contents, a few sentences etc., as time allows. It helps that we are rarely in a time crunch when we visit our library, allowing us ample time to skim through book pages rather than just book covers.
4. Our book picking practices extend beyond books. I can be an overthinker at times so let’s hope I’m overthinking this one. Let’s hope I’m simply overthinking to think that selecting books based solely on appearance feeds into society’s obsession with outer appearance. Every time I catch myself making a book decision based on appearance, I stop, pause, and wonder whether I am indirectly teaching my kids that outer beauty carries more weight and value than inner beauty. Perhaps, not. However, it is a risk that I am not willing to take. I would especially love to hear your feedback on this.
5. Practice makes progress. Realistically, no one is fully immune to this and no one can fully perfect this. However, the more we make conscious efforts to look beyond the cover of a book, the less likely we are to judge it by its appearance.
Of course there are the obvious influence of media buzz, reviews, and recommendations; new releases, best selling, and award winning lists; and simple word of mouth, just to name a few. However, if we don’t apply basic discernment on a regular basis, the influence of appearance will surely creep in and override the rest. Stay on guard!
We would love to hear from you. Tell us about situations where you felt the pressure or need to judge a book solely by its cover. What were the outcomes? Please leave a comment or two below.
By: Dawn Hoff, Book Kids