Judging a Book by Its Cover

I read.  I kind of read a lot.  There’s a lot out there to read.  My nook*?  Makes it even easier to ingest a billion and one books.  I’m not any faster of a reader, but it’s a lot easier to pick up a little reading here and a little reading there if I can just throw 100+ books in my purse all at once.

But there are a gazillion more books out there than I’ll ever be able to read.  So out of all the books in the world, how does one choose what to read?

For me, it’s word of mouth probably more than anything.  If someone tells me they read a really great book, I’ll probably try reading said book.  People tell me about the books they’re reading every so often, because book lovers like to talk about said books, but it’s not like I have recommendations beating down my door.

From there, I typically take those authors and read everything by them I can get my hands on.  I have read all but two books ever published by Tom Robbins (though finding him was a fluke, read on).  I am making a considerable dent in the works of Terry Pratchett, but that man is such a prolific writer, I don’t know that I can read them as fast as he can write them.  You’ll find a lot of Nick Hornby, Douglas Adams, and Bill Bryson in my collection (side note, it is an amazing distinction for Mr. Bryson to grace this list, because he brings as much life to his nonfiction as all the previously listed fiction authors, and I find that’s hard for people to do).

But as much as I love these writers (and others whom I’ve not mentioned), I can’t read the same thing back to back to back.  And eventually (except in the seeming case of Mr. Pratchett) they’re going to run out of books for me to read.  So I need one more tack.

And, yes, it’s judging books by their covers.  Which I’m pretty sure everyone who reads does.  You can’t help it.  The cover is like an advertisement.  You have one second to grab my attention or I’m long gone.  Like anything else we consume, if you don’t already have the clout of coming highly recommended or a proven winner, you really need to sparkle.  But the problem lies in the fact that what catches my eye, may not catch someone else’s.  In fact, it’s pretty much a given that it won’t catch everyone’s.  The trick for publishers is to find that fine line where the cover catches the eye and gives a general vibe as to what the story is about.  And it’s that second part that’s really more important.

For instance, I’ll show you two covers, one that would attract me and one that wouldn’t.  To keep it fair, I’m going to use covers from an author I already know I like, so I’m literally only judging the covers.

In this corner, we have The Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot:

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I can tell by the fact that the cover is colorful and cheeky that it’s going to be a lively and funny book.  It’s fluffy, too, so it’s obviously going to be chick lit, but not like a bodice ripper or anything.

In the other corner, we have Every Boy’s Got One:

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This corner looks like bubble baths and Lifetime movies.  And while I don’t hate either of those two things, they don’t scream good reading.  To me it looks like a silly little lady story.  If it weren’t Meg Cabot, I wouldn’t give it a second thought.  But it is, so I’ll probably read it eventually.

The spine is even more important, but much harder for me to pin point, so we won’t even go into that, but if a cover is graphic enough for me to pick it up or click on its link, it now has maybe 30 seconds to wow me.  That back cover better have a damn description of the book.  I don’t want to read an excerpt from your last book.  I don’t want to know what so-and-so said about your books (Unless you’re Jenny Lawson; the quotes on the back of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened** are freaking hilarious).  Give me a plot summary and make it juicy.

Now, there is an exception to this.  It was brought to my attention that some books have summaries on the copyright page.  But still, those summaries are usually not terribly flashy and also usually in much smaller print.  Plus you have to open the book and find the page, and ain’t nobody got time for that.  That eats into the 30 seconds I could be using to read the summary.  Just sayin’.

So… Read any good books lately?

*I’m not being paid to endorse nook, I just happen to really like it.

**Linking to Amazon just so you know I’m not playing favorites 😀

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I’m not sure why this surprises me

(Alt title: My dear friend The Cheap Chick‘s webmaster told her to start making her blog titles SEO-friendly.  I am not there yet.)

I actually can’t remember why I started thinking about this.  Maybe it’s because of something I saw zooming past me on Google+ (yes, Virginia, there are people on Google+; and I follow so many of them that I miss 75% of what’s being posted).  Maybe it’s because I had Oh My Darlin’ Clementine stuck in my head and I went looking up lyrics (though this has nothing to do with the lyrics, it’s just the last thing I remember before this.  My brain is sort of haphazard like that).

Fact, I am full of parantheticals today.

Fact, I’ve been reading Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, so my brain is a little more disjointed than usual.

Fact, this blog post is supposed to be slightly more serious than usual, and perhaps I’m avoiding it.

Okay, so here’s what I’m wondering.  From what I can gather, there has only been one person to ever hold office and be “out” as an atheist.  Not only that, but there are no fewer than 7 states that specifically state in their constitutions that atheists are forbidden to hold office (Google that shit, hooker; it’s not obscure).

Now, despite the fact that I may or may not have just called my seven readers hookers, I would actually like to have a conversation about this.  My blog may not be the place to do it (as in, I only have seven readers), but maybe I’ll throw this out into the Google+ sea and see what I might see see see.  My question is this:

Atheists vote for theists all the time.  We have no other choice, really, but I also think that we are firm enough in our beliefs that we realize putting our lives in the hands of theists is not necessarily going to shake our foundation.  Still, we often have to give up certain rights because our lives (big picture, not the day to day stuff) are run by people who generally subscribe to a whole separate set of beliefs from us.  And after that rambling preamble, my real question is to theists:  Would you ever vote for an atheist?  I want an honest answer of why you think it would be bad to have an atheist represent you.  Would you rather have someone who you believe has your best interest at heart lie to you about their faith just so they don’t lose your vote (think about it: statistically, given the number of politicians with advanced degrees, there are bound to be atheists in Jesus’ clothing)?  And how can you be truly patriotic if you deny someone the basic right the Founding Fathers set forth (Here, I won’t even make you Google it this time)?

I guess that was three questions.  Whatev.  I hope some of my “friends of faith” (or even perfect strangers of faith) can step out on a limb and answer these questions for me.  I realize that there are some rather liberal and groovy people of faith (most likely the ones that are friends with me fit in that category, otherwise they’d probably have a hard time being friends with me), and that not all peoples of faith would be completely against an atheist in office.  But I think that most are, and I’d kind of like to get some perspective on that.

Get paid to play on the interwebs?

I feel like I’m sounding like a shill lately because I’ve been mentioning a lot of products by name.  In the case of the Eggies and True Lime, it’s really only because I know of no other brands even remotely close to them.  With the R.S.V.P. pen, it’s because it is truly one of my favorite pens out there.  And now I’m going to mention something that might compensate me in a tiny way, if people choose to sign up using my link, or it might not.  And frankly I’m fine either way, because I want to share with the world how I recently acquired this awesome pair of shoes:

And how I was able to pre-order this awesome book:

(Okay, I can only make assumptions as to its awesomeness, but I have faith The Bloggess won’t let me down.)

And all I personally spent was $6.  Total.  If you’re counting, my bill should have been bout $56.00, but I earned myself a $50 gift code by “googl[ing] that shit, hooker; it’s not obscure.”

Okay, not exactly Googling.  Swagbucking.  I signed up for Swagbucks in November of 2010, added their search button to my search box, and more or less continue to search exactly how I usually search.  Every once in a blue moon I don’t get the answer I’m looking for (usually for images), but it’s extremely rare.  And, yeah, $50 in a year isn’t a TON of money, but if you play your cards better than I usually do–like, for instance, searching through Swagbucks for items on Amazon or for info on IMDB, instead of on the actual sites–it could be more.

Now, The Hippy hates that I use Swagbucks.  It drives him nuts to be using my computer and not land on Google.  Nevermind the fact that he has a million computers of his own he could be using…  But he asked me the other day in a tone of annoyance, “Have you ever even gotten anything from that stupid Swagbucks?”  To which I promptly said, “Yes.  Yes I have,” and showed off my awesome new shoes.  Boo-ya!

So, if you want to sign up for Swagbucks and give me some credit (again, no hard feelings if you don’t, but I’d be tickled pink!), click that link, then add /refer/kattghoti to the URL.  WordPress won’t let me post a referral link, but at the moment I’m not “serious” enough to buy my domain.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I am coming down with a cold, so I am going to snuggle into bed with my nook.