Is It Okay to Judge a Book by Its Cover?

I have a confession to make: I judge books by their covers. I know, I know, it’s a cardinal sin⁠—but I can’t help it.  When I see a book with big shiny letters and a chiseled man toting a gun, I think spy novel. When I see two lovers clasping each other over a curly cue font, I think bawdy romance. When I see an artsy photo with minimalist typeface, I think indie novel.

 

Heart of Darkness

Image via amazon

 

A good cover hints at what to expect from a book. It is, effectively, a marketing tool. But it’s also much more than that. The cover of a book can affect the way you read it. When I read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, for example, I was haunted by the emaciated figure on the book’s jacket. The cover stuck with me throughout my reading, and I came to associate the plot with this disturbing image.

 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

image via amazon

 

Think about the first Harry Potter book (the US edition). Many fans of the series fell in love with that scruffy haired wizard on the cover as they pictured him embarking on his adventures. Book jackets can be visual aids to the reader, and they can also be cultural touchstones. If I were to ask you to visualize The Catcher in The Rye, chances are the iconic image of the red carousel horse on the front cover would pop up in your head. This cover draws special attention to The Catcher in The Rye’s climactic scene and encapsulates the novel’s loss of innocence theme. It comes to represent the story as a whole.

 

The Catcher in the Rye

image via goodreads

 

A book’s cover shouldn’t be disregarded as a marketing tool. It is, effectively, part of the book itself. By no means does a cover reflect the quality of writing found in a book, but, whether we like it or not, it does change the way we read it.

 

 

 

Featured Image Via Get Literary