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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Judging A Book By It's Cover

I’m shallow.  In the words of Charles Barkley and my friend Deborah’s son Carter, this is a “turr-ible” character flaw that I have managed to outgrow in all areas of my life save for two:  the appearance of my children when fully clothed and my selection of reading material.
While I certainly threatened it plenty of times, I stopped short of divorcing either of my husbands for how they allowed my progeny to parade down grocery store isles or the halls of their elementary school dressed like clown school dropouts when outside of my presence.  Just ask the Sweet Potato Queen Jill Conner Browne, and she’ll tell you that such an atrocity is justifiable grounds for divorce among Southern women. 
Yes, I like my kiddos’ socks to match (despite the growing trend of miss-matched socks among tween girls…in vibrant neon animal prints no less) and for them to refrain from sporting clashing prints and patterns above the ankle altogether.  It makes my day for one of my children to stroll into a room and ask, “This okay?” as opposed to running out the door in Lord Knows What.  I get that I’m not doing them any favors.  They probably shouldn’t be standing in front of their closets every morning agonizing over whether or not I’ll approve of their wardrobe choices…wait a minute.  Scratch that.  Yes, they should.  I’m jumping on the WWJD bandwagon with my own line of “WWMW:  What Would Momma Wear?” bracelets.  No more Daisy Duke bootie shorts and pants on the ground, it’s belts and Bermuda shorts all around.
I am beginning to mellow a little in this area.  Number Five has been wearing a multi-colored tutu over her pants everywhere we’ve gone this week without much fuss from me.
Here she is at a soccer game this weekend.
I’m also a sucker for a great book cover.  While on a recent shopping trip to Douglasville, GA for Homecoming attire, I was able to visit a closing Borders bookstore.  There were so many great deals to be had among the items marked down 60-80% that I didn’t know where to start.  I made my way to the Young Adult section and picked two titles based on their cover art alone:  The Grimm Legacy, by Polly Shulman and Rot and Ruin, by Jonathan Maberry.  This made me realize just how often I choose what to read next based on the look of a cover.  Sure, there are a few books I pick up after reading a great review or at the suggestion of someone I follow on Twitter or through a blog, but for the most part it’s a cover that wins me over.
A perfect example of this is the story of how I discovered D. M. Cornish’s Monster Blood Tattoo Trilogy.  I found the second book of the series, Lamplighter, while perusing the shelves of a local library.  When the cover’s bold colors and beautiful artistry caught my eye, I read the jacket and knew that I’d found my next great adventure.
Mr. Cornish is the illustrator as well as the author.
On top of being shallow, I’m a tad obsessive/compulsive and had to purchase a copy of Foundling, the first installment of the trilogy, before reading book two.  I fell in love with the story of Rossamund Bookchild and his adventures in the world of the Half-Continent and quickly devoured Foundling and Lamplighter.  I would have to wait almost two long years for the third and final installment Factotum.  In the interim between books two and three, Putnam, Mr. Cornish’s publisher, changed the name of the series for U. S. publication to The Foundling Trilogy.  Supposedly the new title is more palatable to American readers.  They also changed the cover art.  I was disappointed with both.  There’s no way I would have picked up the book in the first place under the new packaging.

The new covers and titles are okay, I suppose.  They just don’t captivate me the way the originals did.  I hadn’t much choice when it came to Factotum.   I was only able to find it under the new name and look.  It still makes me a little sad to see it lined up next to its bolder brothers on my shelf at home. 

It’s similar to the way I feel seeing one of the boys dressed in purple stripes and red checks or Dan in her tattered tutu next to the other kids looking perfectly presentable in their Mom Approved outfits.
So, what about you?  Which books have you chosen based on their covers alone?  Were you ever disappointed by having done so?
For my next post, I’ll be interviewing local author Randy Martin and the illustrator of his book Introrse, Jason Wright.  And I’ll be posing these questions, among others, to them as well.
By the way, that computer science class is paying off!  I finally learned how to include photos in my posts.