Judging Books By Their Covers

24 Jul

Don’t Judge a Book by It’s Cover

So goes the old adage, and usually I am hesitant to criticize anything with the implied sageness of an ‘adage’t. However, in this particular case, I would like to make a small revision.


Now, I am not suggesting that this is a hard and fast rule. As with human fashionistas, a fancy jacket is not necessarily indicative of an equally fancy interior. In fact, I have read many a incredible story off the yellowed pages of a tattered paperback. But I guess that is just my point, even if the cover consists of nothing more than a piece of frayed cardboard, the composition, shape, size and cover of a book really do make a difference. So, I’ve decided to do a bit of a fashion piece on some of my favorite literary sartorial connoisseurs…

Let’s start with a classic: leather-bound, gold-leafed, like the little black dress- when done correctly – this never goes out of style. Perfect for a great romantic like Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre.

I love this iconic edition of Gone With the Wind. The hard binding really contributes to the heft of the 1,037 page book. I love the font, the very vintage color scheme and illustration down in front. The best part is, this cover art is so readily available in stores like Borders or Barnes and Nobles where many classic books get nothing more than the ‘Penguin Classics’ paperback cover.

I found these copies of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (circa 1975-80) in my grandma’s basement in sixth grade and promptly devoured them. While there are much grander copies in existance I’m sure. These yellowed paperbacks will always be my favorites!

There is something so appealing about the turquoise, white and red color-combo in Julia Child’s famous cookbook. Not to mention I’m always a sucker for fleur di lis- especially tiny ones. I feel like I need to own this, even just to look at it.

And now I feel bad for disparaging Penguin Classics. This copy of Anna Karenina is not only beautiful- an exquisitely subtle reference to the book’s subject. It is also the best kind of paperback- that heavy matte-glossed kind that feels like it has scotch tape all over it.

As probably to definitely creepy as this cover of Madeline L’Engle’s sci-fi classic A Wrinkle in Time is, I’ve always loved the visual. I especially love Mrs. Whatsit and compatriots in the background.

Having read the entire Aeneid in my Latin IV class in high school, I continue to be grateful to Mr. Fagles for providing such a readable translation. This copy is sitting on my bookshelf looking a little tired. I love the bright red contrasted with the black and white of that awesome image of Aeneas carrying his father out of Troy.

Take a gander at that. I can’t think of much that is more rip-roaring than that copy right there. Any child wandering a library and taking this off the shelf is in for quite the adventure!

As much as I love actress Anne Hathaway, I was so disappointed when I heard she had been cast as the heroine of this preteen favorite of mine because the Ella of this cover had become the Ella of the novel for me.

At the risk of overdoing it, I am going to stop here- I could go on and on about my favorite covers- The Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, etc., etc. but that will be for another day.

Also for another day, look forward to a post showing the brilliant illustration from my beloved copy of Pride and Prejudice


3 Responses to “Judging Books By Their Covers”

  1. crazygoangirl July 24, 2010 at 8:03 pm #

    Enjoyed the post! Often times, I’ve picked books because their covers are irresistible. I have both paperback and leather bound versions of LOTR. I read and re-read the paperback version simply because it’s easier to handle and I still prefer to read my books sprawled out on my bed! Look forward to seeing the cover of Pride & Prejudice – my favorite classic!

  2. Emma July 24, 2010 at 8:49 pm #

    Great post!
    I recently did a whole post dedicated to the sillyness and wonderfulness of book covers, focusing on Pride and Prejudice!



    • mzoobek July 24, 2010 at 11:31 pm #

      Loving this! Will definitely be checking out your blog in the future! Love the title!

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