Some of these books are considered “must reads” by acclaimed authors. Some of them may inspire you to go on a weekend-long reality TV binge. We can’t be too sure considering we have not read most of them. Yes, your LRC librarians have selected for your (potential) reading pleasure a host of books based solely on their covers, their titles, or both.
Why have we done this? Because we’ve all done it on at least one occasion, either refusing to read a certain book or purchasing one at random because of the cover. There is a good chance that you have a book on your shelf right now, a favorite book that you recommend to friends, whose regrettable cover art conceals a truly enjoyable reading experience. There is also probably a book buried deep in your personal library, spine unbroken and pages crisp, that you will never, ever begin again. But man, it did look good on that Barnes and Noble display table!
Reading, like many things, rewards those who take chances. Read the same kind of books, according to Vonnegut, and you will stay the same person. Author Haruki Murakami praises the ability of books “to happen” to you. So, please take a look at these books and wander through our stacks looking for new things. Pick something up and take it home with anticipation. Even better, pick something up and take it home with uncertainty or reluctance. Those are not necessarily bad things.
A few of our choices, with brief explanations. There are many more so stop by the LRC circulation desk to view the full display.
The Anatomists (local author Hal McDonald): Any period mystery that features a horse-drawn hearse and cobblestone streets on the cover has an 85% chance of being good. We did the math.
Pride & Prejudice (Jane Austen): A wonderful book. A talented author. But look closer at the cover for this edition and you may think that Austen’s classic was set in Ancient Greece instead of genteel England.
Our Southern Highlanders (Horace Kephart): The cover for this acclaimed Appalachian read has an intriguing and appropriately old-timey looking photo on it. Who is that figure? A southern highlander? Sasquatch? And how will he ever get down? Good books inspire lots of questions.
The Worst Hard Time (Timothy Egan): Even without knowing it won the National Book Award wouldn’t you be curious as to what “the worst hard time” might be?
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (Tom Robbins): Really, this one needs no explanation.
The Night Circus (Erin Morganstern): A simple color palette with a promisingly fantastical circus tent. Though it’s garnered many well-deserved glowing reviews we would wager our stash of coffee that this book would win 2011’s “Most Often Purchased For Its Clever Cover/Title Combo” Award.
The Peter Matthiessen Reader (edited by McKay Jenkins): Matthiessen may well be, as stated by the NYT quote on its cover, “our greatest modern nature writer” but that leopard cub appears to wish it was elsewhere, anywhere.
I Took a Lickin’ and Kept On Tickin’ (Lewis Grizzard): Where to begin? Since an entire paper could be written on this book’s cover alone we need bullet points:
- Apparently it’s a NATIONAL BESTSELLER!, a phrase that manages to convey both overconfidence and surprise.
- Grizzard had to hit wardrobe and pose for 3 different photos to make this cover. That’s impressive.
- All the temptations seem to be on the author’s left side except for the cigarette. Is this an editorial comment?
- Note the thematic use of red and white in the photos and the type-this is very literary, and you haven’t even opened the book yet!
- You know this book will be good because if pop culture, from Dr. Faustus to “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” has taught us anything it’s that any type of spiritual gambling event is bound to be interesting.