Judging a Book By its Cover

“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” is old advice that we’ve all heard numerous times. And, while I try not to do that in the figurative sense in which it is meant, I admit that when it comes to actual books, I most definitely judge books by their covers.

I have been drawn to many books because they have covers that appeal to me. Some attributes that I love in a book cover include: snow, dark colors, gold, flowers, pretty houses, scroll work, and interesting fonts.

A few of my favorite book covers are below. It’s easy to see what my “type” is, and I find it very fascinating that the book industry knows exactly how to appeal to readers like me. Not that I am complaining. I’ll gladly take many more stories like these with gorgeous covers to let me know that I must read them!

The Golem and the Jinni, Helene Wecker

The cover for “The Golem and the Jinni” ticks all the boxes for me when it comes to book covers. It features a photograph from 1910 by Jessie Tarbox Beals of the Washington Arch in New York City. Everything about this cover is lovely and magical (so is the book, by the way). It just might be my all-time favorite book cover.

The Miniaturists, Jessie Burton

It would have been easy to just use a dollhouse on the cover of “The Miniaturist,” (and, indeed, I found that there is an alternate cover with a dollhouse), but I think this one is much more interesting. The scene in the skirt has a snow globe kind of feel, which is fun. I also love the pop of color from the bird.

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock, Imogen Hermes Gowar

This one has a little bit of a different feel to it than the previous two. There’s no snow, for starters. Still, I love the colors, the fonts, and the layout of this cover. To me, it has a structured yet soft feel to it, with the shell on top of the blue and gold background. I feel like I could be looking down into the water in search of a mermaid, or a mermaid looking up out of the water and seeing the stars in the sky beyond.

The Vanishing, Wendy Webb

I love old houses almost as much as I love reading, so when these two loves come together, I can’t resist. Just this week, I had two books get returned to the library with old, slightly creepy houses on the front covers. I instantly made note of the titles so that I could put them on my “to-read” list. I like all of Wendy Webb’s covers, but the house in this one makes it my favorite.

The Snow Child, Eowyn Ivey

This is a beautiful cover for a beautiful book. There is a hint of mystery – who are the little girl hiding behind the tree and her fox friend? It evokes the feeling of the book very well.

The Bear and the Nightingale, Katherine Arden

Just one more. I can’t write about covers without including “The Bear and the Nightingale,” by Katherine Arden. This one, like “The Golem and the Jinni” hits all the right notes. I really cannot resist a wintry, magical-looking cover.

What are your favorite book covers? Do you find that there are certain elements that make a book appealing to you?

Happy reading!

~Val