We all know the old saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover”, but can anyone honestly say they are able to refrain from this impulse? Unless you can instantly read a book with your mind, which I, for one, cannot, a cover may be the only way we are able to decide whether to pick up a book or not. Unfortunately, some incredible books are cursed with regrettable covers that tend to deter readers.
“Vladimir”, the debut novel from Julia May Jones, is one such book that is saddled with not only a bold cover but an unfortunately timed title. This novel is a darkly humorous story that straddles academia, romance, and psychological drama, telling the story of an English professor who becomes obsessed with a younger novelist on campus and enacts a devious scheme to seduce him. The cover features the shirtless torso of a hairy-chested, gold jewelry-bejeweled man in forest green pajamas, a decadent albeit ribald depiction of one of the main characters, Vladimir Vladinski. This book was engrossing and intellectual, both a page-turner and a thought-provoking story, but you wouldn’t think so by the bawdy cover or unlucky title. Don’t judge this book by the cover – it’s wonderful.
“Cheat Day” is another book with a cover that doesn’t quite fit the story inside. The author, Liv Stratman, has described how the colorful cover, featuring the title in red frosting script atop a slice cake, gives the impression that this novel is a piece of light, fluffy “chick lit”, when in fact the story is a lot deeper and darker than it appears. While there is plenty of romance between Kit and her lover, Matt, there is a darker story of infidelity, body image, and self-destruction at play. While the sugary cover is gorgeous, it may be misleading to readers looking for a simple treat.
Finally, “My Heart is a Chainsaw” by Stephen Graham Jones is cursed with a cover that leaves too much to the imagination. Jones is one of the best writers of modern horror and his book “The Only Good Indians” was a best-seller in 2020. While this 2021 novel was just as terrifying and complex, the cover is anything but. The stark white background and sparse black text is broken up with a rip through the paper to reveal a slash of blood red. The image is spooky and suggestive of the fast-pace, slasher story inside, but just barely. Again, readers may not know what they are getting themselves into based on the cover alone.
Take your chance on these or many other titles at your Lewistown Library.