Never Judge a Book by Its Cover

It’s a cliché but so true. Whether or not I try to convince myself that I’m open-minded about my reading choices, there’s no doubt that I’m as biased as the next person when it comes to making a split second decision on whether a book is for me or not based on a quick glance at the cover.

Since finishing my MLitt course and enjoying not being tied to a uni reading list, I’ve deliberately picked out books that are a bit lighter in tone. However, I draw the line at chick lit with candy pink covers as I’ve never been a fan of fluffy story-lines involving girl meets boy whilst strutting around in stilettos and carrying designer handbags, fate stops them getting together, blah, blah, blah, they finally become a couple and live happily ever after. The End.

That’s why I would have placed Me Before You by Jojo Moyes  back on the shelf. The artwork screams of formulaic chick lit. And yet I kept reading great reviews about this book and curiosity got the better of me (although I won’t be using that excuse to ever read Fifty Shades of Grey!).

The plot doesn’t sound like your usual chick lit scenario and I wondered if the issue of the right to die would be given the proper treatment. I wasn’t disappointed. The relationship between the main characters, Will a quadriplegic and his carer, Louisa are very sensitively played out and they quickly became engaging characters that I cared about- the ultimate wish a writer has for their readers. And the proof of this was that I ended up blubbing at the end of the book. I can’t remember the last time I cried after reaching the climax of a book and for me this is a huge indication of the quality of the writing that it can create emotion in someone as cynical as me.

At the end of the book, there’s a Q and A section with Jojo which I found very interesting. She admits that she was wary of writing about such a controversial topic but the bit that struck a chord most with me was when she said, “you have to write the book that is burning inside you”. Right now, I’m not 100% sure that my WIP is THE story that I should tell. I’m listening to advice from my unofficial writing mentor, Karen Campbell to put it to one side for now and to write something for sheer pleasure rather than pursing an on-going project just because I feel that I’m obliged to finish it. I’m hoping to find my ‘voice’ again and maybe also discover the story I NEED to tell, whether that’s the current WIP or something entirely new. Maybe I’ll  even open my mind to other genres…

So will I read more of Jojo Moyes? Possibly on the strength of Me Before You. Will I discount other books with pink covers? Probably, because despite this positive experience, deep down, there’s still a bit of the book snob in me. Have you ever misjudged a book by its cover?

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7 thoughts on “Never Judge a Book by Its Cover

  1. Coincidentally, an acquaintance stopped me in the street in Cambridge the other day and told me about this great book she’d just read on holiday, but she couldn’t remember the title or the author. Having read this blog post, I now know that it is ‘Me Before You’. I shall reserve it from the library.

  2. I try not to judge a book by its cover, but it ends up being a factor I weigh when deciding whether to purchase/read a book. I can’t help it! The cover of this one does seem very formulaic, but the fact that it received positive reviews (including one from you) is a good sign.

  3. Hi Helen What a great post (they always are!) so SO true for me. Jojo Moyes was one of the keynote speakers at the York Festival recently, and I have to admit that I had never even considered reading any of her novels, having made the same assumptions as you, not just re cover but also titles, which influence me a lot. She is a really warm, generous and inspiring person to listen to and afterwards people were rushing to buy ‘Me Before You’ and get her to sign it, many of us guiltily admitting our preconceptions to each other. She has achieved enormous success but you have to wonder how many authors are missing out on readers (and sales) because of covers which are too girly and make the book look lightweight. I’ve heard many a writer say they don’t like their cover, which must be awful.

    • Thanks Isabel. I’m glad that I’m not the only one to admit to being a bit of a book snob but also prepared to admit that I was wrong about Jojo’s writing.I would’ve loved to hear Jojo speak at York and it would be fascinating to know if she’s happy with the cover or also feels that it misrepresents her book.

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