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Judging a book by its cover

Shannon has often told me that he shops for his step-father by one simple rule: Bob will usually like any book that features a gun, an eagle, or a flag on the cover. (If it features all three, he's hit the motherlode.)

I've always found this amusing because I've long known of a useful book-shopping strategy for myself: I will usually like any book that features a book on the cover. This knowledge has often proven useful when I'm at the bookstore and just scanning the shelves.

This was how I originally found John Crowley's Little, Big (it had a lovely cover featuring Smokey Barnable and Daily Alice sitting at an outdoor table, surrounded by piles of books), Charles De Lint's The Little Country (which had one large book -- surrounded by Irish countryside -- on the cover), Martha Cooley's The Archivist (which featured a stack of antique books on the cover), etc.

Generally, I figure if the book is about books, people who like books, people who work with books, or events surrounding books, I'll probably like it: Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, Jose Saramago's The History of the Siege of Lisbon, A.S. Byatt's Possession, Italo Calvino's If On A Winter's Night A Traveler, William Goldman's The Princess Bride, etc.

Yeah. I'm such a book nerd that I even love books about books.

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( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
rusty_halo
Mar. 16th, 2003 02:04 am (UTC)
I love The Princess Bride too (the book even more than the movie).
kimberly_a
Mar. 16th, 2003 02:33 am (UTC)
Re:
The book is a million times better than the movie. I love them both, but the movie just can't compare to the book, especially as it's missing that snarky, ironic authorial voice.
odheirre
Mar. 16th, 2003 06:57 am (UTC)
Oh gosh, so agree with you. And Goldman's introduction is so much better than the movie's intro.
kimberly_a
Mar. 16th, 2003 12:01 pm (UTC)
Re:
The movie, unfortunately, loses almost all of Goldman's snark. It adds some enjoyable things (such as Fezzig's rhyming), but it loses the entire tone of the book, which would be difficult to translate to the screen without a constant -- and therefore highly annoying -- voiceover.
actual_size
Mar. 16th, 2003 04:40 am (UTC)
Little, Big
If we're thinking of the same edition (the one with the stork on the cover), I always thought that was John Drinkwater and Violet Bramble at the table--their clothes seemed from an older period. My first copy of the book has Smoky and Daily Alice reclining on the grass, and Alice is holding a shell.
kimberly_a
Mar. 16th, 2003 11:53 am (UTC)
Re: Little, Big
If we're thinking of the same edition (the one with the stork on the cover), I always thought that was John Drinkwater and Violet Bramble at the table--their clothes seemed from an older period.

I just assumed it was the main characters, because I never really pictured them in modern dress, for some reason. Not sure why.

My first copy of the book has Smoky and Daily Alice reclining on the grass, and Alice is holding a shell.

That's a cover I've never had in my collection. For a while, there, I was sort of collecting different editions of Little, Big whenever I encountered them. But I'm not much of a collector, so I started giving away my extra copies to friends who hadn't read the book. It seemed much more enjoyable than just keeping multiple copies to sit on a shelf.
wolflady26
Mar. 16th, 2003 05:55 am (UTC)
Shannon's way of shopping for his step-father sounds like my way of shopping for my mother. She reads mysteries, which I am totally clueless about. So I have a list of bonuses when I look for books for her. Like, British, plus one point. Involving a priest, plus one point. Unless it seems the priest will be involved in sexual misadventures, minus 20 points. A meddling old lady detective - plus two points. Something cute, like a cat or play on words in the title, plus one point. Involving Christmas - plus five points. Unless it makes Christmas look depressing, minus 5 points. Proper hobbies, like gardening, crossword puzzles, or cooking, plus one point. Graphic murder scenes, minus 10 points. Neat and tidy corpses in the library, plus one point.

It makes it very hard to explain my method to anyone else, like my fiance, who thinks I'm nuts.

Him - so I'm supposed to be looking for a murder book with a priest in it?
Me - Yes. Unless you can find a crossword playing old lady who loves to putter around in her garden. Plus 5 points.
kimberly_a
Mar. 16th, 2003 11:56 am (UTC)
I love it! I need to come up with a system like that for my mom!
thefirethorn
Mar. 16th, 2003 12:51 pm (UTC)
Books about Books
Rollick and I specifically disagree on this one point:I love books ABOUT books, and she doesn't see the point. My favorite books are my Guide to the Sandman, and my Guide to Steven King. (I also love cliff notes, especially about books I've all ready read.)

But, I'm weird that way.
supergee
Mar. 17th, 2003 03:24 pm (UTC)
How about Jasper Fforde's Tuesday Next books?
kimberly_a
Mar. 17th, 2003 04:29 pm (UTC)
Re:
Whoa! Hi, Arthur!

I'm not familiar with Jasper Fforde. Should I look into his books for myself or for Shannon's step-father?
supergee
Mar. 17th, 2003 05:06 pm (UTC)
Hello, I found you via Alan Bostick's blog, in case you're wondering.

Jasper Fforde's books are marvelous. They're about a world where fiction is real, and time travelers can change the world by sneaking into books and kidnapping characters. There are two so far: The Eyre Affair and Lost in a Good Book.
kimberly_a
Mar. 17th, 2003 05:13 pm (UTC)
Re:
Oh, that sounds wonderful! I will definitely have to look into Jasper Fforde! I'm surprised I haven't heard of him before this!
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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