When You Judge a Book By Its Cover

We’ve all heard those sayings or proverbs that have been told a thousand times.

They’ve been told so much so, that when people say them now, it seems as if they’re not even thinking about them anymore. They’re saying them in a moment when perhaps they need a sentence to strengthen a message they’re trying to convey.

I’ll provide an example: the saying that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. I’m sure most of us have heard it and maybe some of us have even said it at one point or another. Evidently, I’m aware of the meaning behind the saying: it’s often used by parents to their children, to teach the child about respect and empathy. It’s used to teach that how a person looks or seems is not necessarily an indication of that person’s personality, values or sense of self.

All that to say that I’ve done just that in the past month. Yes, I have not only judged a book by its cover, but I have also bought the book based off solely its cover. I walked in a bookstore, which is probably my favorite kind of store, and while I was just browsing, this idea came to my mind. I was looking for a little bit of adventure and spontaneity. I’m usually not a very spontaneous person: I like organization, I like to know what my day will be like, I like to check out my To-Read list on Goodreads before purchasing a book and I like reading reviews of a book before buying it. But that day, in the bookstore, I had just finished my second semester of school and was looking for something different. I wanted to buy a book I had never heard of before, a book none of my friends were talking about, a book I’d never read any reviews on. I even wanted to skip the reading-the-synopsis step in the book buying process.

I was in the mystery/thriller section when a book’s cover caught my eye. It looked like this:


I’m not sure what attracted me to this novel. I just picked it up, I paid for it and I left. It was exuberant for me – it felt right.

For my first time of picking up a random unknown book, I thought I did pretty good. I sped through the reading of the book and I finished it in a couple of days. In a weekend.

Lie in Wait was very good, it was  thrilling, exciting but also cunning and witty. It wasn’t your typical mystery book, starring a drunken detective that nobody takes seriously and who has serious difficulties in his (it is generally a “him”) personal life that somehow take over the plot. This was interesting, and let me tell you why.

This book starred a detective – a woman – who was dealing with so many issues in the field that she was extremely relatable and human. Not human in the way that we see that she has numerous character flaws, but human in the way that her character flaws were countered by ordinary, relatable qualities. Detective Sonja Test dealt with issues from sexism in a man’s field of work to the balance between raising kids and having a very hectic and demanding career. This aspect of Detective Test’s daily life didn’t take over the story’s plot, though: the story’s plot consisted of a heavy and delicious murder mystery, and a good one.

There was none of those extremely obvious red-herrings. No character that was only in the novel to distract you from what’s really going on. It still managed to surprise me at the end, and the lack of predictability made it even more impressive.

This was a very good experience of judging (buying) a book based on its cover. I highly recommend doing it. Don’t do it with a person, though – stick to books!

Which book did you judge by its cover?












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