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Judging Books by the Cover

Contrary to the common advice, judging a book by the cover is really fun and something most readers do. See what library staff had to say when challenged to judge some covers. Responses below are based solely on the front cover image. For fun, we are comparing their ideas to the publisher’s descriptions.

The Sky is Yours by Chandler Klang Smith

Martha: Psychedelic dragons in love. This is a fantasy.

Autumn: A psychic introduced two people who fall in love and learn they are from warring factions.

Publisher: In a burned-out, futuristic city three young people navigate a crumbling metropolis constantly under threat from a pair of dragons that circle the skies. When violence strikes, reality star Duncan Humphrey Ripple V, the spoiled scion of the metropolis’ last dynasty; Baroness Swan Lenore Dahlberg, his tempestuous, death-obsessed betrothed; and Abby, a feral beauty he discovered tossed out with the trash; are forced to flee. As they wander toward the scalded heart of the city, they face fire, conspiracy, mayhem, unholy drugs, dragon-worshippers and the monsters lurking inside themselves.

Little Secretsby Anna Snoekstra

Betty Jean: In a small town private lives and secrets are revealed. The entire community is aghast at what they are hearing.

Jim: A family discovers they have small fairy-like creatures living in secret places in their house.

Publisher: An arsonist in Colmstock, Australia, burned down the town's courthouse and killed a young boy trapped inside. An aspiring journalist, Rose Blakey, is desperate for a story. After the fire, precise porcelain replicas of Colmstock's daughters turn up on doorsteps, terrifying parents and testing the limits of the town's already fractured police force. Rose may have finally found her story. But as her articles gain traction and the boundaries of her investigation blur, Colmstock is seized by a seething paranoia.

Freshwaterby Akwaeke Emezi

Perry: This is a weird horror story set in a creepy swamp.

Lissa: This is about science and nature. There is foreshadowing of evil and suspense. There may be some fantastical elements.

Publisher: Freshwater explores the surreal experience of having a fractured self. It centers around a young Nigerian woman, Ada, who develops separate selves within her as a result of being born "with one foot on the other side." Unsettling, heart-wrenching, dark, and powerful, Freshwater is a sharp evocation of a rare way of experiencing the world, one that illuminates how we all construct our identities.

Daphneby Will Boast

Meredith: I would pick this up because the colors are appealing and I love the name Daphne because of Scooby Doo. This might be historical fiction.

Todd: A boy meets girl story with political intrigue and maybe a natural disaster that requires extraterrestrial help.

Publisher: Born with a rare condition that causes her to suffer degrees of paralysis when experiencing intense emotion, Daphne endures a virtually solitary existence before meeting a shy, charming man who compels her to choose between safe isolation and true intimacy.

Call Me Zebraby Azareen Van der Vilet Oloomi

Carolyn: A book about acceptance written by an artist.

Tanya: This looks fun, but it might have a serious tone as well. The story may have some racial elements.

Publisher: A novel following a feisty heroine's idiosyncratic quest to reclaim her past by mining the wisdom of her literary icons–even as she navigates the murkier mysteries of love. Zebra is the last in a line of anarchists, atheists and autodidacts. When war came, her family didn't fight; they took refuge in books. Now alone and in exile, Zebra leaves New York for Barcelona, retracing the journey she and her father made from Iran to the United States years ago. Books are Zebra's only companions–until she meets Ludo. Their connection is magnetic; their time together fraught.

Eventideby Therese Bohman

Joey: This is a book about repression, self-identity and personal struggle. A lost soul is looking for a lost lover who went to war. The main character is a farm girl who wants to be bohemian.

Michael: A romantic novel oriented to women.

Publisher: An astute novel following the life of an art professor at Stockholm University as she navigates the academic world, with its undercurrents of eroticism, competition, deceit and fear.

The Perfect Nannyby Leila Slimani

Sherry: A woman pretends to be prim, proper and perfect, but she isn’t in a potentially dangerous way.

Carolyn: This is a scandalous tale about marriage wrecking. The main character is buttoned up on the outside, but a hot mess on the inside.

Publisher: When Myriam, a French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect nanny for their two young children. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite, devoted woman who sings to the children, cleans the family's chic apartment in Paris's upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late without complaint, and hosts enviable kiddie parties. But as the couple and the nanny become more dependent on one another, jealousy, resentment, and suspicions mount, shattering the idyllic tableau.

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