Who says you can’t judge a book by its cover? That tired cliché isn’t fair with regard to people, but an eye-catching cover did make us pick up, and ultimately love, these eight titles. There’s something rare and wondrous when an intriguing outside contains an equally intriguing inside, and our staff is happy they broke the rule and dared to judge these winning books by their covers.
8 Books We (Rightfully) Judged by Their Covers
This book had me hooked the second I laid eyes on it; the gorgeous embossed cover makes it look like an old, leather-bound volume that might actually be magical. Not to mention the interior illustrations. But it’s more than just a pretty face—this genre-bending collection of fairy tale retellings is just as enchanting as it looks.
I was already excited to read this, but when I saw the cover, I had to keep myself from sprinting to the nearest bookstore (it was the middle of the work) and buying it. Everything about it is perfect. The colors! The photo! The perfect blend of modern and retro! It’s everything this collection is: honest, chic, feminine, funny, and totally, unapologetically badass. Even a year later, I want it as a poster.
You know the saying that you shouldn’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry because you will want to buy everything you see? I had a similar experience in the bookstore when I passed Fausto Brizzi’s novel on the shelf. Lucio is a lovable Italian rascal who’s been thrown out by his wife and is sleeping at this father-in-law’s pastry shop when he learns he has inoperable cancer. Told in 100 chapters (one for each day he has left), the story follows Lucio trying to win back his wife, right his wrongs, and embrace as much deliciousness in life as he can.
It was love at first sight with this debut novel. I first saw a picture of the galley cover on Instagram and immediately preordered the book because I knew it would look stunning on my bookshelf. It’s also a mesmerizing read! Told from multiple perspectives and in sharp, exacting prose, IDAHO is the story of a family scattered after a shocking incident in a mountain clearing in The Gem State.
I wanted to read this because I thought the cover was absolutely striking. When I picked it up and saw that it was a finalist for the National Book Award and had similar themes as A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS, one of my favorite books, I knew instantly that was a must read.
The original jacket shows a red brick tenement that speaks of New York to me. As I contemplated a move to NYC, my eye was pulled to this title on the bookstore shelf. I took it as a sign and it’s become one of my favorite books. I’ve lived in NYC for more than two decades now. This is why I say that bookstores and libraries are my oracles.
Saloon-keepers and street preachers, gypsies and steel-walking Mohawks, a bearded lady and a ninety-three-year-old “seafoodetarian” who believes his specialized diet will keep him alive for another two decades. These are among the characters that Joseph Mitchell—known for his precise, respectful observation, graveyard humor, and offhand perfection of style—immortalized in his reportage for the magazine.
I’m a sucker for abstract covers and fun lettering, so of course I’m obsessed with the cover this book. I’m equally obsessed with its story about a young Cameroonian couple trying to carve out a new life in New York as the Great Recession hits the country. BEHOLD THE DREAMERS is a compulsively readable debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the America Dream.
There have been dozens of novels recently published about the financial crisis of 2008, but few have focused on those most profoundly affected: the working families left to pick up the pieces. Jende Jonga is a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem with his wife, Neni, and child when he lands a job as a chauffeur for a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. As the story alternates between Jende and Neni and speeds perilously close to economic disaster, they learn about privilege, pride, and impossible choices.
I am a longtime fan of legendary baker Dorie Greenspan, who gave up working on her doctorate for a life steeped in flour and sugar. When I saw the cover of her most recent cookbook, I rushed out to get a copy. I had good instincts—it recently won her a fifth James Beard Award. Over the course of her career, Dorie has created more than 300 cookie recipes, but this is her first cookie book. If you need a place to start, just try the World Peace Cookies. Delish!