What Happens When You Actually Judge a Book By Its Cover?

From dark twists on Peter Pan to time traveling heists, book covers can make you imagine all sorts of things.

I chose five intriguing covers of books I knew nothing about from Goodreads and imagined what stories the pages might contain. Below are my ideas next to the actual Goodreads summary. What other stories do you think could match these covers?

Thanks to Tasha for tagging me (warning: I may or may not have taken this idea and run with it in a not-necessarily-intended way)!

1) Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

My Ideas: This title reminds me of “Neverland” from Peter Pan, especially with that picture of the clock tower on the cover (good ol’ Disney!). So I’m thinking this is some kind of darker spinoff of the J.M. Barrie novel (please please please).

Meet Brandy, a youth destined not to be happy and carefree for much longer… Mysterious clues and messages start to pop up around him, his name carefully inscribed on the front and inside describing things only he could ever know about his life. Gradually, they lead to the terrifying realization that he has been trapped in a place called “Neverwhere” for years. Like Neverland, this is a place where time stops. But in this place, the longer you stay there the more you forget what came before—your lost memories cause you to stop caring that you are, in fact, trapped. As a result of this discovery, Brandy must hatch a plan in order to escape, relying on the continued messages from the mysterious, unknown guide.

Goodreads Summary: “Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.

Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.”

Results: Well, it has nothing to do with Peter Pan, but it does involve a sort of fantastical, mysterious “other” world. And it does take place in London, like Peter Pan (yay for clock towers)! Also, the narrator does know where he is when he gets to Neverwhere, but I’m unclear as to whether this world has sinister intentions for him or not. It’s not what I imagined, but I still want to read this book!

2) Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

My Ideas: An unseen “benefactor” (I guess I like those) bestows on a boy the ability to fly, giving him the wings of a raven. But instead of the typical superhero book where the powers change the character’s life for the better, this time the boy is greatly harmed as a result of his “gift.” Others trap and capture him and he suffers from unwelcome side effects of the transfusion. He pleads with his “benefactor” to leave him alone, but the “benefactor” only says, “hush, hush…”

Goodreads Summary: “Romance was not part of Nora Grey’s plan. She’s never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can’t decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen – and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.”

Results: In this summary there is no mention of anyone with superhero raven powers. So there’s that…but both my story and the author’s feature the supernatural. I also didn’t focus on romance at all, but I guess I should have expected that since it looks like a YA novel.

3) Rush by Maya Banks

My Ideas: If something like Noah’s ark took place in the future…

The year is 2672 and Mila’s world is flooded with fear…literally. The prophecies state that within the next twelve months a Flood will consume the earth. Where some are skeptical others are terrified, but in the shadows a secret, underground organization is forming from those who are actively planning for the devastation soon to come…

Goodreads Summary: “Gabe, Jace, and Ash: three of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the country. They’re accustomed to getting anything they want. Anything at all. For Gabe, it’s making one particular fantasy come true with a woman who was forbidden fruit. Now she’s ripe for the picking…

When Gabe Hamilton saw Mia Crestwell walk into the ballroom for his hotel’s grand opening, he knew he was going to hell for what he had planned. After all, Mia is his best friend’s little sister. Except she’s not so little anymore. And Gabe has waited a long time to act on his desires.

Gabe has starred in Mia’s fantasies more than once, ever since she was a teenager with a huge crush on her brother’s best friend. So what if Gabe’s fourteen years older? Mia knows he’s way out of her league, but her attraction has only grown stronger with time. She’s an adult now, and there’s no reason not to act on her most secret desires.

As Gabe pulls her into his provocative world, she realizes there’s a lot she doesn’t know about him or how exacting his demands can be. Their relationship is intense and obsessive, but as they cross the line from secret sexual odyssey to something deeper, their affair runs the risk of being exposed—and vulnerable to a betrayal far more intimate than either expected.”

Results: Yeah, mine was a whole lot less erotic…

4) Houdini Heart by Ki Longfellow

My Ideas: Legends say that long ago, a powerful sorceress stole this famous magician’s heart—literally. Jack, a promising magician himself, decides to go in search of it. With the help of his best friend, Emma, the two sort through documents and history as they get closer and closer to unraveling the biggest secret of their time.

Goodreads Summary: “Weeks ago, she was one of Hollywood’s biggest writers, wed to one of its greatest stars. The doting mother of their golden child. But now? She’s alone, tortured by a horrifying secret no woman could bear. Pursued by those she can’t outrun, anguished by a guilt she can’t endure, and driven close to madness, she flees to the one place she’s ever called home: a small town in Vermont where River House still stands. To a child, the splendid hotel was mysterious and magical and all its glamorous guests knew delicious secrets. Cocooned in its walls, she will write one last book. Her atonement? Or her suicide note? But life is never as you dream it, and River House isn’t what she’d always imagined it was. Intense, literary, and harrowing, Houdini Heart is a tale of bone-chilling horror, emotional torment, and psychological terror. Gripped by River House, trapped in an aging hotel of mirrors only Houdini could escape, how much can haunt a mind before it too is only a thing once imagined?”

Results: Not even close, but hey, it sounds intriguing!

5) The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

My Ideas: Mr. and Mrs. ______ are the wealthiest couple in the world. Practically every month they introduce some new amazing gadget or idea that completely revolutionizes society. Every day when people read about them in the papers they ask themselves, “how do they do it?” and it’s not uncommon to hear those same people out on the street whispering, “it’s like magic.”

But it’s not magic—it’s time travel:

Mr. and Mrs. ______ are a part of a time travel heist. The husband travels to the future to see what great new ideas are going to come out and then puts them into place before anyone else does. Hence, the wealthiest couple in the world. But what happens when a little girl who lives across the street falls asleep in his time machine and is accidentally taken for a ride? And what happens when she starts to mimic the habits of the people she met when she comes back? All of a sudden Mr. and Mrs. _____ have a crisis on their hands and have to snap the child out of it and secure her secrecy before returning her to her parents. Because Mr. ____ is busy with meetings and other necessary time traveling, he conveniently leaves this task to his wife. What follows is a hilarious tale that will keep you on your toes!

Goodreads Summary: “Audrey Niffenegger’s dazzling debut is the story of Clare, a beautiful, strong-minded art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: his genetic clock randomly resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous and unpredictable, and lend a spectacular urgency to Clare and Henry’s unconventional love story. That their attempt to live normal lives together is threatened by something they can neither prevent nor control makes their story intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.”

Results: This is nothing like what I came up with but boy do I want to read this book!
 

And with that, I think I’ve just found my new favorite way to get writing inspiration!

P.S. Instead of tagging specific people, I would just encourage you all to try it and post your results if you’d like!

31 thoughts on “What Happens When You Actually Judge a Book By Its Cover?

  1. I think a book’s cover is highly influential and it is usually what catches my eye first. Some years ago I was in my local library looking for something to read and I saw Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell sat on the shelf- the dark cover with eye catching writing immediately caught my eye. When I looked at the inside, and saw that is about magicians in the early 1800s I took it to the desk ! It is the most brilliant novel in years. It was recently made by the BBC into a great serial.

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  2. Great post. I generally disregard books right off the bat simply because of their covers. They are hugely important though and I would have been drawn to Neil Gaiman’s the most out of the ones you chose, followed by Rush. I probably would have shallowly ignored the other three!

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  3. Pingback: What Happens When You Actually Judge a Book By Its Cover? | Lee A Jackson

  4. Neverwhere is one of my favorites (well, anything by Neil Gaiman, really, but Neverwhere’s pretty high on that list) and I would definitely recommend reading it. It is just awesome.

    Your own synopsis sounds very intriguing too and, if I may say so, quite Gaimanesque.

    As for the others, I’d say your versions beat the actual books hands down. Especially the romances. I’d much rather read about super powered raven wings or a massive flood and a sinster secret society.

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  5. Absolutely loved the idea behind this post. I actually wish you ran it as a weekly series.
    Number 2 was such a surprise. I must admit I preferred your version. 😉 As to number 5, you’ve got me intrigued to read the book too. On my to-read list it goes!

    Liked by 1 person

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  9. I definitely buy books by their covers. LOL It doesn’t ALWAYS work out, of course, but even if I don’t like the book, I still like the cover. 🙂 I almost bought a Superman graphic novel yesterday just for the cover. It was amazing, but I controlled myself and took home Poison Ivy instead. Couldn’t read Girl Waits with Gun. So slow and boring, actually. Had to stop, didn’t get very far. Really didn’t like it at all. Good thing there are enough books out there, since everyone likes something different.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m definitely guilty of judging books by their covers, too! I guess it’s only natural. I haven’t actually tried reading Girl Waits with Gun, so that’s interesting to hear! Thanks for commenting. 🙂

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