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Judging a book

I love to read and I also enjoy reviewing what I read. I’ve been an active Netgalley user for several years and have discovered many wonderful new authors. I’ve also tried to read a lot of trash, but they always seemed a good idea at the time.

Recently, there has been a considerable number of books featuring a young woman on the cover, always a back view, always walking away from the viewer. She may be in a city or meandering through a field. Sometimes she wears a dress, sometimes a coat. And I will avoid every single book featuring such a cover like the plague, which is probably quite unfair. I’m sure I’ve missed out on many books I’d have enjoyed, but there is something about that image that turns me off, regardless of blurb.

Publishers aren’t daft. They use images as a short hand to semaphore the content to the reader…or to piggyback onto the success of another book. Subconsciously, I think I wonder why the book needs such a hand-up? Does it not have the merits to stand on its own two feet? In the case of the image I’ve mentioned, the first few books to use it weren’t for me so now I assume that every book with the lassie walking away from me will be similar and goes unread.

There is a recent trend for profile outlines to indicate quirky ‘literature’ but I’m now so bored of seeing that image. And don’t start me on equally quirky titles. The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared, Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All… I could go on. Stop it, please. Stop it now. It’s no longer quirky or fun and interesting. It’s boring and we need a change.

I recently read and reviewed Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land. You can read about it here. When I saw it on Netgalley it was billed as This Year’s Gone Girl and told me I’d Never Guess The Twist. Well, it wasn’t and I did. But it was actually a really good book, just not what it was hyped to be which is a real shame. A shame for the reader who might be duped, and also for the author. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be delighted if someone read something of mine and likened it to Chris Brookmyre. Turn off the gas and consider me done. But I’m not Brookmyre and I’d hate for anyone to read a competent book only to be disappointed because they were misled.

It could be something as simple as the wording that could shorted the gap between book and expectations. ‘Read this if you enjoyed…’ is far less prescriptive and much more honest, don’t you think?

Or is it just me?


Writer, photographer, creative fantasist.

One thought on “Judging a book

  1. Couldn’t agree more, Nettie. I think that, too often, books are compared to one another when they really shouldn’t be because they aren’t similar. It does nothing but add to the hype, and it can, as you say, be misleading.

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