Adventures in Reading

Judge a Book by Its Cover

shirazI am such a sucker for a good book cover and when I caught sight of The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer I nearly splurged on a book I knew nothing about. Of course the timeless saying of, “don’t judge a book by its cover” popped to mind and in an odd moment of query spent my lunch break searching for the origins of this rather popular (particularly in the book business) phrase:

“To make a judgment of inherent quality on the basis of superficial attributes. The proverbial saying which advises against this … has an air of ancient wisdom but there is no record of it before the 1920s.”

Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrases & Fables 17th ed.

Regardless of my superficial desire for this book, I have found the cover art of books to be extremely interesting. Of course book jackets serve as an advertisement space but personally I consider book jackets to be windows into the book (okay, I just made that up). Recently a good number of Albert Camus’ books have received more modern covers and I find myself growingly interested in the evolution of a novel’s many windows.

Currently, I’m a third of the way into The Magic Lantern by Ingmar Bergman and have realized the reason that Bergman was a famous film director (and I’m not) is because his life was insane. I do not simply mean interesting but insane. Last evening I re-watched one of my favorite Bergman films Wild Strawberries and couldn’t resist recollecting so many points from the book. Perhaps what best stuck out in my mind were Bergman’s description of the attempted (and not in a playful manner) acts of fratricide between him and his brother! Pretty compelling stuff. It also has me reconsidering the popular catchphrase amongst some literary academics to never assume the write is the narrator.