Judging a book by its cover

The Man Booker Prize 2008 shortlist was announced today here. The Booker Prize, in case you're wondering, is awarded to the finest full-length novel, published this year, from the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. The six books up for the Prize are:

  • Aravind Adiga - The White Tiger
  • Sebastian Barry - The Secret Scripture
  • Amitav Ghosh - Sea of Poppies
  • Linda Grant - The Clothes on Their Backs
  • Philip Hensher - The Northern Clemency
  • Steve Toltz - A Fraction of the Whole

  • Now I'd love to be able to claim and say I've read all these to pass comment that way, but I haven't. So, I'm going to judge a book by its cover (the front cover, the title and back blurb to be precise) and decide the winner that way.

    Front cover-wise - Grant's The Clothes on Their Backs wins. Sure, they don't look like very exciting clothes, but this is the Booker Prize, I shouldn't be expecting glitz and glam - I should be expecting:

    ... a strong plot. But also there should be a description of something that most of us don't know anything about.
    I can't comment much about the plot, having never read the book, but not knowing about bad clothes - CHECK - Grant wins the front cover point.

    So, that brings me next to the title. Sea of Poppies sounds the nicest - tranquil, yet different. A point to Ghosh.

    Blurb. Grant wins again with:

    In a red brick mansion block off the Marylebone Road, Vivien, a sensitive, bookish girl grows up sealed off from both past and present by her timid refugee parents. Through Vivien we discover the colourful characters at Benson Court, who play a part in the development of this at first, timid and unworldly young woman. Then, one morning, a glamorous older man appears, dressed in a mohair suit, with a diamond watch on his wrist and a girl in a leopard-skin hat on his arm. He is her Uncle S├índor but why, is he so violently unwelcome in her parents’ home?

    The Booker Prize goes to... Linda Grant. For me, anyway. I better read the book and see if she is deserving of the Prize by letting her words, and not the cover, do all the talking. I wonder whether bookies William Hill used my criteria to give Barry the best odds of a 2/1 to win? And what criteria the Judges really use? Hopefully, they'll have read the books! Their decision will be announced October 14th, 2008.

    Sadly, I find unless you are recommended to read a book by a friend/reviewer, most people do use the cover criteria to choose their reads. I better make sure my book covers are eye-catching then! Do you judge a book by its cover?


    1. To be honest, I don't really like PROPER literature - I even struggled with "White Teeth" - but i DO judge books by their cover. I love books which have pink on them, or sparkles, or half a woman's body (why do so many books have bits of women on them by the way???)

    2. Hmm - I've never even read "White Teeth"!

      I will always make myself take one 'serious' book on holiday, but they are usually never as enjoyable as my genre of choice!

      I've found books with gold on them also tend to be a good read (Olivia Darling's "Vintage" and Maggie Alderson's "Cents & Sensibility" spring to mind).

      But, I am going to read "The Clothes on Their Back" seeing as I've championed it for the Booker Prize!