Do You Judge a Book By Its Cover?

I read a guest post by Katie McCoach on A Writer’s Path called The Reality of Judging a Book By It’s Cover. She discusses how the book’s cover is a reader’s first impression of what’s to come in the story and if it fails to impress them, then the book will most likely be left on the shelf rather than be be bought.

I, too, often thought about the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” It’s a phrase that’s often repeated and for a good reason: whether we want to admit to it or not, we really do judge a book by the cover.

When I’m at the book store or in the library, the first thing that catches my attention is the cover. If I think it’s pretty or interesting, more than likely I’ll grab the book and read the back to see if it’s something I’d like to read.

Obviously, there have been times when I’ve read books with bad covers, but only because I’ve heard about the book and read the summary before seeing the cover. With these exceptions, however, I’ve always judged the book by the cover.


Harry Potter and Mental Illness.

A little warning: if you haven’t read the Harry Potter books yet and don’t want to be spoiled, you might not want to read this post as I’ll be discussing specific details that might ruin parts of the series for you.

Harry Potter is the most well known character in the English speaking world, if not the whole world. He faces situations in 17 years that most normal people haven’t faced in their entire lives and yet everyone applauds him for being made of strong stuff.

But in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix we see a change in attitude towards our main character.


Well, he’s not exactly the best person to be around. He’s moody, he’s angry, and he whines about how the world owes him one. Who wants to be around that sort of attitude, most people tell me. But what if his attitude isn’t a product of being a teenager with raging hormones? What if his emotions in the fifth book are the product of post traumatic stress, anxiety, or some other form of mental illness as a result of what he experienced just a few months previously?

Hold onto your butterbeer and keep your wand in your pocket, I don’t want to be cursed just yet. Let me explain why I think so before you make any rash judgments.

Let’s take a look at the end of The Goblet of Fire. Harry and Cedric were just transported to a cemetery thousands of miles away. As soon as they arrive, Harry watches his school mate be murdered right in front of him. Immediately after, Harry’s tortured both mentally and physically as he fights to survive a fully restored Voldemort.

He makes it back to Hogwarts, but it doesn’t stop there.

We find Harry back at his aunt and uncle’s house for summer at the beginning of the Order of the Phoenix. As we all know, they neglect him and turn a blind eye to their son Dudley’s daily physical bullying and taunting. Harry’s effectively cut off from the wizarding world; Dumbledore won’t speak to him and his friends and godfather refuse to tell him what’s going on in their world in fear of getting in trouble. Through all this, our main character is suffering from a lack of sleep due to nightmares of what happened to him and Cedric.

Isn’t it odd that no one considered to ask him how he was doing with all that he experienced? Isn’t it strange that no one thought that he needed counseling and support from the world he loved so much after what happened? Why dump him off at the one family’s house where the people could care less about his physical and mental well being? Not only that dump him there and cut him off from all knowledge of his world without telling him why, without even checking on him to make sure he was doing okay?

Having thought about all this, it’s no wonder Harry Potter had so many pent up emotions. Add to everything that happens in his fifth year with Professor Umbridge and Sirius’ death and you’ve got a recipe for a downward spiral into mental illness and post traumatic stress. The other characters in these two books in particular meant well, but they only exacerbated the problem that started at the end of the Goblet of Fire.

I can’t make claims to what J.K. Rowling meant to show as far as mental illness is concerned. Perhaps she was making a point that there’s people in our world that face traumatic events like war and terrorism and are forced to suffer alone as no one things to reach out and help them, but I’d like to think she made a point with Harry Potter. Because even the most heroic and admired people in our world suffer the worst even if we can’t see it.

Why I Don’t Talk About Current Reads.

I have a confession to make:

I’ve never felt comfortable talking about books that I’m currently reading.

It’s not that I don’t like talking about books; if I didn’t, it would be a foolish errand on my part for even creating a book blog. But when it comes to books that I’m in the process of reading, I’d prefer to keep quiet until I’m well over halfway finished with, if not almost done reading.

Here’s the thing: I’m one of those people who disregards books frequently. The book you see me reading one day might not be the same one you’ll see in my hand the next. As I’ve grown older, I realized that I don’t want to continue reading a book that I don’t have a connection with.

I know there’s an argument about sticking with a book and not making any assumptions until you’re further into the book, but I can’t do that anymore. If the author didn’t make it interesting enough for me to stick with it beyond two or three pages (give or take a few), then I don’t want to suffer through another 300 pages. Life’s too short to stick with books I’m not happy with.

I have specific interests in the reading world and even these interests change in subtle ways over time. I say only buy books that you truly mean to read rather than buying because the cover looks nice or the summary sounds like something you’d vaguely be interested in. Buy it because it captures your attention, makes you want to sit on the floor of the aisle and read the whole thing right there. It’d make you a happier reader in the end.

Celebrating 20 Years of Harry Potter.

I’m a little late to the party, but I decided over the weekend to start reading the Harry Potter series again over the weekend. Twenty years ago, J.K. Rowling’s books were published by Bloomsbury in England. A year later, Scholastic published the books in America and the rest was history.

I can’t imagine the world without Harry Potter. He opened the door to reading for so many people and for someone like me who already loved reading, it opened a door to a magic world. Floating candles, flying broomsticks, flavored beans, and unforgettable characters lit up my world. Before then, I never actually read much in the way of fantasy. Harry Potter was the guy who made me realize there were other books I’ve never read before. These were the books that made me wait impatiently until the next book came out.

I still can’t believe it’s been twenty years since the books have been published to be honest. It seems only yesterday that I was reading the books for the first time, only a minute ago that I was wondering when the next book was coming out so that I could finally find out what Harry was doing next. No one else will be able to have that same experience of having to wait until it comes out. The new generations can buy all seven books, sit down, and read them all one after another. I wasn’t able to do that.

If only I could go back and read them all for the first time without knowing what was going to happen next. If they ever invent a time turner, I’d immediately go back and read them all again. It would be worth it.

A Series-ous Beginning.

What is your favorite book in the series? Do you like the beginning when your being introduced to the characters your going to journey with, or do you enjoy the ending when events are finally taking place? I haven’t asked recently, but it seems like a lot of people like the last book just because they can finally figure out what is going on. The first book is too laden with introductions and the second book always has the middle book blues with no clear beginning or ending.

I’m one of those strange people who actually like the beginning.

Why? do you ask.

It’s really quite simple, to be honest. I love being introduced to the new characters. I can meet them as they are with no stress and conflict. These are the people that I’ll be taking a journey with. This is who they are before all the darkness clouds over them. In The Lord of the Rings, we meet Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin in The Shire. This is the place where they grew up and fell in love with. And when trouble comes to greet them, we can appreciate the sacrifice their going through because they want to protect the Shire. If Tolkien had started their journeys as well as the others in the thick of destroying the one ring, I don’t think I would have cared as much.

Of course, not all series start so tranquil. In The Hunger Games, we find Katniss breaking the law to feed her family and worrying about what will happen later in the square. We are made to think, how horrible. Why hasn’t anyone hasn’t anyone done anything yet? And when she rushes out to save her sister, we pump our fists and say, yes! Let’s do this!

These are the moments that make me pick up the first book in the series. I want to know who they are and why they chose to go on these often perilous journeys. When I pick up the first book, I think, yes, this is why they’re doing the things they’re doing.

Obviously, other sides of our characters are revealed with each book. We see them grow bigger or smaller with their experiences, sometimes even harder or softer or more kind. We might even see another side to them that we wouldn’t have known initially. But we wouldn’t have known these things if they hadn’t made the choice to go and do something about the problem they were faced in the beginning. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have a series to begin with.

Review: Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

Everything EverythingTitle: Everything Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Genre: Young Adult/Realistic
Rating: 4 Stars

Maddy has something called SCID, a disease that causes her to be allergic to everything. She hasn’t been out of the house in seventeen years and has read every book you can think of. She thinks life is as perfect as it’s ever going to be. That is until Olly moves next door and she can’t stop studying him through the window and falls irrevocably in love with him. There is a risk to everything, but how does she know it’s going to be a disaster unless she tries?

The thing that caught my attention about this book is Maddy’s disease. It’s hard to imagine living in a house without ever having been on the outside of it. I even enjoyed the love story, but in general I found the story to be more on the superficial side. This may be the point of it: the only interaction she has is with her mom, Carla, and Olly. The mom doesn’t seem to be really there: she’s either at work or obsessing with her daughter by having “sleepovers” and “game nights.” I would have liked to see more interaction with her mom; after all, if they were so close, why didn’t they talk more about every day things and work and school? If her mom was so obsessed with caring about her daughter, why didn’t she have a closer tab on her in some of the situations at the end of the book?

I gave Everything Everything 4 Stars because of the ending. I don’t want to spoil it, but I think it was a great transition from what Maddy thought was real to what the true reality was. Her reaction is genuine and I can see myself having the same reaction if I was in her situation.


I’d be the first to admit that I’m not a big fan of American literature. I often find it dry, boring, and lacking real plot and characters. So it’s no small thing when I bought a copy of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

I first read it when I was studying for my bachelor’s degree several years ago. It was one of several American works that we had to choose from to read and this one was the one that I found most interesting out of all of them. Needless to say, I couldn’t stop reading it and knew that it would be the few pieces from an American writer that I would truly love even after many years.

Over the weekend, I went to Barnes and Noble to browse through the books and see what bargain prices they had this time. I noticed a big sign that said that all leather bound classics were on sale for $15. I immediately went to pick up a copy of Mockingbird. I always admired this edition of the book because the cover is so pretty and simplistic, conveying everything it needs in little detail. I never bought it before now because it costs $5 more than the other leather bound copies. With it being on sale, however, I got it for $10 cheaper. I felt like I won the lottery.

I don’t know why I like Mockingbird so much. I think it comes down to the fact that the author chooses a language that is so easily accessible. Even Scout is an easy character to spend time with because she’s so young and frank about everything. She doesn’t understand the complexities of adults and often wonders why people are acting the way they do. Instead of weighing heavily on morals, she brings it to us gently and makes us think about them in ways we wouldn’t have thought before.

I’ve only read Harper Lee’s novel twice in all my life, but I hope with such a grand copy, I’ll be able to re-visit it time and again. It’s one of those books that need to be read at different points in your life because you get different things out of them. Now I don’t have to worry about finding a copy of it at the library. One less book off my list of books to acquire.