I know I’m not supposed to judge a book by its cover. But is it OK to judge a book by the blurbs on its cover?
I’m talking about those positive reviews—some subtle and others over-the-moon—by other writers plastered all over book covers these days.
A blurb from Stephen King is not guaranteed to get a book racing to the top of the bestseller list the way an Oprah Book Club selection most undoubtedly will. But it will convince a good portion of his millions of fans to read something new. (Check out the hilarious analysis of Stephen King as blurb king over at the Seattle Public Library’s book blog.)
But just because you like the books someone’s written, does that mean you’ll like the same books that person’s read? Are those gushing celebrity endorsements really helpful in deciding which books to read?
Ann Patchett is one of my favorite authors. And so I decided a few months ago, having read all her books, that I should read books written by her friends. These are books I probably would not have read were it not for the Patchett connection: Lucy Grealy’s Autobiography of a Face, Elizabeth McCracken’s The Giant’s House, and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. While I enjoyed these books, I didn’t love any of them the way I loved Bel Canto.
And yet I still find myself putting books on my ever-growing “to read” list based on Ann Patchett’s blurbs. Here are a few of her blurbs that have tempted me lately:
The Outlander by Gil Adamson
“The Outlander deserves to be read twice, first for the plot and the complex characters which make this a page-turner of the highest order, and then a second time, slowly, to savor the marvel of Gil Adamson’s writing. This novel is a true wonder.”
Sacrament of Lies by Elizabeth Dewberry
“In Sacrament of Lies, the line between certainty and madness is as thin as a razor and equally as dangerous. Elizabeth Dewberry has given us a rare gift, a literary thriller that will keep us up all night. This book is riveting.”
Heir to the Glimmering World by Cynthia Ozick
“A cause for celebration in the world of literature. Here we have a heroine to love, a story we can’t let go of, gorgeous sentences, and ideas to wrestle with. I didn’t just read this book, I devoured it.”
Hands of My Father by Myron Uhlberg
“In telling the story of his very unique childhood, Myron Uhlberg has created a book that is universal. His feelings of love and responsibility, of shame and enormous pride, can teach us all something about being a member of a family. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t love this book.”
Tunneling to the Center of the Earth by Kevin Wilson
Are there any authors whose blurbs you trust? Do blurbs make any difference in the books you choose?