Don’t judge a book by its cover. You’ve heard it before. You’ll probably hear it again. But I’m here to tell you something a little different: Do judge a book by its cover; just make sure it’s the back one.
Sometimes, the summary of a book can be really intriguing, and sometimes it can be really dull. Most of the back-of-the-book summaries I’ve come across read almost exactly the same, with some choice words taken out or replaced. To demonstrate this, I’ve put together a sample book summary that I think encompasses most, if not all, of the clichés you’ll find on the backs of books everywhere:
When Mary Sue/Billy Bob is supremely disappointed by his/her life in some way, he/she decides to start over and try to forget his/her most-likely tragic past. That’s when he/she meets a person who changes his/her life forever, and he/she learns to overcome his/her predictable character flaws and become a better person. Also, he/she will probably fall in love at some point, and that will help to teach this incredibly expected lesson.
Okay, so if you’re reading the back of a book, and that’s what the summary looks like, you’re probably going to want to put that book back on the shelf. If, however, the summary doesn’t strike you as trite, your next step is to flip to the first page. If a book is really right for you, you should be able to tell by the time you reach paragraph two. That’s because the content of the book is only half the story (no pun intended). If a writer’s style is poor, or just doesn’t appeal to you, you will most definitely know right away, and then you will know that you probably won’t make it through that story. So go to your nearest bookstore (which is some of our cases might be closing. I’m talking to you, Borders in Carousel Mall), pick up a book, and start reading from the back!