Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Judging Books By Their Covers: Part 1

You've probably been told at least once in your life "never judge a book by its cover" and you probably learned a great lesson in friendship.

But... what if you could judge a book by its cover? What if I possess the ability to guess the summary of a book just by looking at the cover?

Or I could horrendously fail and we could all have a laugh.

So, every week, I'm going to take 4 books from the recommended shelves that I do not know the plots of and guess what they could be about based on their covers.

Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally

If I take this title literally, this book could be about female martians. But with there being water and murky skies on the cover, I'm going to guess it's figurative and it's set on Earth. Perhaps these women are in a secret society of badasses like the Daughters of the American Revolution except with a focus on science and space.

Actually about: In 1915, two spirited Australian sisters join the war effort as nurses, escaping the confines of their father’s farm and carrying a guilty secret with them. Used to tending the sick as they are, nothing could have prepared them for what they confront, first near Gallipoli, then on the Western Front.

Was I close? Nope. Not really at all. I'll give myself 10% to be kind.

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

There's a man silhouetted in a red alleyway, and I'm guessing this means that this is a murder story because red means danger and blood. But is a silkworm being murdered? Is a silkworm symbolic of a clothes-maker or designer? Is the silhouette man this "Cormoran Strike?" (By the way, not a fan of this name. Too obvious.) Or is it the silkworm man? Officially, I'd say it's about a detective solving the mystery of the murder of a prominent clothes designer.

Actually about: When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days--as he has done before--and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives--meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced. When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before.

Was I close? I'd say 50% because I guessed it was a murder mystery, but the silkworm title threw me off and it's actually about a writer going missing then getting murdered. I think this Galbraith fellow threw me off on purpose ;)

The Circle by Dave Eggers

I'd assume this book, with its minimalist cover with a weird logo on it with swirlies inside the circle is about a secret society (I'm a fan of those, give me a break) revolving around this magnificent circle. I can't tell if it's a murder mystery and the people in this society are getting murdered and it's up to an ex-member gone rogue to solve it or if it's a tale of brotherhood and the feeling of belonging somewhere and some poor mid-life crisis guy is trying to get his life back together with his bros.

Actually about: When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in America—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public.

Was I close? Not really. If you replace "secret society" with "bizarre internet company" and "dude in mid-life crisis/rogue member" with "ambitious lady" then I kinda hit the nail on the head. But it is neither of the general ideas I had, it's more about business mystery rather than murder. I'll say 45%, because I'm off but close.

Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman

Just by the cover and title, I'd guess it's about a girl who lives in a trailer park. Letting my imagination run wild, I'd add that she has an alcoholic authority figure. If the girl is less than 15, I'd say she finds a new caring figure for herself somewhere like the library or school all while helping understand her identity. If the girl is older than 15, I'd guess she'd be smart and get good grades to try to escape her situation by getting a scholarship but she meets a cute/hot rich boy and everything changes.

Actually about: Rory Hendrix is the least likely of Girl Scouts. She hasn’t got a troop or even a badge to call her own.  But she’s checked the Handbook out from the elementary school library so many times that her name fills all the lines on the card, and she pores over its surreal advice in the Reno trailer park where she lives with her mother, Jo, the sweet-faced, hard-luck bartender at the Truck Stop. Rory’s been told she is “third generation in a line of apparent imbeciles, feeble-minded bastards surely on the road to whoredom.” But she’s determined to prove the County and her own family wrong. Brash, sassy, vulnerable, wise, and terrified, she struggles with her mother’s habit of trusting the wrong men, and the mixed blessing of being too smart for her own good.

Was I close? I'd actually say yes. I was right about a girl in a trailer park, with a bad influence mother (the mom apparently dates around, not drinks, but she's a bartender so it works) and she spends a lot of time at the library! I'm going to give myself a 79%.

I shouldn't quit my day job. What did you guys think of my judgments? Tell me in the comments below!


Owyn the Intern

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