On Not Being Judged by a Book’s Cover. Or Something.

I end up reading a fair number of children's books when there are no children present. Or even near. Like when I'm on the subway on my way to work (note: I usually manage to hold it together).

But sometimes it makes me self-conscious. Which is, I know, ridiculous. Considering what other people are reading (surely Dear Dumb Diary is a rung above the NY Post, right? Except the sports section?). Then there's the question of who's looking anyway (other than me), and what's the big deal really?

Still and all. There are some books that are a little intense to show to the world. I'm thinking of when a friend was reading Breaking Silence: Lesbian Nuns, which was actually a fairly awesome conversation starter, it turned out. But there are those times when you really don't want a conversation. Also, when my book group was reading Negroes With Guns, (which, while being a really interesting book that will make you think hard about all the ideas you have about civil rights and gun control, at least it did for me), it was a little dicey to have around the playground, you know?

Ditto for YA books on the subway. Particularly those that make use of special handwriting fonts and/or weird formats (notes, lists, fake text messages). But what to do? Going with the brown paper book cover will just make me feel like a pornographer (or a pornography reader); I think the best way is to just brazen it out. I practice when I can. I stand there, trying to keep my balance while holding the book in one hand, and emanating: Yeah, I'm a grown-up. Yeah, I'm reading Dear Dumb Diary. Want to make something of it?

7 thoughts on “On Not Being Judged by a Book’s Cover. Or Something.

  1. Yeah, don’t sweat it. I take YA books out of the library all the time, and I read them in all kinds of public places. If I ever feel a little self-conscious I just pretend I’m a librarian, or a teacher, or an author checking out the competition, or whatever.
    And anyway, as my daughter would say (a la Junie B. Jones), it’s my own personal beeswax!


  2. I have the perfect cover: I’m a teacher!
    The fact that I’m checking YA books out of the library to read myself with no intention of sharing them with the eight year olds…well, we’ll just keep that between us.


  3. I love YA books and I really don’t care if other people judge me or not. My favorite book right now that I am crushing on is The Book Thief and I recommend it to everyone! I really don’t get why people don’t like YA books. Some of them are just as good, if not better than some adult books. A good book is a good book no matter what genre it is or what section of the bookstore it comes from. Feel free to hold your head high on the subway!


  4. I’m reading a Star Trek book right now, and while it’s not YA, it does have a very cheesy cover that doesn’t do justice to the story. I’m tipping the book down to conceal the cover, but I’m still reading.
    You know that truism, “Life’s too short to read bad books”? Here’s another: Life’s too short to avoid good books because of the covers!


  5. This is a problem easily solved by owning an eBook reader, provided you are willing to buy the books. (I mostly check YA out from the library though.) It all looks the same.
    The downside is you can’t impress anyone by reading, say, War and Peace on the bus.


  6. I’ve recently gotten over my reluctance to admit that I read YA. I’ve always thought it’s some of the best fiction out there. People come up with the most creative story lines, and they tackle some of the most interesting issues about identity and purpose, because they’re talking to an audience that is dealing with those questions.
    I have a book I read several years ago called “The Destiny of Natalie X.” Not that great a book, but I would take it with me to the bar when I was waiting for a friend (I’m such a dork) because it was easy to dip in and out of. But the thing is that the cover is neon green and the “X” is enormous. I swear, the kinds of looks I got. People were assuming I was way more interesting than I actually am, when they thought they knew what that book was about!


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