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You can tell a book by its cover.  I’ll admit it, I’ve purchased books merely because I liked the cover art. And, as I like to tell my children, I’m always right.

If there is an Army tank, dragon, torn bodice, vampire, or space alien (or all of the above) on a book’s cover, I steer clear of it. Show me a book with flowers, food, or an interesting face on the front and I’ll pick it up. Of course such things are personal preferences, so if you are into war stories you head straight for the tank.

After the artwork, the other thing covers provide is a snapshot of what is inside. You may learn from the synopsis that the novel with the pretty flowers on the cover is about the death of a young soldier and the flowers are the funereal drape over his casket. Back goes the book onto the shelf. I don’t like to read about soldiers and death. I have a daughter entering the Army for Pete’s sake.

The third thing covers give us is the affirmation that others who have read the book liked it. I give bonus points to the book if the reviewer(s) is(are) somebody(ies) I have read and admire. At that point, I am likely to buy the book.

So who was this know-it-all who said, “You can’t tell a book by its cover?”

This is overly simplistic because I also read book reviews on-line, in newspapers and magazines (remember those?), and write down recommendations from like-minded readers.

How do you select the books for your reading list? If you avoid “alien-vampires shooting dragons from an Army tank while wearing torn bodices” books too, what recommendations do you have for me?