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If I’m being honest, I have to admit that I judge books by their covers. I do. I also make split-second judgments about people and act decisively in emergencies. About 80% of the time, those gut decisions and first impressions are correct.

I think “don’t judge a book by its cover” should be “allow books to surprise you.” Same goes with people. Sometimes, it’s true, you can just tell. Maybe even usually. But works of art and people are both capable of containing surprising depth, even if on the surface they seem a shallow sea.

Anyway, this week’s TFW was easy to write (because there’s less writing involved, frankly), but my choices may be controversial. I like to think I have fantastic taste, you understand, but that taste does sometimes veer toward the spare and reserved. So, with one wonderfully tacky exception, most of my picks are somewhat conservative. What can I say? I’m a classic beauty. 😉

5. A Darker Shade of Magic

a darker shade of magic

I forgot I owned this book until a friend recently returned it to me at work. She took it out of her bag and passed it gently across the busy sales floor. It looks like something expensive that you would want to keep safe. The cover is seductive and sophisticated. It hums with danger and dark beauty and it made me immediately want to read A Darker Shade of Magic again. I especially love that the blurbs are incorporated into the style. I hate when a positive review is the main and only visual hook on a cover.

This might be an example of a book with more style than substance, though. The reason I want to reread it is because…I hardly remember my first read. A knife? A girl living in a bar? Doorways between worlds, for sure. A snooty king? Whatever. It’s beautiful.


4. Animorphs

Animorphs #8

Jake, Rachel, Marco, Cassie, Tobias and Ax use their amazing body morphing alien tech to transform themselves into animals and fight the disgusting, parasitic Yeerks who prepare to fully invade earth while piloting the bodies of parents, teachers and politicians.

I promise you I just recited all that from memory. Animorphs was my favorite book series in elementary school.

Do you remember, by the way, those Scholastic books fairs in the school library? I LOVED the book fair. We got out of class, first of all. Bonuses: the shiny, wheeled shelves, the light reflecting off the book covers, the dollars crumpled in my palm. The bookmark stand. The whole traveling shop had an air of newness and sparkle that made me wish I could buy books by the stack.

As an adult, I semi-annually walk into a bookstore and lose my mind. I wonder if those traveling book fairs have something to do with that? They shaped me as a consumer and as a reader.

Animorphs was my favorite series to buy there. They always had the newest books in the series (there are 54 total, with 10 companion books) and they were always under $10. I could never keep the individual titles straight (The Other, The Hidden, and The Unexpected are all real titles in the series) but I never had trouble identifying new books because the covers are so striking and distinctive. I mean, c’mon:

I was mesmerized by these as a child. Though often mildly horrifying due to obscene distortions of the human face and body, these covers are also stunning and enticing (to say nothing of the flipbook animation on the pages). Sadly, I tried to reread my collection recently and found that I’ve thoroughly aged out of the series. But I got to pass them on to my nieces!


3. The Lord of the Rings

This is a legitimate tie for me. My mom owned the series pictured above and I think the sere, detailed images capture the tone of Lord of the Rings perfectly. Though they’re admittedly not very colorful, the pen-work is beautiful. Plus, each title is different enough to match the contents of the book but similar enough to make sense together.

All that being said, the original editions above are stunning and modern enough to fit in and stand out (both) on a bookstore’s shelves today. I’m especially obsessed with the cover for The Two Towers. Hm. Similar color scheme to A Darker Shade of Magic, huh? I guess I have a type.

2. Incarnations of Immortality

Look, not all of the titles in this series are beautiful. In fact, near the end they’re downright ugly. But the first two in this (really fantastic) series are innovative and beautiful. They capture perfectly the tones of their respective books (the protagonist assumes the mantle of Death in the first and the mantle of Time in the second).

On a Pale Horse was my favorite book in eighth grade and the cover is burned into my brain. I probably read this book nine or ten times before loaning it out to a friend. Sadly, it was never returned and I’ve never come across it in a used bookstore (when I had money to buy it, that is). I think there’s probably a life lesson in their somewhere, but I don’t know what it is.


1. Chronicles of Narnia Box Set

Damn, I love a jewel tone. Give it to me wet, darling, and glistening. Deep. I’m bummed I couldn’t find a professional photo of this box set online. These lil dinky snapshots don’t really do it justice.

But anyway, this is the set I own. When I was little, my aunt had one and, even before I could read I would stare entranced at the bold designs and vivid colors on the box and covers. I remember wanting to learn to read so that I could discover all the secrets the pictures seemed to hint at.

Why is that woman snatching that girl’s wig?
Why is that man attacking his furniture?
What is that lion doing in the sky?

Now I’m thirty years old and can answer all of these questions. Somebody throw me a party.



By the way:

T5W (Top 5 Wednesday) is a weekly book meme created by gingerreadslainey and hosted by Sam @ThoughtsOnTomes. You find out more about T5W and the weekly topics on the Goodreads group here.