Keep it or Shelf It: How to Not Regret Buying a Book

You always hear the saying don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Well that works in some cases, but I’m here to tell you that you can do just that. The cover of a book is normally the first thing that you see. The publisher who made the book wants you to judge it; they made it so that it will catch your eye when browsing.

Let’s start at where you’re going to buy the book. There are two options: online or in store. Both have their own obvious pros and cons. When going out to buy the book it’s an adventure. The best part about it is being able to leaf through each piece of paper. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, the book will have that undeniable new-book smell that only comes from within it’s stitching and ink and all the love that’s been carefully woven into each layer of text. With online browsing, you are able to so at your leisure from the comfort of your own home, and it’s easy, so there’s that.

So that’s where we’ll go next: the cover. It depends on what kind of genre you’d like to get. For mysteries I always like to choose something that’s a bit darker in contrast with the books around it; if it makes it seem like there’s mystery on the outside, there will more than likely be a good mystery on the inside. For fiction there’s typically anyway you can go with those. I feel like what mostly catches my eye is sort of sublime scenery that I can imagine myself getting lost in; it just makes the book feel bigger in a sense, there’s a vast richness to it. Nonfiction books can work this way too, but what matters more is what kind of font is on the front cover. The catcher the title, the wittier the book will be. No matter the content of the book, whether it be historical nonfiction or a biography, it should have a witty title or I just shelf it.

Once you have a choice of books to choose from, I always like to flip to the summary on the back or on the inside flap if we’re getting a fancy hardcover. What I normally don’t like about the inside flap summaries is that I’m lazy, so when I don’t have to move that much, the better. I don’t want to be scouring around until I find the summary. So, if there’s any chance that I find the summary on the back, I normally keep it close at hand. The actual content of the summary shouldn’t be too long, or too short. If it’s too long then you run the risk of spoiling too much. If the summary spoils too much then that’s ruining the whole reason why you’re getting the book. You buy a book to read it and to see what happens, if you know what happens, then what’s the point? If it’s too short then you might not get the whole gist of the book, and then why would you buy it if you don’t even know what it’s about? A summary is to a book, like a trailer is to a movie. You want to know just enough too keep you interested.

Normally, people don’t put into thought of how or where they’re going to read their book. What I like to stick to is if I’m going to read the book in passing, then I prefer to have a smaller, paperback book on hand. It’s light for travel, and not that I’m going to try to lose it, but if I do leave it somewhere then I’m not too heartbroken about it. Small paperback books are replaceable and great for the on the go reader. Whereas if I know I’m going to have a lot of free time on my hands, I will opt for a hardcover book. They’re like a nice, hard teddy bear. Big, hardcover books are easy to get cozy with. They’re what I picture getting cozy with, under an afghan by the fireplace, snuggled into a huge red chair.

Catherine O'Gorman


– Catherine O’Gorman

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