How do you pick what’s next on your reading list? A combination of recommendations and careful cover analysis. It’s like picking a decent wine, does the picture match your mood, does the title tell you enough and how long do you think it will last unopened. For many a brilliant book the cover is misleading and imaging your disappointment after spending $19.95 on 500 pages of chick lit when it looked like an action thriller.
So glance beyond the cover or if you can’t be bothered here are some recommendations that will exceed their face value.
The House of The Spirits by Isabel Allende
By the swirly cover art and female profile image you would expect a sisterhood discovery novel, how very wrong you would be. This wonderful work of fiction weaves the narrative of three generations exploring a Latin American family. There’s otherworldly magic, there’s fate and the protagonist is male but if you’re brave enough to pick it up you’re in for a treat.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
From the stony cover would you be reeled in? No me either. It’s not a novel about classical art or a man turning to stone but about an eccentric bunch of college misfits. Dealing with dilemmas of morality slipping from captivation to corruption and into the pits of pure evil. A true underrated classic.
Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman
An obscurely placed backpack draped over a naked woman, reeks of an Eat Pray Love copy no? When really it’s a true story that will have you burning through pages at blistering pace. It may start out as a journey of self discovery and travelling the world but descends into a gripping thriller. Culture shock, restrictions, dealing with the foreign all meet in this wonderfully written novel. Much better than it looks.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Another Divergent, Twilight, City of Bones mashup? Nope, this is much better. Once you get past the masquerade-esque feathered cover and dive into the lyrical writing of Laini Taylor. You’ll be hooked. Until you pick it up it sounds absurd, a blue haired hero dealing with identity struggles and magical interference. The author manages to weave mythology, complex characters and careful plotting to create a masterpiece. So much better than it seems, you may as well rip off the cover and get into it.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
It may sound like a gaming instruction manual but Ready Player One is much more than that. Sure there is gaming references throughout but it’s not what makes it great. It’s 1984 for the modern world, the novel takes on a far from utopian future in 2044. The creator in this alternative reality is pop culture obsessed and weaves puzzles into the mediums of everyday consumption. It’s gripping, it’s trippy and it’s starkly close to home. Deal with the odd looks and read this one cover to cover.
Asylum: An Alcoholic Takes The Cure by William Seabrook
Not at all about boat people or wrongful incarceration as the title might suggest. The perplexed man on the front cover fails to show just how deep and wonderful this book is. Following an alcoholic journalist’s struggle with his disease that in 1934 hadn’t been identified. He applies his trade as a travel writer to his journey through the asylum where he checked himself into. Delve into the past and become a little more self aware as you follow this true story all the way down the rabbit hole.
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Euginedes
This one may look like a self help book for husbands and wives or a suggestive hint to your long term partner. Thankfully it is neither. Instead it’s a journey from college into the real world that deals with the marriage plot at the centre of every great English novel. Yes there’s romance but it’s a refreshing take on choosing between two men that doesn’t smell of manly competition or damsel in distress cliches. Witty, smart and relevant even though it’s set in the 80’s. Rings aside, it’s a great read.