Monday, April 4, 2016

On jumping to conclusions

Why are we so quick to jump to conclusions when it comes to books, movies, TV shows, etc.? This is something that completely baffles me. And the thing that's terrible is that I am guilty of it too!

Case in point: I was not going to watch "American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ" because I thought - why would I want to watch that when I watched the real thing unfold twenty-two years ago? But then a guy I went to school with and was in a play with in middle school told us all on facebook that he was playing the part of the polygraph tester in the first episode. See? That's him with the glasses. SITTING NEXT TO CUBA GOODING JR!! Cool, huh?

So I set my DVR to record the show. And fifteen minutes into the show, I was hooked. The writing was excellent, the acting superb. I have learned so many things I hadn't known all those years ago. The real case unfolded the year after my son was born. I was busy learning to juggle full-time work and an infant. I caught the highlights of the case and that was about it. Like, I don't think I knew how horribly mean the press was to Marcia Clark.

Anyway, the series wraps up this week and I never in a million years would have guessed that this show would be the highlight of my TV watching the past couple of months. But there you go.

Batman vs. Superman released a couple of weeks ago and everyone, for months, was so quick to judge Ben Affleck in that role. I didn't see the film when it came out but my husband and two sons did and my oldest son said Ben Affleck is his new favorite batman. I mean, imagine if he'd listened to all of those people saying bad stuff months before the movie was even released? He would have missed out on a movie that he really enjoyed.

And when it comes to books, we aren't any better. We dismiss books based on titles and covers so easily. Too easily. And on the other side of the coin, books that hit a home run with a title and a cover will often score big because we love cool things. Pretty things. Strange things. Whatever. If it makes us sit up and notice, that matters - a lot.

THE STRANGE AND BEAUTIFUL SORROWS OF AVA LAVENDER by Leslye Walton (a novel for teens) is a book that hit it out of the park with the cover and title.

Another one that just came out recently (also for teens) - WINK, POPPY, MIDNIGHT by April Genevieve Tucholke. I haven't read it yet but I want to. I'm SO curious!!

I'm thinking about all of this as it relates to THE GIRL IN THE TOWER. Because I'm worried people assume they've heard this story before. That it's another Rapunzel story and gong-shoo, how boring, we certainly don't need another one of those.

I find myself wishing we'd gone with something a little more imaginative, a little less... telling, maybe. Because while it is a story about a girl in a tower, AT FIRST, it isn't only a story about that. It's also a story about the evil queen who is really a witch. And a story about the two hummingbirds, Peace and Pax, who try to help locate Violet's father. And a story about the family of minstrels who travel the land looking for Violet and her mother because they don't know where they are.

I'm not sure most people realize how difficult it is to title a book, and on top of that, to find an image that will do all the things a good cover should do. We do our best and then we hope for the best.

So the next time you find yourself jumping to conclusions about a book based on the title and/or cover, stop for a second and realize what it is you're doing. Of course, you may be right after all - the assumptions you make may turn out to be true. But often times, they aren't. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me they almost didn't read FALLING FOR YOU because of the kissy-kissy cover, but were so glad they did after all, I'd have...about thirty dollars. Ha ha. But still, the fact that I feel like I've heard that thirty times? How many people actually did dismiss it because of the cover and never read it? We'll never know...

Are there any books you can think of that you almost dismissed because of the cover and/or title, and were later glad you didn't? I'd love to hear...

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on the new book Lisa!
    I see this problem about assumptions based on covers all the time in the bookstore. Lots of times I have a book I know a young patron will like but they take one look at the cover and walk away. Sometimes the cover looks to young to them, or too scary, or not exciting enough. It's tricky to get the title and cover just right. I get particularly frustrated with highly gendered covers. Why put off half your market with a gender specific cover when kids don't actually care whether the character is a boy or a girl so long as the story is engaging.