Tip for the day: Judge a book by the covers next to it

July 16th, 2008

Honestly, I really should have known better.

And typically, I could blame this sort of thing on my natural inclination toward naivety.

But this time it was my stubborn hopefulness and optimism.

And.

Desperation.

You see, it all started a couple weeks back during a family trip to the library.

“I need some movies to watch on my flight,” Charming explained as we loaded the car.

He was leaving the next day for a business trip that would last almost a week.

And his flights were going to be long, so he wanted to bring along some entertainment to watch on his laptop.

“That sounds great,” I said as I buckled Bubbers into his car seat, “And I’ll get some books to read while you’re gone.”

Then I paused and realized the last time I’d read a book for pleasure was…..  I had no idea.

Now don’t get me wrong—I had been doing plenty of reading.

But it was mainly about babies and parenting and developmental milestones.

Or scripture study and church articles.

And if there were a few spare minutes, I squeezed in SLP magazines and research journals that pile up on my counter top waiting to be read someday.

But lately, I’d felt a need for something more.

Something….. different.

Something foofy and clean.

And deliciously romantic!

Full of misunderstandings and lingering stares across a crowded room.

Except, I realized as we drove to the library, I have a problem.

While I knew the kind of book I wanted, I didn’t actually have a specific title in mind.

So as we walked into the library, Charming took Bubbers and went off to look at the DVD’s and I went off to look at…..  Well… to look at all the shelves of books and hope that some book would reach out and grab me.

But nothing did.

So then I started to rack my brain…..

Hm, I thought as I searched the shelves, Maybe they have something in by L.M. Montgomery…..

No luck!

Okay….. I tried again, How about some Louisa May Alcott I haven’t read, yet?

Again, nothing!

I was about to give up as I paused to look across the library and check on Charming and Bubbers.

Then suddenly, as if it was fate, my eyes found a large sign in the middle of the library that said, “Romance.”

After a moment’s hesitation, I walked over to the revolving book shelf under the sign.

Then I stood there.

Uh oh….. These look like Harlequin Romances, I thought with great disappointment.

Then I looked up at the sign again.

“Romance.”

It doesn’t say “Harlequin Romance”, I reasoned with myself, So surely they can’t all be Harlequin Romances.

I reached forward and turned the shelf, quickly scanning the covers and looking for something that would suit my requirements.

Suddenly I stopped and pulled out a book.

The cover was a lovely picture of a couple sitting on a dock.

They were laughing and smiling at each other.

And they were fully clothed.

Hm, I thought hopefully, This looks promising.

Then I read the back and flipped through it, looking for any obvious red flags.

This looks good, I thought with a smile, This definitely isn’t a Harlequin Romance.

Encouraged by my success, I spun through the bookshelf and picked out two more innocent looking books.

Then I joined Charming and we checked out our things.

“So you found something you liked?” Charming asked as he eyed the books in my hand.

We were walking through the parking lot and I nodded at him, “Yep!  These look like they’ll be really good!  I was worried at first, since the others all looked like Harlequin Romances, but luckily, I found some that aren’t.”

We got into the car and Charming started it.

Then he looked a little closer at my books.

“That’s not a Harlequin Romance?” Charming asked as he pointed to the book on top.

“No,” I said slowly, “At least, I don’t think so…..”

Something in his voice made my stomach drop.

“What does that small writing at the top of the cover say?” Charming continued as he backed out of our spot.

I held the book up close and read the words.

“What!?!” I cried, “No way!!!!”

Charming didn’t need me to answer.

“It says, Harlequin Romance, doesn’t it?” he said with a chuckle.

Yes!!!” I said with exasperation, “I didn’t even see that!!!”

Completely frustrated, I set the book on the bottom of the pile and said, “I can’t believe it…..  I’ve never checked out a Harlequin Romance before!…..  Well, at least the other two are okay.”

Charming glanced down at them and then shook his head, “Think again.”

I looked at them more closely and saw the same small writing at the top of the covers.

“Harlequin Romance.”

On every single one.

“Three!!” I cried shrilly, “Three?!? I checked out three Harlequin Romances!?!”

Then I slumped down in my seat, “How on earth did I miss that?!?  And how on earth can these be Harlequin Romances??  They look so clean.  And the plot lines don’t hint at anything offensive.”

“I don’t know,” Charming shrugged, laughing quietly to himself.

We drove for a moment in silence and then I ventured a question.

It was my last hope.

“Um…..  Are all Harlequin Romances bad?” I asked slowly, “I mean–by definition, do they have to be bad?  Or are there clean Harlequin Romances?”

Charming grinned at my hopefulness, “I don’t really know, but I think most of them are.”

We got home and put Bubbers to bed.

Then Charming finally asked, “So what are you going to do?  Are you going to read them?”

I had been debating that very question in my head since we’d gotten home.

“I’m going to read the one that looks the cleanest,” I said, “But if it’s bad, I’ll stop.”

Charming watched me closely, but all he said was, “Okay.”

I started it that night.

And ended it that night.

About 150 pages early.

“So it got bad?” Charming asked when he noticed me putting the book back on the counter to be returned.

“It wasn’t really bad,” I tried to explain, “But it wasn’t uplifting….. And it had stuff I just didn’t want to read…..  And it was pretty shallow.”

“Sorry, Love, but I think that’s typical for those kinds of books,” he replied, “Are you going to try the other ones?”

“No,” I shook my head sadly.

I was very disappointed that I hadn’t found my foofy, romantic book.

But I had learned a very important lesson…..

1) If it looks like a Harlequin Romance, it is a Harlequin Romance.

2) If it doesn’t look like a Harlequin Romance, it’s still a Harlequin Romance.

3) If it’s next to a Harlequin Romance, it is most definitely a Harlequin Romance, too.

So with this new experience under my wing, I embarked upon a mission to find somewhere, somehow a clean, romantic book.

And I am happy to report that my counter is currently covered with the mother load.

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9 Comments

JS | 7/16/2008 9:18 pm

Thats one good thing about the library… at least you didn’t buy them!

 
Melissa | 7/17/2008 10:25 am

Great story, Heidi. And thanks for the link to that list – they look great! Be sure to let us know which ones you read and which you enjoyed the most! :)

 
Stacey | 7/17/2008 1:03 pm

I keep waiting for an announcement that you’re writing one of your own!

 
tearese | 7/17/2008 1:58 pm

Thats pretty funny..yes, never go to that section in a library. You probably want “Classics” or something of that nature.

 
Jesse | 7/17/2008 6:25 pm

Even outside the romance genre it can be hard to judge a book by its cover (and back cover, and introduction…) When are you going to start writing your own?

 
Wandering Nana-Linda | 7/17/2008 7:10 pm

I always stick with the murder mystery books. They usually have a little romance but there is always a twist. I am now doing Goodread so hopefully I’ll get some good recommendations.

 
Suzanne | 7/17/2008 10:39 pm

I stopped reading fiction books a while back and must say the only books I read are photography. Lucky you didnt buy them.

 
Kara | 7/18/2008 10:18 am

I wish I had more time to read! I’m glad you were able to find some good ones! I think I’ve wandered down that ailse before. It’s so hard to know what you are picking up sometimes!

 
Neighbor Katie ~;o) | 7/20/2008 9:15 pm

Hey there neighbor!

I just love coming on here every once in a while, when I think of it and read your blogs! They are so well written, entertaining and thought provoking! I have an author recommendation for you! Her name is Francine Rivers, she used to be a Harlequin Romance novelist and then found the Lord, so her books are an amazing mix of romance, history, scripture and deep love. So amazing! I recommend “Redeeming Love.” It is an absolute beautiful story! Once you read that, you will be hooked and want to read all her books, I promise you that! ~;o)

 

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