The old adage ‘never judge a book by its cover’ runs true


photo by Alice Yu

Grace Vance

A sign explaining the “Blind Date With a Book” library event tells students about why the first line of the book is on the cover and how to receive candy in exchange.
In the wake of Valentine’s Day festivities, the usual chatter and hum of library computers has turned into interest in a usually quiet corner of the library. A new feature librarian Beth Shapiro calls, “A Blind Date with a Book,” allows students to pick from a set of books wrapped in yellow paper based on the first sentence of the book rather than the title or cover. This, Shapiro believes, is a new way for students to experience different kinds of books.
“I just wanted to make something a little catchy — we have a lot of books in our collection and some of them just sit on the shelves but their really good and their really interesting. I thought maybe this was another way of capturing some interest,” Shapiro said. “That’s also why I went with the theme of ‘the first pickup line’ and [putting] the first line [of the book on the cover] to see if it catches anyone’s attention. If it does, they can take it and see how they like the book.”
She said the idea was a popular topic in a library blog she follows. Although she was unsure if it would catch on, she found herself surprised by the amount of student interest.
“I wanted to start really small and maybe just put 10 books out, which is what I did, then right off the bat people were grabbing them and wanting to check them out,” Shapiro said. “I’m really pleased with how it’s going so far.”
One of the students who found interest in the event was freshman Emily Ma. She picked out a book called, “A Primate’s Memoir” by Robert Sapolsky.
“I always stay in the same genre of book and usually never explore any other genres so I thought it would help me get into different types of books,” Ma said. “You pick it out blind so you don’t have an already formed idea about the book just from looking at the cover.”
When a student is finished reading the book, Shapiro said students can turn in a slip and receive candy in exchange.
[quote cite=”Beth Shapiro”]I wanted to start really small and maybe just put 10 books out, which is what I did, then right off the bat people were grabbing them and wanting to check them out.[/quote] “There is a little book mark out there and it’s just, ‘Give me your name, give me the title, rank it,’” Shapiro said. “I put a five star system out there and then [students] can bring it back and I give them a couple pieces of candy for a Valentine’s Day treat.”
Junior Aliyah Blackburn is an avid reader, with fantasy, mystery and adventure books being his favorite genres. Although she did not get a book from the library event, she said he would have gotten one if given the chance.
“I’ve seen pictures where they wrap [the book] in paper and write the genre on it,” Blackburn said. “I think it’s a good idea.”
She said she likes the idea of choosing a book off of it’s content rather than how it looks. This, she said, might help people choose books with better judgement.
“I like how it’s similar to just picking a book off a shelf, but you pick one based off the writing style and what the plot may contain rather than the book cover design,” Blackburn said.
Although Shapiro had some initial hesitation on how successful the idea would be with students, so far she is glad students are exploring different books the library has to offer.
“I really wasn’t sure [students would like it] because I thought, ‘Well, I think it’s kind of fun but I’m not sure whether it will catch on,’ then right off the bat people were checking stuff out,” Shapiro said. “I think people are enjoying it and that’s what I was hoping for.”
photos by Alice Yu