The second book giveaway and a blog post

by Ahalya on September 28, 2009

I found an interesting book called ‘Red Herrings and White Elephants’ written by the erudite Albert Jack. The reason why I like this book is because it gives you a short description of the origins of some of the phrases we use everyday.
‘To lick into shape’, we often say this to mean that something is being prepared for a purpose. But, you must go back several thousand years to understand what it meant when it was first used. According to Jack, some people believed that animals, especially bears, gave birth to babies that didn’t have any form, shape or notable features. The mother licked the baby into the shape of their breed! One reason why this may have been assumed is because of the afterbirth that covered the bear’s cubs, making them seem shapeless.
I recently used this phrase, in a similar manner, while describing this site to my friend. I told her I was adding finishing touches and licking it into shape.
And suddenly the vision appeared. These colourful phrases usually present themselves to me like this, all literal and bizarre. So I was Mama Bear licking a small little black and while ball of fur into shape. I think it’s time for me to tell you the second question for the giveaway week.

The second question. Wait for it. Don’t groan. Who is your favourite author. Ok, ok. I will stop with the favourite question for a while. The second question is, Which book had the best cover you have ever seen? Or, to put it differently, which book did you judge worth buying going by the cover alone?

Rules same as before. And if you have any problems posting the comment, mail me:

May you win πŸ™‚

The winner for this giveaway has been chosen, but discussions can continue!

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

kunal September 28, 2009 at 9:59 am

I will try to read more of him. I will be seeing you around again, I do hope πŸ™‚
yes ofcourse πŸ™‚
book by cover only? wow. that is sometehing i have never done. i have liked covers[ mostly thhe simpler one’s please me more than the one’s that look dramatic] so a book called the artists way, [ if i remember the name right] with a simple slightly offwhite cover and nice handwriting pleases me much more,asthetically than gaudy ones.
that said, i have loved most of the terry pratchett covers. whomever paints them is a genius.
any magazine[ i know i know, u said book, but paper + cover + reading material…come on πŸ™‚ ] painted by that lovely chap, norman rockwell is well worth having simply cause then u have a beautiful piece of art, i dont know what the magazines contained, but with a cover like that. wow.
book wise i would never do that sort of a thing. ”good from far and far from good”, as a wise chap said.


kunal September 28, 2009 at 10:09 am

favorite author?
different authors for different kinds of reading. woudnt that be so.
cause not one would show u all the colors of life. yes enough people would say, this is my favorite color. but take away the other color and they may realize what is missing[ may not too :)]
so here is a short list of fav’s
1-Richard Dawkins for the argument[ which is interestingly not one at all] creationism vs evolution.
2-Terry Pratchett- for merging fantasy and reality and giving us immense joy.
3-thich nhat hanh- for writing about the self and not covering it in philosophy and mysticism.
4-Kurt Vonnegut- for being dark,funny and real.for showing the industrial age and showing white supremacy or for that matter even human supremacy for exactly what it is.
5-Tony Parsons- for writing one truly touching book about the relation between man and his son[ man and boy, of which i bought every copy i have ever found and gifted it away, now i have none πŸ™‚ ]
6-carl sagan- for being so ever optimistic and realistic about life else where[everywhere if u would believe him] and for knowing so much and sharing it in a way that u would understand.
7-Richard fineman- for being exactly who he is. a curious creature and for helping u feel and share the curiosity for life and for learning.
8-George Simenon- for bringing to life the most humane detective that there is never a criminal in any of his books. only a crime committed under a circumstance.
sorry, this seems to have gone on for sometime… so fin now πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚


Ankesh Kothari September 28, 2009 at 11:43 am

Tough question for me. Because I stopped buying books that haven’t been recommended by at least 2-3 people. (Had to downsize the reading wishlist somehow!)

Made To Stick has one of the best covers I’ve seen. But I bought it online without seeing the cover first.

Wizard of Ads trilogy books has awesome covers too. But I bought them because I’m a fan of the author (Roy H. Williams) – and I would have bought them even if they were in crappy covers.

I had bought a big fat psychology textbook once – based on the cover. Actually based on the weight. It was the fattest book for sale when my University library was having its summer cleanup. $1 for an old slightly outdated psychology textbook. A recent one I had (bought for a class) was priced around $120 or so… so $1 based on weight seemed like a smart decision! (Since then I sold my $120 newer book but have kept the fat $1 book!)

Hmm… the most impulsive book I’ve bought has to be the pocket book on Reflexology. One of those small books they keep at the paying counter at Crosswords. The book was bought because of its size and price more than its cover though. Truly impulsive.

Whats your answer Ahalya?


Swapna September 28, 2009 at 11:56 am

I don’t think I’ve ever bought a book on the strength of its cover alone, unless you mean the blurb or the plot outline. Can’t say I even remember what most covers are like once I’ve read the books. And now I’m hard-pressed to find enough words to write about covers.
I find many covers are often deceptive about the contents.
Oh, that reminds me, I do like looking at the covers of coffee-table books, the kind you don’t actually read, but buy for their pictorial value, such as cookery books, photography ones and so on. Not sure what that says about me though.


~`aditi`~ September 28, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Come to think of it, there are a bunch of books I was tempted to buy simply because their covers were intriguing.

Just yesterday, I picked up a book called Severance by Robert Olen Butler. This is what it looks like:
Incidentally, the book is a fascinating one, in terms of conceptualization and presentation and writing.

Other books include:
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
This image doesn’t do it justice. The gold leaf glitters on the actual cover and the splashes of paint look well-worn with age.

The Cinnamon Peeler by Michael Ondaatje:
The black and white photograph just evokes such wonderful imagery. It’s truly well-complemented by the poetry contained within.

The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh:
This cover is especially glorious in hard cover with the dust jacket and all that.

An Equal Music by Vikram Seth:
This is my second favourite book cover of all time. It’s a hard cover first edition even. I loved it the first time I saw it. Apprently someone else loved it just as much when they saw it in my bookcase because it mysteriously disappeared.

My #1 Favourite Book Cover is:
It shows Pablo Neruda writing his poems. It cannot get more enchanting than that. It helps that this book was a birthday gift to me πŸ™‚

So that’s a long list of favourite covers!


Divya September 28, 2009 at 1:00 pm

πŸ™‚ How many times have I been told by people NOT to judge a book by its cover? And how many times have I secretly rolled my eyes at them? Ah, the question seems custom made for me.
Many, if not all, of the books I bought have been based on the cover. AND I haven’t regretted my decision, at least not all the time. We’ll get there later. While it took me some time to think of the cover I liked the most, it wasn’t very tough. My mum bought this book for me, The Book of Bed-time Stories. I love(d) the book for many reasons, a fascinating cover being one of them. It was the first book I got. My book! Not something I sneaked away from my brother’s shelf. A book that was half my size (I was about two and a half feet tall then). And a book with 250 stories – some known, some for unknown, unheard of, most of them introducing characters who still talk to me.
Divya, cover! Right, so, I do not remember the details vividly; on the cover was Tom Thumb peeking out of his matchbox bed, Cinderella in her golden gown, and Jack climbing up the beanstalk. What caught my attention then, more out of angst than awe was the leprechaun. A tiny, filthy, and mean looking character with a red pointy hat whose expression said it all. The cover was a collage of the characters from some of the stories in the book.
I still have the it – the hard cover holding the loose pages in turn holding my childhood friends, safe, musty and yellow-brown in colour. I love.


Kripa September 28, 2009 at 8:58 pm

Buying a book ‘cuz the cover looks interesting. Hmm…I’ve done that a few times and would do that again in a heartbeat. One is particularly vivid in my mind ‘cuz the picture on the cover was and still is absolutely bewitching. Funny cuz the book was about witch hunts! πŸ™‚

Anyway, it is called “The Witch Child” by Celia Rees. And here’s the cover…


kunal September 28, 2009 at 9:55 pm

this is like dating a girl cause of her looks…wait a minute… most people do that !!! :P:P:P hahahahahahahaha…


admin September 29, 2009 at 12:16 am

Kripa: Witch Child is creepy man. Brrrrr
Kunal: You have put me on to more authors!!! And now illustrators as well! By the way, did you mean Richard Feynman? And I can’t believe I missed out on Norman Rockwell all these years! I simply love his work, and George Simenon sounds like he will be soon become a favourite. So thanks again.
Aditi, what a detailed list, I loved ALL! Pablo Neruda is my… what can I say? I love his words! I loved the cover.. with that angel watching over him. By the way, have you see Il Postino? Severance is super classy in a murderous way, and I see now what you mean about Lahiri’s cover. The Equal Music I have, hardback, doesn’t have this cover, unfortunately. This one is very beautiful. I loved the title ‘The Cinnamon Peeler’ would definitely buy the book based on that alone. How was the book?
Divya! What a vivid memory you have! The leprechaun sounds super creepy and of course you couldn’t look away! You know, this reminded me, I can remember most of the covers of all the kiddy books I read. I think I spent half my vacation trying to draw those covers and ended tracing them out on butter paper and pretending I was extremely talented :/
Swapna: Am guilty of ogling at Coffee Table Books as well. In fact show me a book on home crafts and I will buy it before you can say ‘nice cover’.
Ankesh πŸ™‚ buying books by weight! what a great idea! well, maybe not really, but I am used to carrying heavy sacks of books back from BCL so I can see myself doing this. Which book did I buy going by cover alone? That would be the first book in Alexander McCall Smith’s No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series I hadn’t read the reviews, so I didn’t know what to expect. I loved the African feel of the cover and felt happy just looking at it. On the plus side, I loved the book, on the minus side, it’s a series, so there’s plenty to buy πŸ™‚ although all the covers are great.

Phew! Thank you everyone. I am closing comments to this giveaway. I am posting the question for the third giveaway, right now. Get more friends! The best part of this, for me, is getting more ideas of What to Read Next. So thanks again!


Aditya October 7, 2009 at 12:38 am

Love all of Moorcock’s covers – the first time I looked at Nomad of the Time Streams or Von Bek of Moorcock, I just stared at the cover picking out the details of the artwork.
And love the new edition of The Hobbit, picked up a copy despite owning the book just because of the fantastic cover.


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