I know, I know…it's horrible, but somewhat true. Because unless it's an author I already adore or one that came highly recommended and raved about, I peruse the aisles of the book store and only pick up books that catch my eye.
And apparently what catches my eye has been programmed since I was a little girl and, apparently, involves lipstick.
Case in point: My ten-year-old daughter comes up to me at my desk while I'm typing away. She has to climb over mountains of books and navigate what little floor space she can find just to get to me. I review books and write feature stories about books and authors, so my workspace and the surrounding floor are usually covered by piles upon piles of soon to be published, new releases and old favorites.
Once she makes it through the obstacle course and is planted by my side, she immediately gravitates toward a book with lipstick and pink on the cover.
"Ooooh," she croons. "Can I read this?"
"No," I say flatly glancing at the copy of Names My Sisters Call Me by Megan Crane in her small hands.
"Why not?" she asks disappointed, carefully placing the book back on top of the teetering pile where she found it.
"Because, it's not for kids," I say returning my gaze to my computer screen, where I've finalizing edits to my interview with Audrey Niffenegger.
She continues to scan the piles of books and picks up The Time Traveler's Wife. "How about this one?" she asks, pointing to the little girl's shoes on the cover and my computer screen where she can see I'm writing about the book.
"This is about a little girl."
"One day," I say. "Too complex for your age right now, though."
And the thing I learn while she continues to point out the books she thinks she'd like to read is this: she's picking the ones that appeal to the little girl in her -- the books she can relate to. She chose a Jodi Picoult book -- one of my favorites -- because of the little girl with long blonde hair running in a field on the cover.
She pointed out Joyce Carol Oates because of the hot pink bold cover and Laura Dave's The Divorce Party because of the slice of yummy cake. She really wanted to read one of Megan McCafferty's Jessica Darling books because the girl on the cover was wearing sassy boots. And the new Rowan Coleman book, The Accidental Family, caught her eye because of the whimsical way the little girl on the cover was all dressed up and holding her mom's hand.
And it's in that moment that I realize when I pick a book to read, I am not judging a book by its cover at all -- I am embracing the books that appeal to me, choosing the ones I can relate to, ones that evoke emotion and connection to me as a girl, a woman and a reader.
I write a lot about books written by and for women -- some chick lit, some women's fiction. There's a lot of debate about fluffy, light chick lit reading versus what's more literary (and, therefore, supposedly better and more important).
The bottom line is, literature for me is like lipstick. Sometimes, I want to try something new, or I want a lighter more fun shade, or something that's going to make a lasting impression or make me be taken more seriously. Like my daughter, I'm just as apt to pick up a Chick Lit book by Megan Crane, Emily Giffin or Jane Green as I am Jodi Picoult, Joyce Maynard or Joyce Carol Oates -- all appeal to me as a woman and a reader.
They are all smart, emotional, fun and relevant.
There are so many incredible shades of lipstick in any given cosmetic store -- just as there are many incredible books by and for women in your bookstore.
You be the judge -- pick up one that appeals to you and let us know what resonates.
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