When you’re walking through a bookstore, what stops you? Which are the covers you can’t resist?
Snow? That’s probably not a wise question in this hemisphere right now, but I’m addicted to winter weather. I’d live in Iceland if my family would come with me. Snow, on a dusky night, trees, towering, tufted in snow. More flakes drifting down. I’m drawn to that cover, and I want to know about the story.
History. Show me a woman wearing a medieval hood, as if she were maybe Elizabeth of York? Not only do I need that—I’m reading Elizabeth of York by Alison Weir right now. Normally, I deliberate and sample a book, but combine one of my favorite authors with one of my favorite subjects? That was a one-click.
Sun, shining through greenery? A woman making a dandelion wish—I was immediately drawn to Melinda Curtis’s Dandelion Wishes. A couple observing elephants on the African veldt? I'm attracted to Rula Sinara’s The Promise of Rain for both the cover and the title. And The Weather Girl. I’m coming for the parapluie, but I’m staying for the meteorologist.
I know where my weaknesses began. One of my earliest, happiest memories centers around my family gathering to watch The Six Wives of Henry VIII on PBS. We were all fascinated and horrified. After each shocking episode, we actually talked about the way members of the families we were watching treated each other. I needed to know more about the Yorks and the Lancasters--not to mention those busy Tudors.
Winter is my favorite time of the year since I lived in Iceland and then later, lived in Hawaii for almost five years. Maybe it doesn't seem normal, but the constant sun faded me. I buried myself in winter-set stories, trying to sink into some coolness. To this day, my computer’s background screen is always covered in snow.
The Promise of Rain gets me on two levels. Ray Bradbury’s "There Will Come Soft Rains" has haunted me since I read it as a young child. Any lyrical title containing the word, "rain," leaps into my hands, and my husband has a thing for elephants. I wanted to know more about that book since the moment I first heard of it, and it’s up next behind Elizabeth on my Kindle. The Weather Girl? One of my favorite movies is Les Parapluies de Cherboug. A red umbrella is a beacon to me, and I have a confession. I have four weather apps on my phone. Weather fascinates me. How could I resist Amy Vastine’s book?
Finally, I’d never heard of wishing on a dandelion until my family moved to Tennessee when I was ten. We’d always lived far from my mother’s family, and I’d never known aunts and uncles and cousins, who quickly became my siblings, as Tennessean cousins do. I loved hanging out with my aunt, one of my “second mothers,” who lived down the hill from us, and despite her terrible allergies, she picked a fluffy (snowball) dandelion from the field between our houses one day, and held it out and asked me to make a wish.
I had no idea you could wish on a flower. (Why do some people consider dandelions weeds?) We had moved because my parents split up, and my mother wanted to be near her family. Every piece of that dandelion wafting through the air was a wish that my parents would find each other again. That wish didn’t come true, but that moment was so intense, I’ll never resist a dandelion wish.
These are the themes and images I can’t resist. I’d love to hear about the ones that drag you straight to the shelf, and where you think they came from. What kind of cover or story makes a book irresistible to you? And, why?