It’s peach sesaon, and I’m in heaven. Peaches morning, noon and night. Carolina peaches, Georgia peaches, even California peaches when I can’t get the others. Do I dare to eat a peach — even if it looks as if it may be a little green? You betcha. Thankfully, the juice runs down my chin. Perfect.
The peaches in the painting on the cover of Allegra Goodman’s new novel, The Cookbook Collector, look lovely, all ripe and ready. I probably would have bought the hardback for the cover alone, except I was on the road and downloaded a sample for the nook. A few delicious pages into this tale of two sisters navigating the dot.com world of the late ’90s, and I knew I wanted more. So I clicked the “buy” button. Instant gratification.
This is what both pleases and annoys me about e-books. It’s great to sit in a hotel room at night, order a sample from B&N.com, and then satisfy my literary cravings. But all I have of that gorgeous cover is a color thumbnail. Because, yes, sometimes — ok, many times — I’ve prejudged a book by its cover while browsing in a store and then bought the book, especially if it’s by an author I don’t know. Most recently, Danielle Ganek’s The Summer We Read Gatsby. Great cover, and the book was good enough that I don’t regret my decision. Sometimes I get snookered — the “Twilight” series, for instance, with its masterful marketing — but then I pass on the offending volumes. My trash will be someone else’s treasure.
Coincidentally, the same evening I started The Cookbook Collector, I also caught a rerun of Bravo’s “Work of Art: The Next Great Artist,” the episode in which contestants were challenged to design a cover for a Penguin classics title. The winner would see his or her cover on the real book in stores. Very interesting. Obviously, several artists were not readers. One poor dear admitted she’d never read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice but still thought she she knew all about Jane and “Darby.” In the end, her watercolor based on a semi-nude photo of herself was embarassingly bad (although not the disaster of another contestant), and it didn’t help that her book was by Jane “Austin.”
Several other artists put their high concepts of “art” above the books’ contents, i.e. , the “disaster.” But kudos to Tom, who took the time to read all of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein before starting his project. The eventual winner (spoiler alert) was John, for H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. Love the little ladder. And Mark’s striking cover for Bram Stoker’s Dracula was a well-deserved second. I’d buy both books — and I already have copies, just with different covers.
When it comes to books and peaches, I’m incorrigible.
Open Book: As noted, I bought the e-book of The Cookbook Collector (Random House Publishing Group) and the hardcover of The Summer We Read Gatsby (Penguin). I need to restock on peaches.