When you go to a bookstore, how do you choose your books? Are you first attracted to the cover image? The author’s name? Something else?
Well, I have a confession to make. The first thing that always catches my eye about a book is an intriguing title. I love a gorgeously descriptive title or an interesting series of words that are put together in a memorable way. I’m prone to wandering the stacks endlessly in search of new little tidbits that strike me like lines of poetry. I walk slowly, eyeing each spine and evaluating the words written there. I enjoy standing still, my fingers on the spine of the book and mulling over the words in my mind and in my mouth. When one catches my eye, I reach out tentatively and pull it out for a closer examination. Examples of titles that caught my attention in the past: The Weight of Water by Anita Shrieve and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
I also choose my wine this way, tasting the names (and descriptions) in a similar fashion to the way I would pucker and taste a sip on my tongue. You sommeliers out there might cringe at this admission. But I already live my writer/reader life this way, so, why shouldn’t I live my wine life in the same manner? (Plus I’ve read that this is a big trend in the wine world.) Sure, I know certain wines from my time as a bartender/server or just drinking with others. I even know how to go about evaluating wines based on their scores and my price range. But one of the most fun things to do when searching for new wine is to look at all of the names! A clever quip will always win out over the point system.
One of my favorites: Seven Deadly Zins. It’s so clever! I love it! I even served it at a book club discussion simply because of the name. The book in question: Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian. And it’s sister wine, Seven Heavenly Chards is fun too. That was the white option at that book club meeting. Other examples: Menage a Trois, Gnarly Head, Arrogant Frog, Fourplay, Pinot Evil. There are plenty more, of course.
Now, when I got down to it, did I love the taste of these wines as much as the names? Not necessarily. But it doesn’t keep me from playing the game. Sadly, it can work the same way with my books. I may pick up a title to peruse, but it’s easier to return a book once opened (for pre-purchase skimming) to the shelf than it is to return an open bottle of wine. I always read the first few pages of a book to see if the sensual nature of the title matches the language inside the cover.
Perhaps it’s the poet in me, but a beautifully put together image is infinitely more attractive than a raging plot. I too am prone to writing this way. The Green Lady is rife with it, as is my work in progress, Withered World. I’m actually quite excited that my fantasy novel will be taking on the sophisticated and poetic tone that I prefer. I think this will be something that makes my story stand out a little bit from the pack.
Anyway, how do you go about picking books (and wine too, if you are so inclined)?
Did I just write a blog post about books and wine? Yes I did. Victory!