Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Judging a book

Do not judge a book by its cover. I find this so true, literally and figuratively.

I love reading and most times, the books that first catch my attention on the shelves in bookstores are those with beautifully-designed covers, nice pictures, attractive font, catchy titles. The advertising and marketing people sure know how to do their job well with the help of graphic designers. Some of these books have good content, no doubt, and can even be prize-winning bestsellers.

However, there are books with covers less attractive and long, boring titles. They tend to involve non-fiction, specialised topics or authors and publishers with lower budget.

Two weekends ago, I bought two books, "The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari" and "What Your Doctor Doesn't Know About Nutritional Medicine May Be Killing You". I'm sure you can tell which is the one with the more attractive cover in all sense of the word.

I actually had to get the "doctor" book from the living room to make sure I got the title right for this post. I'm halfway through the "doctor" book and find it very informative, and enlightening with unique insights. I read the first two pages of the "monk" book. While it's reputed to have good content, I have yet to be able to comment on it. I tried listening to the CD but it couldn't capture my attention.

I also love 'reading' people. It is a natural tendency to first get attracted to people who look good on the outside, those who are 'better packaged' and more 'prominently displayed', just like books. But we must not forget the more down-to-earth ones with their quiet wisdom and humility. As the Malay saying goes, "diam diam ubi berisi". I sometimes get really turned off by people who rattle on and on. What they say could be of value but they just don't know when to stop, they love hearing their own voice and seeing other people's impressed faces.

And there are those who judge you by your cover. I visited a doctor recently who assumed that being a housewife without makeup, and simply dressed, I have no knowledge of health, medicine, or science. When I started discussing with him and asking more in-depth questions, he remarked condescendingly, "You are quite a knowledgable lady!" Hello MCP! I tried to reign in the temptation to stoop to his level but couldn't resist revealing, "Well, I was a microbiology major..." And what I got in reply was, "You graduated in microbiology?? But now you're now practising it in the kitchen".

Which book would you prefer to read, mine or his?

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