Judging a book by its cover

Judging a book by its cover.jpg

Common wisdom is that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. But book publishers bet on book covers all the time. Covers and titles. 

Once I heard an editor--or was it an author?--offer this suggestion for confirming a working book title's merit. Stop in at your neighborhood coffee shop and tell the barista as he's foaming the milk for your latté that you're writing a book and here's the title. Go back the next day. Hopefully the same barista is there. Order again and ask him to tell you the title of the book you mentioned to him yesterday. If he can remember it, the title gets a couple points in its favor. If not, discard it and try again with something else.

Recently I was at the Festival of Faith and Writing, where tables of books abound, and this book pictured here, When in Doubt, Sing: Prayer in Daily Life, caught my eye. It was the first day of the conference and I hadn't yet taken out my wallet or started forming my to-buy list. By the end of the next day, however, I couldn't get this book--its title or its cover--out of my mind, so I went back to the table and bought it without knowing anything about it or the author, Jane Redmont, other than what you can read on the cover and bio page. Kudos to the book's designer, Katherine Robinson Coleman.

The title of this book is apparently drawn from one of the chapter titles, and what a great title it is. A word of wisdom in and of itself: when in doubt, sing. It's like a getting a freebie prize along with your purchase.

I haven't started reading it yet but have flipped around and dipped in a few places. Each chapter has a number of prayers attributed to other people, some I'm familiar with but most I'm not. Here's an excerpt of one that's new to me, "Benedicite Aotearoa" from a New Zealand prayer book:

All prophets and priests, all cleaners and clerks,
professors, shop workers, typists and teachers,
job-seekers, invalids, drivers and doctors:
give to our God your thanks and praise.

All sweepers and diplomats, writers and artists,
grocers, carpenters, students and stock-agents,
seafarers, farmers, bakers and mystics:
give to our God your thanks and praise.

All children and infants, all people who play:
give to our God your thanks and praise.