Book Covers

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I used to be in elementary school. Yes, I have some level of education much to your surprise I am sure. šŸ™‚

I remember a lot of things about elementary school. Not so much the important stuff that I think they were aiming for…but other things.

I remember getting new textbooks at the beginning of the school year and waiting with anticipation to see what kind of books you would be slaving over the rest of the year.

I say they were new textbooks…but that was rarely the case. They often looked like the same books my dad probably used. I would often scan the lengthy list of previous owners at the front of the book fully expecting to see his name…or maybe Abe Lincoln. That would have been cool to have used Honest Abe’s spelling book! But nonetheless, all I ever saw were the nondescript scrawlings of all the poor third grade schmucks to have gone before.

The books were old and well-handled. So, to protect us from Hepatitis Z….they would issue standard, plain book covers for us to wrap our books in. Anybody else remember those? They were just plain, paper grocery bag looking deals. They had nothing on them which, much to our joy, meant we got to decorate them. We usually decorated them with drawings of crazy stuff and things like “I love Angela” (The little blond haired girl three rows over who still doesn’t know I exist). Most of what we put onto the book covers had little or nothing to do with what was actually in the book. I remember I often had to open the book and look in it just to see which one I was toting around until I had my third-grade hieroglyphics memorized.

I went to the bookstore the other day. I love that place. As I was perusing one of my favorite aisles (the sci-fi section) I noticed that we still have a lot of book covers!
Every hardback book I saw was wrapped in some type of cover. Except these covers aren’t left up to our interpretation. These are artfully and masterfully designed by a bunch of marketing gurus who are trying to sell me the book in 10 seconds or less. They have compiled what they perceive to be the most attractive elements of what is in the book, made it colorful, and got a quote or two from someone I am supposed to know and whose opinion I am supposed to value to tell me how awesome the book is.

It’s all just so neat and commercial. I am not against modern book selling techniques…but I will say that when I buy a book that has a cover…I often rip it off and throw it away. Mainly because it’s “flappiness” is annoying to me and I have already bought the book, so I don’t need the commercial anymore because something in me prefers to not have someone else tell me what a book is all about. I prefer to open it myself. Feel (and smell) the pages in my hand…read what it says for itself! Could it be that in an effort to distill the message into bite size bullet points for the convenience of modern man…we can lose the art? A book tells a story. At least, a good one does…and that story deserves to be seen and told by its author.

I am tired of labels on people too. Due to our lack of effort to get to know other people…we often resort to labeling them. We like to categorize people and put boxes around them so we can deal with them generally. We like to put covers on them. They are liberal, conservative, rich, poor, Calvinist, Arminian etc. We have to know what “camp” or “tribe” someone else is in quickly so we don’t have to actually get to know them. Then we can just deal with them in generalities…write them off and put them back on the shelf so to speak. I suppose it’s mostly laziness or simply fear that keeps us from actually getting to know others. People are complicated and cannot be easily defined or put into boxes. God made us that way and we shouldn’t try to simplify them so much. Maybe the beauty is in the pages. Maybe we should be willing to sit and listen to people tell us who they are and let them write their own story. What if we allowed them to have blank covers that they painted themselves?

Let’s be more careful about how we categorize other people. Remember, we were all taught to not judge a book by its cover.

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