Good Reads : By Its Cover


She mailed it to me along with a Frommer’s guide to London. Two books. I immediately grabbed the guide and used it for my trip a few months ago, but left the other book on my shelf, partially hidden. Gail sent me the guide and one of her recent favorite reads, Rebecca. And I kinda laughed when I saw the cover and shook my head because, really, did she really think I read Danielle Steele-ish lookalikes?

Because of our strong similarities in book preferences, Gail emailed and asked if I started it. Uhhhh, makeupanexcuse…makeupanexcuse. It’s the cover, isn’t it? She came out and asked me plainly and I answered: YES. It’s one of those books that looks like it belongs in a bargain bin on South Beach…the bin that ladies with long, pink acrylic nails thumb through just before their Bunko tournament.

I eventually picked up Rebecca and made my way through it’s lyrical passages, falling in love with Maxim, Rebecca, and their love along the way. And–just like my mother always told me–you can’t judge a book by its cover.

Here are a few other books I’ve read and absolutely endorse…
*The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. My book/photography friend Arielle contacted me and said I should probably get a jump start on this book…and then Gail emailed me and said I should pre-order…before it was even released the public. Of course I bought because I didn’t want to feel like the kid stuck outside of the library during a literary sleep over. Written with such beautiful prose and a unique story line, I loved it. It started off so strong and somewhat petered out at the end, but it was delightful nevertheless! If you’re looking for strong writing, a different kind of story, and a little bit of magic, this is for you!
*The Rules of Civility by Amor Towels. Oooooh, this! book! I finished this book in two days…I was smitten immediately with New York City in the 1930s. The story squarely revolves around Katherine Kontent and the struggles she must endure to find her voice, self, and, eventually love. But it’s made complicated by the fact she hails from a family of Russian immigrants and tries to blend in with New York high society. Between the strong writing and the twists and turns, this book was a delightful read!
*The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. Where do I start with this book? It caught me off guard and was written in such a personal way my heart ached, lurched, and grew with each chapter. The book starts at Vicotoria’s 18th birthday and release from the foster care system, painting a picture of her affinity to flowers, a language few can speak and which she is fluent. The book navigates her life through foster care, and shines with redemption, hope, and finding the ability to love. So, so good.

Happy reading, y’all, and if you’ve read something you’re in love with, pass it along in the comment box…I love good suggestions! πŸ™‚

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  1. Jamie

    October 19th, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    The Shack and Jane Eyre.
    Not very out of the box, but two of the very best reads πŸ™‚

  2. Ashley B

    October 19th, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    you HAVE to read One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus

  3. Eliza

    October 19th, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    That is a TRULY hideous cover for such a classic book. This is the reason why Kindles were invented, though, so no-one can see what trashy looking novels you like to read πŸ˜‰

    I’ve been meaning to read The Language of Flowers for a while, you’ve just reminded me (off to download for the kindle…)

  4. Adrienne McNellis

    October 19th, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Oh yes! Rebecca is one of my favourites!! But, I’ve never seen it with that cover.

  5. Ashley Goodwin

    October 19th, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    I’m currently reading "My Name is Memory" and it’s kinda Twilight meets The Time Traveler’s Wife (MY FAV!) and I love it. But I can’t lie, I judge a book by it’s cover. In fact, if there are multiple cover options, I go for the prettiest version. What can I say? I’m shallow. So this Rebecca cover? Yes, I gasped. But, if you say it’s good….. haha!
    And what the heck is BUNKO?

  6. Laura O.

    October 19th, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    The Help by Katheryn Stockett and Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. Both powerful books!! You’ll love them. (have tissue along for Sarah’s Key!!)

  7. sherri lynn

    October 19th, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Little Bee was a powerful read. It’s different and not for everyone, but I was moved. I’ve heard good things about Rebecca. And The Language of Flowers sounds like something I must read!

  8. Marisa

    October 19th, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Oh I can so relate to this!! A friend gave me this romance novel, the cover made me cringe! But it was about a curvy girl, and I could so relate to her at the time, it was one of my favorite books! Granted, it is one of the only ‘romance’ novels I have ever read, and did not have me clamoring for more smut, but it was good reading, and romantic, and wonderful, just what I wanted then!

  9. Lori

    October 19th, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    ‘The Paris Wife.’ I’m in the middle of it now. It’s about Ernest Hemingway’s first wife. But she talks about their time together – as he was a struggling artist and the complete devotion to his craft was…exhausting. But reading about Paris – and their friends, James Joyce, Ezra Pounds and many other artists was fascinating. Of course I’ve always been intrigued by the Hemingway family…

  10. Alexis

    October 19th, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    The Guardian (The O’Malley Series #2) written by Dee Henderson)…GREAT, INTRIGUING, BEAUTIFUL read about a U.S. Marshall (Marcus O’Malley) assigned to protect a speechwriter who witnessed a crime.

    The entire O’Malley series is a-mazing! You’ve got to start @ the beginning to get the full picture.

    It’s a series about a family but not just any family…it’s about children who met in an orphanage and bonded to the point when they were able to leave the orphanage, they went to court to change their last names to O’Malley and promised to be there for each other for life! Each book in the series focuses on one of the O’Malley family members who each have a different calling, career and personality that play out in each book.

    The series is sheer brilliance! πŸ™‚

    I highly recommend it.

  11. Denise

    October 19th, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    If you’re into memoirs, you should read "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls. It’s a funny like at her almost-homeless childhood…she was very poor, her dad didn’t work, her mom was a teacher, living in West Va. Through all of her trials and tribulations, she became a successful business woman. GREAT read.

  12. Erin Oveis Brant

    October 19th, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    I love how the cover of Rebecca looks worn and torn…as if more than one reader quickly tucked it into a purse or under a mattress to avoid judgment as a result of the cover. As if they didn’t want to be caught reading one of "those books." Keep the recommendations coming…I love good reads days!!

  13. Laura

    October 19th, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Rebecca is one of my all-time favorite novels, too. Along with Laura — you should definitely read Laura. And watch the movie of Rebecca (if only because Laurence Olivier in his prime WAS Maxim) and be completely amazed by how 1940 Hollywood sanitized the mystery.

  14. christen barnes

    October 19th, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    No shame, no shame.. I had to go to the High School section of the library to check out my last book. Been out of high school for 15 years.

  15. Gigi

    October 19th, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Divergent by Veronica Roth – it’s like all three Hunger Games books rolled into one.

  16. Edith

    October 19th, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Thank you for your tips! I was looking for new books to read and downloaded them to my Kindle. I read Rebecca as a teenager and loved it.


    October 19th, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    His Dark Materials a trilogy by Philip Pullman. I loved all three…The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. I have read them several times!!

  18. Shannon Karczewski

    October 19th, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    I can’t imagine that you have NOT read the following two books, but on the very off chance that you haven’t…The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. To be honest, I didn’t have one iota of interest in reading Kite Runner. But it sat on my nightstand for so long, I finally decided to give it a shot. Talk about powerful. I couldn’t wait to run out and get Thousand Splendid…it’s every bit as awesome. But…they haunt you for a while.

  19. Gail

    October 19th, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    You know I loved this post, right? OBVIOUSLY. πŸ™‚

  20. Erin

    October 19th, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Love Rebecca. Terrible cover but it is a classic.

  21. Amanda Driver

    October 19th, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Rebecca is one of my favorites! Love these posts! XO

  22. Barbara

    October 19th, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    I agree with Laura – I read The Help in 2 days (and it’s not the thinnest book).
    Jorge Bucay and his "Let Me Tell You" is also amazing as well as Stieg Larsson and his Millennium series (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest). Happy reading! πŸ™‚

  23. ashley barnett

    October 19th, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Confession: I used to sneak my mom’s romance novels as a teenager because the covers made me laugh so hard I figured they had to be at least entertaining… and they were!! I’m pretty sure my mom wanted to be Danielle Steele…

  24. Marta

    October 19th, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    I just read the language of flowers while traveling through Sardinia, and I loved it! very strong and direct writing. Glad you liked it too!

  25. Kirsti

    October 19th, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Matched by Ally Condie. It’s the first in a trilogy. The second book will be out next month. It’s about a society in which the government controls everything (a bit like Brave New World), including whom you will marry, i.e., your "match" and a young girl who begins to question her entire world when her euthanized grandfather leaves her a scrap of a contraband poem in an old heirloom and she starts to fall for a society outcast and not her arranged match.. Okay, that sounds a bit cheesy and there’s more to it than that but that’s the most central plot element. Reminded me some of Hunger Games. Also, The Peculiar Sadness of Lemoncake by Aimee Bender. I’d recommend this purely for a change-up. The story centers around Rose, a girl who discovers she can taste people’s emotions in the food they create. She grows up tasting her mother’s affair, her father’s resentment, and her brother’s depression. The book left me with an overall feeling of heaviness but it was such a beautiful concept that I think it’s worth a read.

  26. Kirsti

    October 19th, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    Sorry. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. Not the peculiar.

  27. Kim

    October 19th, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Alexis was right with the O’Malley series by Dee Henderson!! So good! Also the Nora Roberts bride quartet series. It’s about four friends who play wedding as kids then grow up to have their own wedding business. The first one is about the photographer!! It actually made me believe I could actually make it as a photographer and got me inspired to get in there and get started.

  28. Victoria O'Connor

    October 19th, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    Jasmine, I adore your book updates, so please keep them coming!! Is it my imagination or does loving photography and reading just go hand-in-hand??

  29. Jamie

    October 19th, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    The Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers. I may or may not have read this series 5+ times. The first two are my favorites (there are 3). Another fav of Francine Rivers is Redeeming Love. Another one I have read wayyy to many times!

  30. Kira Noble

    October 19th, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    Just when I was wondering what book to pick up next….Thanks!

  31. Sara Bliss

    October 19th, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Oooh, I love Rebecca. My mom gave it to me when I was in High School and I’ve read it many times. So interesting!

  32. Christina Dely

    October 19th, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Rebecca is one of my favorite books of all time! I remember reading it in Jr. High or Highschool. Although mine had a lovely vintage looking cover πŸ˜‰ Great find!

  33. anda

    October 19th, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    okay, i’ve been looking at rules of civility for a while now — i think i will give it a go! also, language of flowers looks really good and it’s on my list. always love hearing your thoughts on books, jasmine! (i think i’ll still pass on ‘rebecca’ though, haha.)

  34. Joanna

    October 19th, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    I read Rebecca in high school and have read it twice since. No spoilers, but… The twist gets me every time!!

  35. Derek

    October 19th, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    So I was thinking about this, and posed a question to a co-worker. Why would somoene write a good book, and then be to lazy to give it a nice cover. How can I trust that person, cared enough about their writing to have a good book.

    My friend pointed out, that maybe I was looking at this all wrong. Maybe "you can’t judge a book by its cover" has been misunderstood for years.

    Maybe someone was really trying to tell us, that a nice cover doesn’t guarantee a good book.

    Talk about a paradigm shift.

  36. Sarah Kehl

    October 19th, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    You MUST see the movie (Rebecca) if you haven’t already, it is SO good! One of my favorite books recently was The Road by Cormac McCarthy, I thought it was so profound and beautiful.

  37. B fiji

    October 20th, 2011 at 12:51 am

    The Help by Kathryn Stockett and The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly – cant recommend this one enough, you will love it even more since visiting London i promise!

  38. Shevaun B

    October 20th, 2011 at 1:14 am

    A few really good reads to consider…….. "The Thorn Birds" is just epic. You also have to read "Shogun".

  39. Kerby | postcard printing

    October 20th, 2011 at 2:03 am

    I just read that book a year ago and I really loved it! Rebecca is definitely a good read. I hope you enjoy reading it too.

  40. Mona Alicia

    October 20th, 2011 at 2:07 am

    Love, love, love Rebecca! I read it for the first time a few months ago and luckily the library copy I had didn’t have that cover, haha! It is an awesomely written book, it was like I felt exactly how the heroine felt as I was reading it.

  41. sarah

    October 20th, 2011 at 3:32 am

    i LOVE rebecca!! my MIL gave it to me last summer and i devoured it! totally wouldn’t have picked it up on my own, but i LOVED it!

  42. Mary Kathryn

    October 20th, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I almost always judge a book not only by its cover, but also by it’s title. I read "The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Nighttime" merely based on its title. Next to East of Eden, it is now my favorite book.

  43. Jen Rice

    October 20th, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    I have heard of "The Language of Flowers," really interested now πŸ™‚ You HAVE to read, "Letters for Emily," by Camron Wright!!!! Soooo sooo sooo good! ABout a Grandpa with Alzheimer’s that compiles a book of poems for his favorite granddaughter. Such life wisdom in this book! Worth reading over and over again!

  44. Kindra

    October 20th, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    I love Rebecca! I first read it in high school and it’s been one of my favorite stories ever since.

  45. Jane

    October 20th, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    I noticed that you get Stylist…… my fav magazine…… great for female entrepreneurs and aspiring ones! (me being the latter!).

  46. Christina Heyboer

    October 20th, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Rebecca is one of my top favorites!! There is a B&W movie too!

  47. Christa

    October 20th, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    LOVE these posts, as I’m always on the lookout for the next great read! Please continue posting your recent faves! Personally, I’m an historical fiction junkie, and I recently finished Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors. It’s now on my list of all time favorites — eloquently written, a beautiful love story, and amazing historical details. If you find the time to pick it up, you’ll LOVE it!

  48. Robyn

    October 20th, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Rebecca is a favorite!!!! I’m a total sucker for old movies, and the movie’s pretty great too. Although, I always kind of pictured Gregory Peck in it while I read the book… which was a disappointment when I saw the movie. Still good! Glad you broke down and read it! It’s a classic!

  49. Angela Higgins

    October 21st, 2011 at 2:54 am

    Ooh, The Rules of Civility sounds great. Have to recommend to you Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children. You HAVE to read it. You can thank me later πŸ™‚

  50. Rebecca

    October 21st, 2011 at 3:10 am

    I picked up Rebecca in middle school simply because it was my name. Best book decision ever.

  51. Janie

    October 21st, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Rebecca is one of my two all-time favorite books! The other is Anna Karenina. You should try that one if you haven’t already.

  52. Kristen

    October 22nd, 2011 at 12:51 am

    Love your posts on books!

  53. Aisha

    October 22nd, 2011 at 5:18 am

    I’m not gonna lie. I’ve had the same book sitting on my bookshelf for awhile. I got it for free after I read a story where someone mentioned it and I thought it was something I should read, but the obvious romance-esque vibe of it put me off. Totally just pulled from the shelf though.

  54. Patty

    October 23rd, 2011 at 12:37 am

    I also read Rebecca for the first time within the last year, and loved it too. A beautifully written book is Room by Emma Donohue- it sounds so gruesome, I had to force myself to read it after hearing so many recommendations. I read alot and have to say, Room was literally the first book in my life I could not put down- started it at 7:30 one night and finished it at 3:30 am (and yes, I did have to get up for work but simply could not stop myself)- it sounds like the most awful of things, but is one of the most beautifully written things ever.

  55. Jessica Sweeney

    October 23rd, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    I loved Rebecca! I totally do judge a book by its cover, but leave me alone long enough with almost anything and I will end up reading it. Pretty sure I pulled it from some relative’s bookshelf on a family vacation. Great book!

  56. Alyssa

    October 24th, 2011 at 4:20 am

    One of my goals this year was to read 12 books… and I just finished #14!… ‘This is Where I Leave You’ by Jonathan Trooper. It was excellent! One of the best I’ve read this year fo sho.
    A few others I couldn’t put down: Little Bee (Chris Cleave), Room (Emma Donoghue), and Change of Heart (Jodi Picoult).

  57. Amanda N

    October 24th, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Have you read Still Alice? It’s written from the point of view of a woman with early onset Alzheimer’s. Really well done and heartbreaking.

    I also just read Jane Eyre for the first time, after being afraid to attempt it, and I LOVED it. If you haven’t read it, you definitely should.

  58. Donna

    October 24th, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    The Proud Breed by Celeste De Blasis … best ‘accidental’ read I’ve ever had! Best epic story of love, family, character and real choices. I have read it countless times over the years when I need some new strength.

  59. Bekah

    October 24th, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    Freddy and Fredericka. It is hands down the best piece of work I have read in the last 3 years. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll fall in love over and over and over….

  60. Marie Photographie

    October 25th, 2011 at 12:18 am

    Thanks so much for the book reviews. All I want to do is cozy up on the couch now. πŸ™‚

    Notes She Wrote

  61. Angie

    October 26th, 2011 at 12:43 am

    I read and did my term paper on Rebecca in high school. Remains one of my favorite books. My most fave is Jane Eyre. I’ve read both books so many times I’ve lost count!

  62. Tanja

    October 26th, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    Jasmine, I had just read The Language of Flowers a couple weeks ago and couldn’t put it aside. It really is something special – the contrast between the very tender flowery part and the hurtful, helpless and aggressive part of Victoria’s life felt like a constant reminder of the fact that there’s two sides to the medal. For all of us. Excellent read!!

  63. Julia

    October 26th, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    And now you MUST watch the movie with Lawrence Olivier!

  64. Bobbie Brown

    October 27th, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Okay, I read Rebecca awhile back and am still a little confused by the very end! Did the maid (can’t remember her name) know all along what happened? Did she help burn the house? I don’t know! haha!

  65. Katrina

    November 2nd, 2011 at 4:17 am

    pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It’s a quick read, but a book that you so easily fall in love with!

  66. Debbie Schwab

    November 2nd, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    I haven’t read Rebecca yet but it’s been on my list for a couple years now! Maybe I should put it towards the top!

  67. Megan@COUTUREmotion Films

    November 3rd, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    How do you have time to read?

  68. Andi

    November 30th, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    This year one of my favorites has been The Kitchen House… there is a lot of hype around The Help, and it was good, but The Kitchen House is even better!
    I just finished The Language of Flowers last week and thought it was wonderful, but I’m a big fan of that coming of age genre.