that book over there by the drinking fountain with the tiger on it

For the record, there is no good way to phrase that title without a misplaced modifier in it somewhere, so I hope you editorially minded readers got a laugh imagining a tiger perched on top of a drinking fountain.

This post is my answer to this thought-provoking question:


If you were to judge your favorite book by its cover, would you still read it?

The simple answer to this is no, but this isn't just speculation; I have proof!

I saw the cover of my (now) favorite book several times a day, every weekday for about two months during my freshman year of high school in the strangest place: on top of the gymnasium drinking fountain.

Two or three times every afternoon, in the midst of grueling badminton practices (Don't snort; it's a serious sport!), I'd head to the drinking fountain and glimpse the cover.

Blue watery background, little white boat, littler brown boy, and giant orange tiger. I even picked it up and read the back once or twice. I always thought it sounded pretty stupid.

Fast-forward about 4 years: I heard my mother talking about her book club and decided I wanted to try this book club thing. When I heard the month's book was Life of Pi, I decided it was a sign from the gods of literature.

I finished the book about two days before the actual book club meeting, at which I'm pretty sure I seriously offended one of the ladies with my unabashed skepticism of the plot and the ending.

The whole next week I hated the book because I (a) couldn't stop thinking about it and (b) couldn't figure out what to think about it.

Then, my world changed. Sort of. The way I look at literature was certainly never the same again. I was sitting and thinking (again) about whether or not I should believe the story within the story (just read the book, and it'll make sense), and I couldn't decide. I waffled back and forth and back and forth until I realized, That's the point. Then I realized that this book had somehow gotten me to consider faith and doubt intensely for a week straight and actually taught me something by the end of it. It actually used the characters and the plot to make me think and finally discover something about myself.

It's the only book I've ever read that truly deserves the overused label meta.

So, short answer: judging just by its cover, I wouldn't have ever read Life of Pi. But boy am I glad the universe had other plans.

How about you? What's your all-time favorite book? Would you have read it judging only its cover?