Background: I went to a “progressive” high school. Thanks to a teacher that can only be described as a mix between James Lipton and the actor F. Murray Abraham, I was reading The White Album by Joan Didion while everyone else was reading To Kill A Mocking Bird. The books I read were amazing and I loved them but I missed out on a lot. To prove that you can’t judge a book by its cover I tried to guess the plot based on just what my eye could see.
1. Dune by Frank Herbert
What I thought it was about: Is this the book that Star Wars is based off of?
2. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
What I thought the book was about: Eleanor & Park is the story of a boy named Parker who is kind of the “weird one” in his high school which is a total bummer because he’s obviously the coolest person there and would be super popular at a school like NYU or something. Then a red head girl comes into his English class and is like, I’m Eleanor, I like your Vans sneakers. And he’s like, I like your The Clash T-shirt, and they fall in love and listen to their music using the same headphones and save each other from the hell that is high school.
3. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
What I thought the book was about: I know hipsters love this shit so maybe it’s about bikes? Or coffee? Or just an entire book about irony? Was I close? Also can we talk about the fact that the words don’t even fit on the freakin’ cover. So alt.
4. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
What I thought the book was about: So a catch 22 is a kind of inescapable situation. Situations that are inescapable in life include: killing someone? Also death? Also taxes? But I think this probably takes place during a war. The guy in red looks like a soldier and that looks like a WWII plane.
5. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
What I thought the book was about: I imagine this is about time and also space. Is it like a mix between Men in Black and Back To The Future? Also that little alien looks cute. So maybe there is an adorable alien friend?
6. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
What I thought the book was about: RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman. This is totally about a murderer who kills a rival. Right?
7. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
What I thought the book was about: This is a story about a guy that travels the United States via a train. Which is a bummer because train food sucks now, I can’t even imagine what it used to be like.
8. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
What I thought the book was about: It’s a story about a time when all books are burned and a guy decides that he’s had enough and tries to save the books. Very Footloose, but obviously way better and with less dancing.
9. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
What I thought the book was about: It’s about a kid and his dog’s journey to find someone that can get the watch out of the dog’s belly because it’s giving him lead poisoning and making him hallucinate tollbooths.
10. Looking for Alaska by John Green
What I thought the book was about: Uh oh, John Green. I read The Fault In Our Stars so I know how this man works, aka this book probably turns people in to puddles of tears and pain. This is about a boy who falls in love with a girl named Alaska who then goes missing and the only clue that he has is a cigarette (that’s what the smoke is).
11. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
What I thought the book was about: Oh! I know what this guy looks like. Guys dress like him for Halloween, so I’m guessing he’s a killer. So, let’s go with this. He’s a totally creepy guy with a tattoo that is sick of people making fun of it so he kills everyone. I’d give money to watch a movie where he goes on the run with The Joker.
12. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
What I thought the book was about: Oof this is awkward because it won a Pulitzer Prize. This is also the author of Middlesex right? What an amazing book. Anyway, this is about a couple who pretends to be married to save one of them from being deported for doing something totally illegal. Or because she’s Sandra Bullock and didn’t fill out her paperwork and now has to marry her assistant. And then they go to Alaska and dance around a fire with Betty White and there is a really cute dog. And then she sees Ryan Reynolds naked and then… wait, what were we talking about?
13. The Stranger by Albert Camus
What I thought the book was about: Wow, is this the group that opens up for The Blue Man Group? I’m so down with that. I think it’s about a guy (the one in red) who tries to join a cult to “see what happens” but then ends up totally falling for it and becomes the leader of it.
14. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
What I thought the book was about: Oh, is that the Charles Bridge in Prague? That is such a beautiful bridge. I highly recommend it. Is it about a street performer that falls in love with a very high-class woman that walks the bridge every day? That sounds like a lovely book.
15. Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson
What I thought the book was about: Wow, chalkboard font. That was a choice. Based on the word “veins” I want to say that this is a book about drugs. It’s about a drug addict in the Bible Belt who believes that he is the son of Jesus.
16. Blood Meridian Or The Evening Redness In The West by Cormac McCarthy
What I thought the book was about: Oh what’s up Cormac?! I loved The Road. Based on this cover and the fact that he wrote such a sad book in the past I would say that this is about people who are lost in the “Wild West” and how they must defend themselves at night when a rival group of outlaws tries to bury them alive.
17. The Group by Mary McCarthy
What I thought the book was about: Good outfits and good smiles. This one is about a group of very impressive women who challenge social norms and fight for women’s rights in the thirties when they were often seen as wives. I should read this book. I feel like all women should read this book.
18. How To Get Filthy Rich In Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid
What I thought the book was about: I’ve seen The Reluctant Fundamentalist before. It was good and also really upsetting. I imagine that this book is similar. It’s a modern tale of corruption and greed. A businessman (not a business, man) realizes that there is a lot of money in Asia’s economy so he moves there and tries to become a billionaire.
19. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
What I thought the book was about: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is the story of a little girl who lives in an orphanage for children who have “peculiar” powers; it’s like X-Men but not mutants. Actually, it’s like Tom Riddle in Harry Potter.
20. A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers
What I thought the book was about: Damn, I love this cover. This one is hard because it says “king” and the cover makes it look kind of old world, BUT it also has the word “hologram,” which makes me think it’s more of a contemporary tale. I think it’s about a wealthy man in the Middle East who goes on a journey of self-discovery and ends up meeting a scientist who changes his views on religion and life.