Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover: Blind Dates with Books

Image Source:

While the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” has been said or heard by most of us at one point in our lives, it feels safe to say that many of us have, at one time or another, definitely judged a book by its cover. I mean, the cover is arguably there to be judged. It is our first interaction with the story, either preceded or followed closely by the title, and is what catches our initial attention. So with that in mind, would you read a book whose title and cover you couldn’t know?

Blind Dates with Books is a movement that pushes readers to expand the boundaries of what they usually would or wouldn’t read by taking away the ability of the reader to make surface-level judgments about the works in front of them. By wrapping each novel with plain paper that boasts minimal descriptions or comparisons to the story within, the reader is forced to abandon preconceived notions of genre or authors in favor of picking up a story that stands on its own. 

This movement was originally started by Elizabeth’s Bookshop, a used-books retailer in Australia, and still operates today. They advertise their Blind Dates as being both “a puzzle [and] a present.” They are a perfect gift to give yourself with all the same thrill of the unknown. If shipping from Australia is a bit out of budget for you, though, as I know it is for me, then you’ll be glad to hear that what started as a fun gimmick by a second-hand retailer has become an increasingly popular trend all over the globe. Individual retailers from Etsy, privately owned booksellers, and even big-name retailers like Barnes & Noble have picked up on the trend of Blind Dates with Books, selling these mysterious novels both online and in person. Partially popularized by the traction this trend gained on TikTok, Blind Dates with Books has become the perfect personal gift, satisfying the desire to unpack the unknown while also expanding the individual’s literary growth.

If a book that is totally unknown to you is not quite your style, then fret not, many retailers willingly offer up basic genre categorizations to support your choice of selection. I took it upon myself to check out the selection at my local Barnes & Noble, which has a front display of thriller novels that cover themselves in “blood” splatters and blurbs such as “Would you defend your husband if he was accused of killing his mistress?” and “Who can spy the spies?” While each title piqued my curiosity more than the last, I couldn’t walk away from the “lonely ghost bride.” Settling down with my purchase, I was greeted with a tale of lies, betrayal, and the consequences of one’s own actions. 

What might the title be? Well, that would ruin the surprise.