What Does This Picture Say to You?

25 Feb

Put on your Judgy McJudgerson hats today, ladies and gents, because it’s time to rate some book cover art. We’ve all judged books by their covers–literally speaking, of course–and sometimes the cover art is what makes us walk on by, or it’s what makes us stop and take a second look. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve purchased many a book on cover art alone. The New York Times will feature the best-designed books of the year, and I’ve purchased some just because of their inclusion on that list.

Book cover art can also make you wonder what the book designer was thinking, and here’s where I’d like to get your opinion. I ordered a big stack of books from the library, and last night some of them came in. What do you think this book is about?


I’ll give you the jump to think about it.

Here’s the full cover:


Show of hands: Who thought sports psychology?

OK, you can see the “sport”–these men are rowers–but the psychology? I suppose they’re celebrating some sort of triumphant win that no one expected thanks to the mental training they went through, but if I saw just this picture on a book, I’d think:

a. It’s a book about lifesaving techniques

b. It’s a story about two men who had to row through the canals of Amsterdam to escape the Nazis

c. It’s a story of two men in love and the one in back says, “Fuck it! We won the gold medal! I don’t care if the rowing world will ostracize us! I love you, and I can’t hide it anymore!”

All three of these options would make fine, fine books. But as a cover for a book on sports psychology, I have to admit I’m a little disturbed by it. I don’t quite understand why, but I am. Is sports psychology supposed to be unsettling? Guess I’ll have to read it to find out.

What do you think?

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