The Crimson judges books by looking at their covers

The Abstinence Teacher, by Tom Perrotta

From its titillating title, I expect the book will feature hoards of sexed-up teenagers and one hyper-conscious adult fighting to bring to them a sense of moral enlightenment. The cover is a picture of a green chalk board, on which two chalk birds and several chalk bees are drawn. Judging by this punny picture, this book should be entertaining, light, and full of those awkward “birds-and-the-bees” moments.

The Cleft, by Doris Lessing

Cleft sentence, cleft palate, cleft chin, or the Cleft of Venus? The big, black, water-colored bird doesn’t help with the ambiguity. However, what it does suggest is a topical treatment of an ominous, dark, and tenuous subject. Wings outstretched and beak ever so sharp, the dark bird is fierce and threatening. Yet the blotches of water soften the animal’s shape and remind us that this is, alas, a work of fiction. Nobel laureate Doris Lessing’s name is megalomaniacally scrawled in regal yellow in the center of the cover, leaving little room for the actual title of the book. Over-compensating for something, Doris?

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Díaz

Nothing says “good, interesting read” like the red silhouette of a man’s head with a bird’s wing emerging from the back, red ink dripping eerily from its base. If Wao’s life really was so brief and wondrous, Díaz’s latest should be action-packed and exciting. The stark red, black, and white color scheme of the cover certainly gives just that impression. Perhaps there’s even an element of mysticism or magic in the book. If Wao turns out to be a kind of Chinese gangster/philosopher with the ability to transform into a bird, this book is going to be a big hit. Because, just admit it, you and I were both obsessed with those “Animorphs” books.