Let's give in and just judge a book by its cover, even though we've been admonished to never, ever do that.
1. Lingo: Around Europe in Sixty Languages
By Gaston Dorren, Atlantic Monthly Press, 320 pp., $25.00
This cover's bold, blocky letters are all spelling the same word, but in slightly different ways. Like Europe's constantly interacting and ever-changing countries, its languages traverse national borders, blending and diversifying the continent's cultural landscape. Learn about the nuances and history of sixty different European languages, and where, like the cover's text, they reflect and differ from each other.
2. The Relic Master
By Christopher Buckley, Simon & Schuster, 400 pp., $26.95
Look closely and you'll note a man scampering away with the title's lowercase t, holding the burden like Jesus carrying his cross — or perhaps like an ordinary thief. This cover befits the novel's satirical plunge into the corrupt side of the Protestant Reformation; from buying one's way to salvation, to forging the Shroud of Turin. Ornate calligraphy takes the reader back to 16th century Europe.
3. A Wild Swan: And Other Tales
By Michael Cunningham, Illustrated by Yuko Shimizu, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 144 pp., $23.00
A delicately embossed swan spreads its wings across this cover, as textured as the perversely reimagined fairy tales within. Perhaps best known for his Pulitzer Prize winning book "The Hours," author Michael Cunningham continues to enable readers to rethink characters they already know: from Rumpelstiltskin to the Beast. Unruly braids wind around each other to form words for the title. When looked at straight on, the swan nearly disappears, like the idyllic world of make-believe from childhood.
Mallory Abreu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.