Bad Covers, Good Books

If these books weren’t already held in such high esteem, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would even consider picking one up at a book store. As the tired old cliche tells us, book covers are irrelevant to the actual substance of a great piece of literature. Buuuuut it doesn’t hurt to have something nice to look at, and these covers are not easy on the eyes. Here are seven egregious covers for books that deserved much better. 



This one is a little misleading to say the least. First of all, for a guy who was raised by apes, Tarzan looks pretty clean cut. Does he keep a razor and hair gel in that loincloth? I get that hunky dudes sell books, but this can’t be the Tarzan Mr Burrough’s had in mind. Not to mention, he’s gazing just a little too longingly at that monkey. Where Jane go, Tarzan? She no make you happy? 




Sometimes a visual interpretation of a book’s events can undermine one’s personal reading experience. It’s particularly undermining when the artwork is so shoddy. 10 bucks for anyone who can explain just what the heck is going on in this pic.  




Well ok. Italian flag. Two lovers. One is a soldier. I guess this makes sense? I mean it does give you a pretty good idea of what the book is about. It’s just…so…bland. 




I recommend you Google this one, because upon scrolling through the various covers, it was tough to pick the worst. I say this one takes the cake for its ridiculous proportions and overall lifelessness. Who knew riding a flying-space-centaur past a rainbow could be so boring? And is the rainbow coming out of his neck? Is it behind him? Why is it suspended in mid air? Why are those plants so big? Discover all this and more in the book, if you can get past the ridiculous cover. 




Say what you want about this cover, it is one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever seen. 




Photo-realistic covers are tough to get right. They tend to work best for romance novels where the gorgeous physicality of the lead characters is essential to selling copies. It doesn’t work so well for serious literature, and The Bell Jar is about as serious as it gets. I can’t imagine Plath would be too pleased with her masterful memoir about psychic woe being advertised as some kind of suburban soap opera. 




It’s hard to say what’s exactly wrong with this cover. There’s nothing particularly awful about it. It’s just so darn vague. You could slap this on any ole novel about New York high society in the roaring twenties, and it would be a pretty apt fit. It hardly preps you for the life-changing reading experience that lay ahead when you dig into this legendary book. Fitzgerald would not have approved.


Featured image courtesy of SCMP.