Ten Worst Novel Cover Art of All Time

Authors rarely have any say in what cover art is chosen to adorn their works. The interpretations can often be down-right ridiculous. Here, for your viewing pleasure/horror are the worst-of-the-worst, the baddest-of-the-bad, and the silliest-of-the-silliest.

Here we have Jane Eyre, apparently channeling Jane Russell.  Jane’s supposed to be homely??  That’ll never sell. And perhaps her oddly formed hand is a result of the tragic, and little known, farming accident so frequently passed over by students.

Want to trick teens into reading classic literature? How about making the cover of Wuthering Heights look like Twilight ? Of the few gullible teens who fell for the ruse, 100% returned the novel when, after about fifty pages,  Heathcliff failed to “sparkle.”

And here we have Melville’s classic Billy Budd, re-invisioned as a ’70s adult-movie star….


“My innocence has been shattered by this blatant tourist trap. I want my money back.” ~ Max, Tobacco Road

What’s that sound I hear? Is it…why, yes, it is! It’s Faulkner turning over in his grave! Behold the young, be-haired Yul Brenner as he lovingly strangles Joanne Woodward. This image comes from great site Pop Sensation, whose author comments: “I love the hand-drawn font on the title. Makes the book look like an adaptation of a wacky Disney movie.”

And here’s the back cover!

Best things about this back cover?

  • “DECAY” – Why would I read any farther after that? That is perhaps the best single-word tagline I’ve ever seen on a book. And the bright, whimsical font! Inspired.
  • By the picture, I would surmise that this is the story of an aging pirate with a bad hairpiece and massive pit stains who wants nothing more than for Maria from “Sound of Music” to admire his chest hair.

The creepiest rendering of Richard Wright’s classic, Black Boy, you will ever see. Guaranteed. Although it is kinda cool the way his open collar is shaped like Africa.

Again, kudos to Pop Sensation, who aptly notes:

  • Love the way “Abridged” is used as a major selling point — “Finally, our most important Founding Father, in a dose you can manage!”
  • Floating Head of Thomas Jefferson backed by the Floating Declaration of Independence. My Most Powerful, Floatingest cover ever.
  • “This planting season, why not outfit your team with Dr. E. J. Samuelson’s newly patented Invisible Oxen Rigging! Amaze your friends as your oxen appear to pull your plow by sheer force of mind alone …”

“Next to music, beer was best,” Carson McCullers wrote in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Beer, or alcohol of some sort, seems to have been involved here.

If that old codger William Shakespeare just didn’t deliver enough “debauchery” and “sensuous women” in his version of Julius Caesar, then you’ll surely want to read the much more exciting The Private Life of Julius Caesar.

And come to think of it, that yawner Hamlet leaves a lot to be desired as well.