Top Five

Top Five Great Books With Terrible Covers

We really shouldn’t judge a book by a cover but I think that most of us are at least a little guilty of doing it. How often do we run out and buy a book that has an amazing cover, or perhaps miss out on an amazing title because the cover is unappealing? I’m here to talk today about the latter, about books that are just wonderful but… I hesitate or have trouble deciding if I want to purchase it for my personal collection because the covers are just atrocious. I really do spend time looking through multiple editions of books when this happens and will go out of my way to purchase old or foreign editions if the cover is nice. Some unpopular opinions ahead, maybe, but let’s talk about some book covers!

Marriage of a Thousand Lies

I’ll admit that the cover was the first thing that caught my eye when I was browsing library shelves, if only for the fact that it is SO bright. It was a debut novel by an author I had never heard of and had decided to pick it up for the synopsis and boy am I glad that I did. Marriage of a Thousand Lies has been one of my favorites this year and one of the rare contemporaries that worked for me. The cover on the other hand, well, the more I look at it the more that I can’t stand it, especially after I noticed the face on the cover which I somehow missed the first time I looked at it. Red and teal are two of some of my favorite colors but combined? Holy moly is it garishly bright and the contrast is simply not pleasing to me.


Oh boy. It’s pretty rare for me to dislike all of the available covers for a book, there’s usually at least one that is decent. The first cover is the original US edition featuring an eye framed around a cartoonish blood splatter. It’s not the worst cover in the world but it’s just really boring. There was nothing about the cover that I found all that appealing and I would not have picked the book up on my own if that was my first impression of the novel.

However, the original cover does not match the travesty that is the new US and UK editions, featuring a stylish and cute anime-style woman holding a syringe. Completely inappropriate and probably a little bit misleading for what the book is if I were to be perfectly honest. The doll faced anime character with the bloody title seems like something that would appeal to teenagers with a cute spooky feel. In reality the plot is about a 42 year old man that holds a fake audition in search of a new bride as he tries desperately to hold onto his youth. It’s an intensely internal novel about aging and so this choice of covers is really confusing to me.

The Hate U Give

I may get some backlash for this and I will preface this with I LOVE The Hate U Give. The second I saw the announcement for On the Come Up I added it to my TBR before even reading the synopsis. I would absolutely read anything by Angie Thomas, she is an absolute treasure and I really admire her.

However, I will also admit that the first time I saw The Hate U Give I instantly scrolled past it without blinking. The cover is just completely unappealing to me, I guess because I don’t like the art style. I was almost disappointed when I saw On the Come Up had a similar style and I know that I may be a minority with my feelings on these covers.

I will note, though, that I actually really like the UK edition of The Hate U Give, which I used for my review, and have been heavily considering purchasing the special Waterstones edition with sprayed pages for my personal collection. I’m a little jealous that UK got a much better cover for such a brilliant novel, but c’est la vie.

The Gift of Fear

Who says non-fiction books can’t have nice covers? I don’t know who decided that serious self help or non-fiction books need to look like a sales ad but I really wish this trend would end. The Gift of Fear is a brilliant self help book about trusting your gut and avoiding danger. The author is a specialist in security issues, having designed the MOSAIC Threat Assessment Systems which has been adopted by the LA Police Department to reduce domestic abuse cases that escalate to homicide. Almost every cover for this book looks like a loud and gaudy sales advertisement and there is nothing about them that is appealing. I would not have picked this book up if it wasn’t for the endless recommendations I’d seen on reddit.

The Edible Woman

Sigh. I love Margaret Atwood and I ADORE The Edible Woman but my goodness do I hate almost all of the covers for this book. I was specific with which paperback cover I purchased for my bookshelf because a majority of the covers for this book are disastrous.

I’m willing to cut publishers some slack—the themes in this book are not immediately obvious even in the synopsis, and so coming up with an appropriate cover can be difficult. But did so many of them have to be so garish and tacky with ugly colors and fonts? I just don’t get it. It’s such a shame too because The Edible Woman is one of my favorite books by Atwood.

What are some of your favorite books with terrible book covers?
Is a bad cover a deciding factor on whether or not you’ll read a book?
Got a blog? Make your own list and link it in the comments!


  1. My goodness- so much variety for The Edible Woman! I know that is on my to read wishlist, but I could see myself passing it up with some of those covers. I think I remember seeing that fridge one and just being like “what?”

    I like that Audition cover with they eyeball, that’s the one I own. I can SAFELY say, I would NEVER buy that anime cover. 1) I don’t think it is a very good anime girl. They must of told an artist to make an “anime-style” person, and the artist never really cared for the style. 2) As you said, it looks like they are selling this book to teenage/YA readers. I mean I would of loved the book in high school (I loved the movie then) but I am not your average high schooler XD
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    1. Completely agreed on Audition, it’s just so weird looking. As for The Edible Woman, ugh yes! There are two good paperback covers (I feel). The one I use on my review which has a bride and is white, and the one I own, which is black and purple and has a woman curled up in the middle of food with a painted style. It’s a wonderful book, but most of the covers are just… disappointing. I was very specific with which version I bought for my collection.

  2. What does it say about me to think The Edible Woman sounds like an innuendo, and that alone makes me want to read it? LOL. It’s not the cover that would sway me, but the title…and both the cover and titles are often what sway me for books!

    I want to read The Hate U Give so bad, but haven’t had the money to spend on it yet! I do like the original US cover for it, but…now I also want the Waterstones edition. I’m not watching the movie until I read the book, aaand I’m saving up for a hardcover (for when it doesn’t, like, break bank ).

    I can’t think of any great books with bad covers at the moment, but I’ve added this post idea to my blog post ideas arsenal for later use 🙂

    1. Haha I don’t blame you, when I saw the description of The Edible Woman it was so vague I wasn’t sure exactly what it would be about, but the title, the cover, and my love of the author prompted me to pick it up and I’m so glad I did.

      The Hate U Give is definitely worth it, and there’s still quite a bit of time until the film release. I can’t wait to see your thoughts on it whenever you do get around to reading it!

      And also yessss, definitely take this post! I like book cover related posts. 🙂

  3. I couldn’t agree more. I like when a book has an outstanding story and an amazing cover. I’m laughing when I was reading your thoughts regarding Audition. I may happen not to read the book yet but the cover is way beyond. How could such cover approved for publishing? Hence, it gave us a laugh.

    On another note, I’ve been experiencing the other way around. Books with amazing covers but doesn’t live up to its cover. I may received backslash but some of them are: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, and Mirage by Somaiya Daud.

    1. Goodness I’ve been running into a lot of books with gorgeous covers but disappointing content, particularly newer books. I’ve been hesitating with the hyped YA books because I know that a lot of it really is just hype, and I’m really picky about what YA books I pick up.

      Haha I’m glad you got a laugh out of my Audition commentary! I loved the book so much, it is an entirely different beast from the film adaptation but they both manage to bring something good to the plot. The covers though… What were they thinking – just because it’s Japanese they felt the need to slap an anime character on there? I can only imagine a teenager picking it up and then being really confused by the musings of a delusional old man struggling with aging.

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