The Worst Classic Book Covers

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It’s always good news when books fall into the public domain. They are no longer subject to copyright constraints, so they become freely available on various electronic libraries, like Serial Reader and Librivox, as well as digital stores like Kindle. But these classic gems are also becoming fair game for anyone to repost with all-new coverage and additional content. And those covers aren’t always the best. In fact, they are often the worst. Here we round up some of the worst classic book covers that will haunt us for the rest of our days.

I see the purpose of these reissues, of course: to bring classic texts to new generations of readers with fresh eyes to blend in with today’s market. But that doesn’t mean it has to fit in the young adult’s shelf of bright, illustrated covers with bubbly lettering.

The weird part is that, since these are the classics, you’d think the cover designers – or, at the very least, the people who decided to try and make some money distributing their version – would know to what the book is actually about. . That doesn’t seem to be the case, as you’ll find with many of these confusing interpretations. A sensual Lolita! A naked Elizabeth Bennet! A shark named Moby-Dick! Why! Who let this happen?!

The Worst Classic Book Covers

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Did we read the same book? Did I miss the part where Elizabeth rides a fancy horse through town while naked?

10 Days Insane Asylum cover by Nellie Bly

10 days in a madhouse by Nellie Bly

Someone thought this piece of investigative journalism was a young adult thriller. Someone made a mistake. They also got the title wrong.

Cover of Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

The Wuthering Heightsbut do it Dusk. This seal says “Bella and Edward’s favorite book”, after all.

Cover of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Hey kids, do you want nightmares for the rest of your life? Look no further!

Cover of The Awakening of Kate Chopin

Kate Chopin’s Awakening

It looks like the pamphlet you get from the hospice when your grandmother dies.

Middlemarch cover by George Eliot

Middlemarch by George Eliot

She’s not even sitting on that fence! And I don’t know how outlook works? I do not know. The Photoshop here is amazing and hilarious.

Cover of The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

The Sound and the Fury of William Faulkner

A literary classic, but make it a 2010s young adult. Because nothing says a tragic family saga like pastels and glitter.

Cover of The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Honestly, I had read some Gatsby crap with a cover like this. Put it on me, old sport.

Cover of The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

It’s like a movie poster for a teenage summer romantic comedy where the protagonist works in a bakery. Certainly not a downward spiral into madness while your husband locks you in a room alone, no!

Cover of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

“Is it about an old bearded man who falls asleep drinking?” Ok, I know exactly which stock image to use. —That cover designer, probably.

book cover of The Turn of the Nut by Henry James

Henry James’ turn of the nut

The result of reading the title of a book provides all the information you need for your art search.

Moreover, it is not even a screw.

Cover of The Shining by Stephen King

The Shining by Stephen King

You know those huge old barbershop books full of different eras of hairstyles? Looks like it could be the cover of it.

Cover of Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Lolita cover by Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita

Lots of love. You know it’s a book about an old man’s sexual obsession with a 12-year-old girl, right? Lolita should never be described as sultry.

Cover of The Bell by Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath’s bell jar

I don’t mean to be dramatic, but I think this cover is a crime.

And I definitely would have bought it mid-year, to fit in with the rest of my Teeny Bopper books.

Frankenstein cover by Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Cover of Dracula by Bram Stoker

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

When your little brother puts on makeup for Halloween and thinks he looks cool and scary.

Book cover of The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence

At first I thought it looked like a Gossip Girl cover, then I realized it was really awesome. The age of innocence is Gossip Girl of the 1920s.

Night and Day cover by Virginia Woolf

Night and Day by Virginia Woolf

The last thing a Virginia Woolf novel should have is a photo that looks ripped from a fashion magazine, but here we are.


To purify your palate, be sure to check out this excellent collection of Pride and Prejudice covers, books with books on covers, books with sexy fruits on covers and the rest of our book covers content.

About Marcia G. Hussain

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