Specially curated books you won't find advertised elsewhere.

GREAT Books Hidden Behind Crappy Covers (Bad Covers =/= Bad Books)

We’ve been told our whole lives not to judge a book by the cover. The thing is…that seems to apply more to people than to actual books, where we definitely, absolutely, judge books by their covers.

Crystal admitted as much. Saying she “absolutely won’t buy a book of [sic] the cover throws me off.” Same, girl. Same.

Because here’s the thing about avid readers: they want the real book. Yes, they read dozens on kindle unlimited, but they also want to fill their bookshelves with beautiful covers. They’re less likely to buy (and therefore read) the crappy covers.

But just remember that Amiee has the right idea.

Hide the cover! Care about what’s in the book! Or hell, just get the damn thing on your kindle, slide them in right next to the half-naked men on all those spicy erotica reads.

1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

You wouldn’t think readers would hate this cover, considering this title was a National Book Award finalist. But some rankers have deemed it uncomfortable to look at, “like a constipated Jim Carrey”. We can’t aruge there.

Despite the cover, it’s ranked incredibly high. This book follows 4 college classmates as they move to New York to secure their futures. If you love brotherly bonds and love in a contemporary world with themes of the lives we’re born into, add it to your list!

Click here to buy the book.

books with bad covers a little life by hanya yanagihara

2. Beach Read by Emily Henry

Many romance readers, despite still happily buying and devouring books like Beach Read, are actually tired of the animated or illustrated covers like this one here. They make these romances seem “silly” and immature when the stories and love woven between the pages are anything but.

In this crappily covered novel, two authors (romance and tragic literary fiction) are total opposites with a known thread to their childhood. January has writers block and wants to get away…when she becomes Augustus’s neighbor. With both writers completely blocked and frustrated with a lack of progress on their stories, January proposes a challenge:

book with a bad cover beach read by emily henry example

He writes a romance story and she writes something without a happy ending.

Click here to buy Beach Read.

3. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Of course, with updates to the book and the movie adaptation, this has changed but when it first came out, the cover for The Hobbit was not good.

We’ve since seen many different versions of these covers, some great, and the one you’ll see most recently is more artistic and reminiscent of the modernized covers we’re seeing more of now. Despite its ugly early versions (which, who knows, could have been beautiful for the time), it’s incredibly popular for obvious reasons. If you haven’t yet dove into this book, try it out.

Click here to read the book.

books with bad covers the hobbit example
book cover variations for the hobbit

3. Mindf*ck Series by

Droves and droves of readers have claimed that not only are they in love with this series but that their obsession is only rivaled by how much they detest the covers.

And we all have to agree…this cover sucks. The author put all of these books into a single paperback, fitting 5 books into 692 pages and slapping this cover on it.

The covers for each individual book, when sold separately, are no better.

Enough so, it has 1801 ratings with a 4.8 star average—almost unheard of rankings by readers.

bad book covers the mindf*ck series by s.t. abby

Click here to buy the series and read for yourself.

4. Pet Sematary by Stephen King

As with any older books, this one has had many different types of covers in its day. This version was agreed to be one of the worst. We’re not sure why it’s so bad; the drawn tear drop, the blurry real-person, or the writing inside the person’s mouth.

Despite the cover, it’s a strong story that follows Dr. Louis Creed as he moves his family to a town that seems to have an undercurrent of danger, what with the makeshift graveyard children have been burying their loved pets in for years.

Louis receives warnings in various forms, all with a very clear message: do not venture beyond the pet sematary. Under any circumstances.

Click here to read this one with a better cover.

stephen king pet sematary bad cover

5. The Love Hypothesis by

Once again the overly fake illustrated romance cover makes an appearance. It’s too simplistic and doesn’t do a good job of encompassing all that’s in this book.

This story follows third-year Ph.D. candidate Olive Smith. She doesn’t believe in lasting love. Or romance. Or any of that other lovey dovey crap. But her best friend will not have it, which means Olive now has to convince her love-obsessed bestie that she is, indeed, dating. Anything that’ll get her off her back.

But Olive doesn’t expect the young professor with a reputation for being a major dick to actually agree to be her fake boyfriend. And she definitely doesn’t expect what happens thereafter.

book with bad cover example the love hypothesis by ali hazelwood

Click hear to read this 4.6/5 ranked romance.

6. Killers of a Certain Age by

Compared to Golden Girls and James Bond, this thriller has a questionable cover for its contents. Older women feel invisible…but that can be extremely convenient when you don’t want to get caught.

Five women have worked for an elite network of assassins for forty years. When they’re sent on a retirement trip, they end up the target from their own people.

Now it’s time to put their skills to the test and survive in a world focused on technology when, in their time, it’s the people skills you have to rely on.

Click here to read this great book with a boring cover.

bad cover that has a good book killers of a certain age by deanna raybourn

7. Dusty Series by Mary and Sarah Elizabeth

While these covers aren’t necessary bad, they just don’t fit the story, according to many readers. With 4.5/5 stars, readers rank it well and for good reason.

Everyone loves a forbidden love story. For this goodie-good girl, she knows she needs to stay away from him. Yes, him, the delinquent down the call.

Neither can stay away, though they aren’t allowed to be together.

book series with bad cover dusty by mary and sarah elizabeth

Grab a copy of book 1 or both right here.

8. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

This cover is, no doubt, outdated at best. There have been more than a few covers since, but for those who were first introduced to this cover…probably skipped the read.

It has a much better cover now, one that encompasses the story of Laurel as she witnesses a crime that changes everything she knows about her mother. Now, after fifty years, Laurel and her sisters return to the farm to celebrate their dear mother’s ninetieth birthday. This might be Laurel’s last chance to discover the truth about that day so long ago.

Click here to get a copy with a much better cover.

9. Master of Crows by Grace Draven

This fantasy romance might have had a cover that looks like it was pieces together in Microsoft Paint, but after selling enough copies to garner 1431 ratings with a 4.4/5 average, the cover has since been updated to fit its story.

Martise of Asher is a bondwoman on a dangerous path. She’s agreed to spy on the Silhara of Neith to expose treachery. The challenge isn’t in not being caught…it’s not falling in love with her target.

Oops…she’s already failed. That could make things messy.

Click here for a new edition of this novel.

master of crows by grace draven old book cover

10. On Dublin Street by Samantha Young

Unassuming covers are also considered bad. While this one keeps with the (already disagreed with) trend of illustrations for romances, readers point out that this book is much spicier than the cover lets on. The audiobook covers seems to do better.

This story follows Jocelyn four years after she left her tragic life in the States to start over in Scotland, hell bent on not getting attached. Forget that crap, that grief. Then she meets Braden, and for a while, he agreed to a no-strings attached life. But he seems insistent on getting to know her outside the bedroom just as much as inside.

Click here to grab the spicy romance.

bad cover with good book on dublin street by samantha young

11. Forever Never by Lucy Score

While Lucy Score’s more recent covers have been much improved, this one leaves too much to be desired. Despite that, with over 10,000 ratings and a 4.3/5 stars average, we can ignore the cover altogether.

This inconvenient love story of forbidden love focuses on one man and a girl he absolutely cannot be with because she’s his brother’s high school sweetheart. And his boss’s daughter. And his ex-wife’s best friend. A whole lot of should never happen ensues despite their attraction toward each other.

Click here to read the book and dive into this saucy world.

forever never by lucy score bad book cover example

12. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

It was good enough to get a show on HBO, that’s what we have to say. Despite these drab covers, the overall Neapolitan series have been a hit with fans.

Set in the 1950s in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples, this series spans 60 years as it follows the main characters through motherhood, becoming wives, leaders, and more. It’s focused on friendship and hardship, and life’s greatest lessons.

Read the coming of age fiction stories here.

good books with bad covers my brilliant friend by elena ferrante example

13. InCryptid Series by Seanan McGuire

Seanan McGuire has written plenty of wonderful books, including a highly rated portal fantasy series. This 12 book series is no different…except for the covers that are misogynistic at best, outdated at worst.

Despite the covers, readers rank this series highly, with the first book alone averaging 4.4/5 stars.

If you love urban fantasy and a capable female lead, dive into this series of things that go bump in the night.

Click here to start with book 1 or get the whole series.

14. Innkeeper Chronicles by Ilona Andrews

Ilona Andrews is a favorite author of many, but when it comes to her book covers, readers feel there’s a lot to be desired. Despite the covers, each of the books in this series average 4.6/5 stars or above.

If you’re into average ladies running Victoria Bed and Breakfasts…that just happens to be magic, then this series might be worth diving into.

Click here to buy book 1 or the entire series.

innkeeper chronicles by ilona andrews bad covers examples

15. A Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

These books have since been made over with some neon artwork but early fans of the series still have complaints about the original cover sitting on their shelves. While this cover isn’t necessarily ugly, it doesn’t really describe anything about the story.

But if you want to read the highly ranked story, it’s about a young art student in Prague as she’s pulled into a brutal otherworldly war with creatures she may or may not have been drawing in her sketchbook for years.

Click here to buy a copy of the new, pretty cover.

bad book cover a daughter of smoke and bone by laini taylor example

Not all authors get to choose their book covers. Sometimes there are reasons beyond the reader’s understanding for certain artwork to represent a book. But thanks to reader rankers everywhere, we know of the great books behind bad covers.

Happy reading, rankers 🙂

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