Thursday, April 29, 2010


After looking through one of those blogs that is dedicated to bad book covers (and seeing a few that I've read as well as the one I am currently reading), my husband pointed out that we had some books with covers that were quite possibly worse than any of those other covers (personally, I think that is debatable although I think they are right up there among the worst). So he took a photo of them, which should be clicked to enlarge and fully appreciate the awfulness.

I've read these once years ago and actually liked them to my surprise since I did indeed judge them by their covers, but since my husband has read them far more than I have, I asked him to write up some commentary more intelligible than "Why?":
These are, I think, the worst covers of any books in our collection. First is the bizarre-if-intriguing choice of pen name. Then one inevitably notices the skateboarding blonde that appears on all three covers in the series, though it should be pointed out that there is no actual skateboarding blonde in the books...I'm not entirely sure where that came from. Of course, you can't miss the dragons, two of which I suspect are mainly Crayolavores. In the actual story those two are supposed to be gold dragons, so the cover is off base here too. Disturbingly, the one item on any of the three covers that actually bears any resemblance to the story inside is Sherlock Holmes standing on a street corner in modern New York City. The interesting thing about these covers are that the quality of the book is inversely proportional to the ridiculousness of the cover.

It can be difficult not to judge a book by its cover at times, or at the very least avoid reading it in public. I was actually going to start Catherine Asaro's Diamond Star a little while ago and ended up putting it back on the shelf because I had a dentist appointment the following day and needed something to read while waiting... And I just could not bring myself to be seen reading a book with such a horrifying cover in public (it is one of the Baen books, infamous for its cover art).

Once my husband asked me what he should read and I handed him a copy of one of my favorite books ever, Transformation by Carol Berg. Before I even handed it to him, I told him to ignore the cover. He took one look at it and told me there was no way he was reading it and to pick out something else.

What books do you have that have covers too embarrassing to be read in public? Are there any books that have covers so horrible that you refuse to even pick them up?


Angiegirl said...

Oh my word. That last one had me laughing out loud. Well, that and your husband's response. Which would have been my husband's response as well. So it's a good one, is it?

John said...

In my defense, I was mostly just teasing Kristen. Though I still didn't read the book...

Kerry said...

I have a truly awful cover of Joan D. Vinge's "The Snow Queen". Sadly (or perhaps luckily) it is so awful I can't find an image of it online. Just be assured you don't want to see it.

I also have the UK cover of "Transformation", which isn't any better. Look here.

Kristen said...

Angie - Hehe. I guess I can't completely blame either of our husbands since that is a pretty cheesy cover with the wings and the lightning bolt and everything. It's such a great book, though! I really need to reread it at some point.

John - Yes, exactly, "mostly" because you still didn't read it. :P And until you do, I have the right to tell that story.

Kerry - The cover I have for The Snow Queen is kind of freaky looking - I actually considered mentioning it as I could have gone on and on about bad covers I had. It's the one with all the figures standing in front of each other so it's kind of like a stack of heads. Here it is on Goodreads. I definitely like the newer cover better with the queen and her mask.

I hadn't seen that cover of Transformation before. If I had to pick between the two, I'd rather be seen reading the UK one in public. At least it doesn't have a shirtless guy with wings as the most prominent feature of the cover art.

Kerry said...

I didn't think of looking on Goodreads. Here's my copy of The Snow Queen. I say I win in the awfulness stakes.

On Goodreads

Kristen said...

Kerry - Agreed, you win. That cover is just plain terrible. Wow. The one I have is odd, but it's not awful like that.

John said...


Thea said...

John - Really crazy ugly cover aside, Carol Berg RULES. Transformation is a great book. I think a DARE is in order, Kristen, what say you?!

And I've actually read Diamond Star too - but not in public. Oh, Baen.

Anastasia said...

I have a few that look like this:

But I honestly love them. So vintage. How do you improve on that?

Storm Lord: also darn good:

Anastasia said...

But if we're talking really bad, embarrassing covers, it doesn't get much worse than Daryl Sweet's Wheet of Time covers.

Also, I hated the hardcover of C.S. Friedman's Feast of Souls:

Sorry I don't know how to make URL links. That cover kept me from reading the series for a long time, but the paperback was a great improvement and I bought that one eventually.

orannia said...

I don't care what the cover of Transformation looks like...I'm 40 pages from the end of Flesh & Spirit and I'm a Carol Berg convert so will be reading it at some point! I do want to read Breath & Bone next, but have three and a half library books to read first - rats!

And um...can't think of any particular bad covers ATM :)

Benjamin said...

The covers for Diamond Star and Transformation are nowhere near as bad as for Poul Anderson's latest from Baen. You know, the one with the huge phallus, er, sword and the painted, naked chick? Jesus.

I really try not to judge a book by it's cover. I will readily admit that it is a factor in picking up a book, but if I want to read it I will. Consequently, I wouldn't be embarrassed to read any of my books in public. :)

Kristen said...

Thea - Daring John would probably just make him less likely to read it; he's stubborn like that. But I agree, Carol Berg rules and Transformation is a great book! Have you read The Spirit Lens yet? I think I need to get to that one soon.

Don't blame you for not reading Diamond Star in public - I probably would have read it by now if not for the fact that there was no way I was reading it in a public place. There have been some books I've read in public that have given me the urge to cover up the front, but that one is much worse than the usual.

Anastasia - Wow, those are very 70's. I hadn't seen either of those before. And yes, the Wheel of Time covers are pretty awful. I remember reading the second book and trying to figure out who was on the front cover. Then once I reached the scene it depicted, I just couldn't believe it. I have the paperback of Feast of Souls, too. It is much better than the hardcover!

Orannia - Yay, glad you are now a Carol Berg convert! I love her books.

Benjamin - Yes, I know the cover you mean - I linked to the Poul Anderson page when talking about Baen covers being particularly bad. ;) That one series had some really scary covers. They're not in my collection, though, so I settled for linking to them.