Misread Book Titles


We’ve all misheard song lyrics from time to time, such the hymn Gladly My Cross I Bear becomes “Gladly My Cross-Eyed Bear” or the disco hit by the Bee Gees More Than A Woman, the chorus morphs into “Bald-Headed Woman” when speeded up.

Haste also lays waste to book titles – ever misread titles while browsing through shelves so crammed full of books that you can only read their spines? Or from a list of thumbnails online? You run the risk of misreading or misunderstanding when you’re in a hurry. Here are some I’ve misread over the years and yet somehow the ‘mistaken’ title is invariably more interesting. Leave your ‘misreadings’ in the comments below.

1. Misread Title: Saturday Knight and Sunday Mourning 

Actual Title: Saturday Night and Sunday Morning 

Not a sombre historical romance. Alan Sillitoe’s hard-hitting 1958 novel of working class lives and the perpetual cycle of pub, work and falling flat on face. Only to do it all over again the next weekend.

2. Misread Title: The Borges of God/ The Fjord of God

 Actual Title: The Forge of God  by Greg Bear

Rummaging around in the sci-fi and fantasy section should’ve clued me into this title. Not to be mistaken for an autobiography of the Borges family, a study of the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges or a Nordic existential thriller, but a terrifyingly plausible depiction of alien invasion and how major nations may (mis)handle such an event.

3. Misread Title: Men and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Real Title: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

I really wonder why someone hasn’t come up with “Men and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” yet, it seems such a given title. Climb on board for the ultimate spiritual road trip

5. Actual title: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Mistaken For: A sequel to Girl With A Pearl Earring

Potentially the baddest literary mash-up ever? In an alternate timeline Johannes Vermeer’s subject of his titular painting teams up with bisexual goth hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate art theft and forgery! The film adaptation would be a sucker punch to Sucker Punch! “Hello Mr. Agent? Hello?” <click….bzzzzt>

6. Actual Title: Hitch-22

Mistaken For: One of those genre mash-ups like “Pride and Prejudice” and Zombies or “Android Karenina”.

I really thought it was a mid-air collision of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Catch-22 until I read the subtitle, ‘A Memoir’ on the spine. A fantastic book in any case- I recommend this candid bio of a firebrand intellectual.


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