Bill Bryson is probably one of my favorite authors, and I've read several of his books. For those of you who are unfamiliar, he writes on a wide variety of topics, including travel, science, Shakespeare, the English language, and...himself. I haven't read the book on the left, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, but know that it is a memoir of his growing up in 1950's America. The photo used on the cover seems to fit the book quite well, as I'm guessing the Thunderbolt Kid was Bryson's alter ego growing up. Overalls featuring a crudely drawn thunderbolt, a cape, and some goggles, and you have yourself a respectable, young, backyard super hero.
Then I saw this book, Tweaked by Patrick Moore. Described on the cover as "Moore's unforgettable account of life as a crystal meth addict--a tweaker-- chronicles a twenty-year trip that stretches from Moore's lonely childhood to the day he sits, naked, in a Los Angeles rental, hallucinating about psychorobbers while talking to a possum he's sure is God." I suppose it is a memoir, like Bryson's book, but somehow the crystal meth part doesn't seem to match the happy-go-lucky 1950's I picture from the Thunderbolt Kid. Perhaps the goggles represent Moore's blindness to his addiction? Maybe the cape represents his hallucinations, him thinking he can fly? Or perhaps, when one is on a meth bender, cape, overalls and goggles are simply the preferred outfit, I don't know But it does seem odd that these two books would use the same photo, only reversed.
But, that's not all. Yes, I have managed to find three books that use the same cover! This book, Why Not: How to Use Everyday Ingenuity to Solve Problems Big and Small, would be found in the Business section at your local bookstore. I'm not sure where this overall-wearing punk fits in here. Maybe this kid wasn't fitting in at school or was getting bullied, and needed a way out. Would overalls, cape, and goggles be his 'everyday ingenuity?' When I think back to my days in elementary school and junior high, I think this kid's get-up would more likely be a 'prelude to more beatings,' instead of a solution to his problems. Then again, maybe his problems were entirely different, and this costume did fix them, though I can't think of what those problems could possibly be.
I figured The Great Gatsby was more deserving of the cover image it shared with Rules of Civility because, well, it's The Great Gatsby, and that trumps most things in the book world. Here, I'm not so sure which book 'wins.' My bias has me leaning toward Bryson as I've heard of him and enjoy his work. But looking at when all three were published, I see that Why Not was the first, back in 2004, while Tweaked was published in 2006, and this particular edition of Thunderbolt wasn't printed until 2010. However, I think the photo probably best fits Thunderbolt as it is fairly clear why it was used, while the other two have me guessing.
I do know who the winner will be when it comes to sales though, and I'm sure Bryson will sell more copies in a week than the other two will, ever. Looking on goodreads, Thunderbolt has 17,286 ratings, while the other two have a combined 206.