Forget judging a book by its cover; a novel’s title can really make or break it (see exhibit AAnd BAnd C.). Which is why we were so surprised to find out that some of our favorite reads had totally different names to begin with—including some pretty weird ones. Here, ten original book titles we kinda can't believe.  

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1984 by George Orwell book cover

1. 1984

George Orwell’s dystopian novel was originally titled The Last Man in Europebut publishers felt this wasn’t commercial enough. Considering this harrowing book has sold over 30 million copies, we’d say they made the right choice.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee book cover

2. To Kill a Mockingbird

This beloved classic was simply called Atticus until author Harper Lee apparently decided that the title was too character focused. (But what a character he is.)

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald book cover

3. The Great Gatsby

Imagine if your eighth-grade English class had been spent analyzing the theme’s of Trimalchio in West Egg or perhaps The High-Bouncing Lover? Author F. Scott Fitzgerald kicked quite a few titles around before finally settling on The Great Gatsby

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen book cover

4. Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen's father submitted an early version of the manuscript to a publisher (because you know, sexism) under the title First Impressions, but the publisher rejected it. She later added revisions to the text (plus a title change) and the rest is literary history. 

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller book cover

5. Catch-22

The way we use this term today to describe a paradoxical problem (like needing your glasses in order to find your glasses) was actually coined by author Joseph Heller and his famous novel. But he initially wanted the title Catch-18, except this was too similar to the recently published Mila 18He then thought of Catch-11, but this was scrapped because it was too similar to the film Ocean’s Eleven. He eventually doubled the number 11 and there you have it. 

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell book cover

6. Gone With the Wind

Margaret Mitchell was originally just going to use the last line of her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel for the title, Tomorrow Is Another Day. Frankly, we don’t give a damn (see what we did there?) what she called it—this classic is a must-read. 

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner book cover

7. The Sound and the Fury 

Here’s a shocker: Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner may have called his most famous work Twilight instead. And where would that have left Bella, Edward and co.? We’ll never know. 

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck book cover

8. Of Mice and Men

Originally called Something That Happened, John Steinbeck ultimately took the title for his book from the Robert Burns poem To a Mouse (“the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry”). Oh Lennie. 

Dracula by Bram Stoker book cover

9. Dracula

Short and sweet, the name of Bram Stoker’s Gothic novel tells it like it is. But the original title was The Dead Un-Dead, which although scarier, is a little confusing.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

10. Atlas Shrugged

It took Ayn Rand 12 years to write her most famous work, but she changed her mind about the title (originally called The Strikejust one year before it was released. Ultimately, Rand felt it gave away too much of the plot so she took her husband’s suggestion of Atlas Shrugged instead. 

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