10 Books You Won’t Believe Were Published

…and the reviewers who actually read them.

1. People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It

peopleAuthor Gary Leon Hill tells of his family’s work luring dead spirits from the bodies of very alive people they’ve held hostage.

There are actually quite a few Goodreads reviews of this one, and it seems to generate love-hate (but mostly hate) reactions:

Anita Dalton rated it 1 of 5 stars
Unusual beliefs make the world more interesting. But there are times when bad, bad writing combine with bad, dangerous information, and I am left with nothing but snark. If Penn Jillette read this book, he would s#@* blood.

Alternatively,

Heather rated it 5 of 5 stars
Anyone with an open mind should explore the pages of this non-fiction journey. It’ll make you think about things that you wouldn’t naturally consider. I loaned this to a co-worker and haven’t seen it since!

Maybe the spirits took it?

2. How to Avoid Huge Ships

huge shipsThe kicker with this one is that it’s labeled as the “Second Edition.” It’s hard to imagine what the first edition might have left out. Unsurprisingly, Poets & Writers hailed it as the “worst book ever” back in 2011, despite its $131 price tag and huge underground following. They also rounded up some of its snarkiest Amazon reviews, which are well worth a read:

Reads like a whodunnit!, December 21, 2010
ByCitizenfitz (The salt grainery) – See all my reviews
I bought How to Avoid Huge Ships as a companion to Captain Trimmer’s other excellent books: How to Avoid a Train, and How to Avoid the Empire State Building. These books are fast paced, well written and the hard won knowledge found in them is as inspirational as it is informational. After reading them I haven’t been hit by anything bigger than a diesel bus. Thanks, captain!
TOO Informative., December 25, 2010
ByDan (Ontario Canada) – See all my reviews
Read this book before going on vacation and I couldn’t find my cruise liner in the port. Vacation ruined.

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After the Dash: Ten Literary Epitaphs

graveyard1600

It’s Halloween!  In honor of the creepiest of holidays, why not contemplate your own mortality? GOOD TIMES!

Here are ten well-written or interesting conceived final goodbyes from folks (or folks who knew them) who have shuffled off this mortal coil.

sks

1.  William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
[Gravestone in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon]
GOOD FREND FOR IESVS SAKE FORBEARE
TO DIGG THE DVST ENCLOASED HEARE
BLESTE BE Y MAN Y SPARES THES STONES
AND CVRST BE HE THAT MOVES MY BONES

spenseredmund

2.  Edmund Spenser (1510-1596)
Here lyes
(expecting the second Comminge of our Saviour Christ Jesus)
the body of Edmond Spenser, the Prince of Poets in his time;
whose divine spirit needs no other witness
than the works he left behind him.

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Literary America: Ten Places to Visit for National Author’s Day

Mark your calendars and make some plans!  November 1st is National Author’s Day.  In 1929, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs created the day to honor America’s writers; in 1949, the day was officially recognized by the U.S. Department of Congress. The resolution states, in part, that “[b]y celebrating author’s day as a nation, we would not only show patriotism, loyalty and appreciation of the men and women who have made American literature possible but would also encourage and inspire others to give of themselves in making a better America.”

Most of these historic places are privately staffed or state-run, meaning that even if the government shutdown continues, you should be able to visit these homes, museums, and locations:

Poe-Museum-1small

1. Edgar Allan Poe Museum, Richmond, VA

Called “America’s Shakespeare,” Edgar Allan Poe created or mastered the short story, detective fiction, science fiction, lyric poetry and the horror story. His dark genius has invited children and adults to read and love literature for over 150 years.

Mark Twain Study sepia

2.  Mark Twain Study, Elmira, New York 

Built by Twain’s father-in-law, Twain called this retreat “The Cozy Nest.”  It is located on the campus of Elmira College.  Twain’s grave is also located in the town of Elmira.

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“A Government of Wolves”: Ten Writers Sound Off

Like most of you, I am becoming more and more annoyed by the government shutdown. Yesterday, I heard a sick child will not get his weekly visit with a therapy dog because those “non-essential workers” had been “furloughed.”

Here are ten quotes from writers, past and present, that may help you channel and articulate your own feelings and frustration with our elected leaders:

murrow

1.  “A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.”  — Edward R. Murrow

CLH1.CA.0e.0726.moore1.O.1

2.  “People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.”  — Alan Moore, V for Vendetta

jon-stewart

4.  “You have to remember one thing about the will of the people: it wasn’t that long ago that we were swept away by the Macarena.”  — Jon Stewart

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Baffling Banned Books: A Fun (Disturbing) Quiz!

If you’ve waited to celebrate the chance to be Officially Subversive during Banned Books Week, it’s not too late!  Sure, you probably figured that Huck Finn is a perennial favorite for its politically incorrect language and Fifty Shades of Grey for its Crimes Against Ink and Trees, but I am willing to bet there are quite a few that will make you say, “Ummm. What?”  The alleged  “reasons” for protecting Our Nation’s Youth are even more bizarre than you can imagine. 

Take our quiz and see if you can guess the actual arguments that succeeded in getting the following ten books on the Naughty List. Answers at the end of quiz!

charlotte

1.  Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

a)  The National Pork Council feared declining bacon sales

b)  Children were trapping dangerous spiders and being bitten

c)  A Kansas school district decided that talking animals are blasphemous and unnatural

d)  Girls were being encouraged to defy their fathers

brave

2.  Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

a)  Removed from classrooms in Miller, Missouri, for ‘making promiscuous sex look like fun.’

b)  Removed from Texas libraries for “encouraging revolution”

c)  Attempted ban in California for “focusing on negativity.”

d) Both a and c

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Top Ten Strangest Questions I’ve Been Asked While Working at a University Library Front Desk

10. Patron: If I was feeling particularly existentialist, what book would you recommend for me?

camus

9. Patron: Hi. I’m looking for a book called Bay Wolves. Can you help me find it?

Me: Sure, let me look it up for you… Hmmm, sorry we don’t have any books by that name. Do you know the author’s name, maybe?

Patron: No, but I think it’s spelled kind of weird, like B-E-O… wolves.

Me: …Do you mean Beowulf?

beowulf cat

8. Patron: Can you help me find the Law Library?

Me: [pulls out a map] The Law Library is right here. You just walk down this street, turn this corner, and you’ll be there.

Patron: Thanks, hopefully they’ll have a book about Newton’s Laws.

Me: Uh, maybe you’re looking for the Physics Library instead…?

Newtons-Third-Law_15990-l

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Hey, You Forgot…Oh, Nevermind: Top Ten Books Most Often Left in Hotel Rooms

The most common things left behind in hotel rooms are chargers, “intimate” items, and books.  Every year, Travelodge releases a list of those unfortunate tomes, and here is this year’s top ten, and for your snarky pleasure, comments from Amazon readers.

Topping the list, to the surprise of literally no one who has ever seen the internet, we have the third in the inexplicably best-selling Fifty Shades series.  (So many unanswered questions from the first two, I know…. ).

fifty-freed

1.  Fifty Shades of Freed by E.L. James 

Review:  Be under no illusions Dear Readers, this book is terribly written. It makes Twilight look like Anna Karenina and that is saying a lot since it started as Twilight fan-fiction (if that isn’t enough to put you off then you cannot be saved, good luck to you). I’ve read stories by 5th Graders with more character development and narrative drive than this.

baredtoyou

2.  Bared to You by Sylvia Day 

Review:  Bare to You is as close to Fifty Shades of Grey as a book can get and not be called Fifty Shades of Grey.

marriage_bargain

3.  The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst

Review:  Poorly written dialogue & sex scenery* make this book very boring.

(*Sex scenery? What is that, exactly?)

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