Three Weird Books

A meme of sorts, if you'd like to participate, consider yourself tagged (comments section or your own space). The idea is to look at your shelves and find the three strangest books you own. Obviously, it's all relative. Twilight would be a very strange thing to find on my shelves while a Klingon dictionary or Finnegan's Wake would not. I've also decided to omit graphic novels and role-playing manuals from this pool, though you don't have to. I just put them in another category entirely. So what are the three weirdest books in my library?

The Urantia Book
I found this blue brick of more than 2000 onion-skin pages in a used book store and it was so strange (and I'll admit, cheap), I just had to get it. It fits my collection of sacred texts (I like to keep books from every religion, alive and dead, on my shelves) and yet doesn't. Urantia is this faiths' name for Earth, and the book is part Christian, part Scientology. I might have used it as a sacred text found by player characters in one of my games, but never did (still, I'm not dead yet). The faith elements aren't too bizarre, though it tends towards a more scientific vernacular. The shard of God the Father that is in each of us, for example, is called the Thought Adjuster, and it helps each individual, and society, reach some kind of enlightenment over time. There are a great many pages also devoted to history and cosmogony, freely confirming the existence of aliens, and a proto-human race of blue, red, green, etc. people (we used to be into primary colors before we started mixing into beiges and browns). How the universes are constructed and their function, how mutations arise to create new species, it's all in there. There's also a section on the life of a mortal Jesus - the best example of this cosmogony and enlightenment at work - which is pretty much written as a novel. As eclectic a religion as you're likely to find, and I have a first edition!

Pop Poems
A literary experiment by Ronald Gross, Pop Poems attempt to take the philosophy behind pop art and apply it to text. The result is pretty awful. So for example, while pop art would take non-"high art" illustration like ads, stamps or comic strips and reproduce it in a high art context (in size, medium and/or location), Pop Poems takes non-literary writing and gives it a poetical "shape". Gross translates newspaper articles, instruction manuals, tax forms, legal texts, grocery lists, and of course, ads into sonnets, free verse and odes of all sorts. It only works occasionally, in the way an exquisite corpse might, but usually, it sounds exactly like the original text did no matter the type setting. Bonus points for turning the indicia and About the Author into extra poems.

Psychic Pets
This booklet was bought and given to me at the check-out aisle at a local market and for some reason, I've always kept it (and its cousin, How To Talk To Your Cat, but that one seems right now my alley). I guess it's mostly strange because of the psychedelic pink dog on the cover, but it's also full of weird stories we're supposed to take as Truth, about life-saving seagulls and the ghosts of pets back from the dead. I'm sure we can believe the sources. 1920s local newspapers were famous for fact-checking, right?

There might be something strange SOMEwhere in the house. It's hard to get to all the books at the Casa del Siskoid. But I think these are pretty good. So now it's your turn - What are YOUR three weirdest books?


Eric TF Bat said...

The weirdest book I have is definitely this one. I suppose the book where the Muppets teach you to use Windows 3.1 is up there, but Enid Blyton's biography of Queen Elizabeth II has to rank as the sickliest and strangest I have to hand.

Toby'c said...

One of my favourites is the Jet Lag Travel Guide Molvania: A Land Untouched by Modern Dentistry, by Rob Sitch, Santo Cilauro and Tom Gleisner. It's a travel guide to a non-existent country (a composite of Eastern-European stereotypes). The joke is that though the book tries to present the country as an attractive tourist destination, it can't get through a single page without giving at least four good reasons to stay away. The hotel and restaurant sections are especially good for these. For example: "Just off Bardjov's square you will find the surprisingly affordable Vjed Jbec bistro. There is an extensive menu and you can't go wrong with the food here, unless you try eating it. Some of the meals here can be a little on the heavy side, but one way or another, they're not likely to be in your stomach for long."

There are two sequels, called Phaic Tan: Sunstroke on a Shoestring (South-East Asia) and San Sombrero: A Land of Carnivals, Cocktails and Coups (Central America).

My actual strangest book, though, is Traditional Molvanian Baby Names. Basically, it's 140 pages of barely pronounceable Eastern European-sounding gibberish with ludicrously specific English translations (the seeds of which can usually be detected in said gibberish). For example, Gyrblyndvenizya, which translates to "Installer of fine Venetian Blinds." Or Servelevatyora, meaning "Stuck in a service elevator." My personal favourites are the especially self-evident Eratiktramduktor and Erotiktramduktor.

Three guesses what Siskzmilyondolrmyn translates to.

Siskoid said...

I'm guessing this will become a list of books I MUST have.

De said...

The most unusual book I have is What Shat That?. It's a guide to animal poop.

No, I'm not kidding. It was a gag gift from an old friend.

Lazarus Lupin said...

Interesting question:
1) 253. A real experimental experience. 253 characters in around 253 pages.
2) Any of Robert Anton Wilson's "Non fiction" books. The man had a way of twisting your mind in wonderful knots.
3) A tie between "Vurt" and "The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldridge." You can play too much with reality.

Lazarus Lupin

Siskoid said...

In the spirit of this post, I walked into the student used books sale going on in my building today and grabbed something weird on the "just take it!" table:

A 1969 book of beauty tips for women, abundantly illustrated (and in French). The subtitle translates as "All women can look beautiful with the judicious application of make-up."

mkhall said...

Hmm, I'll have to think about my three weirdest books. The line between weird and godawful is sometimes poorly marked. While it's not all that weird for it's subject matter, I have a stamped paperback copy of None Dare Call It Conspiracy which was given away in the '50s to all customers of Florida Power and Light Company.

On a different note: the Urantia people have a vendor booth at the Miami International Book Fair every year. One year some twisted mind in the organizing committee put them next to the Raelians. For a while there I thought we'd see interstellar war on Biscayne Boulevard.

bobby sneakers said...

I came across the urantia book back in the early 80s and then a friend who had a copy spent an evening showing it to me. I've come across a couple folks who profess to follow the faith or at least say they've read it. don't think I've ever seen a copy for sale. I collect counterculture books from the late 60s-early 70s and I suppose some of the weirder ones are fritz perls' in and out of the garbage pale, a couple kathryn kuhlman pamphlets, and love your body by viktoras kulvinskas, devoted to living entirely on wheatgrass.


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