Dear reader, life is too short for crap books.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Introducing the Zombie Summer Reading Program


While digging through the closed stacks at my library, I came upon a strange old book with lovely spine art. Now, I watch Angel, and I know that opening strange old books in Los Angeles libraries leads to portal-opening and getting sucked into creepy demon dimensions. Still, I pressed on.

And found tucked inside the front cover no evil portals, but rather, a small envelope filled with x-rays of human teeth. This gave me an idea.

This summer's blockbuster hit is next year's $5.98 remainder at Barnes & Noble, so I wonder, what happened to the smash beach read from 1938 that currently languishes in your grandmother's attic? Is there some unsung classic waiting to be sold by the pound at your neighbor's yard sale?

This summer, I plan to slog my way through the forgotten books of the twentieth century, and you are cordially invited to join me in the Zombie Summer Reading Program. Email your most ghastly, obscure finds to zombiesummerreading@gmail.com, and I'll post your blurbs.

There are two rules for selecting a book:

1. It must be over 40 years old, and ideally, have a whiff of mold or neglect about it.
2. It must not be written by anyone you've ever heard of.

Will we find the Great American Novel? Will we find actual human teeth?

Stay tuned, dear reader.

When there's no more room in closed stacks, the out-of-print will rise up and walk the earth.

4 comments:

Larry said...

Wonderful idea.... I did a similar exploration on 1947project. I did find some interesting local writers... One of the most controversial books from 1947 (banned in L.A., as I recall) was "Memoirs of Hecate County." I paged through it and found it pretty tedious. But I bore quickly. The entire book was read to a jury during a 1947 obscenity trial in Los Angeles.

Another somewhat known local writer was Homer Lea, whom I discovered doing 1907.

Larry said...

OK, choose your poison:

L.A. bestsellers, June 16, 1957:

Fiction:

"Peyton Place," Grace Metalious
"Compulsion," Meyer Levin
"The Scapegoat," Daphne Du Maurier
"The Last Angry Man," Gerald Green
"Short Reign of Pippin IV," John Steinbeck
"Blue Camelia," Frances Parkinson Keyes
"The Town," William Faulkner
"Say, Darling," Richard Bissell
"Auntie Mame," Patrick Dennis
"Far, Far, the Mountain Peak," John Masters (Oh, this one gets my vote)

Nonfiction:

"The FBI Story," Don Whitehead
"Stay Alive All Your Life," Norman Vincent Peale
"The Nun's Story," Kathryn Hulme
"The Day Christ Died," Jim Bishop
"Men to Match My Mountains," Irving Stone
"Innocent Ambassadors," Philip Wylie (well this one sounds promisingly dreadful).
"Silver Platter," Ellin Berlin (this one too. Tough choice)
"Hidden Persuaders," Vance Packard
"Prayer Can Change Your Life," William R. Parker, Elaine St. John
"The Turn of the Tide," Sir Arthur Bryant (A very tough choice).

mary_m said...

Wow, that's some good stuff - Peyton Place and Auntie Mame are two of my favorite books!

As for books I haven't heard of before, Blue Camelia sounds interesting (bet it's a bodice-ripper), but I think Hidden Persuaders is the book for me.

Oh, and I think you're right about The Innocent Ambassors being dreadful - I just looked it up in the catalog and found its full title: The innocent ambassadors, being the account of a trip around the world ... certain candid autobiographical fragments and various biographical notes about the author's wife...

Ack.

Larry said...

I was once quite smitten with the works of Patrick Dennis. A clever guy. And being an ancient one I read "Hidden Persuaders" in high school. I've even heard of Frances Parkinson Keyes, but never read any.