Hayden's Ferry Review


Website of the Week - Awful Library Books

If you’re a dedicated student of literature and are sometimes worried that everyone’s reading nonfiction and political books and whether fiction and poetry might have any staying power anymore, check out the site Awful Library Books. Two librarians have dedicated the site to items actually sitting on library shelves “so old, obsolete, awful or just plain stupid that we are horrified that people might be actually checking these items out and depending on the information.” Reading it makes a refreshing case for the timelessness of good literature. I would rather wade through all of Anthony Trollope and G.K. Chesterton than have to read the pictured book at left.

Novelists in particular write about their times in a very encompassing way, and readers who peruse John Updike or Jane Austen will find the times more feelingly rendered than a reference book of the era. If the writing is good there is a chance that literature becomes more significant as it ages. You can't say the same for nonfiction.

Which leads us to some very funny titles. I had to ask Beth to help me make up my mind on which title to display in this post. The best choices were between the cell-phone book above, one on the Soviet Union, and a guide book to the return of Halley's Comet (published in 1985 for it's last appearance.) I think we picked this cellular maven for her smart and capable demeanor. Although the guy from the Soviet Union had a really nice hat.

Thanks to the intrepid Olive Reader at Harper Perennial for being the first to post on this.