About five months ago, I made an expedition into the plenteous bowels of the UVU library to see for myself just what treasures she held. I was not disappointed. After all, a library that contains such divergent titles as Killer Dolphin¸ The History of Tupperware, and Women of the Klan is one with depth and breadth.
Once again, I have heard the call of the library coaxing me back into her loving arms, forcing me to make another foray into the world of the weird, the kingdom of crazy and the realm of the ridiculous where we keep our books. Here’s what I found this time around.
Golf FORE!! Beginners: The FUNdamentals by Stephen J Ruthenberg (1992)
We all know that you aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover. That being said, the cover of this book is a garish assault on the senses that could only be welcome as a prop on the set of “Saved by the Bell.” This puke-pail colored cover features not one but two bad puns right in the title, as well as a bizarre scene in which a family looks on in merriment as a golf instructor manhandles some guy’s golf club. This book feels like it was made in the present day, parodying a trend of bad book design from the 90’s. It couldn’t look worse if it tried.
Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (1985)
Every once in a while, a sci-fi novel comes along that revolutionizes genre. This wasn’t one of those times. When human-sized elephant creatures from Alpha Centauri—yes, you read that correctly—attack an earth where the Soviet Union still exists in 1995, a war of “indescribable violence and incredible destruction” breaks out, prompting mankind to unite as one against a common enemy.
The front cover of this sci-fi epic bills itself as “Probably the finest novel of alien invasion ever written,” quite the bold statement. But something about the image of an alien elephant nervously peeking around the corner, a rifle under its trunk, keeps me from taking this book seriously.
But Won’t Granny Need Her Socks? by Donald Knowles and Nancy Reeves (1983)
I promise I’m not a monster. But, while broaching sensitive subjects to your children isn’t funny per se, I’ve always found humor in self-help
books for children—“Dinosaurs Divorce” being a personal favorite. There’s just something about the insane bluntness of the topics these books try to teach, clumsily juxtaposed with the cloying sweetness of the Berenstain Bears that gets a guilty laugh from me every time.
Also, it took two authors to come up with this title? I get the childlike innocence they were going for, but I can think of at least a thousand other things a child would ask about before worrying that Nana didn’t have the proper hosiery in the afterlife.
At first I thought I had stumbled onto the book that would finally reveal to me the methodology for replicating my favorite movie, “Inception,” in real life. Though disappointed to find this wasn’t the case, I was intrigued to learn more about this book’s real history. Apparently, Montague Ullman—the main author— was a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and parapsychologist, the same job Bill Murray had in “Ghostbusters.”
In the early 1960s, Ullman founded the Dream Laboratory at Maimonides Medical Center in New York, where he and his colleagues conducted many experiments on ESP. Most of them consisted of one volunteer sleeping in the lab while a second volunteer in a separate room would look at a painting and try to psychically send the image to the sleeper.
According to Ullman these experiments proved the existence of dream telepathy and all that entails. However, none of these experiments have ever been successfully replicated by third parties. So there’s that troubling fact.
What’s Wrong With Eating People? By Peter Cave (2008)
Horrifying title aside, this one is actually a pretty fascinating read. Each chapter is devoted to the exploration of a certain philosophical puzzle such as the one posed by the title. Each question, seemingly obvious at first glance, is unpackaged, laid out and rearranged so convincingly readers will find themselves doubting where they stand on such fundamental issues like “Should we save endangered species?”, “Why should we obey the law?” and even “Should men and women be treated equally?”
Bigfoot Dreams by Francine Prose (1986)
When tabloid reporter Vera Perl of the seedy checkout-line rag “This Week” writes yet another “Ghost-Marries-Yeti” style story, she is astounded to find out that the people she conjured in her mind are actually real, and are out to sue Vera for false defamation. I may actually leaf threw this one some lazy Saturday morning when I have nothing better to do. Sounds like my kind of guilty pleasure story.
2013: The End of Days or a New Beginning? By Marie D. Jones (2008)
This Mayan Apocalypse speculation book is an enlightening slice of life in the not-too-distant pre-2012 world when loads of people would not shut up about the impending doomsday. It fills me with a sort of smug arrogance that only comes from hindsight, similar to watching reruns of 90’s television shows addressing the Y2K hysteria when society was anxiously waiting for the day their PalmPilots would rise up in rebellion against the tyranny of mankind. That’s what Y2K was all about, right?