Hiya Bookbaggers and welcome to the second Top 10 theme voted by you!
I agonised over this list because I have read some strange titles in my time, but I wanted to include the ones that people are least likely to have heard of and/or read so that I can offer something new and unusual to my readers out there 🙂
You get a point for each book you’ve heard of (outside of this blog of course!) and two points for every book you’ve read so feel free to share your score in the comments or tell me bout your own bizarre reads that none of your friends have heard of!
1. Dim by Carolin Window
This book was a random find, most likely from an op-shop, book sale or a hand-me-down from my mum who often is involved with clothes swap parties and the like. I received it and read it when I was about 11 or 12 (which in hindsight was way too young an age to read a book that contains very adult themes such as sexual and physical abuse) and since then I have not found a single person who has heard of the book or the author. About 10 years ago Dim disappeared from my possession, possibly when a friend of the family borrowed it for holiday-in-Italy-reading (‘tho she claims she never borrowed it) and so for a while I wondered whether I had just dreamt the whole thing up, especially because It was such a bizarre book. So, understandably this was the first book that sprung to mind when I first thought of this theme. While researching for this post I did find a vague Dim fingerprint on the ‘net, so I knew I had not been a crazy tween (especially because that buzz word did not exist when a was a pre-teen in the late 90’s) who imagined a disturbing book out of thin air, ‘tho it was hard to research when I couldn’t remember the author’s name and I no longer have a copy to consult. Dim‘s entries in GoodReads, LibraryThing and Shelfari are sparse at best, with a maximum of 4 people vouching for its existence BUT! It does exist on Amazon.com and other online bookshops so perhaps I will replace my lost copy, read the craziness again and share with you all 🙂
2. April Witch by Majgull Axelsson
This book certainly isn’t as unknown as Dim (125 members have in on their Shelfari shelves) and I’m sure it is somewhat known in Sweden where the author is from, but it gets a mention in this list because I had never heard or it and when I was reading it and mentioned it to friends or family I received a clear “huh?” expression. I found the book at my local library when I decided to try a new tack of choosing new books – working my way from A to Z picking books that interested me. At AXE this strange little tale of a girl who is imprisoned in her own body but has an amazing intellectual mind and clairvoyant/omniscient abilities, really stood out to me and it was certainly an interesting and unique read.
3 The Island at the End of the World by Sam Taylor
This book was one of my reading highlights of last year and also one of the most distressing and earth-shattering reads of the last few. It’s a post-apocalyptic tale that may or may not actually occur after an apocalypse but certainly highlights some destructive human traits – religious extremism, rebellion against consumerism (as well as the consumerism itself) and an obsession with control – which could theoretically lead to apocalypse. As it was published in 2009 I wasn’t expecting many people to have read it but I was surprised by only 40 Shelfari members having it, and I certainly received some odd and curious looks from fellow students or commuters while I was reading it.
4. The Secrets of the Chess Machine by Robert Löhr
Regular readers of the blog will know that this is a quite recent read (in fact it was the last review I did as I have been super slack with my reviewing duties) but it was an unusual and fabulous read with a title and subject matter that confused and intrigued many a person. A mere 20 individuals on Shelfari have The Secrets of the Chess Machine which is a shame as it was a riot! I am sometimes blessed to have a judge-a-book-by-its-cover attitude because it was the cover of this little gem that drew me to it in the first place out of the sea of book spines at the library. If you enjoy clockwork machinery, the seedy underbelly of aristocrats and some tasty murder mystery-ness thrown in for spice then track this one down 🙂
5. The Travelling Death and Resurrection Show by Ariel Gore
This was another fairly recent unique read, but it just missed out on being immortalised on these hallowed (ha!) pages as I finished it just before it was founded. I was drawn to the strangeness of the title (I love long and confusing titles :)) and the book certainly delivered as it was about a travelling Catholic-themed circus whose headliner can do the Stigmata on command. Only 64 members on Shelfari have it, and the author is not on Fantastic Fiction, my usual fountain of book-based knowledge so it certainly qualifies for this list, as just like several of the others it has received its fair share of confuzzled looks.
6. The Sensualist by Barbara Hodgson
My mum brought this book home from a school fête at my little bro’s primary school that she was volunteering at, but I promptly pilfered it when I flicked through and saw that it was a multi sensory novel filled with old-fashioned anatomy diagrams, some multi-layered and one which included braille. I can barely remember the plot besides that it was a sort of mystery that spanned a couple of european countries, but I do remember that it was a great read and the accompanying elements elevated the story to a new level. Only 73 Shelfari have this book and I am proud to be one of them 🙂
7. Shadowsbite by Stephen Dedman
I wasn’t completely surprised that when I first went to add this book to my shelf on Shelfari it was absent and since I added it only one person (besides myself) has contributed to its record, as the author is a relatively unknown sci-fi/horror writer from Perth (my hometown and the most isolated capital city in Australia). I was however kind of disappointed as it’s a great Vampire novel that explores the mythology behind vamps better than any I’ve read. I got the book at Swancon, an annual Science Fiction and writers convention held in Perth, and I was lucky enough to hear Stephen Dedman read an excerpt and meet him. The friend that I went with also loved the book as did our other close friend (the third musketeer :D) so they at least have heard of it, as have the other people who attended his reading but in the grand scheme of things it is pretty unknown and hopefully I’ve done my part to rectify that 🙂
8. The Cats by Joan Phipson
To readers that grew up in the 60s or 70s this book or this author may not be that unknown as Joan Phipson wrote a string of novels for kids from 1953-1988 with The Cats being published in 76. However, as a proud 90’s kid I had never heard of it when I picked it up at another school fête and bought it purely because I wanted to know why a book about cats had such a sinister cover! It turns out lovable fluffy kitty cats can be terrifying, especially with the right setting and some suspense, and that if there are Baby Boomers out there who loved this odd thriller in their youth, they certainly aren’t on Shelfari where my shelf is the only one it rests on.
9. The Floating Island by Anna Ralph
This novel came into my hand when a family friend (ironically the same one who may or may not have lost Dim) dropped off a stack of proof copy paperbacks to me, her friends book-crazed daughter, that came from a friend of hers in publishing (somewhat naughty I know but I did nothing to encourage her I promise!). The book was a touching tale of a teenage boy’s psychological and physical recovery from a tragic accident that left him seemingly paralysed and killed his younger brother, as well as an interweaving of character relationships. A grand total of 3 people including myself have The Floating Island on their Shelfari shelf – not exactly overwhelming but better than zero 🙂
10. Harlequin Vintage Collection
(Kiss Your Elbow by Alan Handley; Virgin with Butterflies by Tom Powers; Pardon My Body by Dale Bogard; You Never Know with Women by James Hadley Chase)
This is cheating a bit, but I couldn’t decide which of these obscure retro paperbacks to choose as collectively not many Shelfari members have them (the most is 26 for You Never Know with Women which I’m guessing is highest because James Hadley Chase is the most well-known author of the four) and they were all wonderfully pulpy and odd. The set also includes No Nice Girl by Perry Lindsay and I’ll Bury my Dead also by James Hadley Chase, but I am yet to read those two.
Stay tuned in the near future (hopefully) for the other half of this Top 10 – Top 10 Books I Think Everyone Should Read – and then I will not be posting the new poll as the Top 10s for December will be on my best 2011 reads 🙂 I also hope to get all the lost reviews done before the year’s end – cross your collective fingers for me?
Cheers and Happy Reading!