Over the many years we’ve collected books, we’ve run across some vintage titles others might call “odd.” For example, (and for the sake of blogging),we’ve lugged home Is anybody listening?, Good Lord, You’re Upside Down!, and, The King With Six Friends. Among others.
While other book collectors might pass, as soon as we saw books with odd titles, we knew we had to have them. Love at first sight. And a love that never disappoints, even when it turns out to be not to be as first imagined.
Good Lord, You’re Upside Down!, is a 1963 book, written out of genre by the well-respected western author, Clair Huffaker. Huffaker’s work shows up in the credits of many famous vintage Western movies like The Comancheros and Flaming Star (starring Elvis). On the blurb (back of the book), Huffaker says some of his books and scripts “have been bought by people who drink lots of martinis.” Nothing odd about that.
Is Anybody Listening?, was also written by an esteemed author – William H. Whyte, Jr., Assistant Managing Editor of Fortune,in 1952. Forget how timid and inconsequential the dust jacket looks, because its appearance belies the book’s content. Back in the 1950s, Whyte predicted how “A new system of social engineering, through group participation, threatens us with a new and dismal kind of conformity. We are in real danger of becoming a nation of system lovers” — Whoa, I say to that! Whyte’s prediction may have seemed odd in 1952, but as he warned, we were all destined to be LinkedIn. Is that so very odd? I think not.
Then, there’s the odd youngster in the group: The King With Six Friends by Jay Williams. Williams was a relatively well-known author of children’s books, (including the co-author of the popular Danny Dunn series). Written in 1968, The King With Six Friends is about an out-of-work King. Given the nation’s dreary job situation, the King’s plight does not seem all that “odd.” It’s his new six friends who are a bit quirky. They include an elephant, a mouse and a serpent (each with magical powers). The book’s oddest coincidence is that one of the King’s new friends is named “KINDLE.” (The guy who named the Kindle Reader reportedly said the name reminded him of a “candle.” But, not necessarily).
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I started this blog because I was thinking a book collector does not have to be a member of The Club of Odd Volumes (Boston, 1887) to have a library full of odd books. Including some that morph, over time, into something else entirely.