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Saturday, 16 March 2013

Reference book series were extremely popular during the seventies and eighties.  Sort of the offspring of the encyclopedia salesman, commercials for reference book series were quite common.  The most iconic was the Time-Life Old West series.  Who can forget John Hardin, "so mean he once shot a man just for snoring!"

I have fond memories of receiving books in the mail. I had a subscription to a nature series and would hotly anticipate the package each month.  What would it be this month? Reptiles? Birds? or, God be praised, Sharks!

Retrospace has a recurring post category based on another series called Understanding Human Behavior.    But be assured there will be more to come.

Beyond the reference library, there was the omnipresent book club ad in nearly every magazine on the rack. These things are still around, but like the Columbia Record Club, they've largely gone bye bye thanks to Amazon and e-readers.  Here's a few examples...

I've read The Lord of the Rings several times over, but have never been able to get into fantasy fiction.  I've tried Piers Anthony, Terry Brooks, Stephen Donaldson and many others to no avail. Only the Song of Ice and Fire series by George Martin has held my interest to the end.

The same goes for science fiction.  I've tried L. Ron Hubbard, Ben Bova, Frank Herbert, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Phillip K. Dick, etc. with no luck.  Only Isaac Asimov's Foundation series kept me for the duration; but even those weren't anything to write home about.

I'd love to get some recommendations - I'm certainly willing to try more sci-fi and fantasy; but, it may be a lost cause. I'm considering starting up Stephen King's Gunslinger series. Bad move?

I read Battlefield Earth and the first few of Hubbard's Mission Earth series.  They were extremely enjoyable, but ultimately a lightweight affair.  You'll pour through hundreds of pages in an instant, but the content is as as light and airy as a Twinkie.

Was there ever a book less like a movie? The Neverending Story was impressive in its creativity and intricate imagination, but you won't give a flying fig about a single character or the plot.

Seized by the Secret Service?  I call bullshit on that. Evidently, this really was a source of government angst  (see comments below). Who knew?

Of all the book genres, none is less appealing than the self-help genre.  It's a sad commentary that this genre is so damn popular, filling more shelves than the science and history books combined.

Okay, maybe there's one book that sounds worse than a self-help book.  Presenting, the dumbest book ever.


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