Out-Of-Place Literature

In this thread I talked about taking my balding daughter to the doctor on Monday. Since trying to keep a 20-month-old occupied and happy for a long stretch in a waiting room can be a trick, my wife and I took turns keeping her distracted.

While I had my turn to relax, I went over to the pile of books and magazines to pick out something to read. It was the usual…Redbook, Field & Stream, Car & Driver, Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook: Core Rulebook I v3.5, National Geogra…ummm…waitaminute.

Ever come across some reading material that was oh-so-very out of place for wherever it was that you found it?

There’s a swimming pool in my parents’ building, on the roof. Near the pool, there’s a shelf of books for people to borrow, a sort of lending library. I like to peruse it. Usually, it’s thriller/beach reading types (though I managed to find some fairly intellectual type reads there, too)…but Sunday, I found “The Sensuous Woman.” A book for women written back in the sixties, learning how to unleash their womanhood. The message boils down to learn how to pleasure yourself, and also look sexy and young at every single minute of the day.

For some reason, I keep running into copies of The Cuckoo’s Egg by Clifford Stoll at the same store in Moscow. This store mostly sells antiques of dubious provenance. It also sells semi-ancient secondhand books in foreign languages, mostly of the poorly written bodice ripper\ historical romance\ thriller\ horror type.

The Cuckoo’s Egg is a reasonably well-written account of tracking an unknown hacker, way back before hackers were commonplace. I read it way back when because there was nothing else to read out here, and I spoke three words of Russian.

And since then, it’s been coming back to haunt me - not always the same copy, but every other time I go into the store, there’s a copy there.

A cafe I go to sometimes also has an informal lending library for patrons. Mostly it’s mysteries and romances and such, but for a while they had a copy of Hannibal. Just the thing to read while you’re waiting for your scrambled eggs.

There is a bookshelf in the breakroom where I work. I never bother with it because it’s never been anything but a pile of shabby romance novels…but not long ago, we were forced to hold a meeting in there because we ran out of rooms. During the meeting, I suddenly noticed a copy of Flowers for Algernon! I scanned all the other titles…yep, still a bunch of romance novels. When the meeting was over, I swiped Flowers for Algernon, and the next day replaced it with some bestselling paperback crap.

A bookstore once had Forever by Judy Blume in the children’s section, right by SuperFudge and Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret.

If you’ve read it, you’d know it needs to be in the Young Adult section, at the very least. I believe it was just a misfiling by the clerk.

There’s a copy of Pit and Quarry Magazine awaiting your perusal should you have to wait for a table at our local BBQ joint.

[Simpsons]That’s Juvenile. This is Young Adult.[/Simpsons]

Actually, last time I was in Barnes and Noble, they seemed to have a generic YA/kids section all lumped together. I dont’ think they had any Fudge books, but they had Just As Long As We’re Together and Here’s To You, Rachel Robinson, along with (I think) Forever. Although, honestly, I do remember Forever being about on the level of those two books and Are You There, God. It’s just that instead of menstruation, the topic seemed to be sex in Forever.

When I was in college I was wandering the middle half of vermont with a snow mobiling group. We were traveling to a remote camp in Groton State Forest just west of Ryegate, VT. We reached the camp, unloaded a lot of provisions and made our way up to the rustic, noninsulated cabin. When we got up there, we were shocked at what we found. Shelves upon shelves of old western novels, Larry McMurtry and others. We sat all night and smoked a little weed, ate some camp food, and talked about old western novels in the middle of a very snowy vermont outdoors.

My local Bally’s always has a hodgepodge of magazines.

I can understand seeing The Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, and various gym equipment brochures. I can also see providing Us, In Touch, etc. for treadmill-reading.

It’s always mildly surprising to find a brand-new copy of Smithsonian, Harpers, or Foreign Policy on the rack.** I think other gym rats bring them in from home, as I can’t imagine really getting into a Russo-Sino trade piece as I’m sweating my way through a hill selection on the elliptical.

**And I’m ashamed to say, despite my SDMB membership, I almost always select the GOLF magazine on my way to the treadmill. :rolleyes:

Maybe because that was the book that was surreptiously passed around in 7th grade, with a lot of :eek: and :o among my set. Nowadays, now that I’ve been there, done that, I find run of the mill sex scenes in books boring. I skipped a lot of *Shelters of Stone * by Jean Auel because how many times can Jondalar and Ayla gush about throbbing manhoods and deep wells, but some of Judith Krantz’ writings I find…intriguing. :wink:

Last weekend, in the waiting area of the local quickie-lube, I spotted a copy of The Catcher in the Rye while waiting on my oil change. A couple of weeks prior, I had seen a copy of the same book in my dentist’s office. I’m a little worried.

I lent a friend my copy of The Satanic Bible. It is an interesting book. Well, he brought it with him when he brought his cat in to be examined. And he left the book in the waiting room. A few days later he called and told the receptionist. It had been sitting in the waiting room for a few days. Wonder how many people were wondering.

Now there’s an intriguing idea. Go around to public locations with waiting rooms, and leave copies of banned books, all the excellent ones that might offend, or might make people think instead.


Oddly enough - a LOT of the titles on this list are Newbery Award books, or by authors of Newbery Award books. Robert Cormier, Judy Blume, Louis Sachar, Madelaine L’Engle, and more.

I used to work as a library aide. When I was reshelving some music score books, out dropped a porn magazine from one volume.

Heh. Placing banned books with a gleeful chuckle: The Giddyons!

I work in an aged care facility. I sat through a meeting being continually distracted by a book on the bookshelf titled “Eminem”. Couldn’t wait to grab it - then found it was a romance novel entitled “Eminence” and the library call sticker was covering the last three letters. Bah.

Once, long ago, I stayed in a little bed-and-breakfast place in the wilds of England’s north-east urban sprawl. It was the kind of place that put up sales reps during the week and out-of-town families visiting for weekend weddings. Shabby, unpretentious, cheap.

They had a table on the landing near the bedrooms, and there were some books and magazines there for the use of the guests. The usual: Reader’s Digests, women’s magazines, car magazines, that sort of thing. And an excellent book about the history of the Grateful Dead.

Being a Deadhead at the time, and with less moral scruples than I have now, when I checked out the next morning that book was no longer there.

We have a bookcase at work with around 100 or so books covering a wide range. I’ve spent some time taking a look at the various titles and there are quite a few I intend to borrow when I get the time. Recently, however, a notice went up on the door stating that when one of our most senior bosses had been visiting he had found “adult material” in amongst our library.

They don’t state what kind of adult material it was so while it could just be porn mags it could also theoretically be something like Lady Chatterley. What annoys me is that even though I spent quite some time in there I never saw anything smutty. :frowning:

A book I have on the Ada programming language at the end lists some further reading, one of which of course is Ada by Vladimir Nabokov. It has nothing to do with the language but would look good amongst the programming books :slight_smile: