Recommend a Delightful, Old, Forgotten Book

My thread on an old sci-fi book I had read as a kid got me feeling a little bit nostalgic about books. Around the time I was in 5th grade I really started to love to read. I would read almost anything on a subject that interested me. I was too young to recognize what made a “good” book, so I read alot of old, obscure, stuff from my school and town libraries. Some of these books, I’m pretty sure I’m one of the few people who actually remembers them.

So lets here your recommendations. What are some delightful old books that you have read. They don’t have to be particularly good, just ones that you enjoyed for whatever reason, that would otherwise be relegated to the dustbins of history.
My nomination: Treasure Hunting Around the World by Thomas Helm. The author was pretty good, but definitely indulged in some tall tale telling. He claimed to have at one time found a treasure at the bottom of a waterfall on a deserted Carribbean Isle, met someone who discovered a huge cache of hidden Aztec gold in the S. American rainforest when his plane crashed there but now couldn’t relocate it, and, best of all, eaten dinner with what he hinted to be the ghost of the Lost Duchman when he was searching for the mine of the same name in Arizona. As incredulous as his claims were, he told a good story, at least thats the way I remember it. :smiley: His stories, among others, made me want to be a treasure hunter for a while as a kid; and I’ll probably never completely shake that desire.

Thanks to the internet, I’m off to order my used copy.

Emergence by Robert Palmer. So fun and amusing, and no one’s read it but me!

Not completely forgotten, but old and delightful: Miss Pym Disposes, by Josephine Tey.

Maybe not so old, but it feels old – The Book of Ebenezer Le Page by G. B. Edwards.

From Amazon (because I suck at describing books):

Ebenezer Le Page, a man of the Channel 4 Islands, tells his story from the moment we meet him; in mid sentence, we are spellbound. He is funny and contrary with a furious, loving attachment to the past and an old man’s querulousness towards the now. His is a life crammed rich with family quarrels, tragedies, and neighboring feuds that reach across generations and between sexes. A remarkable creation, this is a hypnotic story of enduring friendships and sorrows, joys and loves, kinships and animosities, a brilliant and intricate novel - a classic.

Very little is known about G.B. EDWARDS, a professor of literature and drama in England, born in 1899 on the Island of Guernsey. His friends were a diverse group including John Middleton Murray, Frieda and D.H. Lawrence, Tagore and Annie Besant. Edwards’s manuscript, found among his papers after his death, is his only known book.

The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death by Daniel Pinkwater.

No way to describe it, except to say that Pinkwater is a genius. I bought this book off ebay a few years back and I still enjoyed it as much as I did when I was a kid. Where to begin? Winston Bongo and Walter Galt meeting each other? Beanbender’s Beer Garden? Rat’s sound system? The world famous detective and the master criminal? The Mighty Gorilla? The Snark theater?

This is no ordinary children’s book. When Pinkwater describes the Science Notebooks that all the children must do, he utterly skewered everything I hated about school. Naturally, I was captivated.

What a great book. I highly recommend it. Now, I’m off to reread my copy!

And herThe Daughter of Time–in fact, ANY Tey is good Tey.
how about Trollope–The Warden and Barchester Towers–not as wordy as Dickens and a whole lot funnier.

Agreed. Brat Farrar is probably my favorite, but I know that it’s a little more hit or miss with some readers. Tey is really really good, though.

Read it. Hated it.

James Thurber is still known for his humorous stories and cartoons, but he also wrote some uniquely whimsical fantasies. I remember one called The Thirteen Clocks.

The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley. Published in 1919, it’s a light comedy, a love letter to bookselling and a mystery. I think it qualifies as delightful, old and (more or less) forgotten.

Mr. Morley’s views on bookselling make him almost a saint, IMO. When I worked as a bookseller I would read it periodically to stave off wageslave despair. You can read it on-line, but buy it instead. Then you can hold it in your hands, smudge the pages, put in on your shelf and dust it off now and then. I think that would’ve made Mr. Morley happier.

Anything Can Happen is a funny book that inevitably cheers me up and make me glad I’m an American.

Mine too! Although The Man in the Queue is also good…Heck, I love 'em all. To Love and Be Wise is a bit weaker, but still a decent read.

I second Thurber. Or Dorothy Parker.

I was gonna mention that, I’ll have you know.

Just for that, I’m going to slit you from your guggle to your zatch, and feed you to the Todal. :slight_smile:

  1. Max Ehrlich, he being most well-known for The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, wrote a book circa Kennedy administration titled The Big Eye. Phenomenally good.

  2. Otfried Preussler, The Satanic Mill. Sent it to all the same folks who would read Harry Potter. Juvenile fiction, but fine for adults.

  3. Alan E. Nourse, whose books sadly do NOT occupy the N section in the sci fi aisle. Pretty much all of them, but particularly worthy of mention = The Universe Between and The Mercy Men

  4. At least one generation, maybe two, has come along since Marilyn French wrote The Women’s Room.

  5. And a nonfiction entry, John Holt’s How Children Fail. This little book sent shock waves through the world of education. 45 years later it’s still compellingly good reading — and deliciously cant-put-it-down well-written prose by the way.

Yes, it was! Amazon has the pub date as 1949. I’ll bet you read it in the early 60’s. That’s when I found it.

Oh Ye Jigs & Juleps! by Virginia Cary Hudson.

If you read slow, it’ll take you 30 minutes, if you read fast, 10. All of 50 pages, and if you aren’t religious, it’s still funny.


Read it, loved it. Re-read it fairly often.
For early enjoyment, I still recommend Caves of Steel by Asimov.

The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden is one of my top five favorite books; it’s a longish children’s story. If you can get the version with Barbara Cooney’s illustrations, that’s best.

“The Twenty-One Balloons” by William Pene Du Bois

Written at about a Grade 6 level, it is the story of an explorer who lands on the island of Krakatoa just prior to the famous 1883 explosion. Surprisingly, there is a sophisticated and worldly society that has secretly rooted there. The story relates their amazing secrets of technology, political sociology as well as the stunning wealth of the diamond caves under Krakatoa.

This book was the trigger for my life-long love of science-fiction, geography, sociology and history.

Here’s a couple of good children’s fantasies:

The Land of Green Ginger by Noel Langley
The Chronicles of Pantouflia by Andrew Lang

Doctor Who writes:

> The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death by Daniel Pinkwater

Also, read the sequel The Snarkout Boys and the Baconsburg Horror. I also recommend his books Borgel and Lizard Music. I’m right now reading his The Education of Robert Nifkin, which looks like it’s going to be great too.

Baldwin writes:

> James Thurber is still known for his humorous stories and cartoons, but he also
> wrote some uniquely whimsical fantasies. I remember one called The Thirteen
> Clocks.

There’s also his fantasies The Wonderful O, The Great Quillow, and The White Deer.

For something of a little greater length, there’s the Green Knowe series by L. M. Boston:

The Children of Green Knowe
The Treasure of Green Knowe
The River at Green Knowe
A Stranger at Green Knowe
An Enemy at Green Knowe
The Stones of Green Knowe

Two of my favorite books as a kid were Quest of the Snow Leopard, describing a museum expedition to collect animals in China, and The Indians of New Jersey: Dickon Among the Lenapes, which is edutainment about Indian culture.