What are the best (obscure) books?

You must not say anything that everyone has read. (amples: Old Yeller, Jurassic Park)

Here are mine:

Hitchiker’s Guide Series
The Dig (a must read…VERY good)
Dinotopia Lost
X-Wing Rogue Squadron Series
Starship Troopers (the movie butchered it)
Ender’s Game
Tunnel in the Sky

"No job’s too small, we bomb them all."
-Ace Wrecking Company

Not to be too picky (just picky enough), but which of those books or series do you find obscure? They are heavily tilted to SF and Space Opera, so I suppose a person who read exclusively bodice-rippers or detective yarns might not be aware of them, but only the Star Wars spin-off comes close to being obscure among readers of mainsteam fiction, the SF/Space Opera bias notwithstanding.


Omigosh, OK. Here’s some you can only find in thrift shops, and you’ll have to look hard:

Anything by Tiffany Thayer (13 Women, 13 Men, Call Her Savage, etc.). He wrote great tawdry potboilers in the early '30s. Makes James M. Cain look like a Sunday-school boy.

Sorrows of a Showgirl (1908). Hilarious “diary” of a cheap NY showgirl.

Anything by J.P. McEvoy (Show Girl, Hollywood Girl, Society). He wrote about a Lorelei Lee-type character named Dixie Dugan. A scream!

Vile Bodies, by Evelyn Waugh. My fave Waugh book–funny and creepy at the same time.

Milt Gross. An aquired taste–Yiddish immigrant humor, with cartoons. You’ll either love it or hate it.

Patrick Dennis’ Little Me. A total hoot.

The best would have to be Birchism Was My Business by Gerald Schomp.His former life as a JohnBirch member.Totally funny.

“Things Fall Apart”
“The Jungle Is Neutral”
“Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge” (even though Carlos Castenadas was discredited by some, this is still a good read)
“The Crucible”
“Left Behind”

One totally fantastic book that I think is often overlooked because it’s considered a children’s book is “The Westing Game” (I think that author’s name is Ellen Raskin). There’s no way that kids get all the hidden allusions in that book. An amusing and engaging story, with many, many surprises.

Chaim Mattis Keller

“Sherlock Holmes once said that once you have eliminated the
impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be
the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible.
The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it that the merely improbable lacks.”
– Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective

Anything by H. Allen Smith

There are so many obscure but good books… I don’t know where to start!

Anything by David Foster Wallace (just because that’s the last thing I read)

MM Kaye’s “The Ordinary Princess” (out of print now I think, sadly - great kid’s book)

“A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver” forget the author, again, great kid’s book

“Nobody’s Son” by Sean Stewart

…many, many more. I’ll keep check this thread, I’m sure other people will post stuff that’ll jog my memory.

A Confederacy Of Dunces
by John K. Toole

TennHippie: That’s a great book. Hard to find, though. Don’t know if Amazon.com offers it. My copy was published by LSU. “What I’m gonna do with that boy?”

Just checked - Amazon.com not only has this book, it is in the auction section right now!

Since I don’t consider the list in the OP to be in the least bit obscure, I’ll give you some examples of some great obscure science fiction.

The 20 or 30 novels of Clifford Simak. For some reason his books have been totally unavailable since his death 10 years ago.

The many novels of H. Beam Piper. His books had a short revival after George Lucas ripped off his Fuzzys for use in Return of the Jedi in 1982, but have long since disappered from bookstores.

Novels by the great Chad Oliver.

If you spot any of these authors in used bookstores, grab them. These are stories from a time before the genre was taken over by Klingons, Wookies, Cyberpunk anti-heros, and countless series that people like Larry Niven are too lazy to write themselves anymore.

A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver was written by E. L. Konigsberg, who also wrote the equally awesome From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. If you missed these in your childhood, read them NOW!

I loved From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler! I grew up in New York City, and I always thought it would be cool to live in the Metropolitan Museum.

Another book that may be obscure (most people I know have never heard of it) is Watership Down by Richard (no relation to Cecil OR Douglas, as far as I know) Adams. Any description would be inadequate, but I can tell you right off that it has nothing to do with boats.

It’s a book that can be enjoyed by kids & adults, although I didn’t get most of it the first time I read it (I was 12). When I went back and re-read it in college, though, it was amazing.

The Cat In The Hat

CatinHat, where do you live that “Watership Down” is obscure? I feel sorry for wherever it is! They’re really missing out.

If you’re interested in non-fiction here are two of my favs:

Science and Sanity : an Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics
by Alfred Korzybski

Democracy in America
by Alexis De Tocqueville

Oh, and I nearly forgot–Henri Murger’s Tales of the Latin Quarter. It’s much lighter than La Boheme (which was based on it).

And if you like real good trash, try anything by Elinor Glyn, the Jackie Collins of the 1910s and '20s. An actual GOOD writer who is unjustly forgotten today is Booth Tarkington–you can still find a lot of his books in the library.

If you’re talking Sci-Fi
Radix (can’t remember the author)
The Chandalara<sp> Cycle (can’t remember the author)
A canticle for Liebowitz
Manifest Destiny
Anything by Robert E. Howard…original Conan…not all the crap which has since sprung up in it’s place.
Anything by H.P. Lovecraft…not books written by his friend the hack August Derleth.
I always liked Keith Laumer’s Retief series.

That’s my nickels worth.

If poetry is your thing, I recommend Seamus Heaney (the poet laurete of Ireland, I think) and Starkey Flythe (who once edited Saturday Evening Post). Flythe is hard to come by, but he’s so great. Some of this fiction is in the Greatest American Short Stories of <year> series. I don’t remember which editions, though. . . I think sometime in the late 80s.

Maybe I just live in the most uneducated and ignorant part of the planet (wait, I already knew that). Those books are obscure TO ME, because absolutely nobody here besides my friends and a few intellectual adults have even heard of Heinlein, Douglas Adams, etc.

"No job’s too small, we bomb them all."
-Ace Wrecking Company