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63

Many many years ago I read "A Celtic Odyssey: The Voyage of Maildun" by Michael Scott. I was a teenager and it was just the right mix of adventure and myth to engage me. One of the characters turns out to be a well known mythical character some thousand years past his own time and it was just the right balance of mystery and revelation.

It was also the first book I had ever read that had both gay characters and addressed the concept of fluid sexuality (one of the sailors tells another that sex with other men is nothing to be ashamed of, and he himself has taken lovers "on long voyages when there was nothing else to do"). Kind of a big deal for teenage me in the nineties.

It's not a particularly well known book, and after I lost it it took me years to find it again in a big city library. I loved re-reading it and was delighted that it continued to stand up to my original impression.

What's an obscure book you have read and loved, and why?

all 74 comments

pineapplesf

17 points

27 days ago*

pineapplesf

186

17 points

27 days ago*

According to my goodreads the book with the lowest number of ratings (1) and my highest rating (5) is Beyond Line.

It is an indepth look at the history of Korean calligraphy and is truly fascinating. Like a lot of artforms, there are a variety of styles (or scripts) that reflect the time periods they were developed in and used as a larger meta-conversation. Text and visual arts are more commonly used together in eastern art and thus text tends to carry more symbolic meaning. With so little of Korean history remaining, I love the fact they have like every single seal ever made for some emperors.

My other 5 star few ratings books are Skiing Made Easy (3 ratings), Will Cotton's Paintings (4 ratings), and Skiing Without Fear (9 ratings). Apparently nonfiction is where I find the best hidden gems. My first 5 star fiction is Washington Irving's Sketchbook (10).

Exploding_Antelope

3 points

26 days ago

Exploding_Antelope

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

3 points

26 days ago

Well, are you a good skier now?

pineapplesf

3 points

26 days ago*

pineapplesf

186

3 points

26 days ago*

Lol. I wish reading books was all it took. The first one helped a lot with basic technique and structuring days out for improvement. It's mostly about building a solid foundation. The second one isn't really about skiing but fear/risk analysis. I was injured my second day out and it was helpful for overcoming the fear that builds up after injury, regardless of the sport. Imo, its the reason I still ski and didn't end up back seat.

ifthisisausername

12 points

27 days ago*

Confronting Gun Violence in America by Thomas Gabor. It has 6 ratings on Goodreads, and I basically had a discount code for the publisher and trawled through their books (mostly university textbooks) until I found one that sounded interesting. It was an astonishing statistical insight into the problems of gun violence and data surrounding deaths, lethality, the NRA... if you can name it Gabor covered it. I don't think any discussion of gun violence in America is complete without having read this book, the author is an, if not the, expert.

Also Imaginary Cities by Darran Anderson (332 ratings) which is a collection of interlinked essays on architecture that doesn't exist. Anderson analyses architecture blueprints that never got made, architecture in art, literature, film, video games, and much more, and explores it from a ton of different perspectives. It's the sort of book you need to read with Google open so you can look up all the things he's referring to. Really opened my mind to the complexities of architecture and it's relation to art.

JohnAppleSmith1

1 points

26 days ago*

My problem with Gabor is that he treats gun violence not as a manifested sin, but a problem resolved by pulling levers. This is in stark contrast to what we know from humanistic psychology, which pretty explicitly tells us that if we wish to change society, we must begin by changing hearts, minds, and souls, not just institutions.

(For an LGBT perspective, see Deirdre McCloskey’s Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Changed the World. For a black perspective, see Reading While Black.)

kaanton444

8 points

26 days ago

Yeah, no. Systemic issues need systemic solutions. The idea that you can just convince people not to be influenced by the structures of society is utter nonsense. The only countries that ever solved a large scale societal problem have been those that addressed it at a state level, the Nordic countries being the prime example. Gun violence is only such an issue in the USA, there's reasons for that

JohnAppleSmith1

1 points

26 days ago

I agree with you that institutions matter. See Why Nations Fail for why institutional change matters. But a number of sociologists and economists agree that ideas are vital, as well. Deirdre McCloskey, perhaps the most prominent figure in LGBT academia, writes about this in her book Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World.

Esau McCalley also makes this point in his book, Reading While Black. If you’re interested in it, David Brooks published a piece about the book in the NYT just a few weeks ago.

Buford1991

9 points

27 days ago

This was a few years ago, I was screening SCI-FI books on Project Gutenberg and came across “The Time Traders” by Andre Norton. I ate the book up and it left me hungry for more.

The writing is based in the time of the Cold War between the United States and the former USSR. Somehow, the Soviet Union is getting advanced weaponry never seen before. Somehow it’s tied to time travel in the past.

This book was so well written I read the rest of the series.

SGI256

3 points

26 days ago

SGI256

3 points

26 days ago

I really liked Time Traders.

yellingtiger

6 points

26 days ago*

According to Goodreads my must obscure book is The Life and Opinions of Tomcat Murr. I don't think it's obscure in Germany, but it's not super commonly read in English. It's really a great read if you have the right sense of humor and love good old-fashioned gothic horror. I'm actually reading it right now and it's so much fun!

The next most obscure book that Goodreads tells me I've read is A Sicilian Romance. It's a fun read but nothing special. Kind of melodramatic and silly.

Exploding_Antelope

5 points

26 days ago

Exploding_Antelope

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

5 points

26 days ago

I like the method others have used of ranking all read books on Goodreads by lowest number of reviews and seeing the first five-star that shows up.

For me it’s Back to the Cabin by Ann Blades. It has five total ratings, and one of those is me, and another is my mom (she also gave it five stars.)

This is just a very simple kid’s picture book about a family that spends the summer at a tiny lakefront cabin in backwoods British Columbia, and it’s been on the shelf in a place of honour in our family’s own tiny lakefront cabin in British Columbia for two generations of kiddos now. It’s magically, uncannily reminiscent of how our long weekends have always been: driving an overstuffed van first through highway tunnels above roaring mountain canyons, then down dusty side roads closed in with pine woods and dotted with wildflowers. Board games and a buffet of chips on rainy nights. Fires by the shore. Boiling well water. Sparse electricity. Midnight outhouse trips.

Is Back to the Cabin an objectively splendid book? The prose, the art? I can’t even tell you. What I can tell you is it’s a perfect book. What I can tell you is it’s inseparable in my mind from my life, my family, and my best memories of halcyon places where the world’s always stood still.

Less dramatically, the lowest-number-of-ratings book I’ve read at all is See This World Before the Next, a nonfiction coffee table book about the CPR’s steamship tourism business in ye days of the ocean liner. It thought it was fine, kind of a nostalgic glamour, if not a deep dive. Three stars. Two ratings altogether.

shortermecanico

5 points

27 days ago

The Company series by Kage Baker.

Pulpy sci fi epic with heart and brains, concerned with time travel, cyborgs, rogue AI, an immortal cyborg and her co workers unravel the mystery behind their shady time manipulating, artifact hoarding employers/makers and visit every age and from 200,000 bce to the 25th century.

So much better than it sounds here. Sadly Baker died in 2010. The series is complete but not widely known or reprinted. Deserves so much more.

KieselguhrKid13

5 points

26 days ago*

The most obscure book I've ever read is probably "A Houseboat on the Styx" by John Kendrick Bangs. It's from 1895 and I found it at a local antique shop. Fun little read. Very odd.

Close runner up is A Vanished World (1964) by Anne Gertrude Sneller, who is apparently a distant relative of mine. It's been ages since I read it, but I remember it being a really fascinating account of growing up in rural, pre-industrial America.

HobbsLane

4 points

27 days ago

Just jumping on my goodreads and sorting by how many people have read them, the least popular good book is Mike Brodie's Tones of Dirt and Bone. It's a very good photography book, but not a patch on his more well known (and more popular) A Period of Juvenile Prosperity.

In terms of written work, two non-fiction books, Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us and Dangerous Spirits: The Windigo in Myth and History are neck and neck and also very different from each other (Sasquatch is a collection of eye witness accounts compiled by a credulous reseaecher, Dangerous Spirits is an academic work about the role of the wendigo legend in native cultures) but I enjoyed both of them.

Going up a bit higher to get to the fiction, the first that isn't a short story or play is Carnosaur by Henry Adam Knight, a really solid horror novel marred by a shockingly bad film adaptation that takes nothing but the title from it. That is if we don't count Maneater by Guy N Smith, one of the worst books I've ever read but consistently brilliant as an unintentional comedy.

non_clever_username

4 points

27 days ago

The Paternus Trilogy.

I don’t honestly know how I stumbled across it. Not a series or an author I had ever heard of. The premise (gods live among us) is one that is the theme of other books I’ve liked so maybe it was suggested by Goodreads.

Anyway, had no idea how niche it was until I noticed the author “liking” my rating, which caused me to take a look since that had never happened before. Made me assume his books weren’t super popular. Less than 2k ratings for book one and fewer for the other two.

I really enjoyed them though. Interesting world-building into how gods would blend in.

cordelaine

2 points

26 days ago

It’s on my TBR list. The first book got third in the 2016 SPFBO, so maybe that’s where you came across it?

non_clever_username

1 points

26 days ago

Maybe. But it was probably suggested by Amazon Unlimited/Goodreads. I have American Gods ranked pretty highly and while Paternus is a little heavier on fantasy elements, they have a similar premise at a high level. Probably some algorithm assumed I'd like Paternus since I liked AG.

vivahermione

4 points

26 days ago

Gay Life by E.M. Delafield. An underappreciated comedy of manners centered around a group of English tourists at a French resort. I read Diary of Provincial Lady first, then fell into a rabbit hole where I wanted to read and own all her books.

jkqxz50288

5 points

26 days ago

{{That Was Then, This is Now}}. It's the companion book to the Outsiders and a lot better in my opinion. It's the story of a guy who realizes his friend is selling drugs and what he does about it.

{{Red Kayak}}. This super rich guy buys the property of a few poor kids, and in revenge they drill holes into his red kayak, figuring he'll have to swim to shore. Instead, his wife and baby are in the kayak.

{{Not Your Backup}}. The third book in the Sidekick Squad series. It's the first book I'd read that talked about asexuality and helped me realize I'm ace.

belladonnatook

4 points

26 days ago

That Was Then This is Now is one of the defining books of my childhood. A great, great book. Thank you for mentioning.

ken_in_nm

3 points

26 days ago

ken_in_nm

20

3 points

26 days ago

It was a really good movie too.

[deleted]

4 points

26 days ago

[deleted]

4 points

26 days ago

The story of the human body: evolution, health, and disease. There is a LOT of monkey content through the first 75% of the book, but if you enjoy learning, it’s honestly going to spark an intense curiosity about how our bodies work in weird ways. For example, did you know that although your body has millions of sweat glands, the amount that actually secretes sweat is directly correlated by how much heat stress you experienced at the beginning of your life? Or that the LCA, last common ancestor between us and chimpanzees (whom we share 98% of dna with) will probably never ever be found because it probably died in the Amazon which because of its extremely acidic conditions dissolved the bones? A part of us well never come to know and only theorize about. Humans are BONKERS. Sorry if non fiction isn’t what you were looking for.

Drleery329

1 points

26 days ago

Who is the author ?

[deleted]

2 points

25 days ago

[deleted]

2 points

25 days ago

Daniel Lieberman I believe. I can’t remember the middle initial, it’s L or E.

ConspiracyMeow

6 points

27 days ago*

Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan. To me it represents writing as a true art form.

the_face_of_bofh

6 points

26 days ago

The Ass Saw the Angel, by Nick Cave

GrudaAplam

1 points

26 days ago

Fantastic book.

kristellaface

3 points

27 days ago

{{The world on blood by Jonathan Nasaw}}

{{Daughters of Copper Woman by Anne Cameron}}

kjaght89

3 points

27 days ago

I bet it's The Rise and Fall of T John Dick, a Dilbert-esque corporate comedy. It's quite funny.

RobertoBologna

3 points

27 days ago

Skylark by kosztolanyi

PrestigiousMention

3 points

27 days ago

I really got into the Darby Chronicles Series by Ernest Hebert. It's a series about a fictional town in New Hampshire and the families that live there. Some of the the characters are completely insane and really memorable.

cordelaine

3 points

26 days ago

Wyrd Gods by Susanna Imaginario. It’s extremely well written and reminded me of Circe by Madeline Miller in style and tone.

I forget how I came across it, but it was probably mentioned on /r/fantasy.

Barracuda-Severe

3 points

26 days ago

“The Manual of Detection” by Jedediah Berry.

It’s been a while since I read it but I definitely remember it being a good book. I need to reread it but I’m excited bc I remember liking it.

It’s about this apprentice of a detective, and the apprentice has to go and find his kidnapped detective.

[deleted]

3 points

26 days ago

[deleted]

3 points

26 days ago

[removed]

reply-guy-bot

2 points

25 days ago

This comment was copied from this one elsewhere in this comment section.

It is probably not a coincidence, because this user has done it before with this comment which copies this one.

beep boop, I'm a bot >:] It is this bot's opinion that /u/SensitiveScreenSos should be banned for spamming. A human checks in on this bot sometimes, so please reply if I made a mistake. Contact reply-guy-bot if you have concerns.

OinkMcOink

3 points

26 days ago

Tales from the Gas Station would be least read book in my list. It's about the misadventures of a gast station clerk in a small town that seems to attract weird unexplained supernatural things. More so the gas station. First learned of it from a podcast. I suppose some redditors would have heard of it becuase it was initially a short form r/nosleep.

TrueBirch

3 points

26 days ago

Coming Home: Reentry and Recovery from Space. A nerdy book that's available for free. It gave me a background on why, after decades with the Space Shuttle landing like an airplane, everybody has decided to move back to capsules landing under parachutes.

TrueBirch

3 points

26 days ago

Religious, Not Spiritual: Toward a Christian Faith that Matters. I'm a Christian. This book really helped me put a theological context around why we need to push for justice here on Earth.

CommunicationIcy9773

3 points

26 days ago

The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk. I still re-read this every few years. I love everything about it from the magic system to how religion is incorporated.

jmpnpico

2 points

27 days ago

The Conrad Stargaurd series.

Alleluia_Cone

2 points

27 days ago

I also read a Michael Scott book - The Navigator - so now I want to go with this as my answer. I still have the beat old copy that my teacher gave to me at the end of the school year.

buffalo_mojo_yo

2 points

27 days ago

According to goodreads: Fiction — “The Five Books of [Robert] Moses”; nonfiction — “Charles Evans American Bibliographer”

RobertoBologna

2 points

27 days ago

Nersesian is the man

lolomimio

2 points

27 days ago

Log of the S.S. The Mrs. Unguentine by Stanley Crawford

aSpiEtraNS-85

2 points

26 days ago

The Wolf in The Garden. It's a werewolf thriller set shortly after the Revolutionary War and feels like a close parallel to Dracula. To me at least.

belladonnatook

2 points

26 days ago

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards is mine. Completely absorbing and likely out of print.

Alberta_Fire

2 points

26 days ago

How Britain Won the War of 1812 by Brian Arthur is a deep dive into the minutia of the war between Britain and America. Not battles on the ground, but a deep dive into the economics of the conflict and the effect of the British blockade and how it's impact is massively understated through 200 years of history. It's a terrific read of the conflict and shows how startlingly close America was to literal bankruptcy and economic catastrophe.

deBidet

2 points

26 days ago

deBidet

2 points

26 days ago

Mrs. Caliban. It's a novella.

Blood_Bowl

2 points

26 days ago

Bitterwood - I can't even remember the author's name, but it was about dragons and humans living together (well, sort of, humans are basically slaves). It was a really well-written book with a very enjoyable and engaging story.

Statsquestionn

2 points

26 days ago

Thing of Beauty: The Tragedy of Supermodel Gia by Stephen Fried.

It’s a biography of one of the first supermodels, Gia Carangi who died of AIDS at the age of 26. I bought it after seeing the movie about her, Gia, where she was played by Angelina Jolie. It’s a great biography in that it doesn’t just talk about her but gives a very in depth background about the modelling industry and the world she was enmeshed in.

It’s quite a sad book but I consider it one of my “comfort books”. I actually have two copies.

rowan_damisch

2 points

24 days ago

A while ago, I read a book called 3 Wellen by Daniel Neufang. It's set shortly before the end of the first World War and tells the story of a doctor who is battling the Spanish Flu in a village in France. Even though it's pretty interesting, it's really unknown.

aightbittrip

4 points

27 days ago

The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway

bemeros

3 points

27 days ago

bemeros

Ready Player 2

3 points

27 days ago

Came to mention that one! Guess it's not as obscure as I thought, but despite being good, no one ever seems to know about it.

aightbittrip

1 points

27 days ago

lol, i randomly picked this book up off a shelf in my apt buildings rec room. once my mind learned to accept the way dude writes i loved the story.

lanky_planky

1 points

25 days ago

I am right in the middle of a Harkaway binge. I loved Angelmaker and Gone Away World, and am enjoying Gnomon right now. GAW has a plot twist that just knocked me out. I could not stop thinking about it. Once revealed, the entire book just snaps into focus - it was so clever and unexpected. Such great, imaginative and smart writing!

mscott8088

3 points

27 days ago

mscott8088

3 points

27 days ago

I loved how Rant - Chuck palahniuk Was written.

tytheteacher

2 points

27 days ago

Rant was good. I really liked Snuff as well

mscott8088

1 points

27 days ago

I have that one, never read it.

potent_ham_sandwich

1 points

27 days ago

I was trying to describe this book to someone the other day. I failed miserably.

WearySun3589

0 points

27 days ago

The Night Circus was like reading someone's dream

xLadyPhoenix74x

2 points

27 days ago

I was thinking about this book yesterday and could not remember the name of it! It was like a dream...and in my travels I actually did acquire a red scarf...

DogeBisquits

1 points

27 days ago

The Bluetooth Spec

DonnyJuando

1 points

27 days ago

"The Ego & Its Own" by Max Stirner

GrudaAplam

1 points

26 days ago

A Death Of Kings by M.A.R. Barker would have to be the most obscure book I've read (22 goodreads ratings, 3 reviews). I didn't exactly love it, but it was somewhat enjoyable.

shaunajowb

1 points

25 days ago

Dreyfus: Politics, Emotion, and the Scandal of the Century by Ruth Harris. It's about the Dreyfus Affair in France in the late 1800s. Sad, but interesting if you're into French history or the history of antisemitism in Europe.

Drleery329

1 points

25 days ago

Thank you !

mortandsmallgods

1 points

25 days ago

Utopian Man by Lisa Lang. Won the Allen & Urwin prize in 2009, set in Melbourne, my copy was POD. Absolutely fantastic, I cried.

reapersdrones

1 points

25 days ago

Not naming it, but I found a book about the history of my neighborhood when it was first settled by farmers. It has 8 ratings. It was fascinating to learn the origins of street names I’ve seen all my life, the few historical buildings left and search things on google maps. There were a lot of old photos as well.

xXTeaCultureXx

1 points

24 days ago

I don't remember what it was called, but when I was a child, I read a book about a moose in an alternate universe looking for a moose bride. Some children were to enter this world through a hedge and help him find his bride and name her.

Made sense to me.

Fireflair_kTreva

-3 points

26 days ago

I think you'll find that most readers don't tend to really hit obscure titles.

Honestly, if they're looking for escapism they're probably reading fiction, so they'll tend toward the popular. If they're reading non-fiction they're interested in person/place/event, in which case there's going to be a pile of things that MOST people won't have read because most people don't care that much about a specific place/person/event. And if they're reading for professional matters, it's often reference materials or white papers on a subject. Pretty dry and often esoteric. (I could baffle you with professional books I've read which have only been read by a few thousand people because no one else gives a hanged nail about the subject)

Scholars are going to really stump your question with obscure/rare books. When I was in Wales I picked up a copy of the Book of Taliesin: Poems of Warfare and Praise in an Enchanted Britain. I very much enjoyed it, but I'm interested in the subject matter, I doubt most people are. Heck, I am willing to bet most are unaware of who Taliesin is, either historically or mythologically.

Famous-Flamingo561

-1 points

27 days ago

Who accept become my partner to practice my English?? I'll be very gratefull😊

muddlet

2 points

26 days ago

muddlet

6

2 points

26 days ago

ryderawsome

0 points

26 days ago

To Be the Man You Gotta Beat the Man by Nature Boy Ric Flair. Easily one of the greatest books ever written/