Thursday, July 23, 2009

Weird Books I've Loved

I like to say that I love books of all kinds, though that's not strictly true. There was a time, however, when it almost was, when I was little and covetted the most bizarre volumes. Books I'd snobbishly deem unworthy of capital-B Bookishness if I was consulted now. But then, oh. My library contained numerous books such as Mysteries of the Unexplained ("How ordinary men and weomen have experienced the Strange, the Uncanny and the Incredible"). I was obsessed with these books, and they always had photos of "ghosts" on staircases, and even kind of looked like ghosts if you just squint your eyes a bit (and otherwise they looked like a white glare). Also stories of children as reincarnated witches, and green children discovered living alone in the countryside.

I also had a book that explained the meaning of one's dreams. I'd covetted this, hoping that the underlying theme of all my dreams would turn out to be, "You're going to have a boyfriend one day". I think my book was a Dream Dictionary, alphabetical, of course. With entries like, "Dreams of unicorns symbolize a longing for an idyllic age", or perhaps something that makes even less sense, like "Unicorn dreams mean you're worried about rain." Trouble was, I never dreamed of unicorns, or anything else that could be alphabetized. And I never really needed a dictionary to decode the fact that perpetually dreaming of being chased by outsized dogs might mean acute anxiety.

I also had a baby name book. This was long before babies were a remote possibility (though don't think I didn't go through the entire volume to figure out the perfect first and second names for each of my four (!) future children. I think that was around the time I wanted to name my kids Bianca). I really did read the whole thing multiple times, and I'm still not sure what the attraction was. How helpful was it really to know that Margaret meant "pearl"? Name meanings are about as helpful as dream analysis. But I might only think this because my name is a kind of terrier.