I was prompted to get back to this too-long-neglected blog by a friend’s posting on Facebook, a link to a site called Awful Library Books. It has an amusing selection of truly odd titles that were actually found in real libraries.
Good books tend to survive, one way or another, but unfortunately bad ones do too. Often they’re just forgotten, but they do reappear at yard sales, in thrift stores, in used bookstores, and in dusty corners of people’s houses. And, judging by Awful Library Books, some linger on library shelves despite being outdated or just plain silly.
Some bad books are so bad they’re funny. Some are loathsome. Others, especially books you enjoyed uncritically as a child, seem clumsily written and just plain uninteresting when you come back to them as an adult (apologies to anyone who still likes reading the old Nancy Drew books).
I’ve got a few Awful Examples on my own shelves. The thing is, once they’re on the bookshelf they tend to stay there. Where else would they go? Who’d want them? Besides, I maintain a certain affection for some of these books.
There’s one called Freddy the Fox, which has been around since I was five. It survived several years in my parents’ garage, the pages are stained and it still smells a bit. The story is not particularly interesting; it has neither the whimsy of Winnie the Pooh nor the musical language of Margaret Wise Brown’s books, but I keep it because it was with this book that I learned to read. So, although some books have come and gone, this one’s going to stay for now.