A Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith and Weedon Grossmith (1892)

My unabashed love for this little book will be hard to explain. The book itself is a lowkey slice-of-life novel based in the 1890’s written as a diary. Each chapter collects almost a weeks worth of entries in the dull life of Charles Pooter. We hear about his many awkward moments and wait patiently for his rare, polite anger. Attempting to read this monotonous comedy in one sitting will just create an excess of snores. A chapter or two a day will make you crack a smile. In other words, consume this diary like an IV instead of shot.

Charles Pooter and his wife Caroline live a quiet homely life in the suburb of Holloway. They don’t worry about the world’s big problems. Instead, they might play dominoes in the evening after a simple dinner. Or he may complain about his job as a city clerk. Or they may worry of the future of their son, Lupin. In between these everyday occurrences, little coincidences will make you smile. Start your own journal after reading A Diary of a Nobody.

 

free audiobook download: https://librivox.org/the-diary-of-a-nobody-by-george-weedon-grossmith

free ebook download: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1026

 

The Clock Strikes Thirteen by Mildred A. Wirt (1942)

Penny Parker and her friends are fun to be around. She gets into trouble, trouble and more trouble. Reading about quick witted teenage sleuths is always a level of wish fulfillment for me. I wanted for a few years to be a similar adventurous detective and fantasized constantly about my exploits. This series scratches that itch perfectly.

This time we find Penny tugged into a complex case by the most innocent of means. Driving home at midnight she hears the clock chime thirteen times. Amused by the oddity Penny asks her father if he’s heard the odd number. Instead of confirmation, he laughs at the silly pronouncement. Penny is adamant and goes out of her way to prove her dad wrong. In the process, the Parker family bumps into a criminal ring and searches for answers. Eat some melon and listen until The Clock Strikes Thirteen.

 

free ebook download: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/34403

free audiobook download: https://librivox.org/the-clock-strikes-thirteen-by-mildred-a-wirt-benson/

Behind the Green Door by Mildred A. Wirt (1940)

Sometimes books feel new and exciting. This book instead felt familiar and homely like drinking hot cocoa on a winter day under a warm blanket. I’m reminded of walking the two blocks from elementary school to the public library. Ignoring the new books and magazines, I would walk to a bookshelf filled completely with Hardy Boys mysteries. Burrowing two or three every visit I managed to read more than fifty different blue bound adventures over the course of my childhood. This story felt familiar because it features fearless teenage sleuth and is written in the vein of the Nancy Drew Mysteries. In fact, Mildred A. Wirt was the original ghost writer of the Nancy Drew series back in the thirties. On a sick day spent in bed, this was a warm reminder of days gone by.

Penny Parker was hoping to travel to Pine Top for a fun family skiing vacation. Those plans go up in smoke when her father’s newspaper gets sued for libel. Instead Penny flies up to Pine Top by herself and learns that her friends lodge is being pushed out of business by the new hotel in town. The ski vacation becomes more interesting when she learns that there may be a connection between the hotel and the man who sued her father’s newspaper. The clues to the mystery will be found Behind the Green Door.

 

free ebook download: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/34592

free audiobook download: https://librivox.org/behind-the-green-door-by-mildred-a-wirt-benson/

Supermind by Mark Phillips (1963)

(Note: This is the final book in the series. First read Brain Twister.)

This writing partnership crafts incredibly snarky dialogue. Each character is like a stand up comic riffing on everything and anything happening around them. There are plenty of exciting things to riff on from teleportation to telepathy to an international conspiracy. This book has it all. When I finished reading the last chapter, I felt a little sad as if I was saying goodbye to an old friend. Funny little books like this one leave me undecided. Do I reserve my highest praise for the “classics” or do I speak highly of the unusual books that I just can’t put down? In the end, I think there is a place for a wacky sci-fi book like this one that doesn’t ask the big questions but enchants me with amusing characters, bizarre situations and witty dialogue.

Kenneth J. Malone has tackled telepathic spies and teleporting thieves but this is his hardest test yet. He is tasked with finding out who or what is causing inefficiencies in the government. Not the normal bureaucratic inefficiency. A new unusual phenomenon that seems to be affecting all levels of government. How do you find something that you can’t name and you don’t understand? Follow Malone as he tries to answer these tough questions and detect the Supermind.

 

free ebook download: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/22342

free audiobook download: https://librivox.org/supermind-by-laurence-m-janifer/

Brain Twister by Mark Phillips (1962)

Have you ever purchased a soda from a vending machine and two popped out? This book is a similar sweet surprise. I acknowledge that I’m not well read but it still took me unawares when I realized that this was a sci-fi humor novel instead of the assumed sci-fi action thriller. Is sci-fi humor a thriving sub genre that falls through the cracks not fitting into either the sci-fi or humor bookshelves at the store? The world needs more genre bending books even if a large portion feel half baked and end up falling flat. I always applaud the courage needed to try something different. Brain Twister does not fall flat. Instead it is positively enchanting and singularly hilarious. Fans of witty dialogue will enjoy this book immensely.

Kenneth J. Malone wakes up early to the ringing of his phone. His boss, the head of the FBI, tells him its an emergency. The emergency is unusual. A telepath is reading the minds of the scientists at a top secret government research facility and Malone is on the case. First, he must answer a series of difficult and absurd questions. How did we detect the telepath? How do we find the telepath? How do we stop the telepath? To answer these questions Malone is pulled all  across the US with hilarious results. You must be this tall to read Brain Twister.

 

free audiobook download: https://librivox.org/brain-twister-by-mark-phillips/

free ebook download: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/22332

Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley (1917)

Greater minds have mused that books are like windows into foreign worlds. A good book can therefore make you love anything from bicycling to sailing. Fewer books renew your love of literature itself. Parnassus on Wheels describes the culture and romance of reading better than many a teacher.

Helen McGill is tired of doing housework for her ungracious author of a brother. When she gets the chance to have a literary adventure of her own, she doesn’t miss the opportunity. The professor sells Parnassus on Wheels, a makeshift bookshop on a wagon, to Ms. McGill sending her off on a fun literary adventure. Gather a crowd and sell some books from Parnassus on Wheels.

 

free audiobook download: https://librivox.org/parnassus-on-wheels-by-christopher-morley

free ebook download: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/5311

The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allen Poe (1841)

After much unreasonable waiting, I’ve finally absorbed one of the first modern detective stories. The murderous adventure and analytical characters hold up quite well through all these years. What a different place the world was in 1841? How Poe came up with this murder is beyond me? The ending still comes out of left field. If you enjoyed this story, take a look inside The Confessions of Arsene Lupin for a fitting tribute.

C. Auguste Dupin is a man possessing great analytical skill. Through small clues and conjecture he can almost read minds. In the time honored tradition you follow this quick thinking french man as he attempts to solve The Murders in the Rue Morgue.

 

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Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life by Herman Melville (1846)

This book seems unusual for the time when it was written. Inside the author writes scathingly of missionaries destructive influence on the Polynesian islands. Tales of woe and toil are contrasted with the happy carefree life the natives of Nuku Hiva regularly enjoy. While I don’t believe in the existence of tropical paradise, a book describing the negative results of western influence was refreshing. The story alternates between perilous action and soothing scenery resulting in a pleasant island vacation. Don’t believe everything written in these pages. Typee is confirmed to be a half-truthful collection of autobiographical adventure and fictional ramblings.

Two unhappy sailors are marooned upon an unending voyage. The captain knowing that supplies are running low decides to land at Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas Islands. These two melancholy seamen seize there chance to escape from the tiresome and monotonous whaling journey. On a rainy day, they sneak away from their comrades and scale the mountains. Over these mountains, the two men find adventure and the cannibal tribe of Typee. Jump into the wilderness by reading Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life.

 

free audiobook download: https://librivox.org/typee-by-herman-melville/

free ebook download: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1900

The Camera Fiend by E.W. Hornung (1911)

We’ve all seen things out of the corners of our eyes that required a double take. Is a person standing in the moonlit hall? No, that’s just the coat rack with my leather jacket hanging at a confusing angle. Is that leaf floating in mid air? No, only a leaf caught in a spider web. This book is a treat that first looks average and tastes completely different once you bite into it. I’m reminded of painters who aggressively slosh paint on canvas in a haphazard manner creating what appears to be abstract art. After a few minutes, the artist flips the canvas around to reveal some famous face. A cute little trick that makes the whole story worthwhile.

You follow the sickly Pocket Upton on a regular jaunt down to London to see the asthma specialist. After the doctor lectures him against him smoking, he is given two bottles of medicine in exchange for the special asthma cigarettes Pocket uses daily. Pocket walks from the doctor’s office knowing that he has the choice of two places to stay the night. Each rejects him meanly leaving a 16 year old asthmatic boy alone without a bed in the heart of London. Follow Pocket as he bumbles in and out of trouble in The Camera Fiend.

 

free ebook download: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/30096

free audiobook download: https://librivox.org/the-camera-fiend-by-e-w-hornung/

Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases by Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1892)

This leaflet is a chilling reminder of America’s past when lynchings were commonplace. The author cited multiple newspaper articles that apologized for and encouraged the lynchings without trial. The unethical press distorted the facts to reinforce the 19th century beliefs of black inferiority and barbarism. To make matters worse black newspapers were pushed out of business for publishing articles condemning the unfair lynchings. The darkest point comes at the end when the author suggested that every black man should own a Winchester rifle to protect himself from the police and the lynching mobs. She cited multiple cases where the only reason an accused black man had a fair trial was by some desperate act of self defense. Learn from history by reading Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases.

 

free audiobook download: https://librivox.org/southern-horrors-by-ida-b-wells/

free ebook download: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/14975