Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Stupid Books That I Have Read and Forgotten but Would Totally Read Again (Despite the Fact That They Are, As I've Already Mentioned, Stupid)

Apropos of nothing... oh, no, the nerds are rioting! Someone wake me up if they get too close to here, okay?

Anyway. Back to this post title.

You know what I'm talking about. Don't pretend you don't. That stupid book you read because you were staying at a B&B or something and it was on the room's meagre bookshelf and you couldn't NOT read it because god knows when a copy of Mistral's Daughter or whatever was going to come your way again. And of course you inhaled it in four hours and it was AT LEAST as spectacularly stupid as you expected it to be. And then, years and years and years later, you couldn't get some aspect of the ridiculously arcane plot out of your head, and now you'd give anything to read this book again, just to see if it's actually as dumb as you remember. But you can't, because not only can you not remember the author's name, you can't even remember the title.

Here is a mere sampling of the myriad plots swirling around the lost recesses of my brain at any given time. Pity me.

UPDATE: Titles! Thanks to you guys! And links! Courtesy of me! (In case you're crazy enough to want to read these, too.)

Stupid Book #1 The Sendai by William Woolfolk
If I recall correctly, this book starts off with a series of stories about a bunch of babies who are born of women who sought treatment at a fertility clinic. In each case, the babies are huge, weighing something like 14 or 15 lbs at birth. And they're covered with hair and have strangely simian demeanours and subnormal intelligence. Someone -- a doctor? a family friend of one couple with such a child? a cop? -- uncovers this string of "coincidences" and begins a secret investigation of the clinic. Their hunt for clues and information gets increasingly dangerous (there may be some unfortunate "accidents" along the way), until they end up in the top-secret subterranean labs beneath the clinic, where they learn -- da-da-DA! -- about a series of grotesque genetic experiments. I can't remember how the book ends, but man, you'd think I would, huh?

Not ringing any bells? How about this one:

Stupid Book #2 The Killing Gift by Bari Wood
So it's the 1950s and a pair of rich young newlyweds are on their honeymoon. They get into a car accident, and the woman needs a bunch of X-rays. Unbeknownst to her or the doctors, she's newly pregnant, and the radiation put out by this newfangled X-ray gizmo jangles up the developing embryo's DNA real good. Fast-forward a few years to the young family: father, mother, and happy, normal little girl. OR IS SHE? Something about her is... different. Could it be the fact that she has the power to KILL PEOPLE WITH HER MIND?

The rest of the book follows her through to adulthood. As a middle-aged woman, her husband is killed by robbers during a botched home invasion. The robbers both die of mysterious causes that mystify forensics experts. A senior detective is called in to investigate, and he soon hones in on the woman. As he gets closer to the truth, he realizes that he has three choices: walk away, risk death himself in arresting the woman, or convince her to use her power to work with him to take down the worst criminal elements in the city.

Well, what would you do?

Stupid Book #3 The Mask by Dean Koontz
Er. My memories of this one are pretty sketchy, even by my standards. Something about a young girl being trapped in a cellar, and she's terrified of the spiders in it, and then the house catches fire and she dies? And then years later, she's reincarnated, and this new incarnation has amnesia and doesn't know where she's come from? And she doesn't know that she apparently has some sort of destiny to fulfill, involving killing the woman who's taken her in? And, er, there's maybe something about a cat that goes nuts and attacks his elderly owner?

I may be confusing that last detail with another book. It would seem I've read a lot of crap.

Can you help me out with any of these? It's okay. I'll respect your need to maintain anonymity.


ht said...

You have to check out The Grounding of Group Six... I first read this in the circumstances you describe - the bookshelf of somewhere we were staying on holiday. Its sheer awfulness stuck in my mind, and then I found it years later in a second hand shop. It was still as bad as I remembered.

A group of 'troubled teens' are all starting at a new, alternative school. First activity of the year - everyone heads out for a hiking trip in the surrounding wilderness. But it transpires that the students in group six were never meant to come back... yes, their parents are so fed up that they have paid the school to bump their kids off.

Anonymous said...

The first boom sounds like a TV series shown in the UK in the 80s, starring Charles Dance, called "First Born"

jennenen said...

I'm pretty sure the last one is The Mask by Dean Koonz. It's also one of those I read and forgot about, but something is ringing a bell.

BabelBabe said...

ohmigod, i have never ever met another person who'd read The Grounding of Group Six, Helen. Wow. I even still had my copy until I lent it to someone who never gave it back. Sigh.

Unfortunately, none of these ring any bells, but i would suggest skipping the horror novels in these circumstances from now on and picking the mysteries. Generally much better odds of getting a decent one.

GingerCat said...

I read The Grounding of Group Six too! I thought it was pretty good. Evidently my standards were quite low back then.

Can't help with the titles of these books, though. They all sound pretty horrifying.

Anonymous said...

Oh man, I so want to read that second one!

Anonymous said...

I don't know why, but the second one sounds like "For the Love of Audrey Rose", except that involved a girl who was the reincarnation of another little girl who died when the car she was in crashed and then she burned to death. One of the counselors at my summer camp had it and I just remember sneaking a look and reading a scene when the reincarnated second girl was in the hospital for some "mysterious illness" and started acting like she was in a burning car.

Steph said...

Can't help you. Most ofl the stupid books I have read are more along the "Mistral's Daughter" path than the creepy genetic/horror path. But I do think the Grounding of Group Six sounds familiar......

Unknown said...

I'd put a moderate sum of money on #1 being by John Saul. My mother had several of his books and they all seemed to be about different families who all had kids who were geniuses/freaks/psychic due to some local conspiracy. Stupid, yes, but...I'd read them again.

Anonymous said...

I can trump your Grounding of Group Six with the confession that I own the entire Julian F. Thompson oeuvre.

My stupid books are the early '80's teen romances, like "P.S. I Love You" that I would buy again just to see if they could possibly be that stupid, and the out-of-nowhere science fiction like this book about a group of teens who lived in a building full of stairs with food pellet machines and they had to learn routines to make the pellets come out. And at the end they been released and a stop light changes color and they all start doing the routine and it was clear that they WOULD NEVER BE THE SAME!

Wasted youth.

Anonymous said...

All of them sound like Dean Koontz plots. I can never keep his books straight and they all have similar titles, so I've re-read his books several times by accident. It always makes me angry.

Anonymous said...

#1 also sounds like First Born to me. According to Amazon, the tv series was based on a book called Gor Saga, by Maureen Duffy.

I think the stupidest book I've ever read was a trashy novel about sex surrogates that was part of the meagre library of a hostel in Uganda (I also read about 3 Mills & Boon while staying there). Unlike you, however, I've never had any desire to revisit them.

Anonymous said...

oops, posted this before in the wrong thread:

The first sounds like it's maybe a Robin Cook book?

A list of his books is here:

Each has its own link to a plot synopsis, but rather than look through them all, I thought one of the titles might ring a bell?

Anonymous said...

excellent topic! The last one sounds vaguely familiar to me; I may have read that in the distant past also.
However, I CAN tell you the identity of the second book. It's "The Killing Gift", by Bari Wood. (I remembered the author, but had to check the title on Amazon). She wrote several shlocky horror type books, including one about the creepy twin drug abusing gynecologists and another about a golem (golum? sp?).
I swear I read good books, too.

Marie said...

First one I'd also bet on John Saul. I've read it, I know, and I think it was him.

Second one is definitely "The Mask" by Dean "Less Wordy than Stephen King" Koontz. Girl forced to go to the basement, which she's scared of, by mean mother and is killed down there when there is a fire. Spirit keeps coming back in different reincarnations to kill the mother's reincarnation. If I remember correctly, usually with an axe.

Kristina said...

The Grounding of Group Six sounds like Battle Royale. Which was an amazing movie. These books all sound too scary for me - I read Cloud Atlas a couple of weeks ago and I'm still having (actually, awesome) dreams about it.

Heather B. said...

That last one, as others have pointed out, is definitely "The Mask" by Dean Koontz (originally published under the pen name Owen West) and while it was a stupid book, I have to admit the killer cat that kept attacking the elderly lady scared the heck out of me.

Cory said...

I have no idea what any of those are, but I do suddenly feel the need to reread Lace, which was about four girls at finishing school in Sweden. One of them gets knocked up, and all four give up the baby but pretend it. . . belongs to all of them? And the baby becomes a famous actress and hunts them down to find out who her mother is? There's also a Saudi prince involved in the plot, and some incest, and they once made a movie out of it starring Phoebe Cates. It's my all-time favorite book I never would have read if it hadn't been lying around at my B+B.

raidergirl3 said...

Oooh, I remember Lace. Awesome. Thanks for the reminding me.

Anonymous said...

Last year I read a book about a Japanese conspiracy to nuke the US in a B&B in New Hampshire. I didn't get to finish it and it has been bugging me ever since. I stare randomly at the shelves in Chapters willing it to jump off the shelf and into my arms so I can find out how it ended. There was also a sub-plot romance between the main character (tortured former military intelligence type) and a sexy read-headed Senator(?).

Frédérique said...

Because stupid books come in all languages - La Licorne et les Trois Courones, ridiculously romantic, borrowed from my sister and read over a couple days when I was a teenager on vacation in Bali. I would definitely re-read it, and 11 years later am still waiting for the 3rd of the trilogy to know how it all ends... Incidentally, the small hotel where we were had a surprising collection of harlequin novels in French. A few of those also found their way in the bookshelf of the 'fully-furnished' house I'm now sharing in New Zealand, along with some German horror literature that would certainly qualify for your stupid-but-would-read-again category.

Your blog is fabulous - thanks to the DNTO podcast for sending me here! - your writing intelligent and entertaining and much more funny than Kant's Theory of Perpetual Peace (which I should really get back to).

Anonymous said...

I, sadly, can clearly remember reading both The Grounding of Group Six and Lace. I've always loved crap books, but not usually in the horrorschlock genre, so I'm afraid I can't shed any light on those mystery books.

RandomRanter said...

Hey, I not only read The Grounding of Group Six, I shared it with all my friends. (Hey, it had sex.) Can't help with the nameless ones.

Anonymous said...

I wish I was reading a stupid book right now instead of the one I am reading which I will most likely decide is stupid after I'm done. But it's taking way longer than 4 hours. So maybe it's in a different category. Maybe I should be reading the Grounding of Group Six, huh?

Anonymous said...

This is Germany speaking (in fact, one small part of it...) - :

In Vienna (which is the capital of Germany's beloved little sister, Austria), every café and pub maintains a bookshelf which usually features books like the described ones. Grazing through a single city quarter for semi-public rejects of gastronomes' inheritages is worth several weeks of holiday.

Trashure island...

Tammy said...

Wow, you guys sure know your crap literature. And my ruse worked! I got all my fellow horror-schlock fans out of the closet with me. BWA-hahaha!

Y'all are correct. After chasing the suggestions you mentioned, Stupid Book #2 did in fact turn out to be The Killing Gift by Bari Wood, and Stupid Book #3 is The Mask by Dean Koontz. And someone else emailed me to suggest that Stupid Book #1 is The Sendai by William Woolfolk, and they were right! So thank you! Now, what to do with this dangerous information. I'm almost afraid...

Man, this was fun. I've got a few more plots I may throw out to you soon. And also I obviously need to read The Grounding of Group Six. HOW HAVE I NOT READ THIS ALREADY?

Anonymous said...

My link is below, in case anyone is feeling extra-helpful...?

Anonymous said...

Hee. I haven't read any of these, but I suddenly feel the need to go reread The Funhouse by Dean Koontz. Yes, it is COMPLETE crap, but for some reason I feel the need to read it again every time it randomly resurfaces from... wherever books go to hide in my house.

Actually, I've begun to suspect that bad books have some sort of primitive sentience. It causes them to disappear until you have forgotten how awful they were, at which point they allow themselves to be found and then lure you into reading them again.

Anonymous said...

The book mentioned up-thread with the endless stairs and food pellets is a YA fiction book by the master of this genre for the YA set, William Sleator. The book, for anyone who needs to waste a stupid hour or 3 is House of Stairs. He had another really great one about playing a deadly board game with evil aliens that I remember loving at the time.

per Amazon:
"One by one, five sixteen-year-old orphans are brought to a strange
building. It is not a prison, not a hospital; it has no walls, no
ceiling, no floor. Nothing but endless flights of stairs leading
nowhere - except back to a strange red machine. The five must learn to
love the machine and let it rule their lives. But will they let it
kill their souls?"

Amazon: House of Stairs

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who has this experience. For the last 3 years or so I've been trying to find a book I read as a camp counselor for a Girl Scout camp in the 1980s (like being trapped in a B&B only much more "rustic!"). It wasn't in the horror/trash genre, but it was about a cross country running race during the Great Depression. There were 2 main male characters and one woman with the mandetory romantic tension, and other issues thrown in (troubles with weather, inadequate equipment -- they were poor and the prize was great).

Loved the "shout out" to PS I Love You. I went to the book shelf to see if I had it. Nope -- I've got "the Pigman" and "My Darling, My Hamburger" instead. :)

Love the blog. Thanks so much for sharing!!

Anonymous said...

I love this topic! I found your blog when I was actually searching to find an old book of my own; with no memory of title or author. It was a mystery book back in the 80's- possibly late 70's about a woman who starts getting threatening phone calls from someone who is supposed to be dead. I think it the woman then goes on a road trip and somehow it takes place in the desert. There's a big twist at the end, which is what makes me want to read it again! If anyone can help me out that would be great!

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how to feel about a book I wrote many, many years ago, being number 2 on your 'stupid' list.
Kind'a complimented, I guess, since you do say you'd read them again.
After so many years...33 of them I's really fun even to see its name mentioned.
Thank you...I think,
Bari Wood

Doppelganger said...

Oh, no! Every book blogger's worst fear realized! How embarrassing!

Bari, I must tell you that I first read your book when I was around ten or eleven years old and "borrowed" it from my grandma's huge library of paranormal psychological thrillers. And I found it so compelling that I probably re-read it about twelve times. And as I said in my original post, I'd happily read it again. I don't know if that mitigates anything else I wrote, but there you go.

I'm a little bit embarrassed to be caught out here... but not too embarrassed to ask you if you know where I can find a copy of your book.

Anonymous said...

Hey there, don't even think of being embarrassed. I meant it, it's nice to be remembered.
The book is long,long out of print. Some copies available online from used booksellers, but the ones I've gotten have been pretty mutilated, and/or the book club edition, which is wretched. First editions are available, but horrendously expensive.
You can get a readable paper back for a few bucks...
One of these day, I might avail myself of the Authors Guild back- in-print; then it would be available from IUniverse, print on demand, but so far, haven't gotten it up to fill out what seems like a hundred pages of forms.
But thanks for asking...
Best to you,

Anonymous said...

I would like to recommend "Tim Drove" as one of the stupidest books ever written. You can find it here:

Anonymous said...

You have to check The Great Horse Ride. This is the dumbest book in the world.

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