Skip to content

Read This: Eccentrics and Eccentricities

Daily grind getting you down? Need an escape from the ordinary? Check out some of these books and celebrate the wild, weird, and wonderful variety of our world.

  • Banvard's Folly: Thirteen Tales of Renowned Obscurity, Famous Anonymity, and Rotten Luck
  • A Book of Reasons
  • Eccentric Glamour: Creating an Insanely More Fabulous You
  • The Mammoth Book of Oddballs and Eccentrics
  • The Queen of Whale Cay
  • Strange Brains and Genius: The Secret Lives of Eccentric Scientists and Madmen
  • Wacky Chicks: Life Lessons from Fearlessly Inappropriate and Fabulously Eccentric Women
  • Weird Carolinas: Your Travel Guide to the Carolinas', Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets

A Book of Reasons by John Vernon
Kelly J. Says: A Book of Reasons
Amazon Says: "History in its minute particulars touches us all, and in the least expected ways." Every family has its odd character, the one member who never seems right with the world. In more...
Amazon Says: "History in its minute particulars touches us all, and in the least expected ways." Every family has its odd character, the one member who never seems right with the world. In his brilliant pairing of family history with the history of civilization, John Vernon discovers the extraordinary sources of ordinary things in the life of his reclusive brother, Paul. When Paul died and John was charged with settling his affairs, he came face to face with a life he had never suspected. His brother's house in southern New Hampshire was in a state of squalid, shocking disrepair: piled high with a lifetime of trash, unheated and decrepit, pitifully unlivable. An assembly worker and an amateur inventor, Paul had managed to keep his sad and strange world hidden. The story of this troubled soul is at once fascinating and tragic. And more: it cries out for reasons. Why does a childhood full of promise turn wrong? Why do we clutter our lives with things? How do we make and understand our world? Vernon seeks answers in the most unexpected places. Buying a hammer and thermometer at Wal-Mart, that icon of consumerism, inspires a short history of tools and the discovery of mercury. Paul's wake occasions an investigation of blood circulation and embalming. Vernon voyages through science and physiology, culture and mythology, on a search "for a way to comprehend a life that left behind not splendid monuments but ordinary wreckage." The result is a book of reasons: reasons for his brother's way of life, reasons for his own response to Paul's death. Bringing to bear the narrative powers that distinguished his acclaimed historical novels Peter Doyle and All for Love, Vernon links the story of one odd individual to the surprising and irregular upheavals of history. In the process, he discovers how reasons, for all of us, are one means of learning to accept things that can never be explained. less...
Amazon


Kelly J. Says: Eccentric Glamour: Creating an Insanely More Fabulous You
Amazon Says: Simon Doonan's ECCENTRIC GLAMOUR is intended as an antidote to the epidemic of slutty dressing and porno-chic which has taken over since the arrival of Paris Hilton and Tara R more...
Amazon Says: Simon Doonan's ECCENTRIC GLAMOUR is intended as an antidote to the epidemic of slutty dressing and porno-chic which has taken over since the arrival of Paris Hilton and Tara Reid. In Simon's utopian world, conformity is the only crime and dressing down is the only faux-pas. Doonan believes that eccentric glamour is every woman's birthright. While the typical TV boobs 'n' botox make-overs force Everywoman to look the same - exhibit A: "The Real Housewives of Orange County" - the transformations which he strives to provoke in this book are the very opposite. Developing a glamorously eccentric style involves revealing and magnifying everything which is distinctive and idiosyncratic about you. This book is by no means a typical style advice manual. In ECCENTRIC GLAMOUR you will find a unique mixture of cultural commentary and personal disclosure, generously seasoned with gushings of wildly dictatorial, provocative and reckless style advice and evenly sprinkled with one-on-one interviews with some the World's most glamorous eccentrics, including Iman, Lucy Liu, Tilda Swinton, Malcolm Gladwell, Chloe Sevigny, and Dita Von Teese. less...
Amazon


Kelly J. Says: The Mammoth Book of Oddballs and Eccentrics
Amazon Says: Howard Hughes, Liberace, Imelda Marcos, Sarah Bernhardt, Ed Wood, Jr., Ludwig von Beethoven -- they're all here, along with an astonishing assortment of other oddballs, kooks, more...
Amazon Says: Howard Hughes, Liberace, Imelda Marcos, Sarah Bernhardt, Ed Wood, Jr., Ludwig von Beethoven -- they're all here, along with an astonishing assortment of other oddballs, kooks, dreamers, despots, prophets, performers, royals, politicians, inventors, philosophers, writers, artists, and more garden-variety eccentrics. Here, too, are the phobias, compulsions, odd beliefs, and weird habits that have placed them in the ranks of the bizarre, curious, and strange. You will discover, for instance, that Elvis Presley was convinced he could turn Graceland's sprinkler system on and off by the sheer power of concentration, that Salvador Dali ate vast quantities of Camembert cheese before bedtime to make his dreams more vivid, that Florence Nightingale carried a miniature pet owl in her pocket, while Kaiser Wilhelm II always carried with him photos of his deceased relatives in their funeral attire. You will learn, too, that the Victorian judge Lord Monboddo spent his entire life convinced that babies were born with tails (which midwives cut off), and that John Harvey Kellogg of cereal fame spent his wedding night writing an essay on the evils of sexual intercourse. Throughout the pages of this mammoth book you'll find impulses, whims, obsessions, and hangups as skewed as the schemes of Francisco Lopez, the Paraguay president who attempted to rout the Brazilian army with a battalion of small boys wearing false beards. You'll find cases galore that are screwier, too. less...
Amazon


Kelly J. Says: The Queen of Whale Cay
Amazon Says: When Marion "Joe" Carstairs died in 1993 at the age of ninety-three, she was largely forgotten. During the 1920s she held the world record as the fastest female speedboat rac more...
Amazon Says: When Marion "Joe" Carstairs died in 1993 at the age of ninety-three, she was largely forgotten. During the 1920s she held the world record as the fastest female speedboat racer. But as journalist Kate Summerscale discovered, when researching an obituary for the Daily Telegraph, Carstairs was also a notorious cross-dresser who favored women and smoked cheroots. Supremely self-confident, she inherited a Standard Oil fortune and knew how to spend her money--on fast boats and cars, female lovers, and a Caribbean island, Whale Cay, where she reigned over a colony of Bahamians. There, far from her bohemian past in London and Paris, she hosted a succession of girlfriends and celebrities, including Marlene Dietrich and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Through it all, she remained devoted to Lord Tod Wadley, a little doll who became her bosom companion. Already a bestseller in England, The Queen of Whale Cay is a marvelous portrait of one of the twentieth century's great eccentrics. less...
Amazon


Strange Brains And Genius by Clifford A. Pickover
Kelly J. Says: Strange Brains and Genius: The Secret Lives of Eccentric Scientists and Madmen
Amazon Says: In this unusual and penetrating work, Clifford Pickover internationally recognized science popularizer - takes us on a wild ride through the bizarre lives of brilliant, but ec more...
Amazon Says: In this unusual and penetrating work, Clifford Pickover internationally recognized science popularizer - takes us on a wild ride through the bizarre lives of brilliant, but eccentric geniuses who made significant contributions to science and philosophy. Unveiling the hidden secrets of a number of the most intelligent and prolific real-life mad scientists, Pickover delights us with unexpected stories of their obsessive personalities and strange phobias. These common threads lead us to wonder if creativity and genius are inextricably linked to madness. A highly entertaining collection of oddity and mischief, this original new work playfully uncovers the scandalous details that lurk behind the unseemly lives of these geniuses. We discover that the "Unabomber," Ted Kaczynski, a mathematical whiz with an IQ of 170, was pathologically shy, had an uncontrollable obsession with loud sounds, especially earthy bodily noises, and enjoyed playing practical jokes in high school, such as creating homemade gadgets that would pop loudly and emit a stream of violet smoke amid class - a compulsion that may have turned deadly. Then there was the great inventor Nikola Tesla who had a peculiar love for pigeons, particularly white ones, and was terrified of women's pearls. Plenty of other surprises abound, including the statistician and world explorer Francis Galton who quantified anything he saw - including the curves of women's bodies, and then there are others who all lived exceedingly unusual sexual or celibate lives. With Pickover's unique ability to draw the reader into this marvelous web of madness, he amuses us with remarkably quirky quotations attributed to these geniuses, and enchants us with intriguing yet morbid anecdotes celebrating the wonderfully unconventional childhood and careers of these individuals. Moreover, a fascinating "curiosity smorgasbord" to whet our appetites teases us with provocative questions to ponder along the way, such as: Where is Einstein's brain? less...
Amazon


Kelly J. Says: Wacky Chicks: Life Lessons from Fearlessly Inappropriate and Fabulously Eccentric Women
Amazon Says: Most of us know a wacky chick. She's a true nonconformist, a woman who dares to be different. On any ordinary day she might be found performing a citizen's arrest, running a more...
Amazon Says: Most of us know a wacky chick. She's a true nonconformist, a woman who dares to be different. On any ordinary day she might be found performing a citizen's arrest, running a concession stand at a swingers' convention, or wearing a tiara on top of a cowboy hat. Even when conservatively dressed, wacky chicks give themselves away with their fire and exuberance: their outrageous personalities make them as easy to spot as a flamingo prancing among pigeons. Once considered a rarity, this wild and wonderful species seems to be increasing its numbers. In Wacky Chicks, irreverent social commentator and humor writer Simon Doonan celebrates this growing phenomenon by introducing readers to a bracing cross section of today's most provocative and unconventional women. He asks them to reveal what it takes to be a wacky chick and how wacky-chickery can help women everywhere find creative fulfillment. Readers will learn everything from wacky-chick spiritualism (woo-woo chicks) to wacky-chick business sense (chicks with shticks). We will witness their lives, habitats, mating rituals, careers, and childbearing practices. There's even priceless advice on fashion, beauty, interior decorating, finding the right partner, and unleashing your feminist wacky chick without losing your femininity. Some of Doonan's wacky chicks you may already know -- Amy Sedaris, cocktail waitress turned creator and star of Comedy Central's Strangers with Candy, and her alter ego Piglet; Warhol muse and Key lime pie aficionado Brigid Berlin; and Susanne Bartsch, the woman who showed Madonna how to vogue. But most are supervixens you've never met, because, naturally, a wacky chick does not aspire to traditional fame and fortune. Included here are the life lessons of fashion designer turned park ranger Spider Fawke, the proud mother of thirty-eight lizards and a four-inch tarantula; slashed-spandex-wearing Isabel Garrett; hip hypnotist Jessica Porter; and a new age pixie named Kazuko. They are about as diverse a flock as you can imagine, but they share a common theme: all of these women are Belligerent, Resilient, Uninhibited, Naughty, Creative, and Hilarious (B.R.U.N.C.H. for short). In a word, they are wacky. A book that pays tribute to the wild and unstoppable female in each of us, Wacky Chicks is the ultimate guide to embracing your inner rebel. Mixing intimate and outrageous interview material with philosophical interludes, Simon Doonan brings you on a soul-searching journey that may leave you creating hats out of tinfoil or opening your own hot dog stand, infinitely self-assured and infinitely wacky. less...
Amazon


Kelly J. Says: Weird Carolinas: Your Travel Guide to the Carolinas', Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets
Amazon Says: Take a walk on the WEIRD side, Carolina-style! What makes the Carolinas--North and South--so strange, spooky, wild, and wacky? Follow former Charleston resident Roger Manley a more...
Amazon Says: Take a walk on the WEIRD side, Carolina-style! What makes the Carolinas--North and South--so strange, spooky, wild, and wacky? Follow former Charleston resident Roger Manley and find out: Spanish moss reaches out from dark trees on lonely roads, the Great Dismal Swamp shelters unknown beasts, the coastline is marked with hidden inlets where pirates buried treasures and German U-boats prowled. And it's rumored the Devil has Tramping Grounds in both states! We promise, it's an adventure you'll never forget.  less...
Amazon

Print

Comment about this page...