A few days ago I visited a Goodwill while waiting for my car to get serviced. I followed my usual routine of browsing the clothes, pretending that yes, I will definitely have an opportunity to wear those geometrically patterned high-waist linen pants and I do need another little boy’s Christmas sweater, thanks. After the rational electrical currents of my brain decided to show up, I made my way to the books. I love Goodwill books. From leeches to ancient Egypt, they’ve got variety covered. But what I found on this particular day was just stacks and stacks of crazy. Once I found the first mind-boggler, I could not stop seeing them. All of these books have something unbelievable to offer, but my befuddlement (and honestly, my absolute glee) comes from the fact that these books survived from a kernel of an idea to a publisher to the bookstore to a home, finally resting at a Goodwill, where they’re most at home, really. This means that, much to my excitement (as a writer), the world of book publishing is full of either a) people that totally just get it or b) people that are fantastically ignorant of the hilarity of the kind of sh-t they’re putting out there. Either way, I’m grateful that they’ve done what they’ve done, those freaks. And for the record, I absolutely judged all of these books by their covers.
1. Cats and Kittens…With Internet Links
I obviously picked this book up because of the adorable baby cat on the cover. But it was the juxtaposition of that cat’s face with the text “With Internet Links” that really did something for me. The entire inside front cover is devoted to tips for being safe on the internet and the assurance that if you do not have Internet access, the book will still be fun and informative! You know what else is fun and informative? Internet links about cats that are THIS and THIS. In the meantime, you can keep your links to websites “where you can find out some useful tips for making your cat feel settled.” Here’s a tip: HUG IT A LOT.
2. The Boy with a Sling
The cover of this book absolutely kills me. The elbows and tongues and smiles and tiny hooves on those sheep are the top four cutest things I’ve ever seen. The boy’s devious side-glare and perfect eyebrows are so sassy and that thing in his hand looks like something that goes on under your underwear. Also the bear has X’s for eyes. Classic! Actually, without the “The Story of David and Goliath” subtitle, one might be tricked into thinking this was a coming-of-age story about a gay farm boy who gets his first jockstrap, through which he changes the minds of the local bigoted livestock. I don’t know how the dead bear gets involved there, but I’m sure you can think of something.
3. Ventriloquism Made Easy
If you’re trying to convince me that you can teach me how to be a ventriloquist from a book, you’re going to have to look way less insecure and constipated, Kolby King. If that’s even your real name. Or face.
4. Magic Johnson’s My Life
Really? No one could have thought of a better title for Magic Johnson’s autobiography other than My Life? Also, the blurb they chose for the cover says “A great book.” Also, he’s giving the A-Okay hand signal. In related news, scientists determine oxygen to be “important.” Is this amateur hour? Get it together, people! This guy has been living with HIV for 20 years and nobody cares enough to think of a title better than an almost literal translation of “autobiography”?! Come on!
5. First Kisses
What is going on here, exactly? Trust you, worried pug in a bow tie? I can hardly trust myself right now looking at you, sir. Part of me wants to read to find out how this guy is related to the story, but the much greater majority of me knows that he isn’t. At all.